Our Top 17 STL Sports Stories of ’17: Matheny’s Performance and Rams’ Low Ratings

Another year in the books and like its 2016 predecessor, 2017 wasn’t great for St. Louis sports, but it also wasn’t terrible.

Leading in the “not great, but not terrible” department is no doubt your St. Louis Cardinals, who missed the postseason for the second straight year while only sniffing a second wild card spot in both go-rounds. The Blues took a step back if you’re going strictly by postseason appearance depth, but they along with the Cardinals also provided us a highlight with January’s Winter Classic at Busch Stadium.

And as you’ll see, the Rams still permeated our sports existence a year removed from our town, as 101ESPN readers reveled in reading the team’s television ratings were better here than in Los Angeles their first year back in Cali. (Weird.)

But the Rams couldn’t outdo Mike Matheny posts in 2017, which our readers gobbled up throughout the Cardinals’ season and beyond. Lack of success certainly put a damper on fans’ views of their local MLB skipper.

So enjoy the first seven items of our ‘Top 17 of ’17’ today and come back tomorrow for which posts made the top ten.

17. Fate and Friendship: Maybe it Was Destiny for Marcel Ozuna to Become a Cardinal

Dec. 15 – After a ‘bleh’ season and lots of local grumbling, the Cardinals gave us a pleasant storyline by pulling the trigger on a trade for All-Star outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Bernie Miklasz connects Ozuna’s friendship with Carlos Martinez and the late Oscar Tavares as reasons why the newest Cardinal slugger may meet his baseball “destiny” in his new home,

Key Quote: “St. Louis is the right place for Ozuna. He will play in the outfield that was Oscar’s outfield –if ever so briefly. And if you think about it, Ozuna has a chance to honor — and perhaps extend — his late friend’s legacy.”

16. The Cardinals’ Standards Have Fallen. Their Winning Culture Is Eroding. Who Will Fix This?

July 21 – This Bernie column came a day removed from Trevor Rosenthal neglecting to cover first base on ground ball hit there, thus leading to a 3-2 Mets walk-off and a reminder the local club have let their fundamentals slip a bit. And by a bit, we mean a lot.

Key Quote: “If you were watching, it made you want to kill your TV set…This inexcusable gaffe symbolized everything wrong with the 2017 Cardinals.”

15. Nearly 1,000 Games Into Managing, Mike Matheny Is Still Mishandling the Bullpen

July 17 – July wasn’t a great month for the region’s (or Bernie’s) Cardinal morale. The next case in point came in this mid-month piece on skipper Mike Matheny’s handling (or mishandling) of his relief staff, complete with what were recent examples of using one guy when another may’ve worked out better.

Key Quote: “If DeWitt and Mozeliak are cool with all of this, if they won’t hold Matheny to a higher standard … well, Matheny isn’t the real problem. The true problem is upstairs, with the team chairman and the president of baseball operations.”

14. USA Today’s Nightengale Says Cardinals Are in ‘Great Position’ to Land Stanton

Nov. 6 – It wouldn’t be a 2017 list without mentioning the Giancarlo Stanton madness – “Is coming here? Is he going there? He doesn’t like St. Louis. Well, fine then. Go play elsewhere…Etc..” – a situation which didn’t go STL’s way, but was still a huge storyline. So much so, in fact, that lots of us were plenty tired hearing about it.

But that didn’t stop everyone from reading about it and at the time frequent 101ESPN guest Bob Nightengale thought the Cards were just as poised as anyone to land the MVP slugger.

Key Quote: “You want to go to a great franchise that’s in the playoff hunt year after year? And every player in baseball will tell you there’s no easier place to play. This place wins and you don’t have all the scrutiny…It’s a very comfortable place; over 40,000 fans a night. I think that’s enough to sell him right there.”

13. Some Managers Win Big and Get Fired. And Then There’s Mike Matheny

Oct. 27 – The headline pretty well says it. After managers Dusty Baker, John Farrell and Joe Girardi were let go by their respective teams, Mr. Miklasz compared the fallen skippers’ resumes with that of Matheny and opined the Cards’ leading man “has the job security of a U.S. Supreme Court justice.”

Key Quote: “Instead of firing the manager, which would be a helluva lot easier, his bosses whack just about the entire coaching staff, save for the manager’s BFF hitting coach…That’s the Cardinal Way.”

12. In 2016, the Rams’ TV Ratings Were Higher in St. Louis Than Los Angeles. LOL!

Jan. 6 – We’re sure there are some wonderful and loyal LA Rams fans who have been since the team first moved there in 1946, but their first year back didn’t yield the TV ratings to support this thought. Bernie weighed in on the topic shortly after the numbers came in.

Key Quote: “What’s the point of having two teams in LA if it means abandoning a quality NFL market in San Diego or Oakland — and risk losing even more TV ratings in the city that’s vacated? These money-grabbing franchise shuffles create perpetual uncertainty, hard feelings, are bad for business and bring down TV ratings…Nice work, Roger Goodell.”

11. Message Sent: Mozeliak Rips Up Matheny’s Coaching Staff. Message Received?

Oct. 24 – Like we said, lack of success isn’t a good look on a St. Louis Cardinals skipper and the first part of this list proves the point.

Bernie takes a look at the club’s coaching changes in this piece, opining the moves may be a nudge for Matheny and hoping it will lead to success for both the team and manager.

Key Quote: “This staff reset can actually strengthen Matheny’s longterm job security as long as he has a sincere desire to learn, absorb, adjust and delegate to the coaches who want to turn the Cardinals into a championship-caliber team again.”

Stay tuned to 101Sports.com for Part II of our list to be published Wednesday.

More: 101ESPN’s Top 16 St. Louis Sports Stories From 2016: #’s 16-9