When the time comes on Thursday to say what you’re grateful for this year, share with each person at your table a characteristic or skill that you’re thankful for having.
It will make them feel good.
It will make you feel good.
It’s the kind of things we should say to each other more often, the kind of things we often wait to say until it’s too late.
If our area’s sports scene sat down to break bread together, this list would be…
Frankly, Ole Marple: The Cardinals manager tells it like it is. It is a dying art. No matter how you feel about his handling of qualifier closer Ryan Helsley, how Marmul explained his decisions—and he’s already explained them, countless times—was clear. This is it, just not what it is on a good day. The honest one keeps those around him honest, especially when he is able to shine the spotlight on himself. Marmol can and does.
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Doug Armstrong’s instincts: The GM Blues didn’t panic during their eight-game losing streak. He didn’t begin to grumble at the coach who had just stretched him out. He entered the dressing room and sent a stern message to the players. Figure it out, otherwise changes will come, and changes will not be the boss. The old hockey saying goes that you’re in big trouble if you’re a hopeless team at Thanksgiving. The rookie Blues rediscovered their hope just in time to salvage a season, thanks in part to Armstrong’s well-timed message.
Cool Jordan Bennington: He was the constant presence in the net his team needed, even when he was the only player playing well. There have been big questions swirling around Binnington entering this season. He answered them from the very beginning.
John Mozeliac Negotiations: Two of the National League Big Three finalists for the National League Player of the Year (winner Paul Goldschmidt and finalist Nolan Arenado) have been acquired by the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations in deals that are no longer going to bite the Cardinals in any way, shape, or form. It seems important to remember this as another round of intense anxiety begins. The Cardinals need help, and Muzeliac knows it. Can he make another bargain?
Positive Caroline Kendall: The CEO of St. Louis City SC tackles unforeseen obstacles—electrical issues in the stadium, a curveball sponsorship with Centene—with grace and poise that is reflected in the forward-thrusting mentality of its leadership team.
Frank Viverito’s commitment: The retired chairman of the St. Louis Sports Commission was honored in a moving presentation during the Music Awards last weekend. No one has fought more and more to make the STL a bigger and better place on the national sports map. If you’ve ever enjoyed a sporting event in the area, there’s a good chance you owe Viverito a thank you. He’s a great guy, even for vegans.
Lutz Pfannenstiel’s vision: On top of being a fun and witty interview, St. Louis City’s athletic director has a clear plan that he believes will produce a better-than-average first season for the MLS expansion team. With an unwavering commitment to a solid style of play, opening up grassroots and producing pipelines and academy, and knowing international talent some teams can’t match, City SC should be more than ready to take advantage of delays caused by the pandemic.
Chris May Energy: SLU’s optimistic director of athletics wants the basketball and football teams to lead his department. So, things are going well. Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams made the NCAA Tournament after great seasons. A compelling men’s basketball season has begun as new women’s head coach Rebecca Tillett puts her stamp on things. All of this is happening alongside the construction of the O’Loughlin Family Champions Center, which will give SLU a leg up on its recruiting competitors. Lists are stocked by area producers who choose to stay home or return to SLU from elsewhere. Mai is not satisfied, but his efforts are blossoming.