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Happy "Hollidays"Posted Friday, January 13, 2012, at 8:54 AM
By COREY NOLES
I've always felt like Matt Holliday was a very stoic presence in the Cardinals organization. Most times you see him he has a rather emotionless, hardened look on his face.
Since signing with the Cardinals, Holliday has been over-shadowed by the presence that was Albert Pujols. Given the Pujols worship by fans, Holliday has never been the face of the Cardinals. This year all of that could change and I think we're already starting to see signs of it.
Yesterday I was listening to the Bernie Miklasz Show on 101.1 ESPN while I worked like I do every day. Bernie was discussing the snowy day and how there was no guest for the show. A few minutes later he received a surprised call from Holliday.
Bernie, clearly startled, asked him why he was calling. Holliday responded that he was driving around in the snow and heard him say that he didn't have a guest so he figured he would call in. The interview was very laid back with him talking about a racquetball game earlier in the day with a few teammates. He also went on to discuss what he thinks newcomer Carlos Beltran will mean to the team.
The call was a great move for Holliday and something I wish more Cardinals fans could have heard. In the absence of Pujols, many fans are left wondering who their next love will be. Fans need that love and they need to feel loved back.
Holliday is the highest paid player on the team and has the ability to put up numbers worthy of the fan's love and frankly he already has.
During the 2011 season, he showed us that he's not going down easy. After playing through appendicitis on Opening Day, he returned in record time and played better than he did the season before. He came back so fast he didn't spend a single day on the disabled list. It was like he never missed a beat. Of course, he also had a moth fly in his ear last season.
Holliday, partly due to his "highest-paid player" status, has long been the punching bag of the lunatic fringe of Cardinals fans. When a St. Louis radio station made a comment about Holliday being injury-prone they were quickly corrected when he called in to set them straight.
He reminded them that in his entire career, he's been on the disabled list two times and typically plays over 140 games per season and has put up several seasons with 700+ plate appearances.
While I would argue that he was the second unluckiest player on the team, first in that category has to go to Freese, one could hardly call him injury prone.
In my opinion, the reason some feel that way about Holliday is due to his streak-iness. I have long felt that he has a tendency to have major ups and downs in terms of numbers, but he almost always takes the field and he is one of the toughest players - as we saw in 2011-that the team has ever seen.
I'm not trying to make Holliday Pujols' replacement, but I am saying to give him a chance this season. He is a great player who deserves more love from the best fans in baseball. He's more than capable and this year, he will be filling some big shoes in the batting order. Stand up and give the guy a hand. Let him know he's appreciated and that you're glad to have him in the line-up. Here's a good reason and sleep on this: Picture our first Opening Day roster without Albert, also being without Matt Holliday. Eww.
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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