The Springfield Cardinals office announced this week, that the winner of the 2006 bobble-head doll is pitching-ace and hopeful, Chris Lambert, with former St. Louis Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson coming in a close second---but I am not convinced that that is the case.
True, Lambert received 5,712 votes to Gibson's 5,603, And, as Springfield Card's general manager, Matt Gifford says, maybe most Cardinal fans already have a Bob Gibson bobble-head doll since the Cardinals gave one away at Busch Stadium in 2004. Or, maybe it's because everyone who voted for Lambert is hoping he will turn out to be the next Bob Gibson and that squirled-away bobble-head doll will send their children and grand-children to college.
For whatever reason, Lambert is a worthy recipient of this prestigious award and everyone hopes he will indeed become the next Cardinal pitcher to play for 17 years, appear in three world series, win eight consecutive World Series games, and strike out 18 batters to set a new record for strike outs in a single World Series game (Gibby struck out 17 in game one against the Detroit Tigers in 1968 to set the record that still stands).
The only problem I see with calling Lambert the winner is that, being the winner, he receives the honor of having his head immortalized on a bobble-head body and having that doll given away to fans on July 23.
On the other hand, Gibson, being number two, will also have his likeness molded into a bobble-head and given away on Aug. 14. Seems like a tie to me--but no, that tie was broken when the Springfield Cardinals office announced that Mr. Gibson would be throwing out the first pitch on opening day, April 6, against the Arkansas Travelers. I believe that makes it two honors to one and I can't think of two guys who deserve it more than Gibson and Lambert.
Gibson, in my opinion, epitomizes what a fan expects to see in a player on and off the field. And from what I saw of Lambert last year in Springfield, the fans can rest assured that Lambert will do his best to fill those big ol' cleats that Gibson liked to stick right in a batters face each time he hurled the ball toward home plate.
One thing has occurred to me though--if it had been field manager Chris Maloney (817 votes) or slugger Juan Diaz (my man with 1,417 votes) or Louie the Mascot (2,944 votes), coming in second--would we be having a second give away of bobble-head dolls to accommodate number two?
Somehow, I don't think so. Not that any of those guys are less deserving. But maybe, just maybe, the Cardinal organization underestimated the Springfield fans. Perhaps they thought Gibson was such an obvious winner that they went ahead and ordered a ton of Bob Gibson bobble-heads to give away.
I might be tempted to do the same thing myself. But, and this probably won't be the last time I say this, you cannot second-guess a Springfield fan. They know their baseball and they know and love their Cardinals. They are not sheep or lemmings and will think for themselves thank you, and this voting outcome proves that fact.
And I predict that when push-comes-to-shove, Springfield fans will cherish that Bob Gibson doll just as much as they will the Lambert bobble-head.
Way to go Springfield. You make Cardinal fans proud. And GO CARDS.
You can write John Brayfield at firstname.lastname@example.org