Sports & Recreation

  • Best St. Louis Cardinal

    Darryl Kile

    The easy answer in general is Mark McGwire, and if he hadn't been hurt, that would be the correct one. But this year, Big Mac has missed too many games to be the best. The next obvious answer is Jim Edmonds, who has been the Cardinal lineup anchor without Mac in there. But the Cardinals have a lot of offensive… More >>
  • Best Unknown St. Louis Cardinal

    Placido Polanco

    Placido Polanco, at age 23, is, simply put, an established major-league starting second baseman. There aren't 15 better ones in the game, much less 30, which would be one starter for each team. Because Polanco is young, this should make him one of the National League's hot properties. But on the Cardinals, Polanco's the infield backup. This is sort of… More >>
  • Best New Sports Personality

    Jim Edmonds

    Will Clark is a tempting choice -- his arrival from Baltimore coincided (and it was no coincidence) with the Cardinals' reaching escape velocity in the Central Division after almost falling back to earth in the long stall following McGwire's injury. Since Clark's acquisition, the Birds are flying higher than at any time since 1987 -- a year in which they… More >>
  • Best Reason to Keep Busch Stadium

    Owners' Closed Books

    Where to begin? There are so many reasons to keep our beloved Busch that settling on a single one as "the best" is tantamount to singling out the best amendment to the Constitution, the best thing about living in America, the best part of drinking beer. There's the money angle -- why spend a cent of public money (let alone the… More >>
  • Best Reason(s) to Replace Busch Stadium

    Inevitability and Intimacy

    There's no doubt that the millions of dollars that will be spent building a new baseball stadium could be better spent elsewhere, but in the first place, you know they won't, really, and in the second place, of all the sports teams in St. Louis, the Cardinals are first in our hearts and minds -- which means that when it… More >>
  • Best St. Louis Blue

    Chris Pronger

    For Blues fanatics, the only bad, bad thing about Chris Pronger is that in praising him, they have to credit, however indirectly, former Blues despot Mike Keenan. For many Blues fanatics, Mike Keenan is the Hannibal Lecter of St. Louis hockey -- in their view, he not only killed the team, he virtually ate it. But somewhere Keenan is chuckling.… More >>
  • Best St. Louis Ram

    Marshall Faulk

    Here's a category that could go any number of ways. After all, who had a better year than QB Kurt Warner, who was the MVP of the season and the Super Bowl? Or wide receiver Isaac Bruce, who shook off years of nagging injuries and attitudinal indifference to become the NFL's most dangerous receiver? Well, there was one guy --… More >>
  • Best Coach

    Dick Vermeil

    A little more than a year ago, we wanted his head. After a last-place finish, there seemed little hope for the Rams under Dick Vermeil. The team itself mutinied, showing him abject disrespect after the final loss of 1998, and unless something was done, there was little doubt that the fans would follow suit. But, of course, something was done:… More >>
  • Best Sports Bargain

    Kurt Warner

    When quarterback Trent Green's leg bent awkwardly beneath him and snapped in the third exhibition game of 1999, the Rams' season appeared over before it had begun. Even sunnily optimistic coach Dick Vermeil trailed dark clouds as he halfheartedly talked up second-stringer Kurt Warner. One Super Bowl victory later, who would have guessed? No one, that's who. Warner's improbable grocery-to-glory… More >>
  • Best Sports Bust

    Trent Green

    It's unfair, perhaps, to cite Trent Green in this category: When he was taken off the field with a season-ending knee injury last August, Green had completed an astonishing 28 of 32 passes, for a league-leading percentage of 87.5, and his preseason quarterback rating of 126.6 was the best in Rams history. But instead of a conquering hero's return --… More >>
  • Best Sports Value

    St. Louis Swarm

    Recently we came across a car with four stickers on the side windows. On one side: St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Rams. On the other: St. Louis Blues and St. Louis Swarm. The Swarm? Who are they? Though we've never met you, brother sports fan, we salute you. For you know that St. Louis does have a professional basketball… More >>
  • Best Jockey

    Ricky Feliciano

    Flea. The moniker sounds fitting for a rock musician, but it belongs to Ricky Feliciano, currently riding a blue streak at Fairmount Park and living proof that nice guys do finish first. With last year's retirement of Dave Gall -- after 42 years in the saddle, the fourth-winningest jockey in North American horse racing -- bets were on as to… More >>
  • Best Run

    Labor Day Classic

    The Labor Day Classic, up and running for more than 20 years now, draws more than 400 runners, and even more attendant spectators, to the Jewish Community Center of St. Louis. The annual event comprises a 10K, a 5K and a one-mile family run through the rolling hills surrounding the JCC grounds, 2 Millstone Campus Dr. The Labor Day Classic… More >>
  • Best Motorcycle Ride

    Great River Road

    It's not exactly the Yellow Brick Road, but the Great River Road alongside the Mississippi River is as close to Oz as you can come on a motorcycle in these parts: winding turns, beautiful scenery, minimal traffic and lots of down-home taverns in tiny towns that dot the route north of St. Louis. Start early to beat the afternoon sun… More >>
  • Best Rural Bicycle Ride

    Monroe and Randolph Counties, Ill.

    Monroe and Randolph counties in Illinois offer top-notch rides through farmland on roads with so little traffic they may as well be bicycle paths. Although Monroe County farmers have a reputation for disliking bicyclists, serious run-ins aren't common. Be on your best behavior and ride professionally. A good 40-mile ride (which has been marked with pink directional arrows painted on… More >>
  • Best Urban Bicycle Ride

    Downtown

    Get off those overcrowded Forest Park paths and see the city. Don't be afraid of cars. With judicious timing and route selection, you can meander just about anywhere without going elbow-to-fender against motorists. On weekends and anytime after 5 p.m., downtown makes for good riding, especially when there isn't a football or baseball game in town. From the west, take… More >>
  • Best Place to Work Off Steam

    Bruce Sikes' Fencing Class

    There are few workouts as demanding as a 90-minute fencing class with Bruce Sikes, a U.S. Fencing Association (USFA)-certified instructor who offers beginning and advanced lessons around the St. Louis area. Trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Sikes gently leads his beginning students through the basics of this 1,000-year-old sport and into the more advanced stages… More >>
  • Best Bowling Lanes

    Tropicana Lanes

    Taking a trip to Tropicana Lanes is like being transported back to the early 1960s, when Sputniks circled the earth and bowling palaces dotted the suburban horizon. Many of these icons of American postwar leisure have disappeared along with drive-in movie theaters. This makes Tropicana Lanes (7960 Clayton Rd., 314-781-0282) that much more special. The bowling alley is divided into… More >>
  • Best Public Golf Course

    Forest Park

    Talk about pressure. What course in town makes the holes in your game as plain as Forest Park's? You drive along Skinker Boulevard, as the traffic runs by, with cars full of folks watching you play. The Forest Park course was built in 1912 by the architect Robert Foulis, who also designed the courses at Glen Echo Country Club and… More >>
  • Best Private Golf Course

    Bellerive Country Club

    There's a reason Bellerive Country Club (12925 Ladue Rd., 314-434-4400) keeps landing major tournaments, including the World Golf Championships-American Express Championship in 2001 and the U.S. Senior Open Championship in 2004. The course, located on a 353-acre site at Ladue and Mason roads, was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and it is the only St. Louis course that is… More >>
  • Best Stables

    Kraus Farm

    It's not just because the Kraus family knows and understands horses -- literally inside and out -- that they merit kudos. After all, they've worked with equines since 1936, when Ben Kraus featured Wild West shows with chuckwagon races, Roman riding (son Darwin astride two cantering horses), broncos and calf roping. And it's not just the certain delight whenever I… More >>
  • Best Pool

    Kirkwood Aquatic Center

    The Kirkwood Aquatic Center, partially financed by and shared with Glendale and Oakland, provides us the most wonderful relief from the St. Louis summer, a.k.a. the sauna experience. We'll probably start by lounging on a float tube as the current pushes us along the 700-foot Lazy River, past water sprays and under bridges. But we can't long resist the thrill… More >>
  • Best Hike

    Bell Mountain Wilderness Area

    When many St. Louisans refer to the Ozarks, they mistakenly associate the region exclusively with the Lake of the Ozarks. Such urban geographic ignorance helps keep the crowds down in the real Ozarks Mountains, some of which are much closer to the city than many folks realize. The Bell Mountain Wilderness Area in the Mark Twain National Forest, for example,… More >>
  • Best Place to Bird-Watch

    John F. Kennedy Forest, Forest Park

    The ovenbird flies from Mexico in early spring, following the Mississippi River all the way to Canada. She flies by night and rests during the day. As this large warbler reaches the halfway point along her migratory flyway, she soars above the steel-and-concrete caverns of St. Louis, looking for a place to rest. Then she sees a small patch of… More >>
  • Best Place to Stargaze

    Washington University Observatory

    The cosmos, the heavens, the infinite. It's all right there over our heads, all the time. Go outside and look directly up after dusk. Besides the space junk, the low-flying Piper Cubs, police surveillance helicopters, commercial aircraft and fighter jets, there are visible stars, planets, astral bodies -- out-of-this-world stuff. How cool is that? The most practical place to view… More >>
  • Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Visitors to Gross Them Out

    St. Louis Zoo Insectarium

    This would otherwise be a tossup between anyplace that serves biscuits and gravy or uses Provel cheese, but a visit to the St. Louis Zoo's Insectarium should rank at the top of the list. Now, we like insects (and arachnids, and gastropods) just fine, but some may find some of the exhibits disquieting. For example, a facsimile kitchen, complete with… More >>
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