Sports & Recreation

  • Best Cardinals Player

    Abraham Nuñez

    On the balmy night of May 10, the collective world of Cardinal Nation stood still. Indeed, it seemed the sky had fallen when Scott Rolen sprinted out of the batter's box and plowed into Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Hee Seop Choi. A seriously injured shoulder put an end to Rolen's 2005 campaign. And to the rescue came Abraham Orlando… More >>
  • Best Rams Player

    Marshall Faulk

    The graceless aging of an NFL superstar is a sad, sad sight to behold: Emmitt Smith nickel-and-diming his way to the all-time rushing title; Jerry Rice vowing to play another season after two releases in a calendar year. Marshall Faulk is a few years away from risking such ignominy (he turned 32 this offseason, which puts him late-middle-age in football… More >>
  • Best Blues Player

    Jamal Mayers

    How'd a hockey player slip into this Best of St. Louis business? No Blues team took the ice in the 2004-05 season. And judging by the fire sale going on over at the soon-to-be-named-something-else-Savvis Center, there's a good chance there won't be much of a team on the ice for 2005-06 either. At least not in St. Louis, anyway. So… More >>
  • Best Steamers Player

    Daryl Doran

    There was a time when St. Louis' indoor soccer Steamers drew like the Blues. Thanks to terminally inept league (and sometimes team) management, those days are long gone. But the team's Philadelphia-based ownership has tried its ass off to heat things up again, moving the Steamers to the Savvis Center, conceiving a reality show and signing a female player. Competitive… More >>
  • Devon Alexander

    Best Local Boxer

    Devon Alexander

    While sparring partner Cory Spinks went down feebly in his marquee rematch with Zab Judah back in February, further down the card fellow Kevin Cunningham trainee Devon Alexander "The Great" triumphed over Donovan Castaneda in a unanimous decision. In June Alexander single-handedly electrified the "Rumble by the River" in St. Charles, taking down welterweight John Rudolph by technical knockout in… More >>
  • Best Thoroughbred

    Lady Riss

    This year four-year-old Lady Riss became the first horse in Fairmount Park's 80-year history to exceed $100,000 in earnings in a single season, garnering $105,540 in winning six of seven starts at the metro east's little track that could. Given that Lady Riss is, well, a lady (filly, in Thoroughbred parlance), such a feat would figure to come with an… More >>
  • Best Sports Broadcast Personality

    Al Hrabosky

    Any sports-bar blowhard with a decent timbre to his voice and a varsity letter jacket moldering in his closet believes that he too could be a color commentator. And who can blame him? After all, the paragon of the profession is John Madden, whose "analysis" consists of the well-placed "Boom!" Thankfully, FSN Midwest Cardinals analyst Al Hrabosky is that most… More >>
  • Jack Clark

    Best Coach

    Jack Clark

    Where were you when the Ripper went yard on Niedenfuer in Game 6 of the 1985 NLCS? It's a question that, to this day, grips Cardinal faithful like the Kennedy assassination. "When Jack hit it, he flipped his bat and started running down the first-base line," recalls former Cardinal ace Danny Cox. "Then he yells, "Take that, bitches!' Hittin' a… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    Flannery's Pub

    Hard to believe that in the decade since Washington Avenue's rebirth, the street has gone without a sports bar until just this past year. That said, Flannery's could win accolades simply for going against the grain and offering anything other than the haute cuisine and/or mind-numbing techno music served up at nearly every other Wash. Ave. establishment. But Flannery's is… More >>
  • Best Tennis Courts

    Dwight Davis Tennis Center

    Where in St. Louis can you play tennis on courts graced by champions the likes of Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, Patrick Rafter and Martina Hingis? The answer: Dwight Davis Tennis Center in Forest Park. On days the Aces aren't playing, you too can grace Dwight Davis' stadium court and pretend you're facing off against Roddick's 145 mph serve as you… More >>
  • Tropicana Lanes

    Best Bowling Lanes

    Tropicana Lanes

    To borrow from Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski, Tropicana abides. It's hard for other bowling alleys to compete with this 52-lane powerhouse in Richmond Heights. Not only does Tropicana Lanes strike bowlers' hearts with great deals like the "Tuesday Night Special" -- two hours of bowling, two pairs of shoes, one large pizza and one pitcher of soda, for… More >>
  • Best Basketball Court

    Cardinal Ritter Gymnasium

    Pickup hoops isn't for everyone, mainly because for every guy who's just out there for some good-natured run, there are five other guys whose life seems to depend upon whether their team comes out on the sunny side of a game of full-court four-on-four. This makes a run at, say, the Downtown Y or Fairground Park virtually insufferable. The sad… More >>
  • Best Hole on a Public Golf Course

    No. 18

    You got game? At Normandie Golf Course, if you land on the green at No. 18, a nail-biter of a par-3, you've got game. This 250-yard mettle-tester ain't much to look at, but it provides a kick-your-keister finish to a round at what is said to be the oldest public golf course west of the Mississippi. Sand traps skirt the… More >>
  • Best Weekend Getaway

    Grafton, Illinois

    As far as the Best of St. Louis Official Rules Committee is concerned, it's not a Weekend Getaway if it involves boarding a plane. No, the epitome of a Weekend Getaway requires a Friday afternoon at work, when it's 98 degrees outside with impending thunderstorms and the Cardinals on an extended road trip. You've got a car, right? Well, get… More >>
  • Best Picnic Spot

    The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House

    There are tables and benches in every direction you spin in Faust Park, plus a shelter, playground, footbridge and fountain spraying forth from within a pond. There's even a giant concrete butterfly and counterpart giant caterpillar munching on his own giant-concrete-leaf lunch nearby. So plop your paper plates down just about anywhere near the Butterfly House (watch out for goose… More >>
  • Wild Bird Garden in Tower Grove Park

    Best Place to Bird-Watch

    Wild Bird Garden in Tower Grove Park

    If you think good bird-watching requires long hikes into mosquito-infested forests, you've never been to the Robert and Martha Gaddy Wild Bird Garden in Tower Grove Park. "St. Louis is a great place for birding because of the Mississippi River -- a natural flyway for migratory birds," confirms Denise Kirkpatrick, owner of a Wild Bird Center franchise in south county.… More >>
  • Best Stroll

    A round trip from the northeast corner of South Grand Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue

    Let the joggers puff and pant and blow their knees out; we'll take the snail's pace any day. Finding a good place to stroll in St. Louis is easy, but here's one wonderful route: Start at the northeast corner of Tower Grove Park (South Grand Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue) and head west on Magnolia. It's a cityscape in stereo: the… More >>
  • Best Place to Hike

    Pere Marquette State Park

    Do you know what one of the very best things about St. Louis is? It's really easy to get out of, into the surrounding green. You try that in New York or LA, Mr. and Ms. The-Coasts-Are-the-Most. Sprawl and all, we're still graced with a pastoral plenitude. Ergo, great hiking. Witness the paths at Pere Marquette State Park. Marquette, the… More >>
  • Best Place to Mountain Bike

    Chubb Trail

    Walk into any area bike shop and ask an employee to name his or her favorite local MTB trail. Nine times out of ten, they'll fire back with Chubb, a seven-mile, out-and-back stretch packed with nigh-impossible climbs, breathtakingly fast and long downhills and equally breathtaking views. Running between Lone Elk Park and West Tyson Park (and accessible off I-44 east… More >>
  • Best Urban Bike Ride

    Gravois Avenue

    Gravois Avenue cuts a mighty diagonal through south St. Louis' 90-degree grid, and thus provides unparalleled variety for urban biking. Plus, there's plenty of room for cyclists, even during rush hour. If you start at the county line (near the River Des Peres) and head toward I-55 (where Gravois morphs into Tucker Boulevard), you get a gradual uphill pedal that… More >>
  • Best Place to Rollerblade

    Creve Coeur County Park

    At the turn of the last century, Creve Coeur Park was a resort area for St. Louis' well-to-do. More than a hundred years later, it still is: This jewel of the county parks system boasts a 320-acre lake for sailing, the renowned and bucolic Dripping Springs waterfall, numerous wildlife areas -- and six miles of paved trails for bikers, walkers,… More >>
  • Queeny Park

    Best Fishing Hole

    Queeny Park

    Did you know St. Louis was one of six cities included in the U.S. Department of the Interior's first Urban Fishing Programs in 1969? Well Opie, sling your fishin' pole 'cross your overall strap and whistle your way down the mulch trail that leads from the parking lot to the interior of Queeny Park. True, Queeny is home to hayrides… More >>
  • Best Public Pool

    Wapelhorst Aquatic Center

    What ever happened to good old diving boards? Just wondering. The water slide at Wapelhorst Aquatic Center in St. Charles looks like someone uprooted a Six Flags ride and dropped it into an unsuspecting neighborhood. It takes six frickin' flights of stairs to reach the top of this behemoth. And in this area, it is in fact Six Flags' water… More >>
  • Best Public Park

    Francis Park

    The most low-key and crime-free of the city neighborhoods is St. Louis Hills, and Francis Park is its 60-acre emerald. While very much the neighborhood's social spot (Christmas tree lighting, bulb plantings and Easter egg hunts are yearly traditions), Francis graciously welcomes visitors with all the sports and playground amenities expected -- plus two water fountains, two restrooms and four… More >>
  • Best Dog Park

    University City Off-Leash Dog Play Area

    When it comes to dog parks, St. Louis is slowly catching up with the civilized world. At last count, the metro area offered five dog parks, with some five more slated to open in the next year or two. But what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality, thanks to the University City Off-Leash Dog Play Area.… More >>
  • Best Miniature Golf

    Swing-A-Round Fun Town

    In the shadow of St. Basil's pastel onion domes, everyone's silent as she approaches the green. She inspects the lay of the land: a hazard here, a slope there. And then with an expert putt she delivers the goods -- right across the bridge! Ah, the pleasures are many at Swing-A-Round Fun Town's three (count 'em!) nine-hole mini-golf courses. Choose… More >>
  • Best Batting Cage

    Infield Fun Center

    You've got one dollar and eighteen things to bitch about. The Infield Fun Center's batting cages are just the ticket. Pitches one through three are for your griping family. Four through seven are for work: a missed deadline, health insurance that's too expensive, a vending machine that doesn't work. Ball eight's for the office too (that unpleasant stapler incident). Nine… More >>
  • Best High School Athlete

    Paul Chaney

    As the starting quarterback for Saint Louis University High, Paul Chaney deserves praise solely for his gridiron prowess. But for the SLUH senior, football and basketball (he's earned varsity letters in both) serve as mere placeholders for his true passion: track and field. Last year, at the tender age of seventeen, Chaney dedicated his season to his father, Paul Chaney… More >>
  • Best College Athlete

    Emil Williams Jr.

    Are bowlers athletes? Are jockeys just along for the ride? How about race-car drivers? State champion truckers? Pro wrestlers? Long-drive champions? Poker sharks? Billiards wizards? Or that guy who just won his seventh straight Tour de France? Dumb debates don't deserve the dignity of a definitive answer, and so it is with zero shame that we bestow this year's Best… More >>
  • Best Boxing Gym

    Marquette Recreation Center

    The boxing gym upstairs at Marquette Recreation Center is not a fancy place. The thermostat malfunctions, the windows don't open wide enough to let in the breeze, and the punching bags are "borrowed" by pugilist wannabes who should know better. But dozens of fighters call the gym and its undersize ring home, some for a day until their fancy passes,… More >>
  • Best Yoga Studio

    YogaSource

    These days it seems like yoga is as trendy as the fall window displays at Neiman Marcus. Would you like to try Hot, Happy, Baby or Boga? Everyone's doing it -- or at least trying to market it. Yoga's image in Western minds has morphed from "some weird cult" to "the latest thing." Hip hotels and clothing designers are redefining… More >>
  • Best Workout

    Balanced Body Conditiong

    When Dawn Ruppert shouts, "Friends don't bring friends to this class!" at the opening of her Balanced Body Conditioning exercise class, even seasoned athletes among the newcomers are inclined to sneer, "Sure, whatever." But when the workout ends 75 minutes later (sometimes more, if Ruppert's in the mood), the snickerers are too pooped to smart-mouth. A fitness fanatic, Ruppert has… More >>
  • Best Place to Jog

    Hanley to Kingshighway (and back), via Wydown and Lindell

    Why running in a park sucks: There are lots of other runners sharing that teensy trail, and most of them are fitter and faster than you. Trees and squirrels don't provide much visual stimulation. (When was the last time your mind carried on a conversation with itself about acorns?) And running around a park is even worse: the same loop-the-loop… More >>
  • Best Move

    The Cardinals' middle infield

    The off-season news that the St. Louis Cardinals would be replacing shortstop Edgar Renteria and second baseman Tony Womack with David Eckstein and Mark Grudzielanek (respectively) was greeted with skopticism -- which is to say, a mix of skepticism and optimism, and more of the former than the latter. But at this writing, with the 2005 season more than three-fourths… More >>
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