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Sports & Recreation

  • Best Cardinals Player

    Juan Encarnacion

    When the Cardinals acquired Juan Encarnacion in the off-season from the Florida Marlins and gave him $15 million over three years, fan reaction was, to put it kindly, muted. Cardinal Nation expected a serviceable replacement for Larry Walker, someone who'd produce something near the .287 average, 16 home runs and 76 RBI he accumulated last year with the Marlins. During… More >>
  • Best Blues Player

    Jason Bacashihua

    Let's not kid ourselves: It was a grim year to be a Blues fan. Key players were traded, injuries piled up, and wins were in short supply. But on the night Al MacInnis' number was retired, the Blues showed they still had their pride. With Chopper in the building and the opposing Edmonton Oilers fighting for a berth in the… More >>
  • Best Rams Player

    Steven Jackson

    After the team's miserable showing last year, incoming Rams coach Scott Linehan pretty much gets a free pass for '06-'07. But if fans aren't expecting a first-year miracle out of the new head coach, they are looking for tailback Steven Jackson to stand and deliver in his third pro season. Jackson's a big man, and the Rams' 2004 first-round pick… More >>
  • Best-Looking Rams Player

    John David Washington

    Such a conundrum does the knee-weakening mug of John David Washington present. On the one hand, if the Rams rookie, signed as an undrafted free agent over the summer, earns some quality PT on the gridiron this fall, it ups his chances of being kept on for seasons to come. But on the other, it also means covering up that… More >>
  • Best Coach

    Jose Oquendo

    Jose Oquendo is the Jose Oquendo of this year's "Best Coach" category. Even as the managers of all three of St. Louis' professional sports teams piloted their clubs to subpar seasons, only Oquendo, the Cardinals' "Secret Weapon" of the 1980s and 1990s — stands out. During the World Baseball Classic this past spring, Oquendo moved from the third-base coaching box… More >>
  • Best Garden

    The Elizabeth Danforth Butterfly Garden - CLOSED

    Tucked away between Washington University's Hilltop Campus and the South 40 residential complex (specifically, between Stix International House and Blewett Hall) is a hidden little corner of paradise. Since its founding by the Wash. U. Women's Club in 1995, "Ibby's Garden," built to honor former university first lady Elizabeth Danforth, has hosted throngs of butterflies, from monarchs and viceroys to… More >>
  • Best Public Park

    Forest Park

    In some instances more is more and bigger is better. Even if the forlorn and largely unused park parcel adjacent to the BJC hospital complex should be leased and lost forever, Forest Park would continue to radiate Best-ness with lovely, leafy authority via its miles of pedestrian and bicycle paths, its extraordinary cultural institutions, its broad and various fields and… More >>
  • Best Urban Bike Ride

    Mississippi River Trail

    Saddle a two-wheeler under the magnificent shadow of the Gateway Arch — specifically, at the intersection of Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard and Biddle Street, the exact point where the locally maintained Riverfront Trail segues into the Mississippi River Trail, governed by a multistate consortium from Minnesota to Louisiana. Point the bicycle due south, and pedal. Through the gaping maw of… More >>
  • Best Place to Hike

    Rockwoods Reservation

    Like you, dear reader, most of the time we're too busy shopping, eating out, drinking wine and watching Law & Order to even think about going on a hike, much less weigh the options of where. That's why we love Rockwoods Reservation. This forested haven offers seven trails for the hiking one of which is only 300 yards long!… More >>
  • Best Place to Jog

    Downtown St. Louis

    The best jogging route is the one you map out for yourself. For the purposes of this contest, let's say the best jog nowadays is the Downtown St. Louis Jog, and you can map your own route. Though your aim is to release endorphins and hunkify your calves, you also want to see what's going on, who's on the street,… More >>
  • Best Place to Rollerblade

    The drives of Forest Park

    You don't want to Rollerblade along the Forest Park's recreation paths, the ones designated for bikers, joggers, walkers and skaters. That teeny two-lane nonsense is too damn narrow. You're a blader; you need a wide berth. Nothing ruins a leisurely weekend afternoon like a bunch of bitchy bikers — sorry, cyclists — barking at you for clipping their spokes. The… More >>
  • Best Yoga Studio

    Bikram Yoga St. Louis

    You've been going out a lot lately. Exercising has become less and less of a priority. And healthy eating? Well, let's just say that your orange-stained hands have betrayed your nightly affair with a one Mr. Chester Cheetah. It's time to detoxify, and fast! You don't want to look like you're 80 years old — you've only just begun to… More >>
  • Best Shooting Range

    Bull's Eye

    Most people think of tying one on come Friday night, but there's something to be said for popping one off instead. Bull's Eye, the only indoor shooting range in the city of St. Louis, rents pistols, rifles and one brand-new full-auto, an Uzi, till 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Where else in… More >>
  • Best Public Pool

    Heman Park

    Heman Park Pool underwent a major facelift in 2004. Thankfully, you can hardly tell. While other municipalities have turned their public swimming pools into gaudy aquatic theme parks, University City's Heman Park remains the definitive urban oasis. Since 1933 the swimming facility's main attraction has been its huge 23,000-square-foot pool — one of the few places in St. Louis where… More >>
  • Best Amusement Park

    NASCAR SpeedPark

    St. Louis is not without amusement areas that possess their own unique charm, but there ain't no how, no way any of them could top a theme park that has something called the Tot Rods. All right, so it's just a circular course stocked with kid-size classic cars, and there's no paint-swapping allowed — and on top of that, you're… More >>
  • Best Miniature Golf

    Infield Fun Center

    When the RFT's editorial department took its collective summer break this year (specially trained robots run the show for a few months — no big deal), we ventured away to the Miniature Golf Capital of the Universe, a.k.a. South Carolina. So many elaborately landscaped courses did we play that we developed calluses — we think it was from the putter,… More >>
  • Best Public Golf Course

    Annbriar Golf Course

    The St. Louis area has no shortage of public golf courses, but Annbriar is the only one where you can tee it up, face a challenge from class-A fairways and fill up with a warm-fuzzy feeling. The course is something of a verdant monument, you see, to the late Ann Nobbe of Waterloo. She dreamed of turning her family's old… More >>
  • Best Hole at a Golf Course

    No. 10, Normandie Golf Course

    Having just turned the corner from the front nine, you might expect the links to take it easy on you. Not at Normandie Golf Course, where No. 10 presents one of the most difficult challenges of the entire par-71 layout. You can't see the pin from the tee box, so you might as well pull out Big Bertha. But if… More >>
  • Best Golf Shop

    Golf Galaxy

    Though the sport has inspired more cheesy Father's Day presents and New Yorker cartoons than any other, golf is classically confounding, encompassing many of life's main struggles: man versus man, man versus nature, man versus himself, man versus crazy-patterned pants. And Golf Galaxy's the best place to go for the weapons in this fight. The vast inventory offers not only… More >>
  • Best Bowling Lanes

    Epiphany Lanes

    Decades ago, bowling lanes were as much a part of Catholic schools and churches as nuns with rulers. But as time has passed, many of these centers of parish and community social life have fallen like pins. Epiphany Lanes, though, is still standing. Tucked in a residential enclave near Jamieson and Arsenal amid new restaurants and old upholstery stores, the… More >>
  • Best Bowling Shirts

    Cruisin USA

    When the RFT's editorial department needed team shirts for our bowling squad, we knew just where to get 'em: Cruisin USA. This haberdashery, discreetly tucked in a mini-industrial park in the upper-right-hand corner of University City, boasts an online presence that's more in keeping with its spacious warehouse and ample inventory, but locals can walk right into the showroom and… More >>
  • Best Tennis Courts

    Francis Park

    Local tennis players face obstacles including, but not limited to, humidity, crowds, dilapidated courts and high fees. Francis Park eliminates all but the humidity with its eight well-manicured free courts, at least a couple of which are usually available. They ain't fancy. They lack lights, so you can't play after dark, and the occasional ball slips through the rusty fences.… More >>
  • Best Basketball Court

    The Center of Clayton

    Casting an admiring gaze upon the freshly waxed and polished parquet floors, Clayton's parks and recreation director, Patty DeForrest, exclaims, "Oh yes, we love our basketball courts." And they have every right to. This place is a palace for hoopsters, whether you prefer full- or half-court action. With 24 hoops in an enormous gymnasium, you'd be hard-pressed not to be… More >>
  • Best Batting Cage

    Arizona Action Park

    Here at the RFT, we are great at putting out a newspaper. We get awards for it and everything. But this summer we learned that we are not so great at winning softball games. Sure, there were a few shining moments at the plate and some stellar catches in the field, but a terrific team we were not. But we… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    Hooters

    This one's a no-brainer. No, not what you're (probably) thinking. We simply mean: What the heck took them so long to deliver Hooters from the cobwebs of Union Station to its new location in Kiener Plaza? Now within walking distance of downtown's three sports venues, this haven of hot wings and cold beers has quickly become a magnet for the… More >>
  • Best Sports Bargain

    St. Louis Sports Zone

    Are you in or out? Be it Super Bowl Sunday or the WNBA finals, it's always the same dilemma. Staying home's good — there's a (relatively) short line for the bathroom, potlucking is economical, and the booze is cheap. Plus, you can actually see and hear what's going on. But there's something about braving the bar scene, what with the… More >>
  • Best Local Boxer

    Cory Spinks

    What a difference six pounds makes. As a welterweight, Cory Spinks had to starve himself to stay below 147. Eating nothing but apples in the days leading up to his February 2005 title defense, Spinks was no match for a fresh Zab Judah. The loss kicked off a trying year for Spinks, a year in which his wife stabbed him… More >>
  • Best High School Athlete

    Dave Stewart

    This kid is what a professional athlete looks like at seventeen — or so says KMOV-TV (Channel 4)'s sports reporter Doug Vaughn. Last year six-foot-six Vianney High School junior Dave Stewart played as a pitcher and outfielder for the state champion Griffins baseball team and power forward (and leading scorer) for the basketball Griffins. Back in freshman year, Stewart helped… More >>
  • Best College Athlete

    Ian Vouyoukas

    This past spring Saint Louis University basketball phenom Ian Vouyoukas entered himself in the NBA draft and didn't get a bite. Admittedly, it was a halfhearted attempt to go pro on the part of Vouyoukas, who didn't hire an agent and announced that he wouldn't leave the college ranks unless he was taken in the first round. So much the… More >>
  • Best Fishing Hole

    Show-Me Missouri Fish Mobile Aquarium

    Why fish when you can have someone fish for you? That's what you get with the Show-Me Missouri Fish Mobile Aquarium — a 3,200-gallon tank the Missouri Department of Conservation uses to promote fishing around the state. Better yet, the aquarium is in St. Louis September 28 through October 1 (at the Westfield mall in Crestwood) and again October 6-8… More >>
  • Best Picnic Spot

    Picnic Island

    Picnics can be irritating to coordinate. There's the challenge of keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold, the matter of transport from production site to consumption site, and dealing with the invariable stressful moment when you realize you forgot the damn corkscrew. Even assuming you clear the aforementioned hurdles, all that careful planning can be for naught if… More >>
  • Best Stroll

    Forest Park Grand Basin at night

    You've done dinner. Even a movie. But you're not done with the date. What are the options? Suffocate in a smoky bar? Not romantic. Invite him/her home? The place is a mess. How about a little nighttime stroll? Lights on the water, stars in the sky — now that's romance. Head for Lagoon Drive, and park the car where Saint… More >>
  • Best Weekend Getaway

    Mississippi River Hills

    A group of winemakers and small farmers looking to put Missouri on the world map for its specialty food products christened Mississippi River Hills in 2003. The pastoral eco-region begins south of Arnold and ends around Benton in Scott County, crossing six county lines. (Check out the abovementioned Web site for a detailed map, as it's not yet listed in… More >>
  • Best Place to Bird-Watch

    Lafayette Park

    Unless you're an ornithologist or a hunter, it's not about the birds — it's about the place. It's about walking somewhere, sitting down and pausing. Canadian prophet Mac Davis called it stopping to smell the roses, but just as well might have suggested that we stop to watch the birds. In Lafayette Park, ducks waddle the shores of the pond,… More >>
  • Best Sports Broadcast Personality

    John Rooney

    If St. Louis Cardinals officials have any sense, they're plotting the ouster of the team's newest radio voice, John Rooney, right now. Sure, Rooney's smooth delivery and keen knowledge of baseball are the perfect counterpoint to Mike Shannon's folksy tangents. And sure, in Rooney's first season with the Redbirds, the Richmond, Missouri, native's voice already erupts with unfeigned excitement at… More >>
  • Best Stadium Parking

    Garage at Seventh and Pine streets

    This city-owned garage, located on Pine Street between Seventh and Eighth streets, will you cost you $3 for late-afternoon, evening and weekend games. It's a three-block walk to Busch Stadium. Easy in, easy out. Just don't power down too many ice-cold ones at the game — or if you do, do the right thing and cab it home.… More >>
  • Best Sports Enigma

    David Eckstein's At-Bat Music

    It's no surprise that St. Louis loves David Eckstein. The wee shortstop's sheer hustle more than makes up for what he lacks in power, speed or just about any generally accepted marker of baseball skill. His courtship of Blue Collar TV star Ashley Drane was notable for his old-fashioned belief in the sanctity of marriage. Hell, even his honey-nut toasted-oat… More >>
  • Best Move

    Doug Weight to Carolina

    The Blues took their share of hits during the dismal 2005-2006 season, but we're willing to give general manager Larry Pleau the benefit of the doubt on the best sports move of the year. Trading Doug Weight to Carolina in midseason in exchange for a first-round draft pick and two fourth-round picks virtually assured the Blues a last-place finish in… More >>
  • Best Example of Taking One for the Team

    Kristi Yamaoka

    OK, so it probably wasn't the finest moment of her college career: Kristi Yamaoka had just dropped — hard — to the floor of the Savvis Center, the victim of gravity and perhaps Murphy's Law. The Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Salukis were battling Bradley in the Missouri Valley Conference finals for a bid to the NCAA Tournament when Yamaoka plummeted from… More >>
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