Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Top 5 Iconic Moments in Cardinal History

Sometimes the fearless leader of the UCB Daniel Shoptaw puts us on the spot with the monthly projects. January’s project is the top five moments in Cardinal history.

Five? I only get five? I don’t know how Bob Netherton managed to narrow it down, but after reading his I was spurned towards figuring out mine (So… thanks Bob!).

If you are digging back to the very beginning of the Cardinals, the pre-1900’s would be a starting point, but those moments were not really ‘iconic.’ Let’s see… where to start…

5. Bob Gibson’s 1968 season

Have you ever known a player to completely change the way the game was played singlehandedly? No, you think. That doesn’t happen. One player cannot change an entire sport. Oh yes it can…

32 STL NL 22 9 .710 1.12 34 34 0 28 13 0 304.2 198 49 38 11 62 6 268 7 0 4 1161 258 0.853 5.8 0.3 1.8 7.9 4.32 AS,CYA-1,MVP-1,GG
17 Seasons 251 174 .591 2.91 528 482 21 255 56 6 3884.1 3279 1420 1258 257 1336 118 3117 102 13 108 16068 128 1.188 7.6 0.6 3.1 7.2 2.33
162 Game Avg. 17 12 .591 2.91 36 32 1 17 4 0 262 221 96 85 17 90 8 210 7 1 7 1082 128 1.188 7.6 0.6 3.1 7.2 2.33
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2012.

Yes, you are reading that correctly. Bob Gibson’s 1968 season was other-worldly. A 1.12 ERA, 13 complete game shutouts, giving up 38 earned runs over 304 innings… who does this?

No one, not since Bob Gibson. You see, 1968 became somewhat of a “year of the pitcher” in Major League Baseball. Run-scoring was down, and since most fans come to see at least a little bit of action at a baseball game, the powers that be determined that this was a terrible thing. The result? The actual pitchers’ mound was lowered from 15 inches to 10 inches. It was a literal leveling of the playing field, and all Gibson got to show for his season was an All-Star selection, Gold Glove, Cy Young, MVP award, and a National League pennant.

Oh, that’s all.

4. October 27, 2011 – “They just won’t go away.”

Despite the recentness of this moment, it is crazy to think that game 6 of this past year’s World Series might not make this list. On the whole I feel like I am a pretty lucky baseball fan. I’ve seen my team play in 3 World Series (winning twice) and countless playoff games in my 25 years on this earth. On the flip side, my grandpa turned 80 years old last year and is still waiting for his beloved Cubs to win it all.

The 2011 postseason had its share of thrills, spills and chills, but the Cardinals found themselves against the wall, finding themselves down to their final strike not once, but twice, and they still came out on top. David Freese became a household name with his game-tying triple, then followed it up with his walk-off winner. Joe Buck gave us all goosebumps with his call of the home run, channeling his dad with a “We will see you tomorrow night!”

The team wouldn’t quit. They pushed through and came out on top. Also, to further my point that I am a very lucky baseball fan? October 27 is my birthday. 😉

3. The teams that would not die. 

The 2011 team was not the only one that was left for dead. 1964 was a wild pennant run in and of itself (and if you want a more detailed look, check out Bob Netherton’s posts on the subject). Ten games back? Nine games back? No matter, somehow these two Cardinal teams rose from the ashes and claimed a place in history.

Now, did it take a hard fall from the teams that were ahead of them in order for the birds on the bat to make it to the playoffs? You betcha. The 1964 Phillies are still remembered for that epic collapse. Will the 2011 Braves be remembered in the same way? Probably not, in all honesty. People don’t talk about the 1964 World Series the same way they will talk about the 2011 version. One thing is certain: no one will forget the Cardinals and their fight to the end!

2. Big Mac breaks the record

1998 was a magical summer for 11 year old me. I was living and dying with every long ball hit by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. I watched more Cubs baseball on WGN than any sane baseball fan should ever have to endure.

Yeah yeah, steriods. I know. But I didn’t back then. I’m not the only one that didn’t see behind the curtain either. Many of those that did, just didn’t care. For the first time since the strike of 1994 crippled many baseball fans from their love of the game, baseball had life. Games at Kauffman Stadium and the Astrodome were being sold out, and those teams had no business having that many fans in the stands. Nightly news would be cut off to update the score and the fact that Mac/Sammy had just blasted another one (and I didn’t live in the St. Louis/Chicago area to get full coverage).

But September 8, 1998 is a night that I will never forget. I screamed, I jumped around the living room, and I almost cut off my poor sisters’ circulation from hugging them so tightly. Watching that ball skirt over the wall, watching Mac almost miss first base, seeing the Maris family and Sammy running in from the outfield and all the people screaming and cheering… I was a part of that! We were all part of that. Despite what we know now… back then we were all just baseball fans again.

1.  “Go Crazy Folks”

Ozzie with one out. Took a ball just outside. Cardinals have left ten men on and they left a lotta men on early. A runner at third nobody out in the first and didn’t score, second and third in the second and didn’t score. Smith corks one into into right down the line… it may go… go crazy folks! Go crazy! It’s a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3-2 on a home run by the Wizard! Go crazy!

Seeing the words just doesn’t do that call justice. It never will. The 1985 NLCS game 5 home run by Ozzie Smith was great in and of itself. He wasn’t a home run hitter, especially not from the left side. The home run was incredible, but it was not the iconic moment.

It was the call. It was Jack Buck. There will never be another.


There you go – the top 5 moments in Cardinals history from my eyes. What say you? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments…

Is it baseball season yet?

Winter Warm-Up Photo Gallery

When Cardinal Diamond Diaries was invited to cover the Winter Warm-Up, one of the first questions I asked before buying my plane ticket and making hotel reservations was “Is my camera invited?”

Cardinals news is wonderful, but Cardinals news with player photos is much, much better!  😉

By spending most of my three-days at WWU behind a lens, I managed to amass quite a hefty collection of digital images. Now, after a few days of picking and choosing, I’ve narrowed them down to a more manageable sharing library.  So without further ado, here’s a sampling of my favorite pictures:

(click an image to scroll through larger photos, hover mouse over photo for player name)

All photos copyrighted.  For information on republishing images, please contact us at cardsdiamonddiary@gmail.com.

WWU Recap: David Freese

Picking the subject of my first Winter Warm-Up Recap was easy. Hometown hero and World Series MVP, David Freese was a media darling.  Here’s what he had to say during the short 10 minutes he spent with us in the media room at Winter Warm-Up:

We’ll start with my favorite quotes, the humorous and sweet side of Mr. Freese:  (audio link included so you can listen for yourself)

About his squash record with Matt Holliday, who told the media he was ahead of Freese 4-2…

” Is he (Holliday) publicly announcing our record?  Wow, he must be nervous because I beat him last time so he’s trying to get that record out there.  Yeah, he’s taken me down a few times, but I’m coming back.  I’m getting him!”

About being a role model:

“I think I’ve been considered a role model since you get into pro ball.  Even in high school and college, there’s kids in this area, being a hometown guy, that are going to look up to you just because.  I’ve been in this city for a while and that is something that you can’t take for granted and you have to hold onto.  Each day I realize that there is more pressure involved in that.  But that’s cool.   I think it’s great.  I think the kids are the best part about this.  As hectic as it is, as crazy as everything gets, every time you see the excitement of a kid, it makes me realize it’s all worth it.”

–When asked if he still feels like himself after all the World Series fame:

…” yeah, I KNOW I’m me.  I think that’s the easy part.  I think about that all the time.  Stuff (has) hit me quick, that’s for sure, but I’ve said it before, if you get the right people around you, it’s that much easier to stay you.”

—About getting mobbed by everybody wherever he goes:

“It’s hectic, but it’s flattering. It’s humbling just going in places and seeing fans.  I still can’t understand why people thank me all the time, but it’s a cool feeling.

—Characterizing this offseason:

It’s been “preparation for 2012 with holding onto the excitement of 2011.  But when I get down to camp, it’s all about 2012.”

—-About expectations of him from this point on:

“I think expectations maybe from the fan base have risen, but not in my mind or I don’t think in the Cardinals’ mind. I think all they’re worried about is me just being healthy…

I think if I’m healthy, hopefully that’s enough. I can do my part. Losing Albert, we gotta kind of turn it up a little bit.  Beltran coming in is HUGE and  I think we are jacked up that he’s going to be putting on our uniform, and I’m just going to be me.  That’s what this is all about, just be me and do my part.

—Speaking about being considered the hero for Game 6,

Freese said hero is a “tough word.”  “It’s cool.  I think everyday I soak it in a little more and really understand what we accomplished as a team.  I’m pumped I did my part and glad we’re getting that ring.”

—About this team’s chances to compete again in 2012:

“Losing Albert’s tough, obviously, but  25 guys win a championship, and not one.  We are all going to miss Albert and we all wish him the best…. We’re going to have a good team and I think everyone knows that.  We’ve got hopefully  20 more wins coming from Waino too.  So it’s exciting.  I think it’s going to be different having Mike as our manager.  It’s going to be different not having Albert… not having Tony, but it’s definitely going to be exciting.”

—About changes in the way he expects to be used with Matheny as the manager now:

“There were times when Tony would give me rest in games and also it helped that Descalso’s a gold-glove caliber third baseman so it was a win/win.  You could throw D’s in there and keep him fresh.  I think 2012 is definitely going to be different in the sense that is going to be like hey Dave, just go in there and play and do what you can do because each day, each year I get more healthy.  There is still room for improvement, but that’s the exciting part.

“The weirdest thing is I’ve been really good friends with Mike (Matheny) for two years.  To say you have a friend become your manager, usually it’s the other way around.  That’s special.  That’s great.  Everybody in here knows the type of guy Mike is.  I think it clouds his knowledge of the game and that is an absolute compliment.  I  wouldn’t want any other guy taking this team and running it in 2012 than Mike Matheny.”

—About new teammate, Carlos Beltran’s addition to the team:

“(It) fills a void.  You can’t fill Albert’s shoes, but Carlos Belran is an elite talent and when he’s healthy, you know, he’s scary for sure…  He’s a middle of the order guy.  He’s going to do his part and help us out a lot.”

—About how he expects to be able to perform in 2012: 

“I’d like to say I could handle 162 (games).  I’m not going to throw a number out there, I hope I get this or I hope I get that, but the way I feel now… I’m not nervous.  That’s a good thing.  That’s a feeling I don’t have and I’ve had that feeling for a long time with my legs and stuff.  A year ago today there was definitely a nerve-wracking feeling going into camp.  So to pull that off my shoulders is a great feeling.”

“When healthy, I think I get the job done (as a defensive player).  Over the past couple of years I go out in the field and sometimes it’s tough just day in and day out getting after it, but I think this year it’s going to be a lot easier because you’re not worried about your feet, you’re not worried about your legs, you’re just being me.  I think about ’08 in Memphis ….I remember just running out there and just loving playing defense because I wasn’t worried about my feet.  This year it’s going to be like that, so I’m excited.”

“As far as rehabbing my feet, I’ve done less (this offseason).  There’s less to worry about.  It’s relaxing.  The nervous feeling of “am I ready?” isn’t there anymore and I’ve been waiting for that.”


Freese is excited and ready for Spring Training, ready to get out there and play baseball.

We’re ready too, Dave.  We’re ready too.


Winter Warm Up, Day 3

Where do I begin?

Composing this while sitting on the floor of the St. Louis airport, I am still spinning from the wonderful experience of covering Winter Warm-Up.  After getting a small taste of the behind-the-scenes media experience, I have a newfound respect for journalists and beat writers who live it, day in and day out.

When I opened my newspaper this morning to the Cardinal coverage, I savored and dissected the columns with even more enthusiasm than usual.  Besides the obvious difference of actually holding a real copy of the Post Dispatch in my hands today (a bit hard to find in Oklahoma and one of my favorite little things about visiting St. Louis), I was fascinated to see how the writers would pick and choose their details from the very same player interviews I had experienced the day before and then weave those facts into the stories we read online and in the paper.  They make it look so easy…

After 3 days of jam-packed activity, I am truly worn out. The thought of keeping up that pace through an entire baseball season combined with deadlines, hectic travel schedules, game notes, pre- and post-game interviews plus the real-life pressure of it being your JOB to rapidly condense it all into timely, informative and entertaining samplers for the hungry baseball masses… and I’m quite content sticking to this blogging thing where we do it for the love of the game.

Don’t get me wrong however… this was the weekend adventure of a lifetime and I savored every moment of it.  The honor of the invitation and the unbelievable access were something I will treasure forever.

Looking back on this amazing whirlwind adventure, I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the opportunity to pass along the sights, player interview tidbits and my experiences at this tremendous event to Cardinal fans through our blog and Twitter.  The people of the Cardinals Media Relations team (Brian Bartow, Melody Yount, Chris Tunno, Ron Watermon and especially Terry Rodgers) and the Cardinals Care volunteers were welcoming and helpful.  Their hospitality helped ease many of the fears of being out of my element as part of the  “new media” contingency included in this year’s Winter WarmUp coverage.  It was great fun visiting with a variety of media folk throughout the weekend, all very kind and accommodating.

The Cardinal organization deserves a big, BIG thank you for opening the doors to us involved in blogging and social media.  The responsibility was huge, and I was really proud and (honestly) quite blown away by the volume and quality of material coming from my fellow media credential-newbies.  Kevin (posting for C70 at the Bat) was jumping in with both feet, asking players insightful questions that elicited amazing and heartfelt answers. Ann (for Aaron Miles Fastball) was a speed demon at taking notes at those player interviews and getting those words online quicker than… well, quicker than Aaron Miles’ Fastball.  Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth) cranked out summary stories on several hot topics.  And Chris Reed (writing for i70baseball.com) ramped up the technology and created his WWU Video Blog.  Check them out, if you haven’t already.

My 2nd love (behind family and baseball… so it’s more like my 3rd love, I guess?) is capturing and sharing photographs.  So I attempted to gather as many images as possible and pass them along on twitter throughout the day, as well as here on Diamond Diaries. While pursuing this goal, I learned that #1: Winter Warm-Up is a HUGE venue.  #2: Comfy shoes can only do so much.  #3: Despite my best efforts, even after hustling back and forth all day between player interviews and autograph tables, there were still many other WWU moments that I missed.  #4 Who really needs lunch (or dinner) when there are Cardinals to photograph and write about? #5:  Ditto for the “sleeping” thing.  And #6 Cardinal fans continue to be some of the friendliest people I have ever met.

Winter Warm-Up offers a little bit for everyone.  There were lectures, forums, silent auctions, presentations and oh yeah… a World Series trophy! While I only managed to catch a quick glimpse of the variety of vendors and souvenir offerings, Kevin (C70 at the Bat) convinced me the selection was amazing and the prices were spectacular after I saw the treasures he’ll be taking home.  It’s no wonder Cardinal fans keep coming back year after year.

With all proceeds from the 16th annual Winter Warm-Up going to the Cardinals Care foundation (the charity benefiting children in the community) fans can enjoy their weekend in baseball heaven, spend lots of money and know it’s for a worthy cause.  Win/win!

 Yes, the Hyatt was PACKED with people, but the crowd movement was expertly orchestrated.  The amazingly adept crew of patient and friendly volunteers directed traffic phenomenally. It was a QUALITY event with the QUANTITY of experiences to match!


This year’s Winter Warm-Up provided hours of voice recordings and hundreds of photo files.  It should be enough to keep us entertained for at least a month or so.  And from the looks of the Spring Training Countdown, that should just about do it!

Once again, I am excited to share with you my collection of photos from the final day of Winter Warm-Up.

Today’s featured Cardinals include:

  • Kyle Lohse
  • Tony La Russa
  • Kyle McClellan
  • Allen Craig
  • Manager Mike Matheny
  • Carlos Beltran
  • Skip Schumaker
  • and World Series MVP (with the best smile in baseball) David Freese

And another Thank You to the Cardinals with a special shout-out to Peggy (our wonderful hostess/guide/source in the media area), Patty, Kathleen, Judy and Doris and all the other fabulous Cardinals Care volunteers who made the weekend easier for us all.  It was a joy to share the weekend with you!

Although the weekend was truly a dream come true, I am happy to be back home with my family and a slower pace, packing lunch boxes, chauffeuring the kiddos, homework, housework and my real world job.  Keep an eye out for more posts and pictures about my adventures.  I’m looking forward to digging through my digital keepsakes and sharing the rest of the experience with you… right after I meet the laundry deadline and interview the pets.

Thanks for reading!

Winter Warm-Up, Day 2

Who is this guy and what did he do with Mitchell Boggs?

Today, Day 2 of the Cardinals Winter Warm Up, was a lot of fun hard work!

Yesterday, I figured out the system and broke in my sparkly new media pass.  Today, I put it to full use.

In between player interview opportunities, I branched out to explore more of the Warm-Up environment.  By staking out some hallways and talking to folks waiting for autographs, I met a slew of wonderful Cardinal fans who were willing to answer all kinds of questions about their Winter Warm-Up experiences.  (Be watching for the poll results in an upcoming post!) I also made an executive decision to postpone the transcribing of over 2 hours of player interview recordings from today in order to take lots and lots of photos – which was way more fun hard work.  😉

The media room was hopping with visits from a phenomenal sampling of Cardinal players and one Mr. Bill Dewitt, Jr.  Among those who stopped by:

  • J.C. Romero
  • Shelby Miller
  • Matt Adams
  • Brandon Dickson
  • Daniel Descalso
  • Mitchell Boggs
  • Jason Motte
  • John Jay
  • Jaime Garcia
  • Shane Robinson
  • Lance Berkman
  • and ….Matt Holliday

Some of the highlights/stand-out moments of the day (for me) included getting an introduction to our new pitcher, J.C. Romero, who made a wonderful first impression with his fun personality, making jokes about being “old” and doing a bang-up job of being a likeable character. Romero spoke honestly and openly about his desire to protect his reputation and to be a role model to kids.  He’s a long-time friend of Yadier Molina (Romero teased “He’s my boy.  I knew Yadi before all of you guys knew him.”) and made it a point to talk about his faith in God.

Stumbling upon a barely recognizable baby-faced Mitchell Boggs signing autographs for fans had me amused mid morning, as did the interviews with Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, Jason Motte and Lance Berkman.

I was impressed by minor league pitching prospect Shelby Miller’s openly discussing how the suspension last season (alcohol related) helped him to realize his priorities and to make necessary changes in his life and “keep his head on his shoulders.”

Shane Robinson spoke to a small group of us, detailing his horrific outfield collision in a AAA ballgame last season and the recovery process involved, mentally and physically.  Shane also shared the exciting news that he and his wife are expecting their first child in May, grinning nervously as he spoke about being a new dad.

And of course there was Matt Holliday.  Matt spoke to a packed house of very determined journalists, so I knew my chances of getting in any questions were honestly hopeless.  So, I climbed up on my chair and balanced on my tiptoes to snap a dozen (or hundred) fairly gorgeous shots of the birthday boy. Yes, Matt Holliday spent the afternoon of his 32nd birthday with ME…. annnnd a small multitude of Cardinal fans. 😉

Okay, I’m keeping the post short tonight, because honestly? I’m exhausted – a good exhausted.  It’s time for bed so that I can wake up and do it all again tomorrow!  Winter Warm-Up, Day 3 – the last hurrah!

I leave you now with a slideshow of some of my favorite photos from today AND a promise to write more later!  =)

Scorekeeping – a lost art?

And I’m not talking about keeping score as to how far you got with an attractive member of the opposite sex (illustrated  here by Meatloaf, with the sonorous tones of Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto keeping track of the, er, runner).

Keeping score is not just for old people.  It forces you to pay attention to what’s happening on the field.  My ex-stepsister-in-law taught me how to keep score on Opening Night in 1985.  (Yes, Opening Day was at night back then.)  I have kept score ever since at every game I’ve attended in the last 20+ years. I have amassed quite a collection of Cardinals scorecards over the years, and the cover of last year’s scorecard is pictured to the left.  Keeping score is a great way to keep track of the game and remember it long after it has passed.  I write the date and time of the game on each scorecard I keep.  I can pull out a scorecard from a game long past and by reviewing the scorekeeping, I can see in my mind’s eye how the game progressed.

You can purchase scorecards from the program vendors at Busch Stadium.  One of my old scorecards has a price of 50 cents, but now they’re $2.50. The price of scorecards goes up too, just like everything else.  You can purchase a pencil for $1.00, but I bring my own mechanical pencil to the game. You can clip the pencil to the scorecard so it doesn’t get lost and the point of the pencil is always sharp.  The program/scorecard vendors don’t take plastic, so make sure you have paper money with you for your purchase(s).

I try to get to my seat early enough to write down the lineups on my scorecard.  If not, I have to do it as the game progresses.  I write down the last name of the batter, their position, and their uniform number (like 4   Molina  C), but writing the name is sufficient.  I also write the date and time of the game on the top of the scorecard.  This helps when I pull out an old scorecard – I know immediately when the game was played and by reviewing the scoring, I can visualize the game in my mind. Starting this year, I’m going to try to remember to staple my ticket stub to the scorecard.  I have three old ticket stubs in my wallet from 1986, 1987 and 1990; when I get time (what’s that?), I’ll have to look to see if I still have the corresponding scorecards.

The scorecard is a trifold document.  The away team’s score is written on the left hand page and the home team’s scoring is written on the center  page. There are usually stats of some kind on the right hand page.   My oldest scorecards do not have the stats page.  On the scoring sections, there are 9 lines, one for each player in the lineup.  There is eleven columns, one for each of the normal 9 innings and 2 extra columns in case of extra innings.  At the bottom of the columns, you’ll find a line that reads R/H.  This is where you write the number of runs and hits in each inning.  Underneath the scoring sections is a listing of all of that particular team’s players along with their playing positions and uniform numbers, and the names of the manager and coaches.  Here’s an example of part of a blank scorecard (from 1998, so there are no R/H letters on the last line):

I pondered that maybe people don’t keep score at ballgames because they don’t know how to.  So here is a crash course on how to keep score. Each position on the field is assigned a number as follows:  Pitcher – 1; Catcher – 2; First base – 3; Second base – 4; Third base – 5; Shortshop – 6; Right fielder – 7; Center fielder – 8; and Right fielder – 9.

After you’ve written in the starting line ups, you’re ready to keep score.  Here is a glossary of terms used to keep score:

K – Strikeout

BB – Walk

1B – Single

2B – Double

3B – Triple

HR – Home run

F_ – Fly ball (write position number of player who made play)

FC – Fielders’ choice

E – Error

P – Popup

SB – Stolen base

Here’s an example of how to keep score for one half inning. It’s the top of the first and the opposing team is up to bat.  We’ll call the first batter John Doe. John Doe comes up to bat.  He hits a single.  Draw a diagonal line from home to first base, and write in 1B.  Jack Jones bats next, but he strikes out.  Write a K in the box.   Don Smith bats next.  He hits a single.  Write 1B in the box, and draw a diagonal line from home plate to first.  You then go back to John Doe’s box and draw a diagonal line from first to second, since Doe advanced to second on Smith’s single.

Now Tom Hanes comes up to bat, but he hits into a double play, shortstop to second baseman to first baseman.  Write 6-4-3 in his box.  The opposing team’s half of the inning is over.  At the bottom of the column in the box with the backslash in it, write a 0 for no runs and 2 for hits.  You will now go to the right hand page and keep score for the home team’s half of the inning.  At the top of the next inning, you would go back to the away team’s page and start scoring in the 2nd column, for the 2nd inning, etc..

If a player completes an out unassisted, write his position number in the box.  If a player gets on base due to a fielder’s choice, write FC.  If a player gets on base due to an error, you would write E and the number of the player making the error.  If players are removed from the game due to injuries or strategic moves, you simply cross out their name on the scorecard and write in the name of their replacement.  The same goes for pitching changes. If a player steals a base, draw a diagonal line to the base stolen and write SB above the line.  If a player advances on a passed ball or a wild pitch, write PB or WP above the diagonal line.

Should you have to go to the bathroom or go to the concession stand during the game, don’t worry – the next time that batter comes up to bat, the batter’s last-at-bat will be shown on the scoreboard and you can go back and write it in.  If you’re listening at home to KMOX, Mike Shannon or John Rooney will announce what the batter did the last time he was at the plate.  The TV announcers will usually do the same.

Keeping score sounds confusing at first but like everything else, once you do it enough, it becomes second nature.  Below is an example of a mostly completed scorecard (pardon my chicken scratching):

Double click on the image and you can make it larger.  The game scored above took place on my son’s 13th birthday (August 30, 2009), which was also Adam Wainwright Bobblehead Day (since it was his birthday too), but we unfortunately didn’t get to the game early enough to get a bobblehead.  😦  We left after the 6th inning to go to my mother-in-law’s house for my son’s birthday party, and that’s why the scoring ends after the bottom of the 5th.

The next time you go to a Cardinals game, be brave and try keeping score.  You might just start a new trend!

See you next time!


Winter Warm-Up, Day 1

The Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up kicked off today at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis. Throngs of Cardinal fans, all clad in red and looking for a midwinter baseball boost crowded the 2nd and 4th floors to see favorite baseball players, buy souvenirs, collect autographs and talk ball.

As I mentioned earlier in the week (click HERE for that post), I have had varying levels of anxiety mixed with complete joy over the Cardinals’ invitation to cover the event as a credentialed member of “the press”.

My Winter Warm-Up began at the St. Louis airport, where while waiting for my bags I looked up to see Tyler Greene walking my way.  I of course greeted him with a warm “Hi Tyler.” He stopped, smiled, said “Hi,” and paused…

(This “press” thing had me all confused!  Here I’d been working on suppressing fan tendencies all week in preparation for WWU, yet there I was at the airport dressed in my not-fan press’ly attire mentally preparing to be professional and what happens? I run into one of the Cardinals.  My mind short-circuits, knowing this was not the place to ask my prepared interview questions. So…. what to do???)

I went with the obvious, and brilliantly asked him if he was on his was to WWU.  Small, mundane chatter. My mental dialogue is sarcastically critical: “Perfect, Erika.”  Tyler answers, smiles again. and pauses…  (I am not blocking his way. promise.)  We established what time he was signing autographs & I finally (mercifully) waved him on his way, ending with a mostly fan-like “I’ll see you there!”  ugh.

Awkward Tyler Greene airport conversation.  My WWU is starting off oddly.

I arrived at the Hyatt around noon, dropped my bags in the room, grabbed my camera, my spare iphone (voice recorder) and all the questions I had worked on for the day’s listed player interviews. (The players come to the press area after signing autographs and answer questions, as time allows.  Well actually, I thought the players would come after signing, but learned that they may instead come to the interview area before scheduled WWU autograph sessions.  [lesson #1]  So, I was a bit disappointed to discover that I had already missed interview opportunities with minor leaguers Jordan Swagerty, Zack Cox, and Ryan Jackson (yep, they missed out on those amazing questions I had prepared for them) as well as the big boys, Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal.

Despite studying maps of the layout beforehand, I was lost in the crowd on the 2nd floor while hunting for the spot to pick up my credentials.  Who should come to the rescue, but Matt Sebek (there with Josh Bacott to hunt their Joe SportsFan WWU bread-and-butter:  the elusive, but always rewarding Unusual Cardinal Fan photos).  With good directions from Sebek, I found the lovely Cardinals Care volunteers who handed over my credentials, and I was off to the 4th floor!  … into another crowd, and lost. again.  A text to a friendly blogger buddy: Kevin (covering the WWU for Daniel Shoptaw’s site: C70 at the Bat) helped me find my way to the media work room.  I had arrived!  Late, but ready to hit the ground running!

I spent the next 20-30 minutes hearing what I had missed and waiting for my first media scrum.  Yep, the word is “scrum”.  Apparently that is the term used to describe how the press crowds around a player to ask questions and record soundbites.   It isn’t actually as horribly nasty as it sounds, but the experienced scrummers definitely had an advantage and there is most assuredly a scrum pecking order.  The pros were up close, on the player’s immediate right or left.  The television cameras had front and center.  The tall guys holding the microphones were in front.  This, of course, made it hard on us shorter folk left in the back. However, later in the afternoon, I found a loophole:  stand on a chair. [lesson #3] (I was assured by Brian Stull of 101 ESPN in St. Louis that standing on a chair was perfectly acceptable and he would take the blame if it was not.)  I believe he was right because another (more seasoned-looking) photographer stood on a chair next to me during Adam Wainwright’s scrum time.  When in Rome….  😉

My first scrum experience was with John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ GM.  As advised by my fellow newly credentialed blogger comrades, I set my iphone recorder on the podium and managed to snag a prime position with a clear shot of Mo – right next to the tv cameras (beginners luck).

Mozeliak talked for over 20 minutes.  Topics ranging from the opening at second base, to Yadier Molina’s no-show (again) at WWU and including bits about Kyle McClellan- is he staying or going?, how he (Mo) felt when he got the call that Albert had accepted the deal with the Angels, and the future of the organization with all the offseason staffing/coaching changes.

I learned that John Mozeliak really likes to talk about Tyler Greene’s athleticism and his being a superb athlete.  When asked about the 2B options for 2012, Mo was insistent that Tyler Greene would have every opportunity to get more playing time in 2012 and went on to be very supportive of Greene and his potential.  This ode to Tyler Greene caught me off guard, as it seemed to shock others in the room as well because Mo was then questioned about Greene’s prior chances to prove himself.  I am proud to say that I did speak up and ask Mo what getting Tyler Greene more playing time would mean for Daniel Descalso.  In response, Mo praised Descalso’s contributions, emphasizing his abililty to play multiple positions, but finished up with another nod to Tyler Greene’s ability to ALSO play multiple positions.  From the sounds of it, Spring Training may bring quite the battle for 2B, which at this time is “open”.

Another tantalizing tidbit from Mo’s moments:  Yadi will be making a donation to the Cardinals Care fund since he has backed out of Winter Warm-Up this year.  (All proceeds from the Annual Winter Warm-Up benefit Cardinals Care, the team’s community foundation supporting kids.)  Mo also mentioned that Yadi doesn’t like to do public autograph sessions, which although not surprising, was disappointing to hear (from a fan’s perspective, which I would never admit to while being a member of the press.) But truthfully, Yadi… what gives??

I did discover lesson #2 after the Mozeliak ditty:  “when hurriedly putting your voice recorder on the podium prior to the scrummage, you should check to make sure it is actually recording.” In the excitement of it all, I thought I hit the little red button.  I did not.  And that is why I am relying on memory here for the Mozeliak interview…  (consider that my disclaimer).  You can check out the links below from the other Cardinal bloggers who were smart enough to turn on their recorders.

Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn

My 2nd scrum was less informative and cut short.  Matt Carpenter (AAA Memphis), pitcher Lance Lynn and the previously-showered-with-Mo-love Tyler Greene all came in together about 10 minutes before their scheduled autograph sessions.  Matt Carpenter looked as though he knew the other two would get most of the questions (he was right.)  The highlights: appearing slimmer than when we last saw him, Lance Lynn discussed how his mentality had changed from starting to relieving and how he “just wants to pitch, wherever it may be.”

Tyler Greene

Tyler Greene talked about being “ready to play… to come into Spring Training ready to play…to play as much as he can….”  When told that Mo was pretty adamant about his getting every opportunity to win the 2B job, Tyler said “it’s great! it’s an open spot… there’s going to be some competition… everybody’s going to be working for it & working hard.”  Tyler then deflected some questions about his prior efforts at the Cardinal infield, reiterating that it was in the past and he is just looking forward to Spring Training while emphasizing his extra practice at 2B this offseason.  Matt Carpenter spoke about working on being versatile and practicing other positions.  (An assumed reference to the burgeoning wealth of 3B talent with World Series MVP David Freese ahead of him and Zack Cox likely surging up to AAA this season.)  All three spoke highly of their former Memphis skipper, Chris Maloney, newly promoted to Cardinals 1st base coach for 2012, and then they were quickly scooted off to the autograph tables.

Adam Wainwright was the highlight of my first day Winter Warm-Up.  Although slumming it in a boring gray hoodie, he was darling, as usual.  Waino answered questions about his rehab (“feeling great” and saying “I am actually worried that I’m too far along instead of the other way around.”) He joked about when he might feel comfortable ribbing new teammate Carlos Beltran about “the curve” and told how Matt Holliday liked to tease him about his gardening hobby that helped occupy his time and “kept him sane” in 2011.  It was obvious Waino is ready to get back to the game.

Some more Waino highlights:  In his humble, yet upstanding way, Adam spoke about his role in the clubhouse, saying “I feel like I have a leadership role on the team.  I feel like I can help in a lot of different ways.”  He also took the opportunity to elaborate on the role faith played in his recovery, explaining “when you are leaning on somebody who is a lot stronger than any human could be and is inspiring like God is, then you are always going to be okay.”

And as luck would have it, my first day of Winter Warm-Up wrapped up with my baseball player talking about a football player.  You may have heard of him?  His name’s Tim Tebow, and Adam Wainwright is a huge fan.

For more WWU goodies, be sure to check out my partners in crime:

Chris Reed will be posting updates on i70baseball.com

Kevin‘s updates are at C70 at the Bat

Nick is covering WWU at PitchersHitEighth

and Ann is posting updates at Aaron Miles Fastball


Tomorrow, I’m back at it again.  More pictures, more player info.  Winter Warm-Up Day 2!

Take me out to the movies . . . Diane’s favorite baseball movies

While I was watching Moneyball with my husband, it occurred to me that movies and baseball have something in common – there is a lot of drama involved, and sometimes there’s comedy as well.  There sure is a lot of drama in those 2011 World Series DVD’s we’ve all been watching.

There are very few St. Louis Cardinals movies that I’m aware of.  My husband, the movie and baseball fan, reminded me about The Pride of St. Louis (about Dizzy Dean) and The Winning Team (Ronald Reagan as Grover Cleveland Alexander).

Hey movie producers, Stan Musial’s life and career would make an excellent movie.  The book Stan Musial: An American Life by George Vecsey would make a great script. You could end the movie with Stan receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor.  Please make this movie while Stan is still alive to enjoy it, okay?    And when is the movie version of 3 Nights in August by Buzz Bissinger coming out anyway? Now that Tony has retired, it would be a great time to make a movie about his managerial prowess.  Some of the Cardinals players in that book are still on the team, so they could play themselves.

If you’re missing baseball, one of these movies might just be the ticket (pardon the pun) to cure your blues.  Here, in no particular order, are my favorite baseball movies.  If you click on the title of the movie, it will take you to its listing on Amazon.com so you can purchase it if you’d like.  These movies are probably available on Netflix as well.

Field of Dreams – “If you build it, he will come.”  Kevin Costner plays a farmer who hears the voice out of the blue and figures out that he is to build a baseball diamond on part of his corn field.  When you get disillusioned and start to think that baseball is a business and not a game, pull out this movie and get a taste of the magic that is baseball again.  James Earl Jones’ last monologue in the movie is enough to make a true baseball fan cry.  IMDb listing


Bull Durham – Kevin Costner plays an aging catcher signed to a minor league team called the Durham Bulls to break in a young pitcher named ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh who is a wild pitcher.  Susan Sarandon plays a team groupie who breaks in Mr. LaLoosh another way, if you catch my drift.  IMDb listing



For Love of the Game – Okay, what is it about Kevin Costner and baseball movies anyway? Talk about typecasting!  In this movie, Costner plays an aging pitcher who is pitching his final game.  Costner’s character is pitching what could be his final game.  During the game, he has flashbacks of his life and career. Will the girl stay or will she go? IMDb listing



A League of Their Own – Based on the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League that played during World War II, it is the story of two sisters with a bad case of sibling rivalry.  Tom Hanks is a riot as an aging, alcoholic ballplayer given one last chance to redeem himself as the manager of the Rockford Peaches.  “There’s no crying in baseball!”  Tell that to the team that’s just lost the World Series!  IMDb listing


Bang the Drum Slowly –  This movie stars Robert DiNiro as a not-so-bright catcher and Michael Moriarty as a worldly wise pitcher as they deal with DiNiro’s character’s terminal illness.  Be sure you have a box of Kleenex handy when you watch this movie.  You’ll need it. IMDb listing



Major League – Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen and Corbin Bernsen star in this comedy about a woman who inherits the Cleveland Indians but wants to move them south to warmer climes.  The only exit clause is poor attendance, so she puts together a really bad team, but they turn the tables on her and start to win.  Dennis Haybert is a hoot as the player who practices voodoo. IMDb listing


The Natural – Robert Redford plays a middle-aged hitter named Roy Hobbs with a homemade bat and a mysterious past who leads the fictional New York Knights to the top of the league and fulfills the dream he had as a child.   IMDb listing



Eight Men Out – This movie is about the Black Sox scandal of 1919.  After watching it, you’ll know why the White Sox threw the World Series. This is a period movie with great attention to detail and great acting from an all-star cast which includes John Cusack. IMDb listing



Moneyball – Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill play against type in this movie about Billy Beane, the architect of the Oakland A’s.  This movie, set in 2002,  is a fascinating study on how Beane put together a team by getting players with great numbers on a low budget and how they won.  IMDb listing



If you have any other favorite baseball movies or any Cardinals movies that I’ve missed, please comment below.  See you next time!


Warming Up for Winter Warm-Up

Back before Christmas, before Santa even had a chance, the St. Louis Cardinals knocked him out of the competition for the best Christmas surprise.  An official email popped up in my inbox from THE CARDINALS inviting Cardinal Diamond Diaries to be one of five blogs invited to COVER Winter Warm-Up.  Very cool.  Very, very cool.

Sorry, Santa.

Since then, I have attempted to balance the happy dancing with some serious planning.  This is, afterall, more than just an amazing opportunity for close-up Cardinal watching.  I have to somehow temper my giddy fan side and do this thing right.  Make a good impression and not irritate the trolls, you know.  😉

So how does a gal who started a website to chatter about baseball, her team and the players we all love actually prepare for and conduct herself at an official media event?  The Cardinals are entrusting me with press credentials, and I certainly don’t want to mess that up… not even for a sneak hug attack on David Freese or the chance to size up Matt Holliday’s hunky forearms in person (True confession: I have this crazy need to know if his massive forearm circumference is bigger than my fingertip span.)

Sure, I’ve had some practice with minor league press credentials.  I’ve met players, coaches, press guys and baseball folk while covering and photographing AAA games here locally.  (Yes, I am still tickled about those experiences too, but work with me here: I’m trying really hard to sound “professional.”)  However, THIS amazing opportunity with the BIG club has left me quaking in my wooly socks – between moments when my wiggly excitement takes over again.

So, to try to keep some of these anxious thoughts from rattling around in my brain, I’ve been reaching out, asking for help from those with more experience, those who know more about the process… those who are actually good at this sort of “professional baseball writing” stuff.  Will they steer me right?  Settle my nerves? Give me good pointers?  I’ll let ya know.

One of the boxes on my checklist is researching BBWAA guidelines because, per my email invitation, I am required to follow said rules.  While I haven’t actually learned much from the BBWAA website, some of my “expert” advice has included these important recommendations:

"not BBWAA approved attire"

1) “Don’t show up wearing Cardinal red”

2)”….not even red underwear.”

I’m guessing these hints are from those elusive BBWAA guidelines?

Another confession: I have never before attended a Winter Warm-Up event.  So, like many fans, I am looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere, mayhem and what I assume to be (from photos of prior WWUs) suffocating crowds.  But this year I will get the chance to experience firsthand what WWU gives Cardinal Nation: a brief touch of Cardinal baseball during the long baseball-less winter.  It is a welcome reminder that Spring Training is right around the corner. So, I hope to be able to share a fresh look at Winter Warm-Up from a newbie perspective.

How come nobody looks happy to be there? photo from STLtoday.com

And while I’m confessing  my thoughts today:  I am crazy worried about blending in and speaking up at the press interviews.  (Yes, those are two very opposing stances… see my anxiety here?) On the other hand, I am super excited to meet writers and media personnel whose real job is covering the Cardinals throughout the year.  And I will admit to being just a tad curious to see what happens when “bloggers” (a.k.a. “new media”) and old school sports journalists are left in a small room together for a few days.   I love those real-life psychology lab experiments…  😉

I am happy to report that my camera has been invited too.  So, there will be photos. (yay!)  And while I am working through all the jitters, I am also very mindful that this is an experience for which I am very grateful, and I plan on fully enjoying every moment, every experience and every glimpse of Mr. Holliday.  Wait, that wasn’t professional…  forget that last one.  😉

So, if you have any advice or any questions you’d like for me to try and sneak into the player press interviews, I would LOVE to read them.

….9 days ‘til WWU! Maybe I’ll see you there?

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