Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

April Observations

This post was written on Monday, April 25th, so I know some things are outdated.

It has come to my attention that I have been slacking and I didn’t even write a post about Opening Day!  I want to apologize to the few readers who look forward to seeing what I have to say.  I will try to do better, promise.

There has been a lot going on in Major League Baseball since March 31st, and with so much to talk about, I figure why limit this post to only one topic.  It may not all be Cardinals-related, but all important to the sport we love.

The Chicago Cubs have started 2011 with a rare accomplishment; having hit every single .500 mark up to this point.  They are the perfect .500 team, with exception to their loss yesterday.  They have had records of 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, & 10-10.  While I never really root for the Cubs to win, I think it would be funny to see the streak continue.  This is quite the interesting phenomenon that has really intrigued me.  So far, they have set the record for even-steven marks and they are going to be able to go for 11-11 tonight.  I wonder if anyone in Chicago is rooting for this to happen.

Mabry & Matheny on FSMidwest.
As a huge John Mabry fan, I cannot explain to you how excited I was to hear that Mabry and Mike Matheny would be joining FSMidwest as pre-game and post-game analysts.  Two of my favorites to wear the Cardinal uniform are on my TV almost every night.  To me, John Mabry portrayed that “play like a Cardinal” mentality his whole time in St. Louis and I am sure glad that this is where he chooses to keep his ties.  If you follow me on twitter, I am sure you have noticed that I mention something every time I see his face on my pre-game show.  Not to mention, I think this is part of the reason I love Daniel Descalso so much – he looks just like him.  Thank you, FSMidwest, with providing commentary from two players who really do love this team.

MLB Taking over the Dodgers.
Can I say finally?!?  The melodrama of the McCourt divorce over in LA has been nothing but trouble for the organization.  The greedy back-and-forth of Frank McCourt and his wife over their assets has truly hurt this team and I think it was overdue for MLB to take over.  I don’t know all of the details, but when you hear more about their divorce than how the team is doing, something is wrong.  This makes me happy that we have such great leadership in the Cardinal organization.  The fiscal irresponsibility of the Dodger organization has led to chaos and I just think that it would be best for Frank McCourt not to fight this and count his losses before anything else bad happens to the organization.  With all the celebrities in LA who claim to be huge Dodger fans, why don’t they try to buy the team?  Actually now that I think about it…that could be an even bigger problem.  Nevermind.

Booing Brandon Phillips.
Alright, we get it…we can’t stand they guy.  Last year, it made sense to boo after he ran his mouth.  Yes, I still can’t stand him.  But honestly, haven’t we realized that he LOVES that?  He loves the attention he gets because fans boo him every time he comes to the plate or even comes near the ball.  I mean, he got an interview on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball pre-game last night just because of that.  He got what he wanted.  I sincerely like the idea of crickets, silence, or even laughter the next time he comes to the plate in St. Louis.  Stop giving him the attention he deserves or the slams on the city, organization & fans will never end.  It is obvious that he is an attention-whore and that is all he wants.  Can we please move past it?

Nick Punto’s walk-up song.
Ok, I love this.  Who else would have the ability to pull off Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”?  I was so upset when Ryan Ludwick was traded, for obvious reasons, but also because I would no longer get to hear “Brass Monkey”.  I love the original songs…they are great.  Who doesn’t like rocking out and playing the air drums to “In the Air Tonight”??  I know I do.  Thank you, Nick Punto.

Lance Berkman….the Berk-man.
I have to admit, I had no idea what to expect from the Lance Berkman signing.  I wasn’t mad or nervous, I just honestly had no idea where he would fit in on this team.  Well, my questions have been answered.  He fits in just perfectly in that number 5 spot.  Lance Berkman hit 6 home-runs last week to be the second Cardinal named as the National League Player of the Week (Jaime Garcia of course was in week one).  The guy is on fire.  He is hitting .377 in 19 games, an 8-way tie for 2nd with 6 home-runs, is tied for 3rd in runs scored, and has 15 RBI’s.  I am not huge on stats, but for not knowing what to expect, I must say I am pretty excited to see this.  I am hoping his homers can heat up at Busch Stadium, cause I would sure love to see one.  All 6 of his home-runs this season have been hit on the road.  He returns to Houston this week, and I am excited to see what kind of damage he can do in his old stomping grounds. LB, I am officially a member of your fan club.

Ok, so week one was pretty ugly, but the Cardinals really turned in on during the West Coast swing in week 2.  Also, claiming 4 of 6 during this past week’s home stand was good to see.  I know it won’t be easy to win the Central this year – the Reds are going to be barking up our tree all season as long as they stay healthy and we do the same.  It’s great to know that our young guys are stepping up again – Salas and Sanchez have been incredible out of the ‘pen, Descalso and Jay are fitting in nicely yet again, and Hamilton could prove to be some pop if he ever gets a chance to play.  I am happy with the team.  It was hard to watch week one, but I have been so impressed with Kyle Lohse’s start and Jaime Garcia’s bounce back from a spectacular rookie season and rough spring training.  I had no doubt that Garcia would figure it out & I saw something positive in Kyle Lohse’s last couple outings of 2010.  If Westbrook can pitch like he did last night and hometown boy Kyle McClellan can continue to fly under the radar, I think this could be a fun season to watch.  It would be sad to see a postseason without Adam Wainwright, but I think I would be happy with it even without Waino – and I know he will be cheering us along all season.  I am getting very excited about this 2011 squad.  Look out, Cincy, we won’t let what happened last year happen again!

Even if it was only one game…I finally made it back to Spring Training!!

Finally back after 5 long years!
It has been 5 years (almost to the week) since I last attended a Spring Training game at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. March 2006 was also the first time I ever went to Spring Training. We also know what happened in October 2006….so if I am any kind of luck, 2011 could potentially be a Red October. 🙂 Of course I am just being a little superstitious and silly, but it is always fun to think about.

For the last Spring Break of my college career (hopefully!), I visited a friend in Miami, Florida. I told her that I would do anything else during the week as long as we could go to a Spring Training game in Jupiter. Knowing how obsessed I am with baseball and the Cardinals, she agreed, even though she barely knows anything about baseball. I promised her that I would teach her as much as I could and we would have a great time.

Yadier Molina – you can’t tell here, but I
swear his eyes were closed!
In my usual over-zealous fashion, we got there before the gates even opened and I spent a good 20-30 minutes in the official team store buying quite a few goodies. Don’t worry, I did bring back my little sister an official Spring Training t-shirt. I knew she would have been disappointed if I didn’t. Once the gates opened and we got in, I made my way down to the first row on the 1st base side of the stands. I parked myself right in front of the bullpen pitchers mound and waited for players to begin to enter the field.

After about an hour of waiting, finally John Gast, LHP, was the first to enter the field. I think about 3 people bothered even showing interest in him before a little boy in the berm asked for his autograph. He turned around and gladly gave it to him. After a while several more players began to enter the field, with Yadier Molina being one of the first as usual. As I watched him warm up, catching soft-tossed balls from bullpen catcher Murphy, I swear he actually did close his eyes when taking those warmup tosses. (remember the commercial from 2009 when he was blindfolded catching baseballs??). More and more players entered the field, and I got that same excited feeling I do every new season…I was shaking I was so excited. I think this is probably the coolest part of spring training. Instead of the players entering the field from the dugout, where very few fans are able to see them up close, they enter from the outfield where the berm is, so many fans are able to see the players up close and personal and get autographs and chat with their favorite players.

Me & Daniel Descalso
I was lucky enough to meet Daniel Descalso & Mark Hamilton while they were signing autographs near the Cardinals’ bullpen on the first base side. If you have read Daniel’s MLB blog (http://danieldescalso.mlblogs.com/), you know that he has given us a really great inside look on what a day of spring training is like. When I saw him coming around the corner signing autographs, I was excited that I would hopefully get to meet him…and I did. Everyone else just seemed to be asking for autographs, so I asked for a picture as well. My list of pictures with Cardinal players is getting checked off quickly. 🙂 A little while later, Mark Hamilton was doing the same thing, and I got a photo with him as well.

Me & Mark Hamilton
We continued to watch Jaime Garcia warm up before we got booted out of the seats we were using. We headed to our seats in the second level and got to watch an awesome baseball game against the Boston Red Sox. I was actually really glad I got to see this game because I don’t think I have ever seen the Red Sox live and in person. There were a lot of Red Sox fans sitting around us, but thankfully the guy next to me was a Cardinal fan, and I got to impress him with my knowledge. I remember him saying to me, “yeah, you need to work for this team, you know so much!” I hope this comes true someday. We all know it would be a dream come true for me!

Me & CJ Beatty – sorry it’s not the best,
iphone picture… 🙂
Prior to the game, I had contacted one of my favorite Cardinal twitter-ers, @CJBeatty44, to see if I could meet him. Fortunately, he was supposed to be attending the game before his workouts started the next day! He so politely obliged and we decided to get in contact with each other on March 8th at the game. After several emails back and forth, we realized that we were actually sitting one section away from each other! So, before he had to leave (those dang American League teams cause games to be sooooo long!), we met up. Ok, people, if you enjoy CJ on twitter, you would love to meet him in person! Such a nice, humble guy. I must admit, when I read on his stats that he was 5’10”, I wasn’t sure what to expect (honestly, I thought I might be a little taller than him because I too am 5’10”), but we were the same height. Good for you CJ, I hate it when players fudge their height on their stats page. Haha. Unfortunately we couldn’t spend much time chatting, his girlfriend only had a few more hours to spend with him before his season started, and of course I wanted to watch the rest of the game. However, I can say from what I have read on his website (www.cjbeatty.com) he is a sincerely genuine person, and any Cardinal fans that get a chance to meet him would be very lucky. I am happy to say that we are now friends and I am looking forward to watching his journey as a member of the Palm Beach Cardinal and hopefully on up through the organization and as a St. Louis Cardinal one day. CJ, thanks so much for meeting me! I wish you the best of luck in 2011 and in the future!

Me & my friend Kristin at Roger Dean Stadium
Cardinal fans, I am soooo excited for baseball season! I know we have already had some setbacks and some scares heading into the 2011 season, but I still have faith…I think that there will be several young-veterans and other younger guys (baby birds maybe) who will be able to step up and take advantage of an opportunity. Next time you hear from me will probably be right after Opening Day! I will be there with bells on and I can’t wait to cheer this team to victory in 2011. All things that have happened thus far, I am excited and I am ready to see what this team does this year. I am not extremely superstitious, but remember, I was last at Spring Training in 2006, and we know what happened then…lets hope for the same in 2011! GO REDBIRDS!!

PS…all of these are my pictures, if you wish to see more, I can post em on twitter!

America’s Pastime…Taking a backseat?

I missed game 5 of the World Series, the Giants clinching and becoming world champs. I can’t say that I am all that disappointed I missed it, but I didn’t do it on purpose. As a baseball fan, I wouldn’t do that. I was in class on Monday night until approximately 8 PM, and then I went to dinner with friends. It was by complete momentary brain-dysfunction that I forgot I needed to go home and check it out. (I even had people saying to me “YOU missed the game?!?”). By the time I did get home the game was over, and all I had to do was pull up the twitter homepage to see that the World Series was in fact over as “World Champions” and “Edgar Renteria MVP” trending topics scroll across my screen. Surprising that I heard no reaction in the bar/restaurant that I was in indicating that the game was over; I guess most people in Edwardsville, Illinois felt the same way I did – they either didn’t really care who won or they didn’t want the Giants to win. My other guess as to why there was no reaction from the crowd in the bar; there was a Monday Night Football game on, and they weren’t watching baseball.

As much as it breaks my heart every time I see stats that a Sunday Night or Monday Night football game ratings beat LDS, LCS or World Series TV ratings, it doesn’t surprise me in the least bit. Baseball is lasting too long; people begin to move on to other sports – heck, we are halfway through the NFL season at this point. This year, the World Series wrapped up and the NFL, NHL and even the NBA are all underway. So, is it surprising that America’s Pastime is taking a backseat in late October-early November? No, not really. I don’t have to go explaining to you all how much I love baseball, but I have gotten myself fully lodged into the football and hockey seasons. And even though the postseason games were still being at least partly watched on my TV, I lost interest. Baseball is having to compete with the other 3 major sports after a 7 month long season…going into that eighth month (while it was only one day, and could have only potentially been 4 days) is where a lot of casual baseball fans get lost. (Side Note: this year’s WS ratings equaled the lowest ever…see here).

Let’s face it, there is a lot going on around here (St. Louis and otherwise) other than baseball. If you are like me, you are very interested in what the St. Louis Rams are doing; 4 wins at home, a first-round draft pick quarterback, and Stephen Jackson breaking the all-time rushing record for the organization. Not to mention, the St. Louis Blues are undefeated at home and have been recently ranked number one in the ESPN power rankings poll (even if it doesn’t mean much now). On top of that, Mizzou beat Oklahoma! WOW. Yeah, they got roughed up by Nebraska, but if you are a Missouri fan, you can’t deny that it was exciting. I know not everyone that is a Cardinals fan is a Rams, Blues and Mizzou fan as well – most are not or don’t even like/pay attention to other sports besides baseball. Even if you don’t like all St. Louis sports, you might have other teams to root for. But, I am an avid sports enthusiast, and I love watching all sports whenever I can. Because the last few winters in St. Louis have been pretty painful because of under-achieving or competitive teams besides the Cardinals, this comes as quite the warm welcome.   Not to mention, since the Cardinals had a dismal season, it has been exciting to look forward to and enjoy other St. Louis sports again!  And because of that, I, like many others, might have lost an interest in baseball.

This is my beg and plea to Bud Selig; we have got to end the baseball season earlier. I hate the offseason; it is a long 4-5 months without my boys of summer, but the MLB is taking a backseat to the other major sports in late October-early November, and it just devastates me. I want the World Series to be the most watched sporting event, not a middle-of-the-season Monday Night Football game. I understand that the ratings may have had something to do with the teams playing (God forbid there are other teams besides the Yankees in the World Series), but the World Series – the Championship for Major League Baseball for goodness sakes – should be getting more attention. I mean, on Monday, the last game of the series, EVERY SINGLE intro for EVERY SINGLE sports program was about Randy Moss being waived from the Vikings, not about Lincecum vs. Lee – probably one of the greatest pitching matchups to end a World Series in a long time. As much as I don’t like him, Lincecum (before the night began) had a chance to be a back-to-back-to-back Cy Young, Cy Young, World Series Champ. How incredible? But yet everything was about Randy Moss.

This is unacceptable for baseball. They have to figure out a way to get back into the spotlight during their designated time. All eyes are on Football during the Super Bowl – no hockey game or basketball game out-rates that championship game. I know that every season is like this; football starts in early September, Hockey starts in early October, Basketball starts in late October, but why is it that all of a sudden, baseball seems to be losing its steam? I don’t think it would have even mattered if the Yankees were in the WS this year – I mean, I wouldn’t have watched, but that’s just me. I hope that with an earlier start to the baseball season in 2011, there will be an earlier end to the season and the World Series will get all the attention it deserves. Thankfully, with Hot Stove season now in full swing, there will be more baseball stories. However, I have a gut feeling it might all be about the Yankees again. Egh.

End Rant. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. As a sport management grad student, I pay a lot of attention to these details, less about players and games, more about the behind the scenes stuff and what drives discussion topics amongst TV programs and even fans of the game. Do you see it that way too? Are you angry that the World Series had low ratings? When will baseball be able to get back to having its time in the spotlight – or has the long season turned into too long of a season for that to ever happen again? I might be a tad dramatic, but I am curious to hear what others think.  

Trying to find my postseason groove

Logo Credit: MLB.com
Ok, so I have found myself getting into the postseason a little bit more than I expected I would. Yeah, I was really bitter a couple weeks ago and I really just wasn’t feeling it. Then, as game 1 of the NLDS started, I was a little more interested. Sad thing about it all…is the team I have been forced to cheer for. So,who have I been cheering for?
The Phillies. Um, excuse me?!
Yeah, the -gulp- Phillies. My reasoning?
Because, as I said on twitter last Wednesday, having a postseason team to root AGAINST is almost as fun as having a team to root FOR. So, take a breath, I am technically not rooting for the Phillies, just against the teams they play. From the moment the Cardinals were *officially* eliminated, I was ready to root for any team that would be playing against the Reds in the postseason regardless of who they were playing. Of course, I am not the only one who was doing the same – my sentiments have been echoed across Cardinal Nation. But, for not being excited about postseason at all, this was the one thing I was looking forward to. Now, that the Reds have been swept right out of the postseason, I am happy – not to mention, watching Brandon Phillips bawl like a baby in the dugout after the sweep and Johnny Cueto being the LP was just icing on the cake. Now, I am looking forward to the pitching match-ups in the final four teams. (Sort of still rooting for the Phillies since they are taking on the Giants, even as much as it makes me sick to see the Phils in the World Series again).
Cliff Lee & Teammates celebrate his CG and series win.
(Oh hey…there’s a MOLINA!)
Photo Credit: J. Meric, Getty Images
The LCS starts tonight, with the AL going first – Yankees vs. Rangers. I am really excited for this series. There have been stories about how the Yankees were hoping that the ALDS between the Rangers and the Rays would be stretched to a Game 5. I came across this article while doing research for my graduate classes. The Yankees were hoping this because it means that the Rangers starting pitcher would be out of commission until Game 3 of the ALCS. Sounds like a pretty decent reason to cheer on your potential opponents. However, I have never been one to believe in doing better with time off or that it really matters when which of your ace pitchers will be starting. If you have done well enough during the regular season, you should do well even without it being in the order the team desires. The Yankees may be excited that they don’t have to see Cliff Lee until Game 3, but when that game comes, they might need to be shaking in their boots. Cliff Lee pitched an amazing Game 5 of the ALDS – a complete game, 6-hit, one-run game with NO walks and 11 strikeouts. As long as the offense shows up that game, I think the Yankees might be regretting their wishes.

I am also a believer in momentum. Not a “momentum-beats-all” believer, but I believe that it exists. The Yankees haven’t played since Saturday – 5 days off – and the Rangers have only had 2 days off. I think that plays a factor in the outcome of the LCS. During the regular season, no one has that many off days – no one really even gets 2 off days except for during the ASG. So, do I think the Yankees have been sitting around too long waiting for their opponent? Yes. I think that the Rangers have a good chance of coming in and winning. The Rangers won all of their road games (another reason for the Yankees to be worried about Cliff Lee in Game 3, since it will be in New York) in the ALDS, and I think that they have what it takes to make it to the end. The series might last all 7 games, but I think they can pull it off. After all, do we really want to see the Phillies and the Yankees in the World Series
again? I will be rooting for the Rangers this series and for the Giants to lose. I really don’t think I could stand seeing Tim Lincecum winning a WS Ring – even if that does mean the Phillies are playing for the title again. If it ends up being the Yankees in the World Series, you can count me out this year. I’ll just wait for the Cardinals to take the crown next year. 🙂
Everyone enjoy the rest of the postseason. Not much time left before there is no actual baseball being played and we are being bombarded with trade rumors. And while I am anxious for awards season, I am dreading this offseason. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best news on a certain first baseman. 🙂  

Stand For Stan Day (good-bye 2010)

Courtney and I with our Flat Stan’s.  10.2.10

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010 was “Stand For Stan” Day at Busch Stadium. Having decided a few weeks ago that Courtney and I needed to go to one last game for the 2010 season, we thought going to Stand For Stan Day would be the best idea. We know that everyone was able to see the awesome ceremony on TV during the middle of the 6th inning, but being there was an unbelievable experience. I have seen several other tributes to Stan Musial throughout the years, but this was the first one I have been to that was all about The Man. As the top of the sixth inning came to an end, John Ulett announced that it was time to stand as Stan Musial was about to make his way around the warning track. The music – like from the triumphant climax of your favorite sports movie – began to play and I grabbed my camera and handed Courtney one of our Flat Stan the Man’s. We stood to join the rest of the crowd in waving them and cheering as The Man entered from the right field corner. I noticed right off that all of the guys in both the Cardinal’s and Rockies dugout were all standing out in front of it; our guys with their own Flat Stan’s and some of the Rockies had them too! Then Courtney directed my attention to the bullpen. All of the guys in the bullpen were standing on the fence on their tippy-toes waving their Flat Stan’s at Stan Musial as he rounded the warning track. I almost cried. It was the cutest thing I think I had ever seen, and knowing how much personality some of the guys in the bullpen have, it was almost like they were all little kids again. I am starting to tear up thinking about it now. Stan continued to round the outfield and each section roared with cheers as he passed. Once Stan got to the Cardinal Dugout, he shook hands with every single player, and several people around us all said at the same time “Oh, look! There’s Red!” as he shook hands with Mr. Schoendienst. We couldn’t help but hope it would last longer. No words were spoken, no speeches were made, no pause in the action – just a tribute to the greatest Cardinal to ever wear the uniform, and it was perfect.

The bullpen wave their Flat Stan’s at Stan Musial.

The St. Louis Cardinals Organization has been campaigning all season to convince President Barack Obama that Stan “The Man” Musial should be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian honor. 

The organization has done a fantastic job with this campaign. The Flat Stan The Man picture that every member of Cardinal Nation could print off their computers, take with them wherever they went this summer and then post pictures on the Cardinal’s website was pure genius. I surely hope that their efforts were not in vein. Stan Musial most certainly deserves this honor as his character is not only a true representation of the Cardinal’s organization but also as a stand-up human being.

Stan finishes up his trip around
the stadium.

Throughout the game, everything had to do with Stan “The Man”; the word puzzle of the day, the vision test, the highlight videos of poignant moments in his career on the scoreboard between every half-inning. And while this was obviously the main attraction, the Cardinals also paid tribute to Ernie Hays, retiring organist, throughout the game and Jay Randolph before the game. If you think about it, kind of bittersweet considering the season we just went through. But, like anything else, the Cardinal’s did a great job in recognizing those two as well. While Jay may not have always got everything right this year, he had an amazing career and I respect the job he did. As for Ernie Hays – one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Courtney and I met him on the metrolink after a game a few years back and he was the sweetest man. He let us bug him about his job and explained to us how very few organists are left in major league ballparks. I surely hope that whoever fills Ernie’s bench next year will be able to live up to his standards. We will miss you, Ernie!

The walk-off “beating” of Matt Holliday

To wrap it up, the Cardinals ended their season on a 5 game winning streak and winning 7 of their last 8. It is frustrating (the word of the season apparently) at the same time to see the team win 5 in a row after a dismal season, but I will take it and move forward. Thankfully, Courtney and I were able to end our season on a high note; a walk-off 1-0 win in the 11th inning on a base hit by Matt Holliday and an infield beating by his teammates. One of my favorite things to see – and Courtney and I have seen a couple of those this year. While we looked back and asked each other “where was that the last couple months?”, we know that we have so much to look forward to next year. Though the majority of the starters in the last 3 games were playing in Memphis most of the year, I am very pleased with how this team finished. The 2011 Cardinals may look different, but one thing is sure; we will love them no matter what.

The 2010 season is over, and I am proud of the Cardinals for not giving up completely. Welcome to the offseason, friends…its gonna be a long winter. We have each other to make it through. 

Postseason? Egh…I’m not feelin’ it.

No champagne party this year.  😦
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch
It’s likely many of you might feel differently than I do, but I am hardly looking forward to the postseason. I know, as a fan I should be excited for baseball to continue until the end of October, but I am depressed and I just don’t have that desire to follow games. I have felt this way for about a week or so now. I made up my mind before the Cardinals were eliminated. Of course I will still watch the postseason, and I will be rooting for Ryan Ludwick and the San Diego Padres if they make it in (and I think I have decided to cheer for the Tampa Bay Rays on the AL side as well). But for some reason I am just not feeling it. I have felt for several weeks that I am definitely over the 2010 season, so maybe that has something to do with it. I am ready for 2010 to be over so we can move on from this mess. So many depressing things have happened with our Cardinals this season that it has made it almost impossible for me to be excited about watching some other team play in the postseason. How can I really be excited to see someone else win when I know my team’s season was a disaster?

Ah, the happier times.  Feb 19, Yadi & Waino after
their first throw in Spring Training 2010.  Yadi said
“That was fun!”  Where did that go?  What happened?
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch
I know that Cardinal Nation will forget all about 2010 as soon as 2011 Spring Training is underway (if not before then – most cards fans are probably going into the postseason just looking forward to Opening Day 2011, kinda like the Royals do every year), but I just can’t seem to get past feeling stuck…like this year almost didn’t even happen. I mean, the National League FINALLY won the All-Star Game – with the help of Cardinals Matt Holliday, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols & I’m gonna go ahead and say Chris Carpenter helped too – but we don’t get to even share in the benefits that have come from it. I have to see the Cincinnati Reds potentially get home-field advantage in the World Series…gross. We had star-power, we had a promising team, we had 3 solid starting pitchers, the 3-4 duo in the lineup, the personalities…and what are we left with? Nothing.

I hate feeling this way. I hate having to be negative. But this year has really done it to me. The worst part about it is that I have finally gotten to the point where I think it is time for the Cardinals and TLR to part ways. I have never wanted someone to leave (ok, maybe Chris Duncan), but I just don’t think it is working anymore and it is time to try something else. As Aaron Hooks mentioned in his blog, it has been one disappointment after another with this team, and I think that TLR is a big part of that. Where is the enthusiasm? Where is the calling-out of guys who aren’t doing their jobs? Why is he taking it out on the media – Why is he being so short with them? I don’t hate Tony (I met the guy in December 2007, and he was pretty cordial) and I don’t want things to end on a bad note, but I just kinda feel like it’s time to move on. I definitely do not blame everything on him; I just have an “egh” feeling about him returning. But, I don’t make those decisions, and no one is going to take my opinion for worth, so I will just leave it at that.

Remember when the biggest worry was how big the
McGwire media circus would be? (ST, 2010)
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch
Something else that has bothered me a little bit is that people (media, fans, etc) are upset with how little reaction the players are giving us to their poor season. Ok. They deserve it…they have played poorly and they did not live up to their potential and expectations. Fine. But, does it really surprise anyone that they don’t want to fess up to being terrible? These are grown men, they get paid tons of money to play this game and yet they can’t get it together. They play sub-.500 baseball against crap teams and play to the level of the competition for teams above .500. So when reporters are constantly asking “What’s the deal?” and their only answer is that they are “disappointed”, does it surprise you? Not me. Sure, I want more from them…I want them to give me an answer and I want to know why this team has been so bad. I want them to tell me if there are issues in the clubhouse. I want them to say they are sick of themselves. I want a reason. But, we honestly aren’t going to get it. Would you want to admit how much you suck if you played professional baseball? While most of them don’t have outwardly stuck-up egos, they are grown men, pro baseball players, and they do have egos. So, to be astonished that there isn’t an answer or a reaction more than “we are disappointed” would be naïve. I am not surprised at all.

So, what’s the answer to this season? Maybe it is simply, “it wasn’t meant to be.” That is the easy way to look at it. And with the list of things we can pinpoint that were wrong or terrible, it seems pithy, but that is the only thing I can come up with. If they won’t tell us, we shouldn’t have to worry about guessing. I think I am over the fact that 2010 was a tragedy and all I need to do is look forward to 2011.

I want to know how you feel about the 2010 postseason?  Who are you rooting for?  Share your thoughts with me, cause I know I might be the minority in my thinking here.  

A non-AAA follower’s love for September call ups

Toledo Mud Hens ballpark in Downtown Toledo, Ohio (July 2007)

I have never been to a Memphis Redbirds game. Nor have I ever been to a Springfield Cardinals game. Blasphemy, I know.  In fact, the only minor league game I have ever been to (besides the River City Rascals or Gateway Grizzlies – both members of the Frontier League here in the STL area) was a Toledo Mud Hens game, AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, with some students from The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University when I was in Student Government in undergrad and we did a tour of several different colleges in Ohio. I loved it, as I didn’t expect any less being a huge baseball fan. There is just something about paying less that $15 for seats right down the third base line and getting to see up-and-coming talent and maybe some burn-outs and flops as well (Larry Bigbie was playing for the other team, the Richmond Braves, at the time – just one season after [not] playing for the Cardinals). The atmosphere is great, and I am sure that any of you who have been to a minor league game would be able to describe it a lot better than me! 

One of my favorite movies of all time is Bull Durham, thanks to a friend of mine from college who turned me on to it. He played baseball pretty much his whole life and knows EVERYTHING about sports. He told me that any self-respecting baseball fan who hasn’t seen Bull Durham should be ashamed. Of course, I couldn’t let him make fun of me anymore, so I went out and bought the movie, as well as several other baseball-related movies. I won’t go explaining the movie to you, but I have always wanted to spend my life like Annie Savoy; in the sense that I could go to baseball games every day and spend all my time at a minor league ballpark in the Carolina League (just the baseball part). And, since I can’t do that, and I am too far away from the Memphis Redbirds and the Springfield Cardinals, I have to settle for seeing my minor-leaguers when the baby birds get called up to the big club throughout and at the end of the season.
Allen Craig *
Now, since I don’t really understand much of how this team has been operated lately, I am not going to even begin to try. But, I can say that I am excited to see so many minor leaguers getting the opportunity to play some major league ball. Ever since Joe Mather got sent down to Memphis back in May after making the ball club at the beginning of the year and guys like Jon Jay have had pretty great rookie seasons, I get more excited every time a new guy gets called up. Sure, their contributions may not mean much anymore – whether good or bad, but the Memphis Redbirds have gotten farther into the postseason in AAA than the Cardinals have gotten in the postseason last and [I am assuming] this year. Let’s face it, there hasn’t been too much to be excited about in the last couple months, in fact the last thing I got excited about was when Yadier Molina stood up for the team and then the Cards went on to swept the Reds in Cincy. Everyone thought it was a turnaround, but it turned out to be just another pull from the good side in the tug-of-war the Cardinals have played with our hearts this season. So, I have decided to pay a little more attention to the Memphis Redbirds by listening to a couple of their games at the end of the season and waiting for more of the younger guys to get called up. I don’t know much about their stats, but from chatting with Erika and Bob (@throatwarbler), I know that they are an exciting group to watch. And last week after Memphis lost their final game and were eliminated from the postseason, I was anxious to see who would get the call up. 
Mark Hamilton *
We have all seen Joe Mather, P.J. Walters, and Allen Craig play at the major league level already this season. We sort of know what they are capable of, but only Allen Craig really got the opportunity to show his potential. I still feel like P.J. Walters and Joe Mather are good players but haven’t gotten the chance to really have the innings/at-bats necessary to prove that they can be a valuable asset to the team. Besides he and Brendan Ryan’s hilarity and youth/life that they brought to the clubhouse at the beginning of the season with their home videos (which I love), we haven’t seen much from Joe Mather. And I know he has the ability and the desire to play – look at what he did in April against the Mets in the 20-inning game; played though, the incredible slide into 2nd avoiding a tag, and he pitched! I like the kid (ha, kid, he’s older than me) and I want him to do well. To add to those three, Mark Hamilton and Daniel Descalso got called up to. We have yet to really see what either of them can provide except that Descalso had a pretty great day Thursday going 4-5 and making his first major league start on Wednesday with his first hit being a 2-run double. Sure that was after the Cardinals were losing 11-3 in the 8th against the Pirates, but lets look at it for what it is worth; he was able to come through with a big hit and plate two runners when there were runners on base. That is what I like to see from these guys, when they get the chance to get in the game, they play ball. I enjoy that even though it doesn’t matter anymore (as much as that breaks my heart every time I say it) we get to and need to see these young guys get the opportunity to show what they are worth to the club.
Joe Mather *
Sure, it’s weird that Tony is playing the guys out of position, and I don’t know how much that really helps them (Descalso starting at 3rd base in his first major league start? I know Feliz is a terrible at-bat, but what?). But, like I said before, I am far past trying to understand anything that is going on right now with lineups that I just take it for what it’s worth; the young guys get playing time. If we were gonna lose to sub-.500 teams anyway, why not? So, is it really hard to believe that the baby birds are playing? Many people have questioned lineups lately, but I just say I would rather Yadier Molina be out for the season if we have 3 series left and 2 of them are with sub-.500 teams. Why shouldn’t guys like Pagnozzi or Anderson have the chance to start? I will pretty much take anything these days. I just want to see them playing hard and trying to prove themselves so that spring training next year will be even more exciting! Let’s just say, next season, my summer baseball road-trips will include a trip to Memphis. And I can’t wait. 🙂
With 3 series left, I thought I had gone to my last game of the season last Thursday for Social Media Night, but I have decided to give it a last go with Stand for Stan Day on October 2nd when the Cards play the Rockies. I am not going so much for the game as I am to pay tribute to The Man. Since it isn’t until next Saturday, and after my next post, I will make sure to share with you all the following Friday. Courtney is going with me too, so fitting enough, my last game of the season will be her last game of the season and we hope to have a lot to share with you! Keep your heads up, Cardinal Nation. A terrible, unexplainable season like the 2010 season is really hard to understand, but I can’t help but continuously think to myself (ok, out-loud too) “I still thank God I’m not a Cubs fan. Amen.” Enjoy your weekend, baseball fans! 

(*All pictures in this post are credited to Erika @erika4stlcards – thanks!!   And we kindly ask that they not be used without the permission of CDD)

Social Media Night & Welcome Back Ludwick!

Social Media Night (I was kinda far back, sorry!)  McGraw emceeing.
Social Media Night at Busch Stadium…about what I expected it to be; a great idea, and room for improvement in the years to come. I am very happy I had the opportunity to attend and meet a couple of the people I frequently tweet with on twitter. I had a great time and don’t necessarily have anything bad to say about the event at all, I just wasn’t sure I had the best opportunity to mingle with other social media users as much as I would have liked because by the time the brief presentation was over, the game was set to start within 20 minutes or so. Basically enough time to get to our seats. I do expect that the Cardinals will do their best to make the event on a weekend or in the summer next season in the hopes of having more people attend. And, from talking to several Cardinal employees, that is what they intend to do. I most definitely look forward to being able to meet even more of my twitter friends from Cardinal Nation and an even better event next year!
John Mozeliak answering fan Q’s from twitter.
As far as the event this year, it was interesting to hear from different writers and social media club representatives about how social media has affected their jobs and lifestyles. I enjoyed particularly hearing from Derrick Goold and Matthew Leach about how social media has effected the way they do their jobs and how much more accurate and responsible they have to be with their coverage because of how quickly it has to be reported. Take the Jaime Garcia thing this week for example; within a matter of 24 hours, it went from Tony LaRussa saying in pre-game media questions that Garcia would be shut down for the season, to him not being shut down but just skipping his next start. I understand it has to be hard. The fans have adapted to the very quick turnaround of twitter/social media and they expect to hear something almost every time reporters are in the locker room. They are working hard to give the fans what they are looking for, but still responsible for being informative and fun without pushing people away. I appreciate that they were so open and seemed to make themselves open to suggestions. I kind of knew that anyway; I always see Leach and Goold responding to [reasonable] questions and thoughts on twitter…both have responded to me in the past. I wish I would have had a chance to chat with them. I hope there will be another opportunity to do so. We all know that everything happens much faster on twitter. In fact, I know that many of my friends who don’t have twitter or stay connected to social media of any kind are usually an hour to 24 hours behind on information depending on how hot of a topic it is. I don’t need to explain to you how great of a tool it is; marketing and otherwise, but its obvious that there is a need for social media in the world of sports and it its popularity is continuously growing.
View from our seats for Social Media Night
Anyway, after a quick chat with McGraw Milhaven (I had to say hello, after all, he was the emcee and my former co-worker at KTRS), my friends and I headed to our seats in right field. I must say, pretty amazing seats for this event. Because this post is just way too short with the social media night event alone, I had to come up with something else to write about today. After Jacqueline’spost earlier this week about everyone “fighting” about who are the better, more die-hard fans; those who still believe no matter what or those who are realistic and base their opinions off the obvious, I was inspired to think about another topic that has seemed to plague my twitter feed since July 31st.

As fans of a specific team, are we allowed to continue to support and cheer for a player who was traded in the middle of the season (or even the offseason)?

pointing to luddy (4/09)
If you follow me even remotely closely on twitter, you should know how I felt (feel) about the Ludwick trade earlier this season. At first, extremely upset, then eventually coming off the ledge and realizing that is just what happens, but still a tiny bit upset that my favorite player for the past couple years is really playing for another team. I completely understand the whole “we gave him his first-time-back-standing-ovation, now he plays for another team” argument. Believe me, I do. I mean, look at Jim Edmonds; when he was traded, we still cared about him but had to get over it cause he ended up being traded from the Padres to the evil Cubs. But, I still don’t want to buy it, and I think I have the right to feel this way. Are we not allowed to be fans of different players even if they don’t play for the team in which our loyalties lie? Why can’t we be allowed to appreciate players for their heart, their play, and the place they have in our hearts? To me, Ryan Ludwick will always be a Cardinal. I know we might not have had the payroll option to keep him next season anyway, but at least that would have given me some time to have closure. I am still feeling like I was cheated out of seeing a guy who played with heart.

Meeting Ludwick at WWU 2010 – was telling him how
much I liked his walk-up song…he was laughing at me.
When Luddy came up to bat for the first time on Thursday night, I knew there would be nothing but cheers and applause for the former Cardinal. And, I was proven right. Before they even announced him, people began clapping and I was rising to my feet with many others around me. At the same time, my friend Amanda said, “wouldn’t it be cool if they played his song?” in reference to Brass Monkey by the Beastie Boys. “Nah, I don’t know….”, I began to reply as I heard the music to Brass Monkey begin to play over the loudspeakers. I was speechless. The standing ovation lasted for a minute or so and Luddy showed his appreciation with the tip of his batting helmet for all the fans in St. Louis that evening. The twitter account @FollowThePadres was very insightful on Luddy’s return to STL Wednesday and Thursday. Before the game on Thursday a tweet said that Ryan Ludwick expected his return to be very emotional when he would be greeted by the fans. Needless to say, I have a feeling it WAS very emotional for him. I think he had “a moment” when he received his round of applause and heard his song played at the stadium, but that’s just me. 🙂 I continued to clap and cheer all night for Luddy and I saw several Ludwick jerseys and t-shirts all around me, so I know he was very appreciated for his time here — and missed now that he is gone.
Two fans cheer (one still wearing Ludwick’s jersey) as
Ludwick took his place in RF on Sept 16, 2010.
The reason I bring this up is because there have been several instances on amongst Cardinal fans since he was traded away where feelings have outweighed loyalties. Some people may believe “once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal” and some may believe that once they are traded it is time to part ways. I agree with both. Fans in Cardinal Nation still applaud David Eckstein when he comes back to Busch Stadium, and wave to him from the seats when he is warming up…and he ALWAYS waves back. Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds still get applause from the fans at Busch Stadium, while it may not be quite as much for any of those 3 now as it was the first year after they were traded. John Mabry still gets love from many Cardinal fans and even though he too was a Cub, his loyalties obviously lie with the Cardinals as he comes back for Winter Warm Up and other Cardinal events. There are plenty other former Cardinals that have been traded and are welcome when they come back to Busch Stadium with their new teams. The initial enthusiasm may wear off, but the special place in members of Cardinal Nation’s hearts for ex-Cardinals will always be there.

Courtney & I with the Ludwick cutout last season.
So, Cardinal Nation, let those who wish to keep cheering for former Cardinals do so. I see nothing wrong with continuing to support those players. Once they leave, it is not so much that bitterness for the club because of the trade exists, but simply that there is a love and appreciation of how those players play the game. Those who don’t think it is OK to root for a player who is no longer with their team, that is fine, just don’t criticize others for wanting to do so. We all know that Cardinal Nation is the stronger tie, but we can continue to wish the former players well and root for them to be successful with their new teams; as long as it isn’t at the Cardinals’ expense of course! 🙂

A little perspective: no matter what, it’s the team (and the game) we love

A note from Ang…
Are the boys going to make a run at a playoff spot? They continue their absolutely baffling ways of beating good teams and losing to bad ones, so I suppose if the boys play winning teams the rest of the year (they don’t – darn) it’s always possible. Either way, we’re not giving up hope yet!!!
We have a surprise for all of you – not one, but TWO new writers! Cadence and Courtney Rippeto are a fabulous sister duo located in the St. Louis area, and have thankfully accepted our offer to join the team. More about them will be coming in the next week, but their big premiere is here now talking about their experience with photo day!
Enjoy and show them some love so they come back next week! 😉
Go Cards!

Entering the weekend 8 games behind the Reds, we took the time to enjoy the Friday and Saturday Cards/Reds games for what they were worth; photo day on the field and booing Brandon Phillips.

Courtney and I attended the first game of the Cards/Reds series on Friday night and we just knew that we were looking forward to hearing the roar of boos that Brandon Phillips would receive from the adoring Cardinal Nation after he ran his mouth in Cincy during the previous series. We all know what happened there. Needless to say, he was greeted with boos every time he came to the plate and every time he even came near to the ball. Even the foul ball that he got a piece of was thrown back on to the field. As much as I HATE it when that happens (hello, we are NOT Cubs fans), I had to applaud the guy who threw the ball back. Probably one of the greatest things I have seen. I think he would agree that it was worth him getting thrown out over. 🙂
Obviously, if you watched any of the games, you would know that the “love” for Brandon Phillips continued all weekend. Even the Reds fans sitting next to us on Saturday said “I hope that he gets a hit so it will shut them up.” HAHA. Sorry, Reds fans, but the hate will never disappear for Phillips, and he brought that upon himself.
To end Friday night, after another fantastic Jaime Garcia performance, Busch Stadium had another fireworks night. And after getting to see the Mizzou Tigers marching band battle the Fighting Illini marching band before the game (Go Mizzou!), it was quite a great end to an awesome night. We couldn’t wait to get to Saturday’s game.

While almost everyone else was focusing on the fact that “the season is over”, we were busy enjoying a day we had been looking forward to since early this season – yes, I bought the tickets in May. Saturday, September 4th was fan photo day on the field at Busch Stadium. Having missed out last year, I was determined to go this year and enjoy it to the fullest. (Courtney’s friend, Laura, came with us – so that is who the blonde is in all of our pics!) Courtney had gone last year and I knew I couldn’t miss out. Although my fave (Luddy), who I had been looking forward to seeing earlier in the season, wasn’t there, I still couldn’t wait to go!
We knew we were in a great position to get close to the players, having placed ourselves in kind-of a corner of the roped off area, we were certain there would be opportunity for us to at least try and get the attention of our favorites. We had NO idea what was about to happen! First the coaches made their way around the field, waving to the fans and being very courteous. Then, the first round of players entered the field; Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and Jon Jay. Those three almost ran around the field so quick, I forgot they were even there! But, I guess since they were starters, it was understandable considering pre-game rituals and superstitions.
As more players proceeded to enter the field (Brendan Ryan, Randy Winn, Matt Pagnozzi, Nick Stavinoha – we called him Dr. Thunder and he got a kick out of it!, Pedro Feliz, Bryan Anderson) we saw Matt Holliday coming our way. Somehow, we got his attention and lured him over to take a photo with us! It was so surreal that we couldn’t believe it…he even had his hand on my shoulder! Pretty amazing. Needless to say, we were so stunned in our excellent convincing skills that we thought we would try it with other players as the rounded the field.

Aaron Miles was one in the next group to come by. We talked to him for a second and he even stopped in his tracks to read my shirt, “It Ain’t Right til it’s Wainwright”, and he gave me the thumbs up (the pics below are him reading my shirt, and then posing for us) and told me he liked it. In fact several of the guys really liked my shirt; too bad Waino was pitching and he didn’t participate in photo day, so he couldn’t see the shirt like I had hoped. Dennys Reyes and Fernando Salas came around next. Again, very nice, but kinda scooted along without stopping to talk.

The group of Felipe Lopez, Trever Miller, and Ryan Franklin were the next to walk by. Trever Miller was a hit with this crazy curly wig he wore (which he explained on the Sunday pre-game show to be a way to loosen up the guys and make them laugh in the clubhouse – it worked with the fans too!). While Lopez and Miller were stopped taking pictures with other fans, I chatted up Ryan Franklin asking if he would take a photo with us. He replied “Sure! Just a second, ok?” What was he waiting for? He was rounding up the other guys to come over and take a photo with us! Totally awesome of him.
At this point, we were even more geeked and couldn’t wait for others to show up. Courtney wanted a picture with Jason Motte and we all wanted one with Colby Rasmus. Jaime Garcia was also tops on our list. So, as they kept coming, we continued to reach out to the players to get photos with us as well as help a fellow cardinal fan who was much shorter than me standing behind us. She was desperate for a picture with Skip Schumaker, so we made sure we helped her get one. For some reason, the guys just couldn’t say “no” to a group of girls begging for photos with them. This, of course, was good for us.
Some of the bullpen guys made their way around the warning track and I got Mitchell Boggs while waiting for Jason Motte. Both pics were achieved and they were both so sweet to us. We expressed our appreciation for them stopping to take photos with us.

When another group made their way around the corner, we noticed that Mike MacDougal wasn’t getting much love, so we asked him if he would take a photo with us… “Sure!” And we had officially made it up to 7 different players! Meanwhile, we helped our short Cardinal friend we met get a picture with Blake Hawksworth. Courtney said to him “Hey, I follow you on twitter!” He was very responsive and said, “Really? That’s awesome.” Whether he actually meant it or not, he was very nice about it.

In the last group, we were super confident that we could get the last two on our list; Jaime Garcia and Colby Rasmus. We were extremely successful and we also got Kyle Lohse in there too! All three had to be so tired of fans yelling at them and wanting pictures, but they were so sweet to us and obliged.

What these guys might not know is that they made our day! Win or lose, we were never going to forget how awesome it was to get pics with all these guys.  See, how we look at it is that this is our team. Whenever something like this happens, you seem to forget a stretch of bad play and remember that this is baseball, the sport we absolutely love.  And they are the team that we absolutely love. Yes, they did lose, but there was no shortage of amazing memories that we will never forget. Thank you, St. Louis Cardinals for hosting this event and thank you to the players for being so amazing and courteous to the fans, we truly appreciate it.

Hopefully this is just the beginning of many entries to come from us. Courtney is divulged in pharmacy school, so you will mostly see my writing, but because we do so many things together (in regards to the Cardinals) it will likely be a combined effort. We really look forward to sharing our Cardinal experiences with all of you in Cardinal Nation!
Cadence (and Courtney)
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