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Girl Talk: Daniel “Dirty Dan?” Descalso

This week the gals are dishing about Cardinal newby Daniel Descalso.  What do we think of him so far?  How do we predict he will do in 2011?  And what about those nicknames?!?

Erika says:  When Daniel Descalso made the Opening Day roster with the Cardinals, I had high hopes this Baby Bird would get enough playing time to impress both Tony La Russa and fans alike.  I was not disappointed.  Daniel has split his service between 2B and 3B, f lashing the leather with enough finesse to *almost* make me forget about a certain spinning shortstop.  While not a sure thing at the plate, he has contributed some timely hitting, including extra bases.  My predictions tend toward “realistic optimism.” So, for Dan Descalso’s 2011, I am hoping for a slight improvement through the year in batting average (currently .226) with more comfort and exposure to learning big league pitchers.  Perhaps .260 isn’t too much to hope for?  Already impressive with the glove, I expect more chills and web gem opportunities while Descalso has opportunities at the hotcorner during David Freese’ absence.

As far as nicknames, let the record show that I am a definite fan of creative player handles.  The fact that Mr. Descalso has already garnered a slew of fan-approved alter-ego titles is evidence enough for me that Cardinal Nation has eagerly adopted one of my favorite Baby Birds.  Early in the season, it was mentioned on a game broadcast that Daniel’s grandmother didn’t approve of the nickname Danny.  *sigh*… I was partial to Danny Boy.  However since then, new choices have popped up all over.  DD, Dirty Dan and Disco, to name a few.  While Dirty Dan certainly captures the scrappy, it’s a guy’s guy kind of name.  Apologies to grandma, but Danny (Danny D, Danny Boy) still has a nice ring to it.  And then there’s Disco… that cracks me up! (h/t @El_Maquino)

Honestly, if Descalso keeps playing like he has, I’ll call him whatever he wants.  😉

Emily: I don’t have a lot of knowledge or feelings regarding Daniel Descalso, but I think we are all about to learn a lot more about him. The injury to David Freese (waaaah) likely means a lot more time at third for Danny D, so I assume I will grow to know him. Currently, I only know that he’s had some clutch RBI, made a few sharp defensive plays, and looks like a young John Mabry as he steps up to bat. Offensively, I’m not sure I see him even remotely making up for the loss of Freese, but it will be interesting to see how he grows and (hopefully) improves with more regular playing time. I think that he has the potential to be a true Cardinal favorite (that’s right — scrappy. I’ll just go ahead and say it!), but it’s too soon for me to tell how much I like him or how good he could be.

Cadence: Daniel Descalso. Where do I begin? I have been obsessing over Daniel since I met him at Spring Training. Mostly, I think it is because of how much he reminds me of John Mabry. If you follow me on twitter and haven’t realized this by now, then you just don’t pay enough attention. 😉 I love Triple D. Yes, that is my favorite nickname. I know everyone seems to enjoy Dirty D, but I prefer Triple D – Daniel Descalso Defense. I’m going with that after he snagged that ball at 3B on Saturday. He has made a couple plays like that, but that one in particular is when I decided I like that name. Besides, if people are gonna call Eduardo Sanchez’s pitches “dirty” can you really have 2 guys with the “dirty” nickname?  I predict a good year for Mr. Descalso if he just keeps playing his game. Now that David Freese is on the DL…again…he’ll likely get more playing time at third. Even though he only has a .226 avg so far, he has had some big timely hits and some great games and I think he can continue to do that if he knows his role is more important. Good luck Daniel, not Danny – Grandma Descalso might get upset – I am rooting for you!

Angela: Dirty. Danny. D. Oh come on, how could you not fall in love with a nickname like that? It just sounds like a ballplayer – and not one from this day and age of “first letter of first name dash last few letters of last name” type nicknames (K-Mac, A-Rod, heck I even say K-Lo stitched into Lohse’s glove last night!), but a real ballplayer nickname that you would have seen running around in the mud back in the 30’s and 40’s. Dirty Danny D would have fit in nicely with the likes of Pepper “Wild Horse of the Osage” Martin or Frankie “Fordham Flash” Frisch.

In terms of what we can expect from Dirty Danny D? Honestly, so far with the bat he hasn’t been impressive, but I don’t particularly need him to be over the moon impressive there. Heck, Holliday and Berkman are still hitting over .400 after 29 games! What I do want to see from Descalso is solid D. He’s been filling in a lot at second with Skip Schumaker on the shelf, and while he hasn’t had out of this world defense, he’s made some pretty nice plays, and he’s made all the plays he’s supposed to. This isn’t a knock on Skip, this is just saying what we all know – Skip isn’t a great second baseman. Dirty Danny D has the skills to play an adequate to above average second base. That’s what I want… for now.

I mean, eventually you gotta do something with a nickname like Dirty Danny D… right?


Girl Talk – Would you rather….

THE QUESTION:  Would you rather deal with fair weather fans that only show up when the team is doing well and otherwise don’t really care, or  fans that live and die with every. single. pitch.  and think the season is lost in the first week when Pujols goes 0-4 or Carp gives up a handful of runs?
Erika says:  
Is there a 3rd choice?  Fair weather fans who respond to a few rough games by bailing out probably can’t name the team’s starting lineup anyway.  While that type of detachment could be a good defense mechanism for a Cubs fan, it hardly befits a true member of Cardinal Nation.  I’m not good at sharing a baseball game with someone who just doesn’t care.  On the other hand, volatile fans give me anxiety through proximity.  It’s either melt-down or mania with them – and that gets tiring faster than Franklin can blow a save.  If I had to pick (and Angela says I do…) I’d pick the live-and-die-with-every-pitch type of baseball buddy as long as they are capable of providing a reasonable, intelligent defense explaining what makes them crazed lunatics (for better or worse) on any given day of the baseball season.
Angela says:
To me, the answer is simple – if I have to choose between the crazies that were blowing up Twitter this afternoon or people that head for the hills during the bad times… I might take the good timers. I think this is a partially emotional response, since I checked out on Twitter after seeing the venom there after Franklin’s blown save today by the ones that are grabbing their pitchforks. Some of these fans just become too much for me. The Cardinals win a blowout and they say, “But so and so went 0-4 and left the bases loaded in the 6th and whatever reliever gave up 2 runs in mop-up duty in the 8th.” People – the Cardinals are winning. They just took three of four from the Dodgers in LA and have gone 5-2 in their last seven. You can smile. You can high five. Enjoy the good times.
Emily says:
I’ve lived on Chicago’s north side for nearly 10 years now, which is the natural breeding ground and safe haven for the fair weather fan, so my first instinct is to say that I can’t stand fair weather fans. This part of the country is full of people who moved to Chicago in their early 20s, purchased a Derrek Lee shirt or a pink Cubs hat, and spend each summer chugging beers in one of America’s largest bars–Wrigley Field. For a truly invested fan, it can be infuriating.
That being said, I think that part of the beauty of baseball is its versatility. There is a time for casually enjoying a game and some badly needed sun; there is a time for watching with fellow fans in a rowdy bar; there is certainly a time for watching from under your bed or behind your couch, pushed into solitude by the sheer intensity of the game. Baseball in June is different from baseball in October, and I feel that the fair weather fan, no matter how gross in October, is a necessity to June baseball and all its fun and warmth. We (the die hard, the obsessed, the truly invested) have a tendency to take things a little too seriously a little too early on (see: week one of the 2011 season), and we need those fair weather fans to remind us, sometimes, to keep things in perspective, to breathe and think, “162 games.”
I think what I’m trying to say is that die hard fans and fair weather fans are both crucial to baseball, because part of what makes baseball great is how it can be enjoyed at different levels and loved to different degrees. I believe that if you care more, the game gives more back to you. Yet as much as I can understand and marginally appreciate every level of involvement, I’ll personally  take the “live and die with every pitch” fan any day, because when it comes right down it, I want to talk to someone who can knowledgeably talk about baseball—not a “Cubs fan” who just found out that Ryan Theriot doesn’t play for them anymore.
Cadence says:
This is a very hard topic for me to approach, because I can’t say I can pick either one. Fairweather fans – at least the ones who obviously don’t care unless they get free tickets to a game – are the worst, but sometimes I consider the living and dying (the extreme version) to be very similar. Passion is a tricky thing and in my opinion, it isn’t always a good thing. I consider myself to be a passionate person…in everything I do. I hate it when we lose, when someone blows a game or when we go on a losing streak. On the other hand, I am very happy when we can score 60-plus runs on a 10 game road trip, we go on a winning streak or someone has a complete game, just to name a few things. I guess what I am trying to say is that my passion for the team (my 5 shelves of Cardinals memorabilia, my 6 shelves full of t-shirts & jerseys, and the fact that almost every one of my profile pictures on facebook is of me at a Cards game) is there…and vivid, but I have many other things going on in my life for me to really place my mood fully in the hands of Ryan Franklin or any other member of the St. Louis Cardinals. It gets me more frustrated to see the huge dynamics from people – ecstatic when we score 15 runs in a game and cursing the name of a player who made a bad play the next game – then it does for me to even have to deal with the people who leave games in the 7th inning.
Ultimately, I can’t change anyone and how they react to sports…they are free to do whatever they want. I will cheer along with my fellow fans when things are good (and I am ok if they are bandwagon fans), but when things go bad, I just have to tune out the stuff I don’t want to hear. I would rather just cheer on my team.
Have an idea for future Girl Talk posts?  Let us know!
The Cardinals have today off, a much needed rest for players and fans alike after the brutal 10 game West Coast Road Trip.  The Cardinal offense surged on the road and the Redbirds are now sitting at .500 with 8 wins & 8 losses.  Can they keep the magic alive at home?
Next up?  Back home to Busch stadium on Tuesday, facing the Washington Nationals.  Rick Ankiel and Jayson Werth…. this should be interesting!
Go Cards!!

2010 Cardinal Blogger Awards Ballot

Each year the United Cardinal Bloggers put out postseason awards. Since there were four of us voting, of course we had to make it into a little roundtable back and forth between the four of us, if for no other reason than because it gave us an excuse to chatter about the boys together for a couple days over email!


So without further ado, here is our ballot for this year…

Cardinal Bloggers Awards
2010 Ballot

1. Player of the Year
–Matt Holliday – Erika surprised no one with this vote, saying, “Holliday, because I love to watch him. More reasons? Because he rallied back after a dry spell and played like every out mattered to the bitter end. Everyone is going to say Albert because he is Albert. But I think Matt gets a nod here too.”
Albert Pujols – Erika was outvoted. Jacqueline said it best, “Best player in the game from Opening Day to Oct. We are blessed to watch him play. Doesn’t take him half a season to ‘warm up’.”
–Colby Rasmus
–Write-in: _______________

2. Pitcher of the Year
–Chris Carpenter
–Jaime Garcia
Adam Wainwright – Did you even have to ask? Now that he has officially taken home 2nd place in the Cy Young voting, it’s a no brainer who the best pitcher was for the Cards this year… and no, I’m not saying that just because he’s my favorite. This one was unanimous! The announcement yesterday also tripped a clause in his contract that will most likely (provided he does not end 2011 on the DL – please no!!) keep Adam in the birds on the bat through 2013. Consider this our CDD happy dance of the day!
–Write-in: _______________

3. Game of the Year
–April 5 at Cincinnati–Opening Day, 2 HR from Pujols, slam from Molina
–May 30 at Chicago–Pujols three home runs
–July 18 vs. Los Angeles–Five runs in eight and ninth to win
–July 19 vs. Philadelphia–Four home runs
–August 10 at Cincinnati–Brawl, home run from Molina – Well now you know what gets our blood boiling! Erika chimed in with, “Finally we played with real passion and it finally looked like it would propel us into first and keep us there…..Not exactly.” I think all of us in Cardinal Nation had our blood boiling during that series, and to fall flat and not ride that adrenaline high or whatever you want to call it right through to October was a definite letdown after the smackdown the Cards laid on Cincy that weekend.
–Write-in: _________________

4. Surprise Player of the Year – One of the bummers with having 4 votes is that we completely split. While I tried to be the deciding vote in most of these, I couldn’t make it happen here. So here’s our tie!
David Freese – Erika and Jacqueline sat firmly in this camp, with Jacqueline saying, “Complete player. Hot bat, good glove, bad ankles.”
Jaime Garcia – Cadence echoed my thoughts with this one, “Although I knew he would be good, I wasn’t expecting Jaime to come out like this. Awesome to watch.” I absolutely felt the same way. Every time I saw Jaime pitch this year was awesome! I’m looking forward to see him and Waino taking turns shutting down the opposition for many years to come.
–Jon Jay
–Write-in: ________________

5. Disappointing Player of the Year
–Kyle Lohse – Jacqueline
–Dennys Reyes
–Brendan Ryan
–Write-in: Brad Penny – Cadence says, “I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from Penny, but not seeing him again after the Grand Slam was a surprise to me. Did anyone know the injury would be that bad? Even Kyle Lohse had surgery and came back (while not necessarily good, he came back). Even better, we hear in the offseason that Penny spent his “hard earned” Cardinal cash on an engagement ring.” Disappointing. Ang agrees, and that became the deciding vote.
Erika did not vote in this one, hysterically (predictably?) saying, “I can’t even answer this one! Calling any of them disappointing would be too mean! Haha Help!!” Don’t worry – we got your back on this one!

6. Rookie of the Year
Jaime Garcia – Another unanimous vote for us. I was pulling for Jaime in spring training to snag that fifth spot in the rotation. I wasn’t exactly expecting him to hold down the third spot for most of the year! It would have been unfair to have such lofty expectations for the 24 year old who was rolling out of Tommy John surgery rehab, so we’ve chalked him up as a “pleasant surprise”… one that we hope to see again in 2011!
–Jon Jay
–Fernando Salas
–Write-in: _________________

7. Acquisition of the Year
–Aaron Miles
–Brad Penny
Jake Westbrook – Jacqueline took the words right out of my mouth when she responded with, “Is this question for real? Brad Penny won four games and spent the rest of the season Dancin with a Star. Miles really didn’t do too badly, just wasn’t a huge game changer. Westbrook could be a good acquisition if he stays a Card.” Guess what? We win!
–Write-in: ________________

8. Biggest Off-Field Story
Jaime Garcia’s shutdown without him knowing – I’m pretty sure that I knew Garcia had been shut down before he did. That’s pretty impressive. Erika’s got a point here, “Hard to pick between this and the Colby story. But the Garcia shutdown was fascinating because it involved how social media and twitter can directly affect the communication (or lack of) within a professional sports team. The fans knew before Jaime? That still amazes me. Do the players like or loathe twitter? A curious question.”
–Mark McGwire’s return to baseball
–Colby Rasmus’s trade request
–Write-in: _____________

9. Most Anticipated Cardinal – Shoot, another split vote. Daniel’s going to be maaaaaad…
Zack Cox – Cadence and Jacqueline went for this year’s number one draft pick, saying, “Supposed to have a major league ready bat. 3rd baseman who might be moved to 2nd. Bring it on!”
–Lance Lynn
Shelby Miller – Last year’s number 1 draft pick spent the year at high A Quad Cities, and Erika and I are waiting to see if he lives up to the hype, but I know we both realllllly want him to.
–Write-in: ________________

10. Best Individual Cardinal Blog
–Write-in: C70 – The first blog that comes to mind, and Jacqueline was just kidding when she added, “Very informative-great writing. I could be sucking up.”

11. Best Team Cardinal Blog
–Write-in: PH8 – Each one of the guys over at Pitcher’s Hit Eighth gives a different point of view. Sounds kind of like us!

12. Best Media Blog
–Bird Land – Derrick Goold is probably our collective favorite scribe for the Cardinals, and his depth of research makes every piece worth the read.
–Cardinal Beat
–Obviously, You’re Not A Golfer
–Write-in: _______________

13. Best UCB Project
–Cardinal All-Decade Team
–Progressive Game Blog
Roundtables – Far and away the winner here. Cadence said it best, “While I couldn’t participate every time, I really enjoyed the banter. Cool way to get a lot of bloggers in one place.”
–Write-in: ______________

14. Most Optimistic Cardinal Blog
–Write-in: C70 – We were basically unanimous here, although Jacqueline chipped in with, “We’re Card fans. Even when we’re discouraged or angry, we know it’ll get better. We ain’t the Mets or God help us…the Cubbies.” In that case, we all win this award!

15. Funniest Cardinal Blog
–Write-in: Joe Sports Fan – Is there something amusing going on in the sporting world? Do you need amusing photoshop pictures to brighten a strange situation (the Colby/Tony spat comes to mind)? Are you entertained by people obsessed with mustaches? Matt and Josh have you covered. Trust us – you’ll laugh daily!

16. Rookie Cardinal Blog of the Year
–Cardinal Diamond Diaries
i70baseball – We’ve obviously got a lot of respect for all the hard work that goes into i70 on a daily basis, from the writers to the editors to the *cough* photo gal *cough*. Those of you that read us but not i70… umm… where have you been???
–Welcome To Baseball Heaven

–Write-in: _______________

Girl Talk – The Best Part

Oh, dear Cardinal Fans, our season has come to an end.  Our Redbirds played 162 games.  The good, the bad and the ugly all combined for a final 86-76 record. The Cardinals ended the 2010 season winning 5 straight games, including a sweep of the Rockies to finish in 2nd place in the National League Central.  It was not the most glorious of seasons, but we certainly had some fun along the way.

It is Monday and we are sticking with our ‘Girl Talk’ round table format for another week. Today we are looking for those golden moments of the 2010 Cardinal season.

This week’s topic:
What one event/game/player was the highlight of the 2010 Cardinal season (for you)?

Cadence:  I have enjoyed plenty this season – yes, hard to believe with the not-so-stellar season but I believe there have been plenty of good things too. I could repeat my first post with CDD saying my favorite thing this season was fan photo day and getting pics with all those players, but I won’t.

Instead, I will say, quite simply, that Jaime Garcia has been the best part of the 2010 Cardinal Season for me.

“Jaime Garcia celebrates his 3-hit complete game shut-out
on August 22nd against the Giants.”
St. Louis Post Dispatch

Not really a surprise that he was as good as he was. When we saw him briefly in 2008, I thought he had some good potential. Now, to see what a great job he has done – coming back strong from Tommy John surgery and stepping up as the #3 starter – I have been blown away! Garcia has definitely been a bright spot in a dismal 2010 Cardinal season; going 13-8 with a 2.70 era (ranking 4th among starters behind Johnson, Waino & Halladay) and putting up his first-career complete game shut-out (which I was in attendance for). One moment in particular that I felt he stepped up was August 10th in Cincinnati; being the starting pitcher during the game of the infamous brawl, he was able to compose himself and pitch like a veteran as the Cardinals went on to win. The kid is good, and I can’t wait to see more from him in 2011.

Erika: Matt Holliday.  Last year during the offseason I spent far too much emotional energy hoping and fretting about the chances that Holliday would be a Cardinal in 2010.  A slugging, handsome Oklahoma boy like that was destined to join my dear Cardinals.  He signed.  I was in heaven.

After watching Holliday struggle to find his groove early on, it was a pleasant relief to see his bat catch fire in the 2nd half.  So many impatient fans were disappointed when ol’ Matty was struggling offensively at the start of the season.  Shoot, even Holliday himself was frustrated.  But since the All Star break he has been the more consistent powerhouse we were hoping for.

Hunky Swing – photo by Erika

Since mid July Holliday has hit .331 with a .413 on-base percentage and a .541 slugging percentage.  In interviews Matt has frequently referred to the baseball season balancing itself out, stating every player goes through phases.  Personally, I really savored Hunky’s hot phase here at the end.  Without a doubt, Holliday has been my bright spot.  He played with 100% hustle in the outfield all the way to the final out, and (the gals knew this was coning…) watching Matt ‘Hunky’ Holliday dig in at the plate has been the highlight of my 2010 Cardinal season!

Jacqueline: Nobody does it bettah, or as I like to say he’s like buttah! Albert Pujols is simply the best player I will ever watch play the game. In 2010 he was without a doubt the best part of the season. Yes, we have grown to expect it. Yes, we are spoiled by his stellar play. But I refuse to hold that against him.

photo Credit: Chris Lee, St. Louis Post Dispatch

Since I grew up hearing about Stan the Man and Gibby, I cling to the miracle that I have Albert Pujols to watch every day. But ya don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s the individual stats that matter. I’m not gonna bore you non stat heads with a lot of numbers. I’m just gonna tell you his ranking in the National League in those categories that make him an MVP year in year out. Albert ranks 1st in HRS, RUNS, RBI and is tied for 1st in SLG and WAR. He ranks 2nd in OBP, OPS,  and WPA. He ranks 6th in BA and 19th in CLUTCH. All these stats are courtesy of our friends at FanGraphs. Here’s the link http://bit.ly/dmTSn8 if you want to peruse them or need a description of what WAR, WPA and CLUTCH mean. We all know Albert is so much more than numbers. As I watched the Stand for Stan ceremony yesterday, there is no doubt in my mind, there will be one just like it for Albert one day. He is now and forever a Cardinal. I’m verklempt. “Discuss amooangst yooaselves”.

Angela: Get ready for something really sappy (this doesn’t happen very often), but for me, the best part of the 2010 season was the people. I’m sure that I’ll remember the players and I will probably remember the disappointment of the season overall, but this season I got to attend eight Cardinal games (a personal high) in three different cities with people that are closer than close (family members), friends that I hold dear to my heart, and thanks to the miracle of Twitter and this blog, fans that I never would have had the chance to meet otherwise. I saw some fun games (Stavinoha’s HR off Trevor Hoffman in MIL), some unexpected games (Hawksworth’s nice start in the sweltering KC heat), and a laugher or two (18-4 on CDD night at Busch). In just those three examples I met or spent time with 8 different Cardinal fans to the core.

The players might be the ones that make the games happen, but the fans make it the experience. Thank you for sharing it with me. I hope to meet more of you in 2011!

Those are our 2010 highlights.  Add your own in the comments below!  We’d love to read ’em… reliving the good stuff helps ease the pain of *gulp* the reality that the season is over.  =)

Thanks for reading!
The Cardinal Diamond Diary Gals

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