Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Matthew Leach

More Fun at Busch Stadium

I finally had some time to sit down and write about the first-class Cardinal Bloggers Event hosted last weekend by the St. Louis Cardinals.  The experience was so much fun that I had to split it up into two posts! Yesterday I touched on our meeting with John Mozeliak and the thrill of walking into the administrative offices as well as the wonderful time we had mingling with other Cardinal bloggers/writers in Cardinal Hospitality.  Today I want to share some other stories that made the event even more memorable for me.

Visiting the Busch stadium press-box during a game has topped my list of curious places behind the scenes of Cardinal baseball. (Okay, visiting the clubhouse right after the game would be numero uno.  A gal can dream, can’t she?!)  In my mind, I’ve had a picture of what the press-box scene might look like.    So the chance to discover if the scribes bicker out loud (instead of just across twitter) or if there are piles of pizza boxes or taco trash in the corner was a whole bucket of exciting!
One of my favorite highlights from Sunday’s Blogger Event at Busch was an impromptu tour of the press-box!  As luck would have it, I caught up with Matthew “Pip” Philip, editor and principal writer for Fungoes.com, when he stopped by the party suite for some food.  When I asked where he was off to next, Pip replied that he was heading back to the press box, and I (of course) jumped at the chance to ask him for a tour (not at all shy when it comes to opportunities like that!)  Pip was awesome and happy to oblige.  So I grabbed Hubby and we wandered back through the stadium with Pip, past the guard at the door to the press box.  (Guarded to keep potentially overexcited fans like me from interrupting a broadcast by cheering “AttaBoy Hunky!!!” too loud from the booth?… I’m just guessing.)
Anyway… Hubby and I quietly behaved ourselves in the press-box corridor while Pip took care of some MLB.com datacasting.  He was training a woman on the process for entering data for MLB Game Day/ MLB At Bat.  (I’d always wondered how that happened…. now I know!)

One of the funny things about the press box was the seating chart posted on the wall as you enter the corridor.  It reminded me of elementary school.  “Everyone find your chair!”
Hubby and I wandered up to the 2nd level of chairs (with permission, of course) and sat to watch some of the game from that glorious birds-eye view.  Among the dozen or so men in the seats below us I recognized Bernie Miklasz (sorting his itunes library), Derrick Goold, Rick Hummel and BJ Rains with his dad, Rob Rains, one row behind.   They were all quietly watching the games or casually typing on their computers.  What I assumed would be a glorified man cave was actually pristinely clean and orderly.  No piles of stadium food littered the desks or corners.  And honestly the box felt like a library, very quiet with only occasional hushed talking as crowd noise drifted in through an open window.  Another curiosity was seeing Matthew Leach (MLB.com reporter) sitting alone in a darker room full of desk cubbies across the hall from the elevated press-box seats.  I had the chance to ask him about this later in the afternoon…

Pip returned to give us a fabulous quick tour of the press-box (honestly, there’s not all that much to tour, but he did it up right!) He even let me snag a few of the game notes and information pages provided for the press who use that area. Score one for random baseball souvenirs!  😉  Whether he knew it or not, Pip made a dream come true.  It was wonderful and the staff in the press box were warm and welcoming.
We managed to find our way back to the UCB suites to enjoy more of Jaime Garcia’s unbelievable complete game shutout (wow!) with the other bloggers.  Towards the end of the game, Matthew Leach made an appearance in the suites and hung out to meet everyone and talk about the Cardinals.


When the game ended and the employees politely tried to move our chattering UCB group on our way, Matthew Leach kindly hung out with several of us in the concourse.  I grabbed my chance to ask him pretty much any and every question I’d wanted to ask him over the past few years… about his job and the Cardinals.  He was great about it and I learned a lot.
For instance….
· The reason he was alone in a dark room in the press box?  Leach wasn’t reporting on the Cardinals game that day and was instead working on a different article for MLB.com….while watching a tennis match.)
· He explained his process of taking notes during a game in order to quickly put the details together into an entertaining and informative game recap.
· Matthew has been working in baseball for 10 years now, and yes, it does get tiring, especially when traveling.
· He has authored one book (I didn’t know this) titled “The Game of My Life, St. Louis Cardinals,” but it is out of print and costs anywhere from $86 to $297 online now.  So, it must be a REALLY good book!  😉
· He gets a lot of questions for his Mailbag, but current/timely questions are sometimes hard to come by. So when he sends out a request for questions, he really does need them!

I also “peppered” Mr. Leach (Dustin McClure’s words, not mine) with questions about some of my favorite Baby Birds such as Daniel Descalso including how long Matthew expects him to stick with the big club.  I verified that no, Matthew Leach is not a Cardinal fan and asked how he can spend so much time covering the Cardinals with such excitement and interest, yet not be a fan. Then I finally couldn’t help myself and brought up the topic of one of my favorites, former Cardinal shortstop Brendan Ryan.  Matthew agreed that it was hard to understand how Brendan would be surprised that his former teammates were frustrated by his antics when it was quite obvious to many around the clubhouse.  I wish I’d had a tape recorder so that I could remember everything we discussed, but it was the most fun to talk to someone with that much experience and such a close connection to our team.   Matthew Leach was great to meet and kindly stayed for all of our questions and discussions, joking about how hard he is to reach otherwise.  (He is,in fact, extremely easy to reach and is quick to respond on Twitter as well as answer reader questions in his MLB/Cardinals blog, Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer.)

Christine, Chris, Justin, Dustin, Dathan and me
After the doors were shut and the stadium was quieting down, a small group of us leftover UCBers made the hike out of the stadium, past the players’ parking lot… where we paused to try and identify some vehicles in true fan fashion.  We continued on to Paddy O’s where we soaked up some postgame excitement along with our refreshments.  Being from Oklahoma, I rarely get to celebrate a win, in St. Louis, surrounded by a crowd of Cardinal fans.  It was wonderfully fun and the perfect ending to a fabulous gathering.

Thanks again to the St. Louis Cardinals for hosting the event; Molly and Kathy for their hard work in setting it all up and their hospitality; Melody Yount, Derek Throneburg and especially John Mozeliak for giving the UCB a memorable event at Busch Stadium.  Thanks also to the staff in the suites who made us all comfortable and provided us with great food, drinks and service.  And my special thanks to the two Matthews, Philip and Leach, for adding so much to my experience.

It was especially wonderful to meet everyone that I associate with my Cardinals, from twitter and blogs to the guys behind the MLB tools I use daily.

The Cardinals begin the first of their 10 games on the road today as they face the San Francisco Giants.  Game time is early today at 3:35pm.
Go Cards!!  =)

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! 🙂
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