Cardinal baseball, from the girls
Tag Archives: Nick Stavinoha
June 6, 2011Posted by on
The Memphis Redbirds have won the first two games in their current series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks, and I was in heaven there at the ballpark this weekend for all the baby bird fun. The two games were very different experiences, both wonderful in their own way. The first game, Saturday, was an evening game with the family – the kiddos, Hubby, me and my Mom. We laughed and chatted about the players, cheered on our boys and enjoyed each other’s company. With Memphis the visiting team, it was auditorily obviously we were in the minority cheering for the Redbirds – just the crickets and us!
Memphis had a big game, winning 8-4. Adam Ottavino pitched well, into the 7th inning. Both Pete Kozma and Andrew Brown smacked homeruns. Aaron Luna stole 2nd. Kozma kicked off an adrenaline packed 6-4-3 double play. A balk was called on OKC’s pitcher (I missed it, as usual…. Balks continue to mystify me.) Donovan Solano was on base all night, going 4 for 5 at the plate. And Cory Rauschenberger, Chuckie Fick and Raul Valdes all pitched in relief for Memphis (some better than others). 😉
And bonus! There was a new Baby Bird making his AAA debut! Jose Garcia was a fresh call-up from Springfield during the shuffle that sent both Matt Carpenter and Mark Hamilton up to St. Louis and brought Pete Kozma back down to AAA. Garcia had an applause-worthy game both defensively (playing 2nd) and at the plate with a walk, a double, a single and 2 runs batted in. A .500 AAA batting average!… for the moment.
Sunday’s game was night-and-day different, both literally and figuratively. Bright (hot) sunshine and a smaller crowd. I was on my own (with my camera) for this one since the kiddos (and Hubby) had ball practice and a date with the swimming pool. I grabbed a seat in the shade – first row seats were open all around the park, and I moved around a few times to catch a better camera angle here and there. It was a shame really, to see the park so empty. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was Sunday… it sure wasn’t because the baseball was disappointing! I enjoyed the peace and quiet that afternoon. There is something almost magical about watching a ballgame by yourself, with no distractions. Don’t get me wrong, I love the experience of sharing a game with friends and family. But for just those few hours, I had the gift of a baseball game to which I could give 100% of my attention and it was a wonderful reprieve from a crazy last couple of weeks.
PJ Walters started for Memphis and threw 7 innings, walking 2 and striking out 6. He also managed to hit two batters. Nothing serious, but the Memphis play-by-play announcer mentioned PJ has hit 9 batters so far this year. (yikes?!)
Memphis’ top of the 6th kept what few fans were in attendance on the edge of their seats. After Pete Kozma lined out, Andrew Brown reached 1st on a throwing error. Nick Stavinoha struck out, but then OKC walked the next two batters. The bases were loaded with Redbirds and a wild pitch scored Brown from 3rd. Bryan Anderson then struck out, stranding two, but after four innings with only one baby bird making it to base, it was nice to finally see some action. There were more thrills in the top of the 8th (but not the rah-rah kind) when Freddie Bynum lined into an unassisted double play at first which caught Stavinoha off the bag and abruptly ended the inning for Memphis.
Jess Todd, Raul Valdes and Victor Marte all pitched in relief. Marte had an impressive 9th inning, and the game ended with Donovan Solano’s glove being in just the right place at the right time to catch a smoked line drive towards 3rd. Solano smiled, looking surprised to see he had caught it, and the baby birds celebrated on the field for the 2nd time, winning 3-2.
An aside: There is one thing I am embarrassed to report. We may need to take up a collection for our baby birds clothing fund. It was painfully obvious their travel-gray uniforms are getting old and being pieced together with replacements. For some of the boys, the gray in their shirts mismatched their gray pants. OKC fans around us were making fun, and I had to agree it looked, well… odd.
I’d keep a closer eye on stuff like that for them if they lived closer. Dress to impress, boys! 😉
It’s been nice to read/hear that our Cardinals had a monstrous weekend, sweeping the Cubs in exciting fashion while my attention was focused on the farm boys. Albert Pujols heating up?? Well, it’s about time!
The Cardinals have the day off today. Memphis plays at 7:05. If you’re in town, I recommend some baby bird watching! 😉
July 10, 2010Posted by on
July 7, 2010Posted by on
Let’s just forget yesterday happened. Rockies – who? The Cardinals haven’t even played them yet this season! Tonight will be the first time in 2010 because the calendar always goes from July 5 to 7, right?
Although I guess ignoring the game would mean ignoring that the Cardinals did score 9 runs last night – 3 on a powerful two-out Matt Holliday homer (with a runner in scoring position!) – which is definitely a plus for this season’s mostly inconsistent offense. That also would overlook the fact Blake Hawksworth pitched well enough to continually get out of trouble for five innings. So maybe we’ll just forget the 9th inning and instead look at five bright spots on the 2010 Cardinals.
1. Jason Motte
He had a “perfect game” and more earlier this season, when he retired 32 consecutive batters. He’s been a reliable, and entertaining to watch, presence from the bullpen and has 36 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched, as well as two saves.
2. Mitchell Boggs
As noted in the Post-Dispatch last Thursday, Boggs is thriving out of the Cards bullpen. At that point, “in Mitchell Boggs’ last two appearances, the Cardinals’ reliever has entered the game with opponents on base, a taut game on the line, and an All-Star or a .320 hitter as his assignment. He’s managed to retire both of them. It took him two pitches, total.” Since then, he’s pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out two.
3. Nick Stavinoha
A Baby Bird who’s been around the whole season, Nick has been playing more regularly instead of just pinch-hitting as he’d done earlier in the season. He’s hit a little better off the bench than as a starter, and both of his homers – including the memorable one off Trevor Hoffman at the beginning of the season – have been when he’s pinch-hitting.
4. Matt Holliday since June 1
The man we call Hunky has been heating up since the beginning of June, with 7 of his 12 homers coming in the last five weeks. Since he traditionally hits better in the second half, his production since the beginning of June gives us much to look forward to in the months ahead. (By the way, has anyone ever heard the nickname “Big Daddy” used for him? I haven’t, but that’s what’s listed on his Baseball Reference page.)
5. Adam Wainwright
Let’s save the best for last. Is there anything he can’t do? Not only does he lead National League pitchers in strikeouts with 123, is second in the NL with 12 wins and is third in the league with a 2.24 ERA (just behind Jaime Garcia’s 2.10), he also has hit 4 doubles and has 4 RBI this year at the plate AND scores game-winning runs when he pinch-hits. He has finally been named to the All-Star team as well – could he be the starter for the National League? That would be a well-deserved honor.
Here’s one more bright spot: the Mets beat the Reds last night.
Then there’s the beauty of baseball: today’s a new day, tonight’s a new game. Plus Jaime Garcia is starting. Things are looking up already …
May 26, 2010Posted by on
Monday’s post by Erika wonderfully captured the magnitude of her family’s pilgrimage to St. Louis for a Cardinals game. Living in the Quad Cities, I have the chance to see a form of Cardinals’ baseball regularly: the River Bandits, their Class A minor league team. And baseball at this level is a much different experience than what takes place 200 miles to the south.
No. 76 in Derrick Goold’s book 100 Things Cardinals Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is to visit the River Bandits. It’s the ballpark itself, though, that merits the mention on his list. Modern Woodmen Park is along the banks of the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa, and offers a beautiful view of the riverfront and the Centennial Bridge. If you saw the movie Sugar, you saw firsthand how lovely the ballpark really is. (The picture above, from the River Bandits website, doesn’t really do justice.) As Goold wrote, “come for the atmosphere, stay for the baseball.”
It’s true the baseball at this level can seem secondary, as going to a game here is more for entertainment than knowing the players. The River Bandits staff makes sure everyone in attendance has plenty to do. There’s a kids play area down the right field line with a bounce house and other games, plus a tiki bar beyond the right field fence to provide a grown-up play area. Outfield seating is along the grass berm – while it was constructed to provide flood control, it also provides a unique way to experience the game. There’s a walkway along the outfield so you can stroll along and look at the Mississippi River. The left field corner is a season-long work-in-progress: corn is planted each season, so the players can walk through it as they are introduced, just like in Field of Dreams (filmed in Dyersville, Iowa, about 70 miles away). Between innings are on-field games ranging from two-person toilet races to racing Rascal, the Bandits mascot, around the bases.
Of course, there is actually a game played. You can get an up-close and very affordable view of it as well, since box seats range in price from $9 to $12. The top price seats are behind the plate, offering the added attraction of watching the nightly collection of scouts utilizing their radar guns and taking notes on what the players are doing.
It’s the top prospects that the scouts are there to watch. Through the years, and through team affiliations with the Cubs, Angels, Astros and Twins, I’ve seen firsthand players like Shawon Dunston, Jim Edmonds, Richard Hidalgo, the one and only Aaron Miles, Billy Wagner, Bobby Kielty, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. But success here doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing in the big leauges. I remember very well Michael Restovich, who played for the River Bandits in 1999. He had a monster season and hit .312 with 21 home runs and a franchise-record 107 RBI. He did make it to the majors, but played only 152 games total over six seasons and for five teams. (He is still playing baseball, currently with the Dodgers Triple A team in Albuquerque.)
Since 2005, the Quad Cities team has been a Cardinals affiliate. That year, Rick Ankiel spent a couple months here as he transitioned to outfielder from pitcher. I went to his first game, as he’d been one of my favorite Cardinals and I’d been at his then-final major league start in May 2001. It was an ordinary crowd and an ordinary night; the only memory that stands out is a terrific throw he made in from right field.
Many of the current Cardinals have made their way through the Quad Cities. I remember seeing both Jaime Garcia and Colby Rasmus here only a few years ago, and Nick Stavinoha was here in 2005. The Swing had a female public address announcer that year – and she loved saying his last name, dragging out each syllable before every at-bat. He was worth the extra effort, though: he hit .344 and hit 14 homers.
Because these players are just beginning their careers, the team marketing doesn’t usually focus on a player. The Swing, however, took full advantage of the five innings that Mark Mulder pitched here during an August 2006 rehab start. For 2007, his picture (complete in the Swing baby blues) graced the cover of the team’s schedule plus there was a Mark Mulder Swing bobblehead night. His one-game appearance was a big deal and the ballpark was packed. Of course I was there, and my friend Kathy captured Mark’s memorable Swing career in the adjacent photo.
This year, the River Bandits tickets feature a photo of Shelby Miller, likely taken during the three innings he pitched here at the end of last season. Miller, along with Joe Kelly and Robert Stock, are the top prospects we can see play here for now. The thing is, as Bandits fans yet also Cardinals fans, we never want to see these guys stick around very long. It’s the first stop along the journey, so we want them moving up to Palm Beach or beyond as quickly as they can.
And as a baseball fan, I can appreciate the entire experience that attending a River Bandits game offers. Friday night I was with my friend Keith, who goes for the entertainment value more than the baseball. Yet he admitted he has a new respect for the players on the field after we saw Sugar last year, especially those players who have come to the Quad Cities from outside the U.S. He would patiently pause our conversation, which ranged from the movie to burying St. Joseph statues to player superstitions and more, whenever my attention was sidetracked by the on-field action. Yes, it’s definitely the atmosphere. But for me it’s also the baseball.
May 24, 2010Posted by on
The last day of school, the start of summer… Life-changing events for kids and parents. This year we planned an exciting launch to summer with a momentous pilgrimage: an 8-hour journey to the Motherland …. Busch Stadium.
I am proudly raising two enthusiastic young baseball fans and am thrilled that Cardinals baseball has become a family interest. We watch the games together on television and talk about all the Cardinals news and chatter. So taking our kiddos to Busch Stadium for their inaugural FIRST game at Busch Stadium was a family milestone.
First on the agenda: a tour of Busch stadium.
Last Wednesday, we joined the earliest tour of the morning, a small group of 8-10 people and ours were the only children. (An elementary school field trip filled the next tour group, so we were feeling very blessed!) We entered a peaceful, quiet Busch stadium, empty except for the grounds crew and a handful of employees cleaning the ballpark. The view of the ballpark in the early morning was breathtaking and was a perfect introduction to what would later be a loud cheering stadium filled with that familiar sea of red. Our tour guide led us through various areas of Busch stadium including Mike Shannon’s broadcast booth, the Champions Club, Musial’s bridge and onto the field, dispersing tidbits of Cardinals history along the way.
Favorite part of the tour?
Hands down, the dugout! The kids loved standing on the steps where they had seen Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and all the boys lean over the fence during games. There was a special excitement in touching the phones Tony LaRussa uses to call the bullpen as well as sitting on the wooden dugout benches scarred by the cleats of countless Cardinals ballplayers.
*side note: if planning to take a stadium tour, be forewarned that it does NOT include a tour of the clubhouse (except during Winter Warm Up)
Next on our Cardinals Baseball Trip Agenda:
After the tour we ventured into the team store and did our best to contribute to the ‘Keep Albert Pujols’ fund, buying up far too much of the must-have Cardinals gear that can’t be found in our Oklahoma hometown!
On our road trip into St. Louis we had collected our Mobil On The Run 25-cent drinks, compliments of the Cardinals’ 6-run win over Washington on Monday. And after our stadium tour, we continued our Cardinal broadcast commercial experience with lunch at Imo’s Pizza. Driving past a Schnucks (non-existent in Oklahoma) also sent the backseat into a flurry of excitement. Obviously advertising dollars spent during Cardinals games works – at least on this family! =)
Batting practice before Wednesday’s game brought its own share of excitement. Cardinals sluggers Ryan Ludwick, Matt Holliday and Nick Stavinoha were all firing shots into the stands. Several of the balls that didn’t make it into the seats were tossed up to fans by players on the field. A Marlins player threw a baseball to my son, but sadly, moments later, the ball fell out of his glove, back over the wall. Twice we ‘almost’ caught other balls hit into the stands, but a teenage boy stuck his glove right in front of ours, stealing the catch and the baseballs away at the last second. So, despite our attempts to catch another, we left with merely a good story instead of a batting practice baseball.
The Real Deal: Baseball at Busch Stadium:
Even with drizzly and cool weather for Wednesday and Thursday’s games against the Florida Marlins, we were happy to be in the stands cheering on our Cardinals. Hot chocolate may have helped, but the energy in the stands overcame the chill, and the kids were having fun, focused on the game and cheering for the players by name. I could not have been more proud of my little Cardinals fans! They sang along to Matt Holliday’s walk up song, cheered their hearts out for Brendan Ryan, David Freese and the ‘Boys’, and they marveled as the wave made it all the way around the stadium. They also worked feverishly to punch out their votes on as many All Star ballots as they could collect. (I’m predicting an all-Cardinals team right now…)
Looking Back on It All:
The time in St. Louis flew by too quickly. While we did visit the arch and enjoyed wandering through City Park and the streets between our hotel and the stadium, there was much left undone. So, happily I can say that more family trips to St. Louis and Busch Stadium will definitely be in our future!
The one memory I will forever cherish was watching the excitement of my kids as they hung on the Cardinals dugout fence, thoughtfully looking out over the field at Busch Stadium in that early morning light. I have visited Busch Stadium before, but it was truly magical to see it through the eyes of children experiencing it for the first time. I hope this is just the beginning of their love affair with baseball and that some day they too will be able to pass it down to another generation.
To help pass the time during a baseball ‘off-day’ today, here is a photo slideshow from our trip.
1- Joe Mather in high socks
2- Brendan Ryan and Felipe Lopez & their victory happy dance handshake
3- David Freese and a killer grin
4- Yadier Molina visits Jaime Garcia
5- Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Nick Stavinoha and more…