Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Ryan Ludwick

Tough Enough To Be A Cardinals Fan?

This past week I have read vicious, bitter comments from Cardinal fans ranging from total outrage to personal attacks on players.  While there may be a rising sentiment of general disgust for the way this team is playing, do not count me among the malcontents.
These players have become like family to me.  I cheer their wins and my heart breaks for their struggles.  Just as I would no sooner put my children at the curb when they frustrate me, I cannot turn on my team just because games have been lost and errors made.
This past series in Denver has challenged us all. A pair of crushing walk-off losses and being swept by the Rockies has knocked Cardinals Nation to its knees. Our boys gave up substantial leads.  We had the win in our sights twice, only to have it ripped away. Many have fittingly used the phrase “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.” Yes, losing is tough, but how we respond to the loss speaks volumes.
Frustration is building.  Sportswriter Bernie Miklasz has tagged this Cardinals team an ‘embarrassment.’ Cardinals fans on Twitter have been demanding trades and roster moves on par with cries for ‘abandon ship.’ Everywhere I look, scribes are posting gloom and doom.
The obvious comparison is Cubs Fans.  Those poor baseball fans have not celebrated a World Series win since 1908.  Their drought has been well-documented and understandably the fanbase displays a different attitude about the game and relationship with their team.  Cardinals fans – the “best fans in baseball”- may have been a little spoiled.  We are used to winning, used to MVPs and Gold Gloves.   When the boys are playing well, Cardinals Nation are exemplary fans  However with a team that just cannot seem to get it together, many of those same fans are angry, cursing and even booing the team.
With all the complaining and huffing about rosters and management decisions the fortitude of true fans has gone MIA.  Baseball is a game of wins and losses.  Lately the losses column has been filling faster, but the sky is not falling.
Let’s take a step back and assess this situation. The Cardinals have been carrying a short starting pitching rotation of THREE capable arms, filling in the remainder as well as can be expected.  Two HUGE contributors – outfielder Ryan Ludwick and third baseman David Freese – are both on the disabled list. Our starting shortstop is in an unbelievable funk and yet we are in 2nd place.  Not terrific, but not beyond hope.  The injured will return and there is much baseball yet to be played.
The Cardinals sit in 2nd place in the NL Central, 3 games behind the Reds but 7 1/2 games ahead of 3rd place.  The remaining season is yet unwritten and the race is far from lost.  This week’s games should be a testament to the fact that nothing is a foregone conclusion in baseball.
Teaching children to be good and gracious losers is a challenge.  Being disappointed is understandable.  Being courteous takes some practice.  Grownups may need to be reminded of those playground principles.  Nobody likes a sore loser. 
I started out this blog questioning if I were tough enough to be a Cardinals fan – implying that losing streaks or disappointing plays may be too much for me, but honestly I wonder if I am tough enough to maintain the joy I have for this team and the game when surrounded by others spouting such negativity.
Is the difference in my being a female fan or possibly a “young” fan that hasn’t experienced enough history to be justifiably angry?  I sure hope not.
 
Naturally fans will dissect decisions made in the dugout and plays made on the field.  That is part of the beauty and right of baseball fans.  I do thoroughly enjoy reading thoughtful, relevant critique of our team, but a line is crossed when comments angrily blast players and the manager. 
Let us not forget that while these players are paid exorbitant amounts of money to hit or catch a little ball and entertain the masses, they are human.  They will make mistakes and have bad days – and fate may string those events together for much too long.  True fans stay the course.  We may not be happy with an unproductive team, but we can have faith
Baseball is beautiful – and a winning baseball season would be glorious – but I will love this team through thick and thin.
Go Cards!

Photo Thursday

Photo Thursday is here again!

First, a video that Fox Sports Midwest posted yesterday in honor of Mark Mulder’s retirement and Jeff Suppan’s Cardinals return. It’s a blast from the past – all the way back to 2006 – and features those two plus Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter on a golf outing. (So how can it not be enjoyable to watch?) Mark, best wishes on your retirement and good luck on your new golf career. Had our blog been around in 2005, you definitely would have been featured regularly!

Safe!
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Colby JACK, with a scenic view. We love St. Louis!
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
More amusing: whatever’s in Luddy’s mouth, or Yahoo! thinking this is Ryan Franklin?
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Yadi! No kicking!
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
We like that Albert hasn’t lost his Little League tongue-sticking-out focus, or using both hands to get that grounder!
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Nice catch, Matt … Now let’s talk about your bat …
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Brendan hit a homer? Really? We mean, YAY! Brendan hit a homer!
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
So is this a fist bump … or a stiff arm by Yadi? We can’t really tell.
Scott Rovak/US Presswire
Up, up and away!
Scott Rovak/US Presswire
Admit it – Motte is a beast.
Chris Lee clee@post-dispatch.com

The Rollercoaster Ride of May

A little late, due to some technical difficulties*

After having a terrific first month of the season, May was a little bit tougher to take. Losing a 5-game division lead? Swept by the last-place Astros while home at Busch Stadium? That struggling offense, and being shut out four times? Yes, it all happened – but as the month ended, the Cardinals were tied with the Reds for first place, heating up hitting-wise and on the plus side with a 15-14 record (and 30-22 overall).

It was definitely a month of extremes. The Cardinals scored their most runs of the season this week, with 12 runs against the Reds on Monday (May 31). But they also allowed their most runs of the season, 10, to the Angels on May 22. They had two 3-game losing streaks, May 4-6 against the Phillies (after winning the first game of the series) and the already mentioned sweep by the Astros May 11-13. The longest winning streak also was 3 games, May 1-3, although they did win 4 of the last 5 to end the month. And the hot streak the offense went on in those four victories (scoring 8, 7, 9 and 12 runs on 15, 11, 14 and 16 hits) definitely improved the stats for some familiar names who spent much of the month struggling.

So who helped make this rollercoaster month what it was?

Biggest Surprise
Dennys Reyes
He had a 0.00 ERA for the month (which actually was a surprise when I discovered it). In 14 appearances covering 10.1 innings, he allowed 2 hits, struck out 5, walked 6 and allowed no runs (earned or unearned). Another unrelated surprise I found while looking up these stats: he is 6-foot 3. He just always seems kind of, well, short and squat (and sweaty) when he’s out pitching. Maybe that listed weight of 250 is a little kind? All that aside, great month for the Big Sweat (see No. 6).

Other Surprises
Jason Motte
In 11 innings pitched during May, he only walked 1 and struck out 15. While his nickname is Mayhem, he wasn’t causing any this month.Brendan Ryan
The bar was set low since he finished April batting .179 (and it went down from there once May began), but Brendan finished the month batting .217. The May 27 game (where he went 4 for 4 with his first homer of the year) definitely helped. He also struck out much less in May: 9 times, compared to 19 in April.

Skip Schumaker
After a bad April for Skip also, he improved in May after being moved out of the lead-off spot. He had a .271 average for the month (compared to .212 in April) plus had 9 RBI, after only having 3 last month.

Biggest Disappointment
Colby Rasmus
We now know Colby needed new contacts but his May was definitely disappointing after being on of April’s biggest surprises. His average for May was .226 (compared to .323), he had only 1 homer (6 last month), he struck out 33 times (up from 22) and he walked 11 times (compared to 17). June is getting off to a better start, so let’s hope those new contacts really are the key to getting back to more April-like production.

Other Disappointments
Blake Hawksworth
Not a good month for Diesel either. (Maybe it was the disgusting looking chili and chili dogs he ate on camera in Cincinnati?) After not allowing a run during 9 innings in April, he allowed 12 earned runs in 11.1 innings pitched in May for a month ERA of 9.53. He allowed 4 homers, with 5 walks and an equal number of strikeouts.

Trever Miller
The man who handed out the nicknames (and still doesn’t have one?) didn’t fare too well in May either. He had a 5.14 ERA for the month, allowing 4 earned runs in 7 innings pitched — plus he hit 2 batters and allowed 2 homers.

Consistently Good
David Freese
His batting average wasn’t quite as good for May as April – .315 compared to .324 – but he had a better slugging percentage (.491, after .412 in April) and had 17 RBI compared to 14 last month.

Ryan Ludwick
He had the same batting average for May as he did for April, .291. He improved on his RBIs, with 16 compared to 10. Add to that the great catches he made in the outfield and it all adds up to another reason to celebrate Ryan Ludwick Appreciation Day.

Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright
Can we call them the Cardinals “Big Three”? For May, they were a combined 9-4 with a 2.44 ERA.Surprisingly Not Disappointing
Albert Pujols
The end of the month definitely helped! (Or maybe it was Erika’s post?) While his average was only .291 for the month (after .345 in April), he finished with 20 RBI – one more than last month – and struck out 12 times compared to 14 in April. He had a pretty good day last Sunday too.

Matt Holliday
While he only had 1 home run compared to 4 in April and he struck out 17 times after 13 Ks last month, his other stats look pretty good. His batting average was .325 (.284 in April), he walked 13 times (4 last month) and he had 12 RBI (10 in April). Both he and Albert are continuing their hot streaks in the first few games in June, which is promising.

Best Game
May 30
Cardinals 9, Cubs 1

Albert breaks out with 3 homers, Holliday has 4 hits, all the runs score with 2 outs, Adam Wainwright pitches 7 strong innings – and all against the Cubs at Wrigley Field? Hard to top that.

Worst Game
May 26
Padres 1, Cardinals 0
There were a lot of bad losses to choose from, but this was by far the most frustrating. Adam Wainwright did all he could, allowing only 4 hits (including a homer to Jerry Hairston Jr. for the only run) while striking out 12 in 7 innings. The Cardinals actually had more hits than the Padres, 7 total, plus had the bases loaded with only one out in the first inning – yet were shut out.

Nicest Moment

P.J. Walters getting his first major-league victory on May 27 in San Diego.
Pitcher of the Month
Jaime Garcia
The Cardinals pitching overall continues battling the Padres for the best ERA in the major leagues, and Jaime Garcia is a key reason why. Our Rookie of the Year candidate was 3-1 in May with a 1.53 ERA, giving him an overall record of 5-2 and a 1.32 ERA (second in the National League).Player of the Month
David Freese
As mentioned above, the other Rookie of the Year candidate continued what he started in April and it made a big difference during this month’s offensive struggles.

After all that, we can be glad May is over, and that June is off to a good start. Hopefully this month will be a little bit less of a rollercoaster!

*The Geek Squad still has possession of my laptop, but tell me they were able to recover everything from it. Not that the original version of this post will help me much now! But it will be nice to get my laptop back (and working again), plus all of its contents, very soon.

2010 UCB Progressive Game Blog: 7th Inning

This is the third year that the United Cardinal Bloggers (UCB) have done a progressive game blog, and we here at Cardinal Diamond Diaries are very excited to be joining in on the fun this year. If you want to start at the beginning, head over to the pre-game post at UCB. We are taking a look at the 7th inning, so there is a lot of game to catch up on before we get into the action. If you’re coming to us from Redbird Rants, then welcome! If you want to back up and see what Ryne had to say about the 6th,click here!We’ll wait … back? Okay, we’re picking things up with a 4-0 Cubs score …
Top of the 7th
Chris: Thankfully, the bottom of the 6th ended – but it gave the Cards an even bigger hole to dig their way out of now. Luckily, the right guys are coming up in the top of the 7th. The Cards still have just 1hitas the inning starts. Carlos Silva has a career high in strikeouts, with 10 going into this inning.
The shadows are across the plate at Wrigley, while the pitcher is still in the sun. That will make it even more challenging for the Cardinals as they’re batting, and it’s unfortunately not like they’ve been doing much off Silva anyway.
Ang: Ryan Ludwick popped up in the shallow part of the infield, and Albert Pujols did the same. Not a promising start to what could have been cast as a big inning for the Cards with the heart of the order coming up.
Silva is still throwing well for the 7th inning, although his location is getting a little farther off the mark than it was earlier in the game.
Matt Holliday put a charge into one, but the wind blew it down and it hit off the base of the wall for a two-out, stand-up double.Interesting to note:Holliday has had both of the hits off of Silva in this current 2-hit shutout of the Cardinals.
Colby Rasmus had a great start to the season but his patience at the plate has gone down as he has expanded his zone this month and piled up quite a few strikeouts. Colby already had 2 strike outs on the day leading into this at bat, and he fared no better as he chased an inside pitch that was caught at his shoetops. Three outs.
Time for the Stretch
Chris: Joe Buck mentioned that Jim Belushi would be singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. The whole celebrity singing thing at Wrigley is beyond tired now. In 1998,the first season after Harry Caray died, it was a nice tribute to him. Now, 12 years later, it’s just another Wrigley Field gimmick. “Oooooh, look – the ivy!” “Ooooh, look – women in tube tops!” “Oooooh, look – someone we don’t care about singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’!” Give us “Here Comes the King” at Busch Stadium instead!
Ang: Thank you, FOX,for not making us listen to Jim try to sing.
Erika: We here at the CDD have a better idea for 7th inning stretch. So grab your popcorn, peanuts and your choice of beverage and join us to watch one of our favorite Cardinal commercials, featuring Brendan Ryan!
And then finish up with a little eye candy commercial featuring Mr. Hunky himself,Matt Holliday!
Bottom of the 7th
Ang: After walking in a run and then nailing down the last out of the 6th inning, Mitchell Boggs returned to tackle Derrek Lee and the Cubs in the bottom of the 7th. Lee was punched out on a strike over the outside part of the plate.
Alfonso Soriano came up swinging, striking out on three straight pitches that were all low and away.
Okay, FOX, I’m thanking you a second time for miking up home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt and letting us listen in on his comments to Yadier Molina about Adam Ottavino’s first big league start. Wendestedt made the comment that Wrigley Field is an awful tough place to have your first start, but Otto did a nice job. I like that we got that little glimpse into the game!
Marlon Byrd chopped it up the third base line, which David Freese scooped up and tossed a wide but catchable ball over to Albert for the third out of the inning.
Chris: Actually, Byrd grounded to ^Batman^!
Erika: A little background for those of you who may not know: David Freese gained that nickname based on his love of the movie Batman, as described by Derrick Goold during spring training here. We love the nickname and were thrilled when our Twitter pal @stl_cardsfan29sharedthis video, which gives us all a chance to see Freese in his good-luck charm mask.
That wraps up our inning. At the end of the 7th, the score is still 4-0 bad guys. Thanks to Daniel for inviting us to join in on the progressive game blog, and hope to see you all again here on the CDD. Head over to Intangiball for the 8th! Go Cards!

Ludwick Appreciation Day

It is about time Luddy gets some love from us here at Diamond Diaries…
Ryan Ludwick has somewhat quietly started a 7-game hitting streak while Cardinals fans everywhere are otherwise panicking about their team dropping 7 of their last 10 games with an offense that is failing to produce with any consistency.

Ludwick earned ‘Player of the Game’ honors last night with 3 hits, including a 2-run homerun that led the Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds.  It had been 16 games since he last homered.


At a very enviable place in the Cardinal lineup, hitting 2nd, in front of a fella named Albert Pujols, Luddy has sparked his own bat rally.  While in the 2-spot of the Cardinal lineup,  his BA, OBP, SLG and OPS have all soared. 

Honestly, I have under-appreciated Ryan Ludwick for far too long.  Luddy’s bat has been hot.  Plus he’s been gobbling up fly balls and line drives in the outfield at an amazing pace, including climbing a wall and nailing some diving catches.


So I have done some research for Ryan Ludwick Appreciation Day:


Diamond Diaries Cliff Notes:
Ryan Andrew Ludwick

Personal

  • 31 years old, born July 13, 1978
  • Lives in Texas with his wife and their son (born December 2008)
  • Brother, Eric Ludwick, pitched for the Cardinals (1996-97)
Early Baseball 
  • Played college ball for the UNLV Rebels
  • *attended UNLV because the other recruiting schools wanted him to pitch (Ryan throws left & his older brother pitched), but Ryan wanted to hit
  • 2nd round draft pick by Oakland A’s
  • 2002 Traded to the Texas Rangers (major league debut in 2002), played with Rangers club 2002-2003
  • *2003 -while playing for the Oklahoma City Redhawks (the Rangers’ AAA affiliate), Ludwick led the team in HR, RBI, and hitting, but missed playing in the AAA All-Star game in 2003 when he was promoted to the Big Leagues at the beginning of July
  • 2 weeks later was Traded to the Cleveland Indians (2003-2005)
  • 2006 played for Detroit’s AAA affiliate, earning a spot in the AAA All-Star game
  • 2007 received invitation to Cardinals Spring Training camp
  • 2007 called up to St. Louis Cardinals when Preston Wilson was put on DL

A bit of Injury History
  • Fractured hip in August 2003 while playing for the Oklahoma City Redhawks – surgery included placement of 6 inch titanium rod
  • Prior right wrist surgery – 4-inch titanium rod
  • October 2003 left knee surgery for torn cartilage
  • April 2004 left knee surgery to remove scar tissue
  • Prior history also includes spinal stress fracture, bleeding ulcers and some oblique issues.
  • early 2009 strained right hamstring – 15 games on DL

Tidbits
From Derrick Goold’s PDQ with Luddy (3/09):
  • Phrase Ryan says he might use too much:  “What’s up, bro?”
  • Greatest accomplishment:  the birth of his son
  • Greatest extravagance/indulgence:  food/steak
Great Ludwick quote from 2005
  • ”I’m old school,” he said. ”I’ll get dirty when I play. I’ll dive for balls, run into walls, whatever it takes. Accidents are going to happen, and injuries are part of the game. You can’t dwell on it.”  

Good Stuff
  • All-Star Selection 2008
  • Silver Slugger 2008
  • MLB Player of the Month winner (July 2009)
  • Avoided arbitration in January 2010, agreed to a 1-year deal with the Cardinals.
  • 2010 salary:  $5.45 million, a 47% increase over his $3.7 million 2009 salary.
Crazy Stuff
  • Back in July of 2002 when Ludwick suffered severe left hip pain while playing for the OKC Redhawks, doctors first told him he might have a tumor and need an amputation.  Luckily, that turned out to be wrong and surgical repair of a hip fracture kept him in the game. 
  • Fall 2002 – after his surgery, Ludwick was ‘hobbling down the aisle’ on crutches at his October wedding.
  • From an article by Jeff Passan:  While Ludwick was playing for UNLV, then Cardinals scouting director, John Mozeliak made a trip to see Ryan hit.  But Ludwick overslept that day and ‘team rules’ stated if you’re late to the game, you sit on the bench.  Luckily Mozeliak remembered the name anyway!



Should Have Seen It Coming:
When I was at Spring Training in March, Ryan Ludwick hit homeruns in 3 consecutive games, including smashing one out on the 12th pitch of an at bat when he had fouled 2 pitches off of his shin.



Let it be noted:  Ryan Ludwick is tough!


Happy Ryan Ludwick Appreciation Day!
Enjoy your weekend Cardinals Fans!  🙂

Photo Thursday

Welcome to our first weekly photo post! Enjoy the week in pictures. If you come across a picture we should use in the next post, contact one of us via Twitter or send an e-mail to cardsdiamonddiary@gmail.com. Also, if you have suggestions for a different way to display the pictures besides a big link dump, let us know. We’re new at this, after all …


Saturday
Brendan makes a diving stop. We could watch him do this alllllll day.
Easy Albert. It wasn’t a great call. We know.

Sunday
Thankful Albert. We’re thankful for the home run too.
I gotta get me some of them shades, man. Brad Penny admiring Carp’s fashion.
I’ma get you. Brendan didn’t have to work too hard to chase down Bengie Molina. Bengie is a big boy.

Monday
Signs of a good night. RBI base hit? Check. Dirty jersey? Check. We love Yadi!
Welcome to the majors, Jon Jay. Don’t worry, this won’t be your last at bat.
This picture is just sweet. Matt Holliday connects for a broken bat base hit in the rain.

Tuesday
Happy birthday! Which present was better: Yadi’s hit or Motte’s save?
Speaking of saves, this one was pretty good too.
Can’t forget Luddy. He came through when needed too.
Because it’s his birthday, Carp gets two pics. This is our all-time fav! If we had to, we would nominate this as the official photo of the CDD.

Wednesday
Getting dirty. The high socks were a hit for Skip Schumaker, who broke out of a slump and got on base 4 times last night.

Chilling in the dugout. Is there room for us on that bench?
We want to know… what is Jaime throwing here? Fastball? If so, which kind?

Final stamp of approval on this week: We approve of Skip’s socks from last night. Well done, Skippy.

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