Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: St Louis Cardinals

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This post was written on Monday, April 25th, so I know some things are outdated.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

Phenomenon.
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.

Predictions.
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!

St. Louis Cardinals on Twitter

(note: please click “Twitter Guide” tab at top of page for most recent updates)

Here’s the thing:  Twitter is my baseball connection, and I am proud of my Twitter feed.  Breaking news?  Got it.  Cardinal lineups?  Got it.  Game photos?  Absolutely!  Links to MLB.com, Post-Dispatch and StL Today articles about the Cardinals?  Check!  News about all my babybirds?  yep!  Even twitpics of Jon Jay’s newest shoes!  … Plus baseball chatter from some of the best tweeps in Cardinal Nation!  I LOVE  my collection of Twitter follows.

With this week’s new Redbird Twitter arrivals, I figure it’s a good time to take stock and share the wealth.  So, here you go:  My List of the Cardinal Twitterverse

The links should be hot, so click to follow…. and if I’ve missed someone, please let me know!   Thanks!  😉

Cardinals

Manager: TonyLaRussa Tony La Russa – People Rescuing Animals…Animals Rescuing People

Left Fielder:  mattholliday7 matt holliday – (hasn’t tweeted since February 2010)

Outfielder jonjayU Jon Jay  – Official Twitter page of Jon Jay from the St. Louis Cardinals

Pitcher ESanchez52 Eduardo sanchez – St Louis cardinals baseball player

Cardinal Legends

OrlandoCepeda30 Orlando Cepeda – Official Twitter of Orlando Cepeda — former SF Giant & Hall of Fame 99′

STLWizard Ozzie Smith – St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Shortstop

 

AAA Memphis Redbirds

memphisredbirds Memphis Redbirds – The official Twitter feed of the Memphis Redbirds, Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals

Outfielder kingchambers_8 Adron

 

AA Springfield Cardinals

Sgf_Cardinals Springfield Cardinal – Official Twitter of the Springfield Cardinals. Double-A Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Become a follower to get updates on Springfield Cardinal news.

Outfielder cswag8 Chris Swauger

 

Palm Beach Cardinals – A Advanced

PBCardinals Palm Beach Cardinals – The official Twitter account of the Palm Beach Cardinals, Class-A Advanced affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Game updates, player news, great deals and more

Pitcher JordanSwagerty Jordan Swagerty – Went to Arizona State now play for the St. Louis Cardinals. (edit 5/12/11 – Swagerty promoted from Quad Cities)

Pitcher ShelbyMiller19 Shelby C Miller – Texas born and raised, Brownwood, TX. Drafted by St. Louis in 2009. Born October 10, 1990. Follow my Career on here. God Bless you all!


Quad Cities River Bandits  – Class A

QCRiverBandits QC River Bandits – Single-A Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals…Season opener April 7th @ Modern Woodmen Park! (563) 3-BANDIT

Catcher codystanley21 Cody Stanley – Being happy, main objective to life. Playing baseball makes me happy. I will continue



Front Office

CardsInsider St. Louis Cardinals – The official Twitter of the St. Louis Cardinals Front Office at Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri.

stlcardinals St. Louis Cardinals  – Official Twitter of the St. Louis Cardinals

jluhnow Jeff Luhnow – Vice President of Scouting and Player Development for St Louis Cardinals

Media/Scribes Covering the Cardinals

dgoold Derrick Goold – Baseball Writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Avid reader. Proud father. Lapsed cartoonist. Former World Record-holding second baseman. Look it up.

stlhensley Roger Hensley – Deputy Sports Editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MatthewHLeach Matthew Leach – Cardinals beat reporter for MLB.com. Lots of tweets about the Cardinals and baseball, but also college football, music, and plenty more

JohnMarecek John Marecek – St. Louis sports talk show host on KTRS Radio

miklasz Bernie Miklasz – St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist

BJRains B.J. Rains – Cardinals beat writer for FOXSportsMidwest.com. My thoughts and comments are my personal opinion and in no way reflect the view or opinion of Fox Sports Midwest 

JoeStrauss Joe Strauss – Cardinals beat writer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Into pitching duels, hold ’em, cobalt Mustangs, betting the rail, O’Brycki’s and window seats

Covering the Baby Birds

Dustin_Mattison Dustin Mattison – Senior Minor League Writer-Scout.com

B_Walton Brian Walton – Operates TheCardinalNation.com on Scout.com, TheCardinalNationblog.com, writes for Mastersball.com and FOX Sports Midwest

jrocke217 Josh Jones – St. Louis Cardinals Fan, Run the Cardinals Best News Links Blogspot, Write Various Articles For The Cardinal Nation @scout.com, Follow Latin Baseball Happenings

Future_Redbirds Future Redbirds – Hyperventilating Prospect Geek Fraternity

 

For Cardinal Game Photos

scottrovak Scott Rovak – Photographing professionally over 28 years. I’m a photographer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Rams and StL Sports Magazine.

 

For Cardinal Blogs

Get links to all new posts from member blogs of the United Cardinal Bloggers

utdcardbloggers U. Cardinal Bloggers – The United Cardinal Bloggers is a group of writers that have come together in a network to complete writing projects about the St Louis Cardinals.

stlbaseballapp StL Baseball – I love everything Cardinal baseball! Check out my Cardinals iPhone app StL Baseball!


and of course, there’s us!  DiamondDiaries Diamond Diaries – Blogging about our #stlcards from the female side of the stands.

Rating the Cardinal Rivalries

Are you sick of the Cardinals-Reds Rivalry already? Is it the epic Cubs-Cardinals history that makes a true Rivalry?  Do the Reds deserve the title just because they happen to have the hot button hotheads right now?  What do you think?  Which team is the Cardinals’ biggest nemesis?  Cast your vote in the poll below and/or in the comments section if you have more to say.

Earlier this month, my cousin in Wisconsin asked me which team we Cardinals fans considered to be the Cards’ biggest rivalry.  My immediate response was “The Cubs” but then I considered the recent scubbub with the Reds.  The Brewers didn’t make my list, but my meager 5-6 years of baseball background might  disqualify my opinion in such matters.  So, I threw it out to my Cardinal Twitter tweeps and some Facebook pals as well.

A sampling of responses:

and

Last night during the game, the same question popped up on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight Sunday Night Baseball Chat.  So, I thought the question might deserve another audience.

So many valid points.  Yet many different opinions.  One thing’s for certain, the Brewers aren’t even on the rivalry radar among Cardinal Nation.  (Sorry, cuz!)  😉

Oh, and speaking of the Reds…. What a weekend!  Our Cardinals took 2 of 3 games as Yadier Molina ushered the Reds out of town with a game-winning 3-run homerun in yesterday’s rainy finale.  Westbrook pitched a solid outing (*whew*) while Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and Mitchell Boggs all had the right stuff as well.  The make-up of the Cardinal bullpen has changed considerably in just the first few weeks of the season, but it is a breath of fresh air to see the new crew picking up the slack and getting the job done right.  The pace is picking up after an unbelievably slow, injury-plagued start to the season.  In fact, the Cards have worked their way up into 1st place in the NL Central today, sitting only 0.5 games ahead of ….. the Brewers?!?

Are you sitting down for this??….  Yesterday,  Ryan Franklin the deposed closer showed up without his trademark beard/goat/chinpuff/chinzilla yesterday.  The now clean-shaven Franklin may be able to hide in plain sight, almost unrecognizable.  Franklin without his facial hair???  If it weren’t so sad, I’d be talking about how much better he looks, but now just doesn’t seem like the time for that.  (Screen capture from the televised game last night. )

Also, Albert Pujols was removed from the game last night with reported tightness in his hamstring.  That should be enough to keep us worrying on a day without Cardinals baseball!

Have a great 1st-place kind of Monday, Cardinal Nation!

Tomorrow the Redbirds take on the Astros in Houston.

Go Cards!!  =)

The Thing About Closers…

The Cardinals’ shut down man is under the microscope.  Ryan Franklin has blown an incredible 4 saves in 6 appearances.  Fans are frustrated.  In postgame interviews, Franklin seems bewildered and emotionally exhausted.  GM John Mozeliak and manager Tony LaRussa are left with a hot potato.  What to do with a closer who can’t close?

Which got me thinking…

When I first began watching MLB games I wondered why closing pitchers (those who came in and blew batters away 1-2-3) were only in the game for brief appearances.  If they were that good why didn’t teams use them earlier or longer during games?  A few years’ worth of baseball games later, I have come to a better understanding of the tradition of the closer, one far different than the everlasting superhero opinion I had first formed.

Closers are magical creatures, the best of the bullpen relievers, sent in to pitch the last few outs of a close game when their team is leading by three runs or less (that special number that gets them the “save”.)  The hero/closer rewards the team with quick outs, saving the game.  <<all cheer>>  But from what I have learned, closers aren’t Terminators that run on Energizer batteries.  A closer’s specialty is mental focus in the highest pressure situations coupled with some variety of nasty, deadly deliveries.  They don’t have to go deep into games or throw too many pitches.  That’s just not in their job description.

The concept of using an elite pitcher in a regular closing role wasn’t born until the 1980’s.  The fact that Tony La Russa (then with the Oakland A’s) is credited with the idea tells me a lot about the rationale behind the position.  La Russa is either brilliant or crazy, depending on whether you agree with him or not.  To me, Tony is one of baseball’s fascinating characters.  I’d give anything to know how he thinks, strategizes and what his eyes see as a ballgame unfolds.  I’m curious if his lineup tinkering and late inning substitutions are just to confuse the fans who try to figure him out.  However the one thing I do know from reading about Tony La Russa is that Tony is a detail guy.  He reportedly relies heavily on split stats and miniscule odds to give him the edge in every single event on the field.  So it logically follows that a closer, much like a LOOGY (lefty one-out guy), would be the perfect tool in a TLR-managed ballgame… until Tony’s mythical hero can no longer channel that closing magic.

So, if there is no clear successor to don the title of Closing Pitcher, then what next?

Twitter exploded with opinions on that subject following Sunday’s blown save and loss to the Dodgers.  It made me wonder, do the Cardinals really need a designated closer?  If baseball got along fine without closing specialists until the 1980’s, is there a proven benefit to dedicating big dollars to collecting a closer just to have one?  How different would our team be if we fell back to a “closer by committee” strategy?  Tony could run his numbers on opposing batters for his late-inning relievers.  If a long reliever was going strong, the guy could close out his own game.  If we had a mixture of inexperienced yet promising shut-down talent that other teams hadn’t figured out yet (read: Eduardo Sanchez) to complement Mitchell Boggs (the heir apparent), why not mix and match?

I certainly respect the tradition of the closer, and in my perfect world the Cardinals would have a lights-out, stereotypical icon waiting in the bullpen, causing opposing teams and their fans to catch their collective breath when he emerged from the bullpen blowing fire and steam.  But the Cardinals just do not have that sort of magical beast on the roster.

Angela laughs when I try to play GM.  She says we’d have the cutest team in the Majors, full of young guys who “deserve a chance.”  But honestly, I ask, why not take a risk on young (albeit unproven) pitcher in the late innings, develop some talent, have a short leash and share the wealth, closing games by committee.  Maybe there are enough crowns to go around?

The Cardinals return home to face the Nationals at Busch Stadium tonight. Jake Westbrook (1-1, 7.63 ERA) will be on the mound for the Redbirds.  In his last outing, the Cardinals scored 15 runs against the Diamondbacks to get him his first win of 2011.  Game time is 7:15 CT.

Go Cards!!

Signs of Life

Nine games in the early 2011 season have left our Cardinals floundering.  Some fans have already thrown in the towel in disgust, heading off in search of less painful entertainment options.  But yesterday, others who donned their “true fan” label as a badge of courage were rewarded to what we can only hope will be more typical (winning) Cardinal baseball.

The record is not pretty at 3 wins and 6 losses, but the Cards have had some strikes against them.  The most obvious has been lack of run support coupled with costly fielding errors.  Leading the league in double plays (not the defensive kind) hasn’t helped much either.  And then there’s Albert…. With a string of unAlbertlike games and a batting average of  .143,  is it any wonder that Cardinal fans are wondering if we all fell down the rabbit hole?
There are, however, signs of life.  Slugger Matt Holliday returned yesterday, 9 days after his emergency appendectomy, showing he was back and ready for action.  David Freese belted his first homerun and collected his first 3 rbi of the season, helping the Cardinals score their inaugural “6 serious runs.”  Kyle Lohse, showing strength and command, went 8 full innings with no walks, 5 strikeouts and only 5 hits.  He threw 96 pitches, 65 for strikes.  Couple that with previous stellar early outings by Jaime Garcia and Chris Carpenter (whose records are unfortunately tarnished by lack of run support) and a strong showing from Kyle McClellan – and we have reason to hope this is just an unlucky/slow start.
Two of my favorite bloggers have taken the high road from all the grumblings and cussing about the comedy of errors we have witnessed lately from our hobbling redbirds.  If you need to be nudged away from the ledge, I highly recommend stopping by their sites for a positive reality check.

Bob at On the Outside Corner posts “There Must Be A Pony In There Somewhere”

And Mark at Retrosimba reminds us of the many, many years that our “Cards Turned Bad Starts Into Great Seasons.”

Sure, one good game does not a rally make.  But the Cardinals are not dead and buried.  So chin up, Cardinal Nation.  There are signs of life!  😉

The boys continue their western road trip tonight against the Diamondbacks with Kyle McClellan on the mound at 8:40 CT.  You never know what baseball magic you may see.  So tune in with us and watch the rally continue!

Go Cards!!

The Berkman Bandwagon

Mark your calendars:  the date was April 4th.  Lance Berkman made it into my inner circle of Cardinal love.

Lance Berkman had a clean slate with me.  I knew he was a former Houston Astro, but that was about it.  (The “new baseball fan” status still gives me an excuse for my unfamiliarity with everything not Cardinal-related.)  The Cardinals picked him up in the off-season and the first things I hear about him are 1) Big Puma 2) Fat Elvis and 3) bad knees….. not exactly a glowing report to hang your cap on, Lance.  😉

Being a fan of our up-and-coming babybirds and pulling for those young guys to get their due chance with the big club, I am not a huge fan of Tony LaRussa’s propensity to favor new-to-me veteran additions to the roster.  Sure, those veterans have experience…. but I don’t remember any of it (new baseball fan excuse.)  So those guys have to give me a reason to love them.  They have to show me some heart, hustle like their job depends on it or at least have a personality that makes me forget that they’re blocking the babybird pipeline to the Majors.
Last night, Lance Berkman had all three.  I was shocked to see him tear around the bases in a hit and run, ending up at 3rd!  Bad knees?  They sure looked to be working well to me.  Then the Fox Sports camera (and microphone) caught Berkman as he headed to the dugout, smiling ear to ear, stop at the steps to shout a heads-up to Skip Schumaker, warning that the pitcher was throwing inside.  Big points to FSMW for showing that exchange.  Personality and teamwork on display makes me happy.
Add to that the (boring) stats from last night that Berkman drew two walks in his first two at bats and hit a rbi single to help spark hope in the almost-rally of the 8th inning and Lance has earned himself a spot in my heart.  Fellow United Cardinals Blogger Christine Coleman was quicker to the Berkman bandwagon than I was.  She pointed out to me at the game on Sunday how quirkily entertaining it is to watch Lance nervously walk in little circles in the outfield after every pitch.  (Quirky works for me…. See: Brendan Ryan.)
So, while I was warned that I would love Berkman this season because he had a “great personality,” I stubbornly held out for proof… and spunk.  Welcome to the club, Lance Berkman.  You’ve earned a new fan.  (Mr. Theriot, I am still waiting.)
The Cardinals did end up with another loss last night.  They are now 1-3 in 2011. (Note: the Cardinal win came on Sunday while the United Cardinal Bloggers were in attendance at the game – not that that matters, but I think it might?)  David Freese wasn’t feeling the love yesterday.  He went 0-4 and has a batting average of .154 which is still better than Pujols’ batting average (now at .125.)  Aren’t early season statistics fun?  They don’t mean much, but yet we all want to make something out of them.  Brendan Ryan is batting .083 for the Mariners right now if you were curious  😉
And of course I have to mention Hunky Holliday: On March 31st, Matt had a power explosion with 3 hits, a homerun and 2 RBIs.  The very next day Holliday was in the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.  Then, 3 days later reports come out (yesterday) that Matt asked not to be put on the 15 day disabled list because he believes he will be able to return before then.  Superman?  Possibly.  Stud?  Definitely!  😉

Late edit:  link to FSMW video with Hunky talking about his surgery and recovery:  click HERE.

The Cardinals take on the Pirates again tonight at 7:15 CT with Kyle McClellan on the mound.  I feel a win.  Go Cards!!  😉

Spring Training, Episode 2

Daniel Descalso!!
With only hours left until Opening Day at Busch Stadium and a full season of Cardinals baseball ahead of us, here’s the final part of my Spring Training report with highlights of my time in Jupiter watching our boys.
Some tidbits of Spring Training Magic.  Enjoy!
Luck of the Late Arrivals
Kyle McClellan
After driving the 4 hours from Tampa, we arrived at Roger Dean Stadium less than 2 hours before game time on Friday.  We hit the team store briefly, then headed to the backfields as the small crowds were dispersing.  Figuring we’d missed the fun, we weren’t expecting much.  But we caught some pitchers taking batting practice, having fun competing for total distance, etc.  Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook and Kyle McClellan were taking turns in the cage and after they were finished, all three signed autographs for the fans that were still hanging around.
In camp for approximately 30 minutes and getting autographs from three starting pitchers?  Why yes, I do believe in fairy tales!  😉
Pujols Smacks TWO!!
Albert Pujols is ……. Well, he’s Albert Pujols.  What more can you say?  The Spring Training crowd that Saturday went wild when Albert led off the 4th inning with a solo blast to left center field.  Next inning, Pujols decided to do it again, with another homerun.  We felt honored to be watching.  Nothing magic about this one…. Just Pure Pujols. 😉
Morning Frivolities on the Back Fields
On Sunday morning, Lance Berkman was good-naturedly terrorizing Skip Schumaker in the batting cages.  Yadi, Ryan Theriot, Skip and Berkman were taking turns in the cage.  The sun was hot and the crowd was sparse when Berkman decided to have some fun.  He started smacking the cage with his bat when pitches came in to Schumaker.  This progressed to full-fledge cage rattling to distract him.  Pretty soon Yadi and Theriot were joining in and all four were laughing.  It was one of those behind-the-scenes moments that makes me smile.  Nice to see Cardinal clubhouse chemistry alive and well.  😉
“Look!  It’s Carp!!”
That’s what I said to Hubby on Sunday, pointing up the sidewalk.  He mumbles something like “How can you see with that guy in the way?”
Turns out that guy was Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals’ Ace and starting pitcher for Opening Day.  He was heading out for a run in shorts and a t-shirt.  Nobody else was around. It was eerie and exciting all at the same time.  Carp wasn’t stopping to chat though, and I didn’t bother him to ask for an autograph.  Memories of the Carp temper and flashbacks to the icy glares he shot Brendan Ryan that time last season kept me from invading his personal space.  I did grab my camera though.  Carp in shorts??  I had an obligation to document that leg art.  😉
Blessed Are the Happy Autograph Givers
In my opinion, the best part of Spring Training is the accessibility to the players.  (For autographs as well as great photo opportunities) The environment is welcoming and the smaller venue affords a better chance to interact with these players we watch from a distance during the regular baseball season.  I adore observing Cardinals interacting with fans, especially with kids.  Some of the guys are admittedly better about it than others,  but those brief moments when a favorite ballplayer stops to take a picture or sign an autograph often will be more poignant memories for fans than the action on the field that day.
Skip Schumaker making kids happy
We certainly didn’t camp out for hours or pester players for autographs.  Several players voluntarily made themselves available to sign for fans after practice and before or after games. I know some players are jaded by the fact that autographs may end up on Ebay instead of as treasured spring training mementos.  However the players who take the time and spread some joy with a pen on a baseball make long-lasting, positive impressions on fans.  Those moments are priceless, no matter how old you are.
Well, those are a few of my highlights from Spring Training.  Game One of the 2011 Cardinals season is tomorrow!!!  We here at Cardinal Diamond Diaries look forward to sharing the season with you all!
GO CARDS!!

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!

What I Love About Baseball

Know what I love about baseball?  Well, besides double plays, pick-offs, pay-off pitches and watching the fellas digging in at the plate?

… I love how baseball fans who’ve never met before always find plenty to talk about.  I love how it can bring families together at the ballpark after a grueling work week.  I love that so many adults have treasured childhood memories of favorite baseball heroes or MLB game memories that they can recall in vivid detail. I love catching glimpses of Little Leaguers’ imagined visions of grandeur as they attempt to emulate their favorite MLB stars.
My relatively young love of baseball has been fostered and encouraged by many people in my life.  Some of those closest to me, like my darling Hubby, support my new passion with a wink and a smile (and trips to Spring Training!)  My extended family and friends now keep closer tabs on the St. Louis Cardinals – and baseball in general.  I smile to see an email from them checking in about Pujols news.  It is just another reminder how baseball is a great way to casually reconnect.
I have been even more profoundly amazed by how baseball reaches out in other less direct relationships. For example, one day last year, Hubby showed up from work with a stack of baseball cards. His boss had been escorting his daughter around antique stores on a trip out East. While waiting for his daughter, he noticed baseball cards on the shelves and remembered hearing how passionate I was about the Cardinals.  I think he must have bought every Cardinal baseball card he could find that day!  It meant so much to me, knowing that he appreciated my interest and picked up those Cardinal cards for me!    Some of those cards are now personal treasures…
Another of Hubby’s business associates, Bob, lives in Canada.  Bob and I have chatted baseball at a few business dinners, and I have learned that Bob is not only a Blue Jays fan, but a true baseball fan.  He has collected cards since childhood and knows more about the sport than I could ever dream of! This past December Bob surprised me by bringing a portion of the Cardinals cards he had collected as a child.  He gave them to me, saying he knew I’d appreciate them.  He could not have been more right!  😉
Baseball has enriched my life in so many ways.  It has brought me closer to family, uncles and brothers-in-law, who now banter with me about the Reds and the Brewers.  Baseball has connected me with a wonderful network of Cardinal fans through blogging and twitter, many of whom have become dear friends.  I am ever thankful for the game and what it has given me.  And I am looking forward to another season of the blessing that is baseball.
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Today’s Spring Training game is Cardinals vs. Twins at 12:05, central.  David Freese makes his Spring Training debut at third base and Jake Westbrook is on the mound.
Go Cards!!!  😉

2011 Ultimate Cardinal Crush Poll

The boys of summer are warming things up in Jupiter, Florida with Spring Training now underway, and all eyes are on the ball.

Well…. maybe not all eyes…  😉

The Cardinal Crew

 

We Diamond Diaries gals can get away with some things that the guys of the United Cardinal Bloggers cannot. And yet, who comes up with ideas such as a poll about the Ultimate Cardinal Crush?  Yep, a guy!  (calling you out, Bill Ivie!)

The New Boys on the Block

So, in honor of heating things up for the 2011 Cardinals baseball season….

*drum roll*

We present your opportunity to have a little fun with us as we crown the Cardinal Diamond Diaries’ 2011 Ultimate Cardinal Crush.

All votes will be anonymous.  So guys, feel free to cast your vote without fear.  We are well aware that man-crushes count too.  😉

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Thanks for playing!
(If you can’t view our poll gadget on your mobile device and feel the intense need to vote before you can log onto a computer at home, feel free to leave your vote in the comments below.  We’ll make sure it counts!)

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