Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Tony La Russa

Winter Warm Up, Day 3

Where do I begin?

Composing this while sitting on the floor of the St. Louis airport, I am still spinning from the wonderful experience of covering Winter Warm-Up.  After getting a small taste of the behind-the-scenes media experience, I have a newfound respect for journalists and beat writers who live it, day in and day out.

When I opened my newspaper this morning to the Cardinal coverage, I savored and dissected the columns with even more enthusiasm than usual.  Besides the obvious difference of actually holding a real copy of the Post Dispatch in my hands today (a bit hard to find in Oklahoma and one of my favorite little things about visiting St. Louis), I was fascinated to see how the writers would pick and choose their details from the very same player interviews I had experienced the day before and then weave those facts into the stories we read online and in the paper.  They make it look so easy…

After 3 days of jam-packed activity, I am truly worn out. The thought of keeping up that pace through an entire baseball season combined with deadlines, hectic travel schedules, game notes, pre- and post-game interviews plus the real-life pressure of it being your JOB to rapidly condense it all into timely, informative and entertaining samplers for the hungry baseball masses… and I’m quite content sticking to this blogging thing where we do it for the love of the game.

Don’t get me wrong however… this was the weekend adventure of a lifetime and I savored every moment of it.  The honor of the invitation and the unbelievable access were something I will treasure forever.

Looking back on this amazing whirlwind adventure, I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the opportunity to pass along the sights, player interview tidbits and my experiences at this tremendous event to Cardinal fans through our blog and Twitter.  The people of the Cardinals Media Relations team (Brian Bartow, Melody Yount, Chris Tunno, Ron Watermon and especially Terry Rodgers) and the Cardinals Care volunteers were welcoming and helpful.  Their hospitality helped ease many of the fears of being out of my element as part of the  “new media” contingency included in this year’s Winter WarmUp coverage.  It was great fun visiting with a variety of media folk throughout the weekend, all very kind and accommodating.

The Cardinal organization deserves a big, BIG thank you for opening the doors to us involved in blogging and social media.  The responsibility was huge, and I was really proud and (honestly) quite blown away by the volume and quality of material coming from my fellow media credential-newbies.  Kevin (posting for C70 at the Bat) was jumping in with both feet, asking players insightful questions that elicited amazing and heartfelt answers. Ann (for Aaron Miles Fastball) was a speed demon at taking notes at those player interviews and getting those words online quicker than… well, quicker than Aaron Miles’ Fastball.  Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth) cranked out summary stories on several hot topics.  And Chris Reed (writing for i70baseball.com) ramped up the technology and created his WWU Video Blog.  Check them out, if you haven’t already.

My 2nd love (behind family and baseball… so it’s more like my 3rd love, I guess?) is capturing and sharing photographs.  So I attempted to gather as many images as possible and pass them along on twitter throughout the day, as well as here on Diamond Diaries. While pursuing this goal, I learned that #1: Winter Warm-Up is a HUGE venue.  #2: Comfy shoes can only do so much.  #3: Despite my best efforts, even after hustling back and forth all day between player interviews and autograph tables, there were still many other WWU moments that I missed.  #4 Who really needs lunch (or dinner) when there are Cardinals to photograph and write about? #5:  Ditto for the “sleeping” thing.  And #6 Cardinal fans continue to be some of the friendliest people I have ever met.

Winter Warm-Up offers a little bit for everyone.  There were lectures, forums, silent auctions, presentations and oh yeah… a World Series trophy! While I only managed to catch a quick glimpse of the variety of vendors and souvenir offerings, Kevin (C70 at the Bat) convinced me the selection was amazing and the prices were spectacular after I saw the treasures he’ll be taking home.  It’s no wonder Cardinal fans keep coming back year after year.

With all proceeds from the 16th annual Winter Warm-Up going to the Cardinals Care foundation (the charity benefiting children in the community) fans can enjoy their weekend in baseball heaven, spend lots of money and know it’s for a worthy cause.  Win/win!

 Yes, the Hyatt was PACKED with people, but the crowd movement was expertly orchestrated.  The amazingly adept crew of patient and friendly volunteers directed traffic phenomenally. It was a QUALITY event with the QUANTITY of experiences to match!

 

This year’s Winter Warm-Up provided hours of voice recordings and hundreds of photo files.  It should be enough to keep us entertained for at least a month or so.  And from the looks of the Spring Training Countdown, that should just about do it!

Once again, I am excited to share with you my collection of photos from the final day of Winter Warm-Up.

Today’s featured Cardinals include:

  • Kyle Lohse
  • Tony La Russa
  • Kyle McClellan
  • Allen Craig
  • Manager Mike Matheny
  • Carlos Beltran
  • Skip Schumaker
  • and World Series MVP (with the best smile in baseball) David Freese

And another Thank You to the Cardinals with a special shout-out to Peggy (our wonderful hostess/guide/source in the media area), Patty, Kathleen, Judy and Doris and all the other fabulous Cardinals Care volunteers who made the weekend easier for us all.  It was a joy to share the weekend with you!

Although the weekend was truly a dream come true, I am happy to be back home with my family and a slower pace, packing lunch boxes, chauffeuring the kiddos, homework, housework and my real world job.  Keep an eye out for more posts and pictures about my adventures.  I’m looking forward to digging through my digital keepsakes and sharing the rest of the experience with you… right after I meet the laundry deadline and interview the pets.

Thanks for reading!

Winter Warm-Up, Day 2

Who is this guy and what did he do with Mitchell Boggs?

Today, Day 2 of the Cardinals Winter Warm Up, was a lot of fun hard work!

Yesterday, I figured out the system and broke in my sparkly new media pass.  Today, I put it to full use.

In between player interview opportunities, I branched out to explore more of the Warm-Up environment.  By staking out some hallways and talking to folks waiting for autographs, I met a slew of wonderful Cardinal fans who were willing to answer all kinds of questions about their Winter Warm-Up experiences.  (Be watching for the poll results in an upcoming post!) I also made an executive decision to postpone the transcribing of over 2 hours of player interview recordings from today in order to take lots and lots of photos – which was way more fun hard work.  😉

The media room was hopping with visits from a phenomenal sampling of Cardinal players and one Mr. Bill Dewitt, Jr.  Among those who stopped by:

  • J.C. Romero
  • Shelby Miller
  • Matt Adams
  • Brandon Dickson
  • Daniel Descalso
  • Mitchell Boggs
  • Jason Motte
  • John Jay
  • Jaime Garcia
  • Shane Robinson
  • Lance Berkman
  • and ….Matt Holliday

Some of the highlights/stand-out moments of the day (for me) included getting an introduction to our new pitcher, J.C. Romero, who made a wonderful first impression with his fun personality, making jokes about being “old” and doing a bang-up job of being a likeable character. Romero spoke honestly and openly about his desire to protect his reputation and to be a role model to kids.  He’s a long-time friend of Yadier Molina (Romero teased “He’s my boy.  I knew Yadi before all of you guys knew him.”) and made it a point to talk about his faith in God.

Stumbling upon a barely recognizable baby-faced Mitchell Boggs signing autographs for fans had me amused mid morning, as did the interviews with Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, Jason Motte and Lance Berkman.

I was impressed by minor league pitching prospect Shelby Miller’s openly discussing how the suspension last season (alcohol related) helped him to realize his priorities and to make necessary changes in his life and “keep his head on his shoulders.”

Shane Robinson spoke to a small group of us, detailing his horrific outfield collision in a AAA ballgame last season and the recovery process involved, mentally and physically.  Shane also shared the exciting news that he and his wife are expecting their first child in May, grinning nervously as he spoke about being a new dad.

And of course there was Matt Holliday.  Matt spoke to a packed house of very determined journalists, so I knew my chances of getting in any questions were honestly hopeless.  So, I climbed up on my chair and balanced on my tiptoes to snap a dozen (or hundred) fairly gorgeous shots of the birthday boy. Yes, Matt Holliday spent the afternoon of his 32nd birthday with ME…. annnnd a small multitude of Cardinal fans. 😉

Okay, I’m keeping the post short tonight, because honestly? I’m exhausted – a good exhausted.  It’s time for bed so that I can wake up and do it all again tomorrow!  Winter Warm-Up, Day 3 – the last hurrah!

I leave you now with a slideshow of some of my favorite photos from today AND a promise to write more later!  =)

Hello Nick Punto!

Mastermind Tony La Russa reclaimed the reins yesterday after his 6 game hiatus for medical reasons, and promptly baffled the masses with another gem in his ever-entertaining lineup switcharoos.  Looking back on it (hindsight, and all…) the experiment was a success.  Defensive positional tweaking resulted in an impressive infield upgrade.  Solid gloves and a pair of successful double plays behind the stellar performance of starting pitcher Jake Westbrook earned the Cardinals a W against Cliff Lee and the Phillies, easing the painful memories of last weekend’s embarrassing sweep by the Reds.

Yes, the media jumped all over the sight of Albert Pujols patrolling third base for the first time since 2002.  Highlights (if you missed them) from mlb.com:  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=14866351

However, the lesser-known Cardinal covering second base earned himself a few more brownie points last night.  Nick Punto, the off-season pick-up touted as our new utility guy has worked overtime while Cardinal infielders Skip Schumaker (2nd base) and David Freese (3rd base) are nursing prolonged injuries. Last night Punto’s defense dazzled, which got me wondering…

image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images from Zimbio

Who is Nick Punto?

  • 33 years old
  • Switch-hitter
  • Drafted in 1998 by the Phillies
  • 2001-2003  Phillies (didn’t play much)
  • 2004-2010 Twins
  • January 2011, free agent, signed 1 year, $750,000 deal with Cardinals

While skimming the internet for back stories and tidbits on Nick Punto, it became obvious I was rereading the same commentaries over and over again.  Punto has a great glove, but…..

For example, Aaron Gleeman (MinnPost.com) wrote:

“As a diminutive, punchless infielder with a great glove and far more frenetic energy than actual talent, Punto represents everything Gardenhire looks for (and tends to significantly overrate) in a non-star. No other manager would’ve given Punto an average of 434 plate appearances per season for a six-year span in which he hit .248/.323/.325 and had a sub-.650 OPS four times. Since his Twins debut in 2005, no MLB player has more plate appearances with a lower OPS.”

Great glove, can’t hit, “frenetic energy”?  Now, why does that sound vaguely familiar to me?

Suffice it to say, the season is still early and we have a lot of baseball yet to appreciate.  However, Nick Punto has earned a mention here at Diamond Diaries.  Sure, the guy may only be batting .266 (note: Pujols is currently batting .259), but with the frustrating recent parade of errors and ailing fundamentals plaguing the Cardinals’ 2011 defense, we are all looking for a hero with a glove. So, throw in some timely extra base hits -a few doubles plus two triples – and Nick gets me smiling. Dirty uniform, quick hands, head first slides… Can you say scrappy??

Hello, Nick Punto!  So nice to meet ya!

For your viewing pleasure: some Punto highlights from mlb.com.

Punto’s 2-run double (and sweet slide)

http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=14835551

Punto starts a double play (lovely!)

http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=14289541

Our red-hot lefty, Jaime Garcia, takes the mound tonight at 7:15, facing Roy Oswalt and the Phillies in the final game of this short 2-game series.

Go Cards!!  😉

Shingles and Slumps: A Baseball Diagnosis

photo from stltoday.com

Tony La Russa just looks like he hurts.  Exhibiting symptoms of shingles, an extremely painful skin rash causing blisters, the right side of La Russa’s face is red, puffy and scabbed, his eye nearly swollen shut.  If he hurts half as bad as he looks, Tony must be intolerably miserable.

Now I’m not a doctor, but I like to play one when I’m bored.  Also, I’m a mom, and we all know that mom’s are better at intuitive diagnostics than medical doctors.  So, here’s what’s up:

Shingles often appears during times of STRESS.  Sometimes with illness, we have to look at the environment. Currently the Cardinals are winning – thanks to a surging offense spurred by Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday.  These two super sluggers were both batting over .400 in early May.  However, what’s missing in this massive batting explosion is an expected solid contribution from sir Albert Pujols who is having the slowest start of his career, batting a currently light .252.

Why is Albert, perhaps the best player in baseball, riding such an uncharacteristically long slump?  This topic has been bludgeoned to death all over the sports blogosphere.  So, I will keep it limited to my Mom Intuitive Diagnostics:  While Pujols is quick to deny it, that mega-contract he won’t talk about is bound to be keeping him up at night.  He may not be worrying about the hundreds of millions of dollars or how he will spend it, but I expect he IS pondering the uncertainties right now.  His career and his family’s future are both very much contingent on this ever-present, yet taboo topic.

In my expert mom opinion, that-of-which-we-do-not-speak is causing some STRESS for both Pujols and La Russa.

Patients: TLR and Pujols

Symptoms: Miserable face/eye rash and uncharacteristic poor batting average

Diagnosis:  STRESS.

Cure: Sign a contract.

<Confidential> There is another, more sinister explanation.  Unconfirmed sources have reported that a voodoo curse was flung on the Cardinals when they decided to trade away shortstop Brendan Ryan, ultimately sacrificing top tier defense for more pop in an infield bat.  We may be witnessing the manifestations of an obscure baseball hex known as Shingles, Singles and Errors.  Obviously, this hex would explain Tony La Russa’s face AND the performance of Ryan Theriot. We will keep you informed if more evidence surfaces.

Tonight the Cardinals begin a 3-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Here’s hoping the aromatherapy, bubble bath and soothing Nature Sounds CD’s we shipped express-delivery to the clubhouse today help ease the STRESS.

(pssssstttttt…. Get a contract signed!)

Oh, and if it is that Shingles, Singles and Errors hex instead?

Well…. let’s just hope our unconfirmed sources are wrong.  😉

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.

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