Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Yankees

Spring Training, Episode 1

Spring Training means different things to different people.  To me, a trip to Florida in late March when the weather is warm and Opening Day is juuussssst around the corner makes perfect sense.  Mornings spent soaking up the sights and sounds of baseball drills on the backfields of Roger Dean stadium are not too chilly.  Starters are going longer into games and the lineups are full of actual, live 2011 Cardinals!!  It’s as close to “real” season baseball as possible… while still in the cozy setting of the Cardinals Spring Training facility, surrounded by palm trees, sea breezes and sunshine.
Brief Recap:
Previous Spring Training trips (’09 and ’10) were hard on Hubby.
In 2009, new fan syndrome was in full effect.  I’d be up at the crack of dawn, not wanting to miss a single glimpse of a guy in a Cardinal uniform.  I was on Yadi Watch constantly. We hadn’t heard about the opportunity of watching morning practice drills.  I took a total of 178 photos (many of them were blurry because I was shaking from the excitement of it all.)  I noticed a guy named David Freese (#66) and took pictures of Chris Duncan and Rick Ankiel.  We saw two games and fell in love with the Spring Training atmosphere.
In 2010, new fan syndrome was still rampant.  PLUS I was armed with useful information from a baseball fan’s best tool: twitter. For example, this time I knew about Roger Dean stadium’s back fields, morning workouts & autograph opportunities, and the existence of Pyros Grill.  I was on Matt Holliday watch.  I took over 700 photos (some were still blurry because Brendan Ryan was spinning too fast for my camera or because I was drooling -just a little- over David Freese.)  I took pictures with Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse.  We saw 4 games – 2 home and 2 away.  I toured a baseball museum (because Aaron Hooks offered me free tickets if I’d review it for Cards Diaspora… #win!)  Highlight?? David Freese signed my shirt!!!  I was addicted to Spring Training.  Baseball overdose at it’s most extreme.
(Hubby was more than relieved to finally get me out of Florida!)
So, on our third trip to Spring Training, this year we did something different. Maybe because I’ve matured in my fandom, maybe because Hubby medicated me…who knows?  But somehow we achieved a more well-rounded Florida vacation.  Don’t get me wrong.  It revolved around baseball!  But we did venture away from Roger Dean.  We enjoyed restaurants and sight-seeing that didn’t involve player-stalking. (Granted, I knew I had to behave myself if Hubby would ever agree to a Spring Training trip #4!)
Last week we even went to see some *gasp* non-Cardinals games.  In fact, while Hubby was meeting friends for a day of fishing (he saw dolphins!!), I ventured off all by myself to watch the Phillies play the Braves.  That experience was a perfect Spring Training warm-up.  I was a berm bum, taking in a game whose players/teams I was less familiar with.  Honestly, I bought that ticket hoping to see Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee pitch for the Phillies and fully expecting to be cheering on former Cardinal Joe Mather in a Braves uniform.  Alas, none of my hopefuls were in the game.  So, I spent a lot of time watching just baseball. I didn’t care who won or lost. And you know what?  I loved every second of it.  The view from the grass was different, enlightening – the game looks different and catches that seem so simple when watching from the infield are suddenly a heckuva lot more impressive when the fielder manages to intercept a rocket while chasing across the outfield grass.  It was baseball.  Good baseball. Man, you gotta love Spring Training!
ST Game 1
Yay!! – 78 degrees, light winds and sunshine.
Ryan Madson, in all his Madson glory, LIVE!
Beach party on the OF berm
Boo   – No Joe, Halladay or Lee, but I got over it. 😉
That same night we went to watch the Yankees take on the Astros at the Yankees Spring Training complex.  We were late to the game and the gate guardian wouldn’t let me bring in some of my camera gear. So we were even later after lugging it back to the parking lot again.  No Mariano Rivera appearance. (So far I was shooting 0-fer on my Spring Training hopefuls.)  However it was a night game and the stadium was full of New York fans.  Suffice it to say, that was a FAR different experience than Roger Dean Stadium full of Cardinal fans at 1:05pm games. 😉  Again, I savored every second.
ST Game 2
Yay!! –    Joba and Dave Robertson pitching relief.
Jeter. Jeter. Jeter.
Brett Wallace (former Redbird) playing 1st, but hitless
Kettle corn for dinner!
Chuckling about “Mr. Know-It-All” sitting behind us who was always handing out words of (incorrect) wisdom to his kids
Boo   –  Gate trolls and repeat trips to the parking lot.
With that, my Spring Training warm-up was complete and we had a 4-hour drive to Jupiter, Florida (near West Palm Beach) for Cardinals camp the next morning.  Needless to say… it was hard to fall asleep that night.
Next post:   my stories from Jupiter and my time at Cardinals’ Spring Training:  running into Chris Carpenter out of uniform, on the sidewalk by the stadium; the batting practice frivolity of Lance Berkman; autographs, meeting players, and my favorite Spring Training game moments.
Fitting it all in a blog before Opening Day (tomorrow) was poor planning… but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Like I said, we all do Spring Training a little differently.  I spend a lot of time taking pictures instead of keeping a scorecard.  I love watching ballplayers sign autographs and how they interact with fans.  Spring Training provides a unique opportunity to live and breathe the beginnings of baseball season…. until the big show begins.
Happy Opening Day Eve!!  =)

Memories Wrapped in Baseball

I was in Texas this past weekend for a family Fall Break trip to San Antonio. We took the kiddos to the Alamo and the Riverwalk.  We saw the Shamu family, dolphins, sea lions and penguins at Sea World.  We lounged by the pool, rode bikes, played catch on the grass and truly enjoyed our time together having fun.

And of course, each evening we ended up back at our hotel in time to watch Postseason Baseball.
We were in Texas when the Rangers won the ALCS (their first championship in franchise history) against the Yankees.  It may not have been a typical postseason memory – being there in the ballpark– but I smile when I think of how my kids will remember the 2010 baseball postseason.  We were all tucked into our beds watching the games together in a hotel room, exhausted from each day’s adventures and falling asleep to the sounds of October baseball.
Ryan Madson  – my reason to cheer the Phillies (vs the Giants)
photo from dailypostal.com
The youngest of our clan never made it into the 6th inning of any game.  His sister lasted to the end of the first game, but by the last night – when the Giants won the NLCS over the Phillies – she too tuckered out before the 7th inning stretch.  (Plus she was the sole Giant fan of our bunch, so she was disappointed to find out the next morning that she had missed the celebration.)
I certainly treasure the fact that our family memories have been wrapped in baseball over the past few years. 
No matter where we travel or who we are with, baseball can always make a nice side-story, enriching the experience and bringing us together at the end of a long day.
Enjoy your week, Cardinal fans. 

Trying to find my postseason groove

Logo Credit: MLB.com
Ok, so I have found myself getting into the postseason a little bit more than I expected I would. Yeah, I was really bitter a couple weeks ago and I really just wasn’t feeling it. Then, as game 1 of the NLDS started, I was a little more interested. Sad thing about it all…is the team I have been forced to cheer for. So,who have I been cheering for?
The Phillies. Um, excuse me?!
Yeah, the -gulp- Phillies. My reasoning?
Because, as I said on twitter last Wednesday, having a postseason team to root AGAINST is almost as fun as having a team to root FOR. So, take a breath, I am technically not rooting for the Phillies, just against the teams they play. From the moment the Cardinals were *officially* eliminated, I was ready to root for any team that would be playing against the Reds in the postseason regardless of who they were playing. Of course, I am not the only one who was doing the same – my sentiments have been echoed across Cardinal Nation. But, for not being excited about postseason at all, this was the one thing I was looking forward to. Now, that the Reds have been swept right out of the postseason, I am happy – not to mention, watching Brandon Phillips bawl like a baby in the dugout after the sweep and Johnny Cueto being the LP was just icing on the cake. Now, I am looking forward to the pitching match-ups in the final four teams. (Sort of still rooting for the Phillies since they are taking on the Giants, even as much as it makes me sick to see the Phils in the World Series again).
Cliff Lee & Teammates celebrate his CG and series win.
(Oh hey…there’s a MOLINA!)
Photo Credit: J. Meric, Getty Images
The LCS starts tonight, with the AL going first – Yankees vs. Rangers. I am really excited for this series. There have been stories about how the Yankees were hoping that the ALDS between the Rangers and the Rays would be stretched to a Game 5. I came across this article while doing research for my graduate classes. The Yankees were hoping this because it means that the Rangers starting pitcher would be out of commission until Game 3 of the ALCS. Sounds like a pretty decent reason to cheer on your potential opponents. However, I have never been one to believe in doing better with time off or that it really matters when which of your ace pitchers will be starting. If you have done well enough during the regular season, you should do well even without it being in the order the team desires. The Yankees may be excited that they don’t have to see Cliff Lee until Game 3, but when that game comes, they might need to be shaking in their boots. Cliff Lee pitched an amazing Game 5 of the ALDS – a complete game, 6-hit, one-run game with NO walks and 11 strikeouts. As long as the offense shows up that game, I think the Yankees might be regretting their wishes.

I am also a believer in momentum. Not a “momentum-beats-all” believer, but I believe that it exists. The Yankees haven’t played since Saturday – 5 days off – and the Rangers have only had 2 days off. I think that plays a factor in the outcome of the LCS. During the regular season, no one has that many off days – no one really even gets 2 off days except for during the ASG. So, do I think the Yankees have been sitting around too long waiting for their opponent? Yes. I think that the Rangers have a good chance of coming in and winning. The Rangers won all of their road games (another reason for the Yankees to be worried about Cliff Lee in Game 3, since it will be in New York) in the ALDS, and I think that they have what it takes to make it to the end. The series might last all 7 games, but I think they can pull it off. After all, do we really want to see the Phillies and the Yankees in the World Series
again? I will be rooting for the Rangers this series and for the Giants to lose. I really don’t think I could stand seeing Tim Lincecum winning a WS Ring – even if that does mean the Phillies are playing for the title again. If it ends up being the Yankees in the World Series, you can count me out this year. I’ll just wait for the Cardinals to take the crown next year. 🙂
Everyone enjoy the rest of the postseason. Not much time left before there is no actual baseball being played and we are being bombarded with trade rumors. And while I am anxious for awards season, I am dreading this offseason. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best news on a certain first baseman. 🙂  

And Then There Were Four

Cliff Lee (AP photo) celebrating the Rangers ALDS victory
Last night I watched as the Texas Rangers won their first (ever) postseason series in franchise history.  Cliff Lee topped off the night with a complete game gem to beat the Rays 5-1.  The Rangers expertly navigated the bases as if their lives depended on it.  It was beyond good baseball.  It was fun!   
While I do still bemoan the fact that my Cardinals are long gone for the season, I must honestly admit that our 2010 Cardinals would most certainly have been outplayed last night. 
Nolan Ryan’s Rangers were aggressive with brilliant base running, phenomenal offense, pitching magnificence, manufactured runs and stolen bases. It was brilliant, scrappy baseball magic strung together in a way that I have really only read about.  Visions of Whitey Herzog’s Cardinals – and what their version of smart small ball must have been like – were flashing before my eyes.
Maybe it was just the excitement of yesterday’s do-or-die postseason battle, but for the first time in a long time I was enjoying baseball for the pure energy of the moment – and I loved it!
If you are reading this today, I am guessing you too are one of the loyal (aka stubborn) baseball fans still fighting the good fight and savoring the last vestiges of the 2010 MLB season?   
The Reds, Rays, Twins and Braves are all out, and the party is down to four.
Rangers versus Yankees (ALCS)
Giants versus Phillies (NLCS)
Warning: wavering, indecisive, attempt at an opinion-forming train-of-thought paragraph ahead:
Personally, I find it hard to cheer for the Phillies. (See: Friday May 7th CDD post )
But after their stomping of the Reds, I have a very, very small fondness in my heart for that scruffy bunch of mugs.  And since another Yankees/Phillies World Series seems unfair and unimaginative, I guess I need to cheer for the Rangers?  But then again… I really like that Derek Jeter… and Mariano Rivera … and David Robertson (my new happy pitcher fascination). 
Hmmmm… the only team I don’t want to see in the World Series would be the Giants.  That Tim Lincecum is just so hard to watch. You know what I mean….right?  😉
But no matter… Whether the Rangers continue to impress or the big money superstar teams run away with it all over again, I’ll be watching.
Don’t look now, but there may be only 3 weeks of baseball left!
Savor the postseason, play ball!
 
  
And in case you missed it! —The UCB (United Cardinal Bloggers) October Project is in full swing with a roundtable discussion that keeps the baseball talk front and center.  Each day is a new topic and today the bloggers chimed in on how they are spending October.  Who is watching postseason baseball?  Who has moved on to football?  How do you compare to the other Cardinal faithful?  Check out today’s answers here (link pending).


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