Cardinal baseball, from the girls
Monthly Archives: May 2010
Let me say right now, that if you’re a big fan of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry and think it’s the best rivalry in sports… I’m not sure how you got here, but you’re lost, and should probably leave now.
In the earlier years of baseball, when the thought of teams west of the Mississippi River was still a novel idea and Jack Buck and Harry Caray were crooning over the waves of KMOX, most of the people in the Midwest only had the Cardinals and Cubs to follow along with. You could find fans of both teams duking it out from Nebraska to Tennessee, because those were the only teams they really ever heard about. The players know it is a special rivalry, the fans feel it … and the rest of the world, for the most part, tends to ignore it.
Fast forward to 2010. The Cardinals/Cubs rivalry, while still very special to fans of both sides, feels all but ignored by the rest of the country. Even Major League Baseball schedulers have showed little regard for scheduling the match-ups. A lot was made about the fact that this weekend’s series was the first time these two teams have met this year. In the same vein, today’s series with the Reds marks the third series in the first two months for the two teams. I imagine that it’s not easy putting together the schedule for a year’s worth of baseball games for 30 teams, but seriously, let me try. I can do better than that.
This weekend’s series might not have been one for the ages. It was great to take a series win in Chicago and salvage a 3-3 road trip, and I’m definitely thankful to Erika for making Albert Pujols mad enough to hit 3 home runs yesterday after she dared to question him on Friday, but chances are we won’t be talking about any one of these games for years to come. That said, I did want to share with you some memorable Cards/Cubs games that we are still talking about…
June 20, 1968
Bob Gibson had a memorable 1968 season. He led the league with a 1.12 ERA, 13 shutouts, 268 strikeouts, went to the All-Star Game, won the Cy Young, won the NL MVP, and won a Gold Glove… not to mention his 17 strikeouts in game 1 of the World Series. In this game, Gibby came up against Fergie Jenkins, and both hurlers threw complete games, with Gibson striking out 6, giving up 5 hits and 1 walk, and Jenkins striking out 11, giving up 4 hits and 2 walks. The only tally for the game occurred in the bottom of the 3rd, when Lou Brock slapped a ball to right and scrambled all the way to third for a triple, then was brought home by a Curt Flood single to left. The Cardinals snuck out with a 1-0 win, which meant that Gibby came away with a deserving win, instead of the 11 times in his career that he lost with a 1-0 score.
June 23, 1984
The Cardinals and Cubs traded blows for 11 innings on this day, and with a final score of 12-11 Cubs, you know some crazy events had to happen. Most notable in this game included Willie McGee hitting for the cycle, and Bruce Sutter coughing up the lead not only in the 9th inning, but again in the 10th, both on home runs to Ryne Sandberg.
September 8, 1989
Going in to the top of the 5th inning, the Cardinals were already down 7-1 and starter Joe Magrane had been chased after just 3 innings. The Cardinals put 1 on the board in the 5th, 4 in the 7th and 5 in the 8th to make an impressive come from behind 11-8 final score. Those 5 runs in the 8th were scored off of a Pedro Guerrero 3 run moon shot (think the distance of Albert’s blasts from yesterday) and a 2 run blast by Terry Pendleton all off of Mitch Williams, who was having the best year of his 11 year career.
September 8, 1998
After a summer of slamming long blasts, Mark McGwire took over the single season home run record after lining a ball just far enough to sneak over the left field wall for number 62 on the year. It was only fitting that the Cubs were in town for this game, with Sammy Sosa – who had been trading blasts with Mac all summer long – coming in from the outfield to join in the celebration at home plate.
Obviously there have been many other memorable games for the Cardinals and Cubs over the span of their rivalry, spanning almost 130 years and thousands of players. Whether you’re talking about the sea of red making their way to the friendly confines, Brock for Broligo, or 2006 vs. 1908, it’s not difficult to see the history seeping through. This is a rivalry for the ages, and it’s a shame that more people don’t see it that way.
Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, everyone. Remember those who have sacrificed their lives so we can enjoy a day off with nothing better to do than catch up on the national pastime!
In the meantime, head over to the UCB site to read the full announcement and follow along with all the fun!
Go Cards! Beat the Cubs!
Monday’s post by Erika wonderfully captured the magnitude of her family’s pilgrimage to St. Louis for a Cardinals game. Living in the Quad Cities, I have the chance to see a form of Cardinals’ baseball regularly: the River Bandits, their Class A minor league team. And baseball at this level is a much different experience than what takes place 200 miles to the south.
No. 76 in Derrick Goold’s book 100 Things Cardinals Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is to visit the River Bandits. It’s the ballpark itself, though, that merits the mention on his list. Modern Woodmen Park is along the banks of the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa, and offers a beautiful view of the riverfront and the Centennial Bridge. If you saw the movie Sugar, you saw firsthand how lovely the ballpark really is. (The picture above, from the River Bandits website, doesn’t really do justice.) As Goold wrote, “come for the atmosphere, stay for the baseball.”
It’s true the baseball at this level can seem secondary, as going to a game here is more for entertainment than knowing the players. The River Bandits staff makes sure everyone in attendance has plenty to do. There’s a kids play area down the right field line with a bounce house and other games, plus a tiki bar beyond the right field fence to provide a grown-up play area. Outfield seating is along the grass berm – while it was constructed to provide flood control, it also provides a unique way to experience the game. There’s a walkway along the outfield so you can stroll along and look at the Mississippi River. The left field corner is a season-long work-in-progress: corn is planted each season, so the players can walk through it as they are introduced, just like in Field of Dreams (filmed in Dyersville, Iowa, about 70 miles away). Between innings are on-field games ranging from two-person toilet races to racing Rascal, the Bandits mascot, around the bases.
Of course, there is actually a game played. You can get an up-close and very affordable view of it as well, since box seats range in price from $9 to $12. The top price seats are behind the plate, offering the added attraction of watching the nightly collection of scouts utilizing their radar guns and taking notes on what the players are doing.
It’s the top prospects that the scouts are there to watch. Through the years, and through team affiliations with the Cubs, Angels, Astros and Twins, I’ve seen firsthand players like Shawon Dunston, Jim Edmonds, Richard Hidalgo, the one and only Aaron Miles, Billy Wagner, Bobby Kielty, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. But success here doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing in the big leauges. I remember very well Michael Restovich, who played for the River Bandits in 1999. He had a monster season and hit .312 with 21 home runs and a franchise-record 107 RBI. He did make it to the majors, but played only 152 games total over six seasons and for five teams. (He is still playing baseball, currently with the Dodgers Triple A team in Albuquerque.)
Since 2005, the Quad Cities team has been a Cardinals affiliate. That year, Rick Ankiel spent a couple months here as he transitioned to outfielder from pitcher. I went to his first game, as he’d been one of my favorite Cardinals and I’d been at his then-final major league start in May 2001. It was an ordinary crowd and an ordinary night; the only memory that stands out is a terrific throw he made in from right field.
Many of the current Cardinals have made their way through the Quad Cities. I remember seeing both Jaime Garcia and Colby Rasmus here only a few years ago, and Nick Stavinoha was here in 2005. The Swing had a female public address announcer that year – and she loved saying his last name, dragging out each syllable before every at-bat. He was worth the extra effort, though: he hit .344 and hit 14 homers.
Because these players are just beginning their careers, the team marketing doesn’t usually focus on a player. The Swing, however, took full advantage of the five innings that Mark Mulder pitched here during an August 2006 rehab start. For 2007, his picture (complete in the Swing baby blues) graced the cover of the team’s schedule plus there was a Mark Mulder Swing bobblehead night. His one-game appearance was a big deal and the ballpark was packed. Of course I was there, and my friend Kathy captured Mark’s memorable Swing career in the adjacent photo.
This year, the River Bandits tickets feature a photo of Shelby Miller, likely taken during the three innings he pitched here at the end of last season. Miller, along with Joe Kelly and Robert Stock, are the top prospects we can see play here for now. The thing is, as Bandits fans yet also Cardinals fans, we never want to see these guys stick around very long. It’s the first stop along the journey, so we want them moving up to Palm Beach or beyond as quickly as they can.
And as a baseball fan, I can appreciate the entire experience that attending a River Bandits game offers. Friday night I was with my friend Keith, who goes for the entertainment value more than the baseball. Yet he admitted he has a new respect for the players on the field after we saw Sugar last year, especially those players who have come to the Quad Cities from outside the U.S. He would patiently pause our conversation, which ranged from the movie to burying St. Joseph statues to player superstitions and more, whenever my attention was sidetracked by the on-field action. Yes, it’s definitely the atmosphere. But for me it’s also the baseball.
We love our readers here at Cardinal Diamond Diaries and are so thankful that you stop by to check out our blog!
We’re still new at this blogging thing, which is why I think this is the first time any of us have ever completely changed course after a game. My plan was to write about Aaron Miles, but that’ll have to wait for another day.
I crack up when pitchers hit big home runs. You never see them coming, and half the time the pitcher is just as surprised as you the fan are. Brad Penny, before last night, had not hit a home run since 2003! So forgive me for still being giggly when I saw the Fox Sports Midwest commercial break cut back to the game prematurely and players, Tony LaRussa and Barry Weinberg (the Cardinals trainer) are all wandering the field. That’s never good, and my euphoric feelings were flushed away when I saw Penny heading down the dugout steps.
|Hurry back, man. (no pun intended… okay maybe pun intended).
Chris Lee, Post Dispatch
Lat strains are no laughing matter. All of my physical education and sport first aid textbooks from college (finally putting my PE degree to use) state that the less you the first responder are involved, the better. Strap the arm to the body in a sling and send ‘em in for an MRI. Injury expert Will Carroll, when asked how long Penny might miss, responded with this:
@miklasz Pitcher, so 4-6 is about right.
Safe to say the Cardinals are making a move. The immediate reaction was to put PJ Walters on a plane to St. Louis, and to that I say excellent. PJ has had a rough year in real life, but has had a very nice start to the season, so I was hoping he would be the one to get the call. The question I have seen is which pitcher gets shut down – Penny or Blake Hawksworth, who is nursing a sore groin that also troubled him in spring training.
First of all, yes I am being a Hawk apologist here to say that I’m glad there was a reason for his recent struggles. Despite his claims that the groin only bothers him when there are men on base and he quickens his motion to the plate – the fact is still there that it bothers him. He obviously needs to rest a few days and re-evaluate, which is what the Cardinals were planning to do this weekend with Monday’s looming off-day. However, I fully expect Penny to be the one that is shelved, assuming the Cardinals only make one move.
Should the Cardinals make a second call to Memphis for a relief guy? Glancing quickly at the Memphis stats, the only relievers that are standing out in any way are Rich Rundles (WHO???) and Oneli Perez. Josh Kinney and Rich Hill, our two in the Memphis pen with the most major league experience, have been less than stellar this year. Therefore, my answer is no – there should not be another phone ringing in Sacramento (Baby Birds are on the road right now) today.
Obviously the next two games could be a grind. With Kyle Lohse starting today, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte each going 2 innings and Trever Miller and Ryan Franklin as the only two that didn’t see action out of the pen last night, the pen is stretched. Now, thankfully Walters was scheduled to start today for Memphis. I imagine if Lohse has a rough game, Walters will get the call to mop up the rest of the innings, giving the pen a relative day off. Today’s game will be an interesting one to be sure, and we’ll see where we stand at day’s end.
There’s been a lot of talk about Chris Carpenter and the velocity of his fastball this season. This article, for example, appeared earlier in the week, and my first post on our blog was about it. His velocity also been mentioned on FS Midwest seemingly every time Carp starts, during the game by Dan McLaughlin and Al Hrabosky plus in the pre- and post-game. No one has an answer to what the “trouble” is – plus it’s laughable to consider his pitching an issue when at the moment he has a 5-1 record, a 2.80 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP.
- Freddy Garcia
- Jack McDowell
- Matt Morris
- Josh Beckett
- Alex Fernandez
- Carl Erskine
- John Lackey
- Shane Reynolds
- Tom Browning
- Brad Penny
But, velocity aside, what really matters the most? Is it more important to have a Chris Carpenter who can reach 96 mph, or a 35-year-old who can do what it takes to continue to be successful and win? The results are what matter most to me. Old – relatively speaking – or not, Chris is more than getting the job done. Hopefully the sportswriters and broadcasters can focus on those results in the games ahead.