Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Monthly Archives: May 2011

Summer Baseball Book/Movie Winner

Last week (before tornadoes and Colby Rasmus’ bad haircut), we had an easy chance for our readers to win a fun baseball book/movie combo.

Today we found our winner!  Congratulations to Nicole (@nlw1013 on Twitter)!

When asked to pick a number from 1-100, my son thought for a moment and then asked “what is David Freese’ number?”  No prodding whatsoever.  That’s just the way I train ‘em here!  ;)

So, with the magic number being #23, Nicole was the closest with #13 and wins Heading For Home.  As Nicole already owns the movie (Kent is, I’m sure, happy to hear it…), she was kind enough to let our runner-up win the movie.  So, our 2nd lucky winner today is Michael Young!  Check your email, Michael, you have won The Final Season  DVD.

Thanks again to Kent Stock for offering the copy of the book and the DVD.  Be sure to check out his website at KentStock.com for more information.

We hope you all have had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend with your loved ones.   Thanks to everyone who entered!

Go Cards!!  ;)

A Community Like No Other

I haven’t met most of you faithful readers out there in the Cardinal blog-o-sphere, but chances are if you’ve been around here for awhile, you know the names. If you’re on Twitter, you can even picture a good chunk of the faces. So, like me, some of you sat around wringing your hands over the past week or so every time the next big storm came up, because you could recall all the people you now ‘know’ that are in those areas. Your hearts, thoughts, and prayers went out to all the people there as the reports started rolling in. People started talking about the families of Cardinal players with ties to OK (scroll to the last paragraph).

You realize in that moment just how far and wide Cardinal Nation really does reach. People that have never met face to face, concerned about each other,  sending well wishes from states and time zones away. Coast to coast, generation to generation. I am so thankful that all the people I know are okay!

I received an email from Eliza this morning, who runs the fabulous site “A Blog Of Their Own.” She asked me something I was actually in the middle of doing – talk about Dolores. If you haven’t already, head over and read all about her. To put it shortly, this woman might be my new hero. A 94 year old woman who knows more about baseball than an encyclopedia (or, perhaps, wikipedia), and is a Cardinals fan to boot? She might actually be everything I could hope to be. I can’t wait to learn more about her!

Alright, let’s talk baseball. I wish I knew what was up with Matt Holliday. The team obviously isn’t willing to put him on the DL, as evidenced by his pinch hitting in last night’s game. He gets walked intentionally, then immediately removed for a pinch runner. So… he can’t play the field, he can’t run the bases, all he can do is swing the bat? Okay then… hope whatever it is that’s tweaking on him in his quads gets better quickly, because outside of last night’s small ball display (which I LOVED) there hasn’t been a lot of run scoring going on without him. However, as Chris Reed pointed out today on i70, this team seems to survive all the random bumps they’ve been going over.

Tonight’s game starts in just a couple short hours, on FOX even. Unfortunately, I’m out of here, so pull in a win and enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend!

Go Cards! :)

Stepping Up: Your 2011 Cardinals

As I was sleepily watching last night’s broadcast, one of the announcers made a comment that stuck in my fuzzy, post-11:00 PM brain. It was

St. Louis Cardinals' Daniel Descalso rips a base hit to drive in the go ahead run in the ninth inning of the Cardinals 3-1 victory over the San Diego Padres in a baseball game Monday, May 23, 2011 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

right after Daniel Descalso hit YET ANOTHER potential game-winning RBI (this time in the top of the 11th inning), and somebody (Jim? Al? Sorry — I was really tired!) said something about how so many different players on the team have stepped up so far in 2011 and produced when we need it most.

And I thought: well THAT’S the understatement of the year.

Think about this. If some omnipotent being had revealed to you on March 30th that the following things would be true on May 25th, what would you have felt about this season?

  • Adam Wainwright won’t be pitching–at all.
  • Chris Carpenter will be leading both leagues in hits allowed (76) and be 1-4 with an ERA of 4.88.
  • Albert Pujols will be batting .267 and be leading both leagues in GIDP (14).
  • Ryan Franklin will have blown 4 saves in 5 opportunities and been taken out of the closer role.
  • David Freese will be on the DL for at least 3 months with a broken hand.
I, personally, would have felt like crawling into bed for the whole summer, rather than watch our fourth-place-in-the-NL-Central team. And yet, all of these things are true. All of these are TRUE FACTS about the Cardinals today, and we sit at the top of the division, 3.5 games up on the second place teams, tied with the Cleveland Indians for the most wins in the majors (30). Right? How did this happen?
Here’s how:
  • Kyle McClellan is 6-1 with a 3.11 ERA and threw another quality start yesterday, giving up only 2 hits over 6 innings.
  • Jaime Garcia has stepped up to be the club’s ace—he’s 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA. He already has two complete game shut-outs.
  • Kyle Lohse  has become a brand new Kyle Lohse. 6-2, 2.06 ERA—and he has 74.1 innings pitched over 10 games. That’s second to only Roy Halladay in the NL.
  • Matt Holliday is batting .349 and Lance Berkman is batting .346. They are leading the NL with the averages, so: not a bad little outfield.
  • Berkman also has 11 home runs and 35 RBI. And he made one seriously OMG-worthy catch against the Padres last night. The Puma’s having himself one heck of a comeback.
  • Daniel Descalso may only be batting .239, but he’s getting those hits when it matters, and getting himself a reputation for being a “late and close” guy, which is a pretty great reputation to have. His glove work over at the third is taking away the sting of losing Freese until July quite nicely.
  • Gerald Laird was doing a hell of a job backing up Yadi when he went down a few days with a broken finger. Tony Cruz was brought up, made his first start yesterday, and suddenly has 3 hits. He’s batting .600! Welcome to the big leagues, kid.
  • Speaking of hits in your first major league game, Pete Kozma made his debut last week and promptly got his first hit–and made it an RBI double, to boot.
  • Jon Jay is batting .326. Yadi is batting .324!  With production coming from all over the lineup, Pujols’ unusually diminished numbers are far less noticeable, and he has time to get himself right. I feel it coming. :)
So, as you can see, the surprise awesome things that have happened this year far outnumber the unexpected bad things. Way to step it up, babybirds and big birds alike!

Summer Baseball Book GiveAway

We have a new giveaway!  Details below!

But first things first, our Redbirds are again #1 in the National League Central! woohoo!!!  *or at least they are right now as I write this before leaving on a family camping trip. ;)

Also, belated congratulations to Cardinals pitcher Kyle McClellan and his wife Bridget on the birth of their baby girl, Olivia Grace McClellan, born Sunday May 15th!

Now, in honor of the end of school and good summertime reads, we are excited to be able to give away another great baseball book to one of our loyal Diamond Diaries readers!

I recently met another Cardinal fan on Twitter (@KentStock) and learned he is an author with an amazing true story to tell.  His story.  However, the crazy thing I learned from talking with Kent was that I sort of already knew him.  You see, one cold afternoon this past winter, my family settled in to watch a baseball movie called The Final Season.  As it turns out, the movie’s main character was Kent Stock, played by Sean Astin.

If you love a good baseball book, one of faith, tradition and the journey of a life gifted by the game, then Kent Stock’s tale will capture your attention.

Like many American boys, Stock grew up chasing the dream of playing in the Majors. However his book is much more than just another version of a ballplayer’s progression from little league to college ball and beyond.  It’s his “beyond” where a truly remarkable baseball adventure unfolds.

In Hollywood’s charming production, The Final Season, a legendary small town baseball program faces extinction and a young assistant coach signs up for the momentous task of captaining the team in its swan song season.

Stock’s book, Heading for Home is a fitting tribute to coaches who not only teach, but inspire something special in their players and team.  A refreshingly fun read, it is a reflection on life, love, hard work and taking chances – wrapped up in baseball.

… and being a lifelong Cardinals fan (bonus points), Kent also weaves a bit of Cardinal baseball history into the book.  Brilliant!  ;)

Special thanks to Kent Stock for offering the freebies!

You can find out more about the book or movie (and order copies for yourself!) at KentStock.com.

To win your free copies of both the book Heading for Home and the movie The Final Season, give us your name (a valid email is required) and pick a number between 1 and 100.  If your number matches the lucky number chosen by my kiddos, you win!

It really is that easy!

In the odd chance that duplicate guesses are received and win…. oh, we’ll cross that bridge if we get there ;)

Winner will be notified by email and the winning name will be posted below in the comments section by Monday, May 30th.

Good Luck!!

and Go Cards!!

Diane’s Excellent Adventure at Social Media Night

By Diane Schultz

Roving Reporter for DiamondDiaries.net

I work in downtown St. Louis (on Market Street about 3 blocks from Busch Stadium), so instead of going all the way home and then turning around and coming right back, I decided to stay in downtown.  I had some time to kill before I met my hubby at the Musial statue (where else?) so I walked over to the Culinaria grocery store at 9th and Olive.

After perusing the groceries at Culinaria, I decided to walk over to Kiener Plaza to kill some more time.  Kiener Plaza is the home of all pre- and post-season Cardinals pep rallies.  There were no pep rallies this night, however.  Instead, there was a group of older gentlemen guarding some Segway machines.  If you were interested (and had the money), you could learn to ride a Segway.  No thanks – my two feet work just fine.

I sat on a bench for a while.  An old guy saw my Cardinals shirt and assumed I needed game tickets.  He flashed four game tickets at me.  I told him no, I didn’t need tickets. I got up from the bench and started walking around Kiener Plaza, hoping to get away from Mr. Ticket Guy.  Mr. Ticket Guy crossed my path later on and he tried to get me to buy his tickets again.  To paraphrase Reba McEntire, what part of no didn’t he understand?

It was starting to get a little creepy, so I called my hubby to see just where he was. I figured he was about 20 minutes away from Busch Stadium.  We decided I’d go to the Hardee’s at 6th and Chestnut and pick up a couple of burgers and fries for dinner.

Our tickets

I walked down to the stadium. Mr. Ticket Guy couldn’t bother me at the stadium – the City of St. Louis has a law that says you can’t scalp tickets within 50 feet of the stadium.  Hubby got off the MetroLink train and met me at the Musial statue.  We ate our burgers and fries and then went to the will call window to pick up our tickets.  When we got up to the window, we discovered we were supposed to go to the group sales ticket window.  Oops!  Once that was all straightened out and we got our tickets, I stopped by the program vendor and bought a scorecard.  I have a scorecard for almost every game I’ve been to in the last 20 years.  Scorecards used to be $1.00, but are now $2.50.  It seems that everything is going up in price.

We then went to the area where the Social Media event was being held.  The event location was across from the Champions’ Club party room on the second level of Busch Stadium.  We proceeded to a table where three smiling Cardinals employees gave us our “Tweet Me in St. Louis” T-shirts – after we showed them our tickets, that is.

Our gathering place for the evening

Where we got our t-shirts

Some nice ladies in their seventies asked me to take a couple of photos of them with their new T-shirts, so I obliged.  I asked them if they were on Twitter, but they said no, they were only on Facebook.  I gave them my name and told them to look me up on Facebook.

I met Tom Knuppel, who runs the CardinalsGM.com blog.  He gave me his card.  I asked about Bill Ivie, but Tom said he’d be along later.  We ended up sitting behind Tom during the game and had some really nice conversations about baseball with him.  Hubby and I were sitting at a table near the outside wall but I started getting cold, so we moved to another table.

My nametag for the evening

I made a name tag with my Twitter handle and avatar on it in case any of the Twitter #stlcards hash tag folks were there.

I saw a group of guys hanging around talking.  The back of one of their T-shirts said “Pitchers 8” and I realized it must be Pitchers Hit 8th from Twitter, who I follow (along with many others).  Seeing as this was “Social” Media Night, after all, I went over and introduced myself.  I also met Jason R. (@CardsFaninBigD) and his girlfriend; Chris Reed (@birdbrained); and a couple of other folks.  I also met Bill Ivie and yes, Erika, he did have some freebies for me.  Bill gave me a couple of can koozies, a Fox Sports MW hat, and a little book called “Tale of a Baseball Dream” by Jerry Pearlman.  Bill and the other guys told me where all you Diamond Diaries ladies live.  No wonder you all can’t get to Busch Stadium very often!  You all live too far away!

From L-R: Bill Ivie (@poisonwilliam), Dennis Lawson (@gr33nazn), Jason R (@CardsFaninBigD), me, Dathan Brooks (@Dathan7) and Chris Reed (@birdbrained)

I told the guys I was looking for Matt Sebek because I was supposed to touch his hair.  I even printed the Tweet that said that the recipient of the DDN SMN tickets could touch Matt’s hair, but the elusive Mr. Sebek was nowhere to be found.  Perhaps he thought I would stalk him, who knows?  I tried, Erika, I really did!  I tried looking for him in the stands, but I struck out there too.

Around 6:50 p.m., hubby wanted to find our seats, so we took our leave of my new friends.  On the way out, I showed the Cardinals employees at the entrance to the event my name tag and suggested that the next time they scheduled a SMN, they should have name tags available to write our Twitter handles and our Facebook names on.  They told me that it was a good idea and thanked me for my suggestion.  Maybe they should set up some laptops too so folks could post on Twitter and Facebook right from SMN.  Hey, not all of us have smart phones.  My cell phone bill is expensive enough without adding a data plan.

Here is a photo of me and my hubby in our seats.

Somewhere between the gathering and our seats, I lost my ticket.  But hubby had his ticket, so we knew where our seats were.  Our tickets were in section 170, row 15, seats 2 and 3.  Or so we thought – when we got there, someone was sitting in seat 3.  (Darn squatters.)  Whoever had seat 1 didn’t show up, so hubby and I sat in seats 1 and 2.  It’s nice sitting on the end of a row; you don’t have to make people get up so you can get out to go to the bathroom.

Section 170 is near the left field foul pole.  Here are some photos of the view from our seats:

Hubby thought that no one would hit a foul ball back in Section 170, but Albert Pujols hit a foul ball to Section 169, which was the section to the right of us.

May 16th was our 19th wedding anniversary, so I went to the Cards’ website on Sunday night (the deadline is 48 hours before the game you want the greeting posted at) and entered an anniversary greeting to be shown on the scoreboard at the ball game.  You only get 24 letters and spaces, so you have to be creative.  The message appeared on the scoreboard in the 4th inning.  It read, “Happy Anniv. Mike-Diane.”

And oh, yes, I guess I need to write a little bit about the game.  Dirty Danny D did a great job on defense.  Jaime Garcia looked very sharp – he gave up some hits, but they were only singles.  And we unfortunately had to watch Albert Pujols hit into yet another double play.  Albert!  Please run a little faster.  Thank you, your fans.

We had to leave after Lance Berkman’s AB in the 6th inning.  We had to get back on the MetroLink train, ride it all the way to Scott Air Force Base and pick up our son at grandma’s house.  It was 11:20 p.m. by the time I got to bed.

Thanks again for the opportunity to attend SMN on Diamond Diaries’ behalf!  Hubby and I had a great time at the game!

Roster Hijinx

It was comical really – by the end of the game last night, I had witnessed a first baseman (Mark Hamilton) in left, a middle infielder (Tyler Greene) in right, an outfielder (Allen Craig) started at second, and everyone on Twitter could only guess what could happen should anything else strange go down.

New plan - plant this baby at second, put all the players on, and whichever direction they fall off on is the position they play. Worth a shot!

-Several abdicated for Ryan Franklin to be the first pitcher chucked into the outfield, a la Kyle Lohse and Roy Oswalt last year.

-One joked that this would be the last time Lohse ever played Tony as a joke.

-At least one person noted (apologies for forgetting who) that this would be the night for Albert Pujols to play every single position on the field.

-My plan was just to revert to beer league softball rules. Whatever glove you grab on your way out to the field is the position you play that inning. You know that would be amusing.

There is a fundamental problem behind this problem though. The 40 man roster is a mess. Keeping 10 infielders and only 6 outfielders on a 40 man roster? WHO DOES THIS?! Say this turns into more of a problem than it already was. Today’s game is already going to be a laugh riot, as rumors are already swirling that Colby Rasmus, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday could all possibly be unavailable for today’s afternoon tilt against the hapless Astros. I can only guess who will be pressed into outfield duty if that is the case. I’m guessing Greene gets shoved back out there and Pete Kozma possibly gets his first major league start…

Credit - mlb.com

Speaking of Kozma… oi. Seriously. Dude is hitting .220/.284/.284 at Memphis. Not only does that not warrant a call-up, that’s a guy begging to stay down in Memphis to figure things out. I mean, congrats to him on his first major league hit/RBI/walk yesterday, because you know Erika, Emily and I were all happy-dancing all over the place seeing a baby bird have some success with the big club, but let’s be real – he’s not ready. Thankfully he’s supposed to be a very short term solution while waiting for Skip Schumaker to get back, but the rash of injuries to infielders this year has just been nothing short of astounding.

*ahem* Sorry about the tangent. I haven’t gotten enough sleep lately. Anyway, say any one of Rasmus/Berkman/Holliday come down with something serious enough to warrant a DL trip, or even several days off to recover and get back out there. In that case, the Cardinals are SOL, because I don’t think they’re looking to pull up Adron Chambers (the one outfielder on the 40 man that is not currently on the major league roster). The short term solution, should one of our big 3 be ailing longer than a day or so?

As soon as Skip Schumaker comes off the DL? Put him in the outfield. A novel idea, I know. This could all come to nothing, of course, but this is just nuts.

Day game today, starting at 12:45, and I’ll be on the road again, so but sure to let me know what kind of hijinx go on today. Here’s hoping I get served a heaping helping of crow about something – I don’t care what. ;)

Big sweep, mini-sweep.

Last weekend feels, right now, like just a bad baseball dream.

With an unusually busy schedule from Friday to Sunday, I ended up having the (good) fortune of missing basically the entire Reds series. Yes, of course I was still following along as diligently as possible on Gameday (thankfully my husband and friends have fully embraced this extraordinarily rude habit of mine), but the losses were slightly less devastating when the information came from such an impersonal source–though it is remarkable how painful the words “in play, run(s)” can be to read on a tiny screen.

Scott Rolen, Yadier Molina, and Jonny Gomes in the great brawl of August 2010. (Source: TPI News)

I am glad to have missed that series. I know that some people think it is fun to have a rivalry, that it “keeps things interesting,” but I personally can do without this brand of interest. I dread playing the Reds because it makes baseball into something harsh and full of hatred. This isn’t a rivalry to me–it’s a bratty, childish team that has been bad for so long that they don’t know to be good with class, and to get the attention that they so desperately crave and think that they deserve, they are mouthing off and succeeding in riling us up. I hate being riled up by the grammatically abhorrent tweets of Brandon Phillips and the cheap, classless ramblings of an announcer who named his son “Thom.”  The facts that stand are that the Reds started this “rivalry” with unprovoked name-calling, escalated it with some cowardly, cleated kicks, and are keeping it alive with hypocritical remarks (Really? We’re whiny and we make excuses, MLB team that cannot get on the Internet to read a weather report?) and extremely low shots, like the Cincinnati roofing company who ran a special to mock the serious disease LaRussa’s been suffering from. It’s something new every week, it seems–new lows, new proof that the Reds are the trashiest team in baseball. I’m tired of reading their comments and learning of the fresh ways they have chosen to prove that they don’t have an ounce of class. If they want to have a rivalry, I suggest they try winning a playoff game first.

Phew. Sorry. I had to get that off my chest. Let’s move to the bright side of it; the mini-sweep that should count as a big sweep because it came against arguably the best team in the majors right now–the Philadelphia Phillies.  We faced Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt, and though we didn’t exactly show them huge offensive production, we managed to hold it together each night for the win. Fernando Salas (love love LOVE) notched the first 1-2-3 inning by a Cardinals reliever for a save in 2011–a stat that is both great and sad, since it happened on May 16. Jaime Garcia continues to shine, despite the fact that Tyler Greene (likely) robbed him of his sixth win. Lance Berkman capped off an enjoyable two-game series with a walk-off, and I will go ahead and presumptuously speak for all of Cardinals nation: Our spirits are lifted and we are ready to face the Astros and the Royals and hopefully regain our rightful spot atop the division. With class.

Let’s go, boys. :)

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!!  ;)

A Lost Soul (Or, Why I Don’t Boo the Cubs)

My lost soul... but I love him

Those of you that I met or spent time with at the Blogger Day at Busch last month also met someone very near and dear to my heart – my grandpa. Aaron Hooks referred to him as “dapper.” Daniel Shoptaw had this to say in his post about the weekend:

Let me put down for the record that Grandpa was very cool.  Not only did he never shake his head and wonder about kids these days or tell us to get off of his lawn, but he never seemed to question what blogging was or anything of the sort.  (Also, he introduced himself as “Dewayne: Dewayne the tub, I’m drowning.”  Gotta appreciate some corny humor like that!)

What none of you knew? My grandpa is a lost soul.

He is a card-carrying Die Hard Cub Fan.

He has a picture hanging in my grandparents’ guest bedroom stating he signed with the Cubs (I assume this is a staple in every card member’s home?). He goes to Cards/Cubs games in St. Louis with my grandma wearing his Cubbie blue. He has a Cubs/Cards checkerboard, and I think he’s the only one that has played with the Cubs pieces. At Christmas, where our entire family gathers for the festivities, he is the only such lost soul in a houseful of people.

My grandpa was born and raised in Michigan, a Cubs fan through and through. He married my grandma after college and they have spent most of their adult lives in the St. Louis area. My grandma is a Cardinals fan. My grandpa is a Cardinals fan… most of the time.

I know. That’s wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. It’s like… like… I have no comparison. There is no comparison. He’s a Cardinals fan, right up until they play the Cubs. He will always take the Cubs. But no one would have ever known seeing him with me at Busch.

I don’t like the Cubs. Should they (heaven forbid) ever make it into the World Series, I might not be able to watch one inning of it. But my respect for my grandpa will keep me from ever being venomous about the team. If you follow me on Twitter, you will never see me use the #cubssuck tag (and definitely not the #cuckthefubs one – I really don’t like that one). I hate losing to the Cubs, but I would also say that I hate losing to the Reds… or the Brewers… or the Pirates, Astros, Dodgers, Mets, Braves, Giants, ………. I don’t like when the Cardinals lose. Period. Losing to the Cubs is what it is – another loss in the column.

The Cubs and Cardinals have a long and storied history. The fans feel passionate about it, the players understand the rivalry (even if they don’t necessarily get heated about it), and the franchises both understand the gravity of it. The reality is obviously the rivalry just has not had a lot of weight lately. It’s unfortunate, but true. My first memory of baseball is being at a Cubs/Cardinals game in the early 90′s when the teams were battling for the toilet bowl (the bottom of the Central). My real first year of following baseball was 1996, but the home run chase of 1998 was electric for me, and that had a lot to do with the Cubs, obviously.

However, the last 13 years (wow, ’98 was that long ago?) have been not all that interesting for any Cubs/Cardinals match-ups. The two teams haven’t been competitive in the same season in eons.  But the fans remember the history, and they hold these games dear to their hearts. I like seeing games against the Cubs…

…just don’t expect me to talk trash. I do it for Grandpa.

A look inside this rivalry

At the beginning of last season, I made a resolution that I would no longer pay to attend games at Wrigley Field.

I grew up in St. Louis, but I have lived on the north side of Chicago for nearly 10 years now, since I was 18. In that time, I have attended many a Cubs-Cards game. I have waited in line four hours prior to first pitch in order to get seats in the front row of the bleachers. I have watched raptly during many BPs, drank many beers, and argued with many girls wearing pink Cubs jerseys. I have yelled to So Taguchi that I love him.

Yadi tags out Daryle Ward at home plate on July 6, 2008. Woohoo. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America)

For most of those years, the rivalry was something in which I could revel–primarily because the Cubs could be relied on to be a good 17 games behind us by August. I remember a lot of good-natured jesting. In 2007 and 2008, things grew uglier. The Cubs won back-to-back division titles in these years, and as I watched the fair weather fans rise from their drunken masses, my good-natured jesting festered into a hateful disdain. I no longer felt that it was worth over $50 a ticket to drag myself to that dump of a stadium just to be antagonized by a belligerent fan who, let’s face it, probably knows half as much as I do about baseball. Thus, my resolution: In 2010, I would spend no money on Cubs tickets.

Funnily enough, shortly after my pronouncement, someone offered me free tickets to an upcoming Cubs-Cards game, so I ended up going anyway. But during that trip to Wrigley Field, I noticed a marked difference in the atmosphere. There was very little trash-talking, and overall, very little… care. The Cubs were terrible again, and Brandon Phillips was over in Cincinnati, running his mouth and waving his arms, frantically trying to get some undeserved attention. A few cowardly kicks in the head later by Johnny Cueto, and a new rivalry was born–one with real fire in it, one fueled by more than some watery beers in the bleachers.

I don’t mean to take away from the massive history of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry; I only mean to say that like anything long and storied, it has its lulls and swells, and this, now, is a lull if I have ever seen one. I never want to see the Cubs win, but I’ve never cared less about it than I do now. I am more concerned about the Reds and the Brewers–as I should be. And, to be honest, I’m seeing my apathy reflected in the faces of those clad in Cubbie blue. There are a lot of empty seats at Wrigley this year. My friends who are Cubs fans (yes, sadly, I have a few of those) are curiously quiet, or un-curiously vocal about their low expectations for the season. The most passionate that I’ve seen Cubs fans so far? Last night’s weak boos of Ryan Theriot.

Let’s talk for a second about Ryan Theriot. He’s said a lot of things. I personally think that his “comments” about Cardinals fans were completely overblown. I mean, if all of Cardinal Nation wants to band together get offended when someone says we don’t have the greatest sense of fashion… well, I think we should not do that, and maybe just band together and be in love with our baseball team. As for his comments re: “being on the right side of the rivalry” at the beginning of this season–well, the Cubs traded him to the Dodgers, and we signed him. He wanted to ingratiate himself to his new team. What’s so bad about that? That being said, I had to wonder how we would react if the tables were turned. We are famous for applauding–nay, standing and applauding–former players who return. We have applauded Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds–two iconic Cardinals from the last decade–even as they play(ed) for teams within our division. Are there circumstances under which we would boo them?

I’m headed to the game tonight, so keep an eye on Twitter for some live-game, super lively observations. But I, for one, am not expecting much more than just a plain old baseball game.

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