Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Monthly Archives: June 2011

Still Standing For Stan

Stand for Stan Day in 2010 (from Cadence)

Whenever we receive emails from the Cardinals beginning with the word “Bloggers,” it usually means we are being asked to do something. I’m not complaining, even if they are using me/us for free PR. This kind of PR is definitely worthy of a mention though.

Last year the Cardinals put on a “Stand for Stan” campaign to help Stan Musial receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a civilian can receive. Towards the end of the 2010 season, the Cardinals even held a “Stand for Stan” day at the ballpark, and Cadence and Courtney were there to talk about it.

This year the Cardinals are taking on a mini-version of that tremendous effort. Leading up to the All-Star Game, Major League Baseball is having a vote of the greatest all-time All-Star moments. Now, Stan Musial himself had a walk-off winning home run in the 1955 All-Star game, and his home run has made it to the Final Four. The voting can be found here, and each email address can vote 25 times, just like for All-Star balloting.

Seeing as how the fans embarrassingly left Musial off the All-Century team in 1999, something that commissioner Bud Selig admitted was a huge oversight, this is a chance to help shed a little more light on an incredible player that has been largely overlooked by many. Head over to the vote and help Stan get a little more recognition!

The KMOX First Pitch Ticket Experience

You probably never thought you’d ever see the words “cheap date” and “Cardinals game” in the same sentence, did you?  LOL!  (Well, if someone gives you Cardinals tickets, your date is even cheaper.)  The Cardinals, along with KMOX, run a really sweet deal so you can score cheap tickets to a Cardinals game.  It’s called First Pitch Tickets.  At 9:00 AM on the morning of each home game, you purchase a voucher for $11.20.  There are 275 vouchers available for purchase.  Fifteen minutes prior to game time, you redeem your voucher for 2 tickets that can be anywhere in the stadium, from standing room only to infield field box.  These tickets have been turned back in from fans, opposing teams, etc.  It’s a win-win deal for both the Cards and the fans – those seats don’t remain empty (and a full house always looks good on TV) and the fans get a great deal.  Click here to go to the page on the Cards’ web site where this deal is described in more detail.

My hubby and I have wanted to try out this deal since 550 KTRS, the Cardinals’ former flagship radio station, started the First Pitch Ticket promotion.  We knew that it would have to be a Saturday game and it would have to be when our 14 year old son was otherwise occupied, since you only get two tickets. The stars finally aligned for us to try the First Pitch Ticket promotion on Saturday, June 25.  Our son was camping with his Boy Scout troop for the weekend and it was a Saturday game, so we decided to try our luck.  The Cards played the second game of a three game set with the Toronto Blue Jays that night.  It was Pooches at the Ballpark night (we saw several pooches) and the promotional item giveaway that day was a Purina dog chew toy.

Thinking there might be a line to purchase the First Pitch Ticket vouchers since it was a Saturday, I decided to get to Busch Stadium early.  You have to go to the 8th Street ticket windows to purchase the vouchers.  A lot of other people had the same idea I did.   A stadium employee handed out tickets that looked like ride tickets.  You had to have a ticket in order to purchase a voucher.  All of us fans gathered together close to the ticket windows.  I must have looked like a newbie, because some of the fans mentioned how they knew people who received field box seats, party room tickets, etc. with this promotion.  Two ticket windows opened at 9 AM.  I was second in line and I purchased my voucher.  A driver’s license or ID (along with money, of course) was required.  I went back to the MetroLink station and rode the train back home.

Another way to go to the Cards’ games for cheap is to bring your own beverages to the ballgame.  No, you’re not allowed to bring alcohol into the stadium, but per the regulations here, you can bring soda or water in a clear plastic bottle no larger that 2 liters.  You can also bring food into the stadium.  It all has to fit into a bag that you can put underneath your seat.

The game was early that evening (6:15 p.m. start time), so hubby and I left home around 4 PM so we could get to downtown St Louis to eat dinner before we had to get in line to get our tickets.We rode the Metrolink – a lot cheaper than driving and parking.  I work in downtown St. Louis, so I already have my Metrolink pass.  The tickets were to be given away at 6 PM, so I thought we should be in line no later than 5:45 PM.  We ate at Hardee’s at 7th and Chestnut – cheap and fairly fast.  At least I had hubby to protect me this time as I walked through Kiener Plaza pre-game time (unlike Social Media Night).  Or we could have procured the assistance of any of the Marines who were in downtown St. Louis for Marine Week.  Semper Fi!

We were going to wait until 5:45 PM to get in line, but we saw people already waiting in line at the First Pitch sign near Gate 5, so we got in line.  We weren’t the first in line to get our tickets, but that was okay, since you get the tickets in an envelope and not getting there earlier doesn’t give you an advantage in getting good seats.  An usher came through the line and checked our vouchers and ID’s.  He then handed out to everyone the aforementioned dog chew toys.  After you get the envelope with your tickets, you have to enter the stadium at Gate 5 immediately – I guess so you don’t try to sell your tickets.  LOL!

I stopped and purchased a scorecard before opening my envelope.  I keep score at every game I’ve attended over the last 25 years  –  I have quite a collection of scorecards. Our tickets were in Section 372, row 9, seats 3 and 4 – 6 rows from the top of the stadium.  We saw lots of folks who were standing in line with us in this section, so most of the First Pitch tickets that night must have been in that section.  I told hubby that we would probably have better luck getting better seats with the First Pitch promotion on a weeknight or a Thursday afternoon game.   Here’s the view from up there:

These seats are awfully close together.  I kept thinking about that Schoolhouse Rock song, “Elbow Room.”   Whoever had seats 1 and 2 in our row never showed up, so hubby and I moved over later on in the game.  Hubby likes to be able to stretch his legs out.

Erika’s buddy Danny D had a couple nice 5-3 plays in the 2nd and 4th innings, but Jaime Garcia didn’t look good in the 4th – he walked the pitcher and 2 others that inning, then Juan Rivera hit a home run to clear the bases.  The Cardinals didn’t win that game.  We left in the top of the 7th inning.  I had a sinus headache and I thought it was from sitting up so high, but storm clouds were moving in and hubby thought we’d better try to get home before it started raining.

All in all, even though the Cards lost, it was a fun experience.  Would we take advantage of the First Pitch ticket promotion again?  Probably, but maybe on a weeknight next time.

That’s all for now!  Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

My Cardinals bucket list

The below is a post from my old blog.  I thought I’d update it and use it for my first official post on Diamond Diaries.  Thanks to Angela for having me here!  :)

The 2007 movie The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, was about two men who escaped the cancer ward and did all the  stuff on their bucket lists before they died.  Now I’m not planning on dying anytime soon, but I do have a  Cardinals bucket list that maybe I’ll get to accomplish before I die.   So here’s my Cardinals bucket list:

1.  Sit in the Commissioner’s Box seats next to the dugout.
The closest I’ve ever sat to the field in Busch Stadium III is on the second level.  It would be so nice to sit in these box seats, and not have to worry about getting up to get food and drink. I would love to be able to see batting practice up close and personal.   Plus, the view would be awesome.  And I might be able to accomplish #4 below.

2.  Sing the National Anthem before a Cardinals game.
I’ve performed the National Anthem at a Cardinals game, but not vocally.  I was part of a 100 person handbell choir that rang the National Anthem at Busch Stadium II for the Cardinals’ 100th anniversary in 1992.  My associate’s degree is in music and I took voice lessons in college.  I also sang in church choirs for over 20 years.  I’m a first soprano, so I can sing the National Anthem in the original key (F).

3.   Sit in the radio broadcast booth with Mike Shannon and John Rooney and maybe do an inning of play-by-play. 
I met the late Jack Buck at a Cardinals pep rally, not long after his book That’s a Winner! came out.  I told him that I had really enjoyed his book and he told me to bring my copy up to the broadcast booth and he would sign it for me.  Unfortunately, I never got to do that.  But it would really be cool to sit up in the broadcast booth with Mike and John and talk baseball.  I think a woman could call play-by-play just as well as a man could.

4.  Catch a foul ball.
The closest I have ever gotten to a foul ball was when my family went to a Cards game a couple of years ago and Yadi Molina hit a foul ball that landed 2 rows below where we was sitting.  Darn!  So close and yet so far!

5. Catch a home run ball.
At a game in 2001, my husband and I were sitting at a table in Homer’s Landing in Busch Stadium II.  The Cards were playing the Reds that night, and Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a HR shot that bounced off of a table 2 rows below us.  I wasn’t fast enough to get that one. Maybe someday I’ll get another chance.

6.  Meet Albert Pujols and Yadi Molina.
The closest I’ve ever gotten to Albert was viewing him from afar at Winter Warmup.  I couldn’t afford the price to get his autograph. :(  I have been to Albert’s restaurant Pujols 5 a few times and admired all of his awards that are on display there.

7.  Go to a Cardinals home playoff game or World Series game.
I’ve been a Cardinals fan for over 30 years but have never had the pleasure of attending a Cardinals home playoff or World Series game in person.  My husband would rather watch these games at home, but I would love to feel the electricity from the crowd that I can see on TV.

8.  Go to an All Star Game.
The closest I got to the 2006 All Star Game in St. Louis was working at Fan Fest.  That was fun in and of itself, but it’s not the same as being at the actual game.

9.  Go to spring training.
Another Cards activity I’ve never been able to attend.  I have vacation time, but not the funds.

10.  Go to a Cards game at another MLB stadium.
Kaufmann Stadium and Wrigley Field are the closest ones to where I live.  Maybe a road trip to either stadium would be in our future.

11.  Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It would be so cool to visit all the Cardinals exhibits at the Hall. I would also love to see the All-American Girls Professional Baseball exhibit.  I cry every time I watch A League of Their Own and the ladies enter their branch of the Hall for the first time.

12.  Go to an Opening Day game again.
I miss the days when Opening Day games were at night.  I would have to take off work to attend an Opening Day game now. I do go on my lunch half-hour (I work in downtown St. Louis) and go to the Opening Day rally.

Are there any Cardinals items on your bucket list?  Feel free to comment below.

See you next time!

Diane

9 Years Later…

It’s been 9 years to the day when the landscape of the Cardinals clubhouse made a drastic change. No one could have seen it coming. No one would have ever predicted it. But every Cardinals fan old enough to remember the events of June 18-22, 2002, will be able to tell the story.

Jack Buck, beloved voice of the Cardinals for almost 50 years, had been in the hospital for treatment on a variety of ailments, from his well publicized Parkinson’s disease to lung cancer to an intestinal blockage. On June 18th, Cardinals ace Darryl Kile left the mound at Busch Stadium after 8 strong innings against the Anaheim Angels. The 7-2 win over the AL West foes pushed the Cardinals into first place in the NL Central. Little did Cardinal fans know that their world was about to change.

A few hours after the game ended, the news started circulating that while the Cardinals were battling for first place, Jack had been battling for his life, and that battle had ended. My family was on vacation in Yellowstone when I heard the news, and I felt like a little piece of me was gone. We watched some of the funeral proceedings from our hotel room before venturing out for more sightseeing, but I was thinking about Jack.

On June 22, Jack’s funeral was in the past, and the team was foraging on, his memory burned in their minds. The Cardinals were in Chicago to play those lovable losers in the Cubs. Still out West, my family had some downtime at the hotel, and we turned on the game. Or at least, we thought it was the game.

We watched, stunned, as Joe Girardi from the Cubs strode up to a microphone and announced that the game would be postponed due to a tragedy in the Cardinals family. The emotion visible on Girardi’s face told us all that something had gone horribly wrong. When we later learned of Darryl Kile’s passing due to a heart attack, those same emotions from just a few days earlier came flooding back. It is a memory I will never forget.

I can’t believe it has been 9 years.

I wrote more about Darryl Kile for i70 Baseball today. Please head over there and check out more about his life, his death, and his legacy.

I’ll end today with a poem by Jack Buck. Baseball is life, and the lives of Jack Buck and Darryl Kile will be remembered by the baseball community for years to come.

365

By Jack Buck

When someone asks you your favorite sport
And you answer Baseball in a blink
There are certain qualities you must possess
And you’re more attached than you think.
In the frozen grip of winter
I’m sure you’ll agree with me
Not a day goes by without someone
Talking baseball to some degree.
The calendar flips on New Year’s Day
The Super Bowl comes and it goes
Get the other sports out of the way
The green grass and the fever grows.
It’s time to pack a bag and take a trip
To Arizona or the Sunshine State
Perhaps you can’t go, but there’s the radio
So you listen-you root-you wait.
They start the campaign, pomp and pageantry reign
You claim the pennant on Opening Day

From April till fall
You follow the bouncing white ball
Your team is set to go all the way.
They fall short of the series
You have a case of the “wearies”
And need as break from the game
But when Christmas bells jingle
You feel that old tingle
And you’re ready for more of the same.
It will be hot dogs for dinner
Six months of heaven, a winner
Yes, Baseball has always been it.
You would amaze all your friends
If they knew to what ends
You’d go for a little old hit.
The best times you’re had
Have been with your Mom and your Dad
And a bat and a ball and a glove.

From the first time you played
Till the last time you prayed
It’s been a simple matter of love.

Not Okay

Throughout the course of the season teams go through various ups and downs. The Brewers, the very team staring down from first place at us, had a seven game losing streak themselves early on in the season. In 2006, the Cardinals had two eight game losing streaks en route to winning the World Series. Obviously stranger things have happened.

That doesn’t mean they should.

Losing makes me grumpy. Blowouts, lost leads, walk offs, they all bum me out. I’m far from a fair weather fan, and if anything I’m a glutton for punishment, seeing as how I watched all the way down to the very last pitch the last three games, and the two that I was in attendance for in Milwaukee I stayed in my seat until the players were shaking hands. I know things will swing back around.

They always do.

Already last night, it was obvious the difference that Matt Holliday makes in the lineup, especially since he wasted no time showing that he hadn’t lost a millisecond in his bat swing. Likewise, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina set off some fireworks of their own with home runs. It felt like those early in the season sweet moments when you knew that the team was going to find a way to win. Especially after managing to tie it up (TWICE), I could feel it coming!

There was something missing last night. Table setters. Home runs rock, but solo home runs don’t get just too many runs up on the board, especially when the other team is finding ways to get two and three runs at a time via the home run or just some good old fashioned small ball. Having the top two in the order (Tyler Greene and Colby Rasmus) having 0-for-5 nights hurt, but 2 double plays, an 0-for-5 for the team with runners in scoring position, and a team total of 7 left on base makes it tough to win ballgames.

But you know, I sure like watching games like that more than blowouts or lost leads. To me that says that there are minor adjustments to make, and when the support team is all getting back in the game, things will get better.

Then again, maybe the boys just need some home cooking. Just in time! Tonight they’re back at home, facing those visitors from the west side of the state in the Royals. The Cards took 2 of 3 from the Royals back in May, but since then the Royals have gone 8-14 and tumbled even further down the AL Central standings. Seeing as how the Brewers, Cardinals, Reds and Pirates are all withing a handful of games of each other, now would be a great time to pick up a few quick wins.

Go Cards! :)

In a Perfect World…

It’s been awhile since we went on a field trip here on Diamond Diaries, but Daniel Shoptaw has graciously lent me the keys for the day over at C70 at the Bat, so I would be remiss not to send you over there to see my rambling in two places today!

a perfect worldSo let’s talk perfection today, shall we? In a perfect world, Adam Wainwright would never have needed Tommy John surgery, Matt Holliday would have never tweaked whatever it was in his leg that he tweaked (yes I looked it up… it was referred to as a “thigh ailment”… helpful!), David Freese wouldn’t have gotten himself plunked on the hand, Miguel Batista would be playing for some other team, and Ryan Franklin would be hunting.

Let’s rewind a bit to the opening day roster. Per cardinals.com, this is how it was set:

Pitchers (12)
Bryan Augenstein
Miguel Batista
Mitchell Boggs
Chris Carpenter
Ryan Franklin
Jaime Garcia (L)
Kyle Lohse
Kyle McClellan
Trevor Miller (L)
Jason Motte
Brian Tallet (L)
Adam Wainwright (DL)
Jake Westbrook

Italics indicate starter

Catchers (2)
Gerald Laird
Yadier Molina

Infielders (6)
Daniel Descalso (L)
David Freese
Tyler Greene
Albert Pujols
Nick Punto (S) (DL)
Skip Schumaker (L)
Ryan Theriot

Outfielders (5)
Lance Berkman (S)
Allen Craig
Matt Holliday
Jon Jay (L)
Colby Rasmus (L)

Playing my perfect world scenario, I would have a healthy Waino, McClellan would have been in the pen in place of Augenstein, and Batista would be playing somewhere else so Fernando Salas would have made the cut. In addition, with a healthy Punto, Tyler Greene would be doing what he does best – playing like an All-Star in Memphis.

Since Opening Day, this lineup has been blown to kingdom come, and not just the perfect world that only exists in my head either. It was noted recently that the Cardinals have utilized the disabled list 12 times already this year, when last year they used it 13 times… all season. Holliday has gone down. Craig has gone down. Skippy went down and was brought back too soon. Punto has risen from the dead and gone back down. Freese wasn’t wrapped in enough bubble wrap. Laird is down. McClellan was down. Tallet was down.

in-a-perfect-world-errorAll of that doesn’t even include the mental injuries to Franklin, Theriot’s forgetting how to play the infield on any given night, Batista’s being not very good at baseball, Rasmus’s apparent mental lapses on fly balls, and the fact that Schumaker is still trying to be an infielder. I know, some of this is a little harsh, but I’m living in fantasy land, and there are no errors in my perfect world.

Here’s the thing – even with all the injuries and drama the Cardinals have gone through this year, they’ve been in first place a total of 50 days this year, and currently sit at 38-31, even with a 5 game losing streak suffered over the past week. I agree, there is no reason at all that Livan Hernandez should have looked anything like the relatively good pitcher he did yesterday, but it happened. The bad news train kept on chugging yesterday as it was discovered that Allen Craig had been misdiagnosed, and his original sore knee was actually a fractured patella(!!!!!!!!). I’ll save my “How do you miss that you morons?!?!?!!!!!!!111111111” rant, just know that I was upset about that.

The good news is that the worst is nearing the end. Matt Holliday comes back tonight, and after watching him in batting practice Saturday night in Milwaukee, I can safely say he hasn’t lost anything in his swing. He will be a very welcome addition to a scuffling lineup.

Also, I would like to apologize on behalf of Cardinal Nation. I was in attendance for last Friday night’s game in Milwaukee, the first of the Cardinal’s current losing streak. The good news is that one of my sisters who is working in the DC area this summer will be at tonight’s game, so hopefully she can break the family curse. Just in case, I won’t share her Twitter handle. Direct all your family angst to me please. ;)

Old and Busted… New Hotness

When the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, it was the definition of a ‘win now’ team. They were relying on players that were in and nearing past their prime, plus some throw-ins that had been plucked off the scrap heap and helped that rather improbable team reach the pinnacle of the baseball season. Players came in by trade at that time. The only home grown every day talent on the team was Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. This was a team that relied on 33 year old utility man Scott Spiezio for 119 games and 28 year old minor league journeyman John Rodriguez for 102 games (Rodriguez’s total career games played in the majors? 156. In the minors? 1197. Just saying).

I did of course skip the other main farm system player on the 2006 team that year – Anthony Reyes. Reyes went 5-8 with a 5.06 ERA and averaged right at 5 innings per start that year. The only other players to get any sort of significant playing time from the Cards’ farm system that year were Chris Duncan (90 games and 314 PA) and Tyler Johnson (56 relief appearances and a 4.95 ERA). Josh Kinney came up through the farm system but was not drafted by the Cardinals, and no other home-grown player had more than 30 games played that year.

They were old, and when the calendar flipped to 2007 many of them wound up busted as well. The farm system had been depleted to get all of these quickly aging players on the team, and they were built for failure.

Last year, many of us were clamoring for our beloved baby birds to get playing time in various positions on the big league club. We screamed with outrage when Aaron Miles, Randy Winn and Mike MacDougal were getting plucked up off the designated for assignment pile, because really, what were they offering that the boys down in Memphis were unable to bring to the table?

Tyler Greene, Albert Pujols and Jon Jay - all homegrown (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

It appeared that the answer was age and experience. However, 16 players from the Cardinals farm system had an impact (by my definition that equates to >30 games played or >30 IP… my blog, my rules) in the 2010 season, far greater than the 5-6 players from that 2006 championship team.

This year? There have already been 19 players (6 pitchers and 13 pitchers) that were drafted by the Cardinals that have already appeared (or, in the case of Andrew Brown, who is getting his first start tonight) this season. 13 of these players (Yadi, Pujols, Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso, Colby Rasmus, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Tyler Greene, Jaime Garcia, Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez, Jason Motte, and Mitchel Boggs) have had a ‘large’ impact (>100 at bats or 20 innings pitched… more arbitrary numbers, but I could care less).

This team is built for a much longer term success rate. I can’t wait! We’ll go from old and busted to new hotness!

Gametime is just in a few minutes – 6:05 Central, vs. the Nationals in the nation’s capital.

2011 Draft Spectacular Photo Thursday

Last year Erika and I became fascinated by the draft, learning about all of the new faces that would be donning the birds on the bat and joining the ranks with our other baby birds. What we quickly realized was that many of the places we were hungrily searching for info were void of one thing that we are obviously fascinated with – pictures!

An idea was born – we don’t claim to know anything about draft boards, who has the highest ceiling, which picks are potential busts and which are sure things. We do however know how to use Google images, so we’re bringing everything to you all in one place. If you want the best places for this information, check out places like Future Redbirds, the Cardinals website, or even the Post-Dispatch. To help, we’ve even included links to Future Redbirds’ posts on the top 10 picks for the Cardinals in this year’s draft to go along with our own (obviously) top-notch analysis of our newest players to watch.

Enjoy!

1st round, 22nd pick: Kolten Wong

What we’ve heard: Wow, the snap judgments on this year’s first round second baseman have ranged from, “Why did we draft the second coming of Fernando Vina?” to “Oh good, another scrappy infielder. We don’t have enough of those.” The key point that many cooler heads have tried to point out is that he can hit. The 20 year old also made an MVP-winning showing in the Cape Cod league last year, which shows he can also play with a wooden bat, which is sometimes a tough adjustment for a young player to make.

Our take: Interviews with him made the kid seem like an ecstatic little boy who just couldn’t wait to get on a uniform and get out there to show people what he can do. It seems like it won’t be a problem signing him, which sounds great to me!

2nd round, 79th pick: Charlie Tilson

What we’ve heard: The high school senior projects as a left-handed major league capable centerfielder. He’s fast, has a smooth swing, and might or might not have decent power (well which is it?). Now, Tilson has signed a letter of intent with the University of Illinois, but he also wants to be a ballplayer (preferably with the White Sox).

Our take: Just don’t let the fact that the Sox didn’t draft you deter you Charlie! We don’t like the Cubs either!

3rd round, 109th pick: C. J. McElroy

What we’ve heard: High school centerfielder whose power is still coming but supposedly plays outstanding defense. Baseball is in his blood. His father is Chuck McElroy, who pitched in the bigs for 13 years. His grandpa Sylvester played in the Negro Leagues, and Cecil Cooper (17 years in the majors) is his uncle.

Our take: Another high school centerfielder? Well okay. C. J. is committed to the University of Houston to play both football and baseball, but considering his lineage, here’s hoping baseball is his first choice.

4th round, 140th pick: Kenny Peoples-Walls

What we’ve heard: A third high school player, although this one of the shortstop variety. He’s a speedster contact hitter that has an average build, but the frame of one who could probably wind up at second base.

Our take: Seems like this one needs time in the minors just to get sorted out what his role is and fill out the rest of the way in his development.

5th round, 170th pick: Sam Gaviglio

What we’ve heard: Sam is not about to make us squeal with delight at his speed (even for a starting pitcher), as he averages 86-89 MPH and tops out at 90. He is a groundball machine, who was drafted out of high school by the Rays but chose to head to Oregon State to pick up a bit more refinement.

Our take: Consider this pick Dave Duncan approved! Also, I got a smile where he was stated as having ‘moxie.’ A little moxie never hurt anyone!

6th round, 200th pick: Adam Ehrlich

What we’ve heard: A left-handed catcher just out of high school, Ehrlich’s value will definitely come in his defensive ability, in which he is almost called a finished product. His abilities with the bat are leaving something to be desired, but he’s got time to figure that out.

Our take: Left handed catchers are a commodity. Catchers that are referred to as graceful intrigue me for sure!

7th round, 230th pick: Nick Martini

What we’ve heard: A polished hitter that just seems to find ways to get hits, Nick is a left-handed line drive machine from K-State. His arm is average, and while his only real tool is his on-base abilities, his eye at that plate is described as very advanced.

Our take: For whatever reason, this is the first one that has truly intrigued me, if for no other reason than because I like guys that have patience at the dish. Even if he only winds up a 4th outfielder, what would you do with a 4th outfielder with the ability to take a solid at-bat in a critical situation late in the game? Exactly.

8th round, 260th pick: Danny Miranda

What we’ve heard: Very little positive to report here. If I understand what I read correctly, Danny was kind of ousted as the University of Miami this year, and really projects to be a LOOGY, nothing more, nothing less. He has a nice 3 pitch mix that make it to the upper 80’s.

Our take: This just underwhelms me all the way around.

9th round, 290th pick: Tyler Mills

What we’ve heard: Tyler is an outfielder turned pitcher, who has seen more success at Michigan as a reliever instead of a starter. This is the first time in the draft where the words ‘draft-eligible sophomore’ come into play, and history shows that it is much tougher to pull off this kind of signing than any other. The Cardinals signed him for his potential.

Our take: If he can get back to the days where he could do 84-87 mph sliders and 94-96 mph fastballs, sign me up!

Jeffries got a tour of the stadium after signing Thursday afternoon. Photo via @CardsInsider

10th round, 320th pick: Lance Jeffries

What we’ve heard: He’s a speedy centerfielder from the St. Louis area (the very definition of home-grown talent) and loves tearing it up on the basepaths. He seems very excited to be playing for his hometown team, and some speculate that he’s got a cannon of an arm to go with his speed.

Our take: He seems to be like a raw tools type that you just draft and cross your fingers hope the kid turns into something. I like the sound of it though, and hope he comes through for the Cardinals in a big way, especially since he already signed! Welcome to the Cardinals Lance! :)

Baby Birds Weekend Update

Memphis dugout celebrates a run

The Memphis Redbirds have won the first two games in their current series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks, and I was in heaven there at the ballpark this weekend for all the baby bird fun.  The two games were very different experiences, both wonderful in their own way.  The first game, Saturday, was an evening game with the family – the kiddos, Hubby, me and my Mom.  We laughed and chatted about the players, cheered on our boys and enjoyed each other’s company.  With Memphis the visiting team, it was auditorily obviously we were in the minority cheering for the Redbirds – just the crickets and us!

Aaron Luna books it towards 1st

Memphis had a big game, winning 8-4.  Adam Ottavino pitched well, into the 7th inning.  Both Pete Kozma and Andrew Brown smacked homeruns.  Aaron Luna stole 2nd.  Kozma kicked off an adrenaline packed 6-4-3 double play.  A balk was called on OKC’s pitcher (I missed it, as usual…. Balks continue to mystify me.)  Donovan Solano was on base all night, going 4 for 5 at the plate. And Cory Rauschenberger, Chuckie Fick and Raul Valdes all pitched in relief for Memphis (some better than others). ;)

Pete Kozma returns to Memphis

And bonus!  There was a new Baby Bird making his AAA debut!  Jose Garcia was a fresh call-up from Springfield during the shuffle that sent both Matt Carpenter and Mark Hamilton up to St. Louis and brought Pete Kozma back down to AAA.  Garcia had an applause-worthy game both defensively (playing 2nd) and at the plate with a walk, a double, a single and 2 runs batted in.  A .500 AAA batting average!… for the moment.

Andrew Brown

Sunday’s game was night-and-day different, both literally and figuratively.  Bright (hot) sunshine and a smaller crowd.  I was on my own (with my camera) for this one since the kiddos (and Hubby) had ball practice and a date with the swimming pool.  I grabbed a seat in the shade – first row seats were open all around the park, and I moved around a few times to catch a better camera angle here and there.  It was a shame really, to see the park so empty.  Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was Sunday… it sure wasn’t because the baseball was disappointing!  I enjoyed the peace and quiet that afternoon.  There is something almost magical about watching a ballgame by yourself, with no distractions.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the experience of sharing a game with friends and family.  But for just those few hours, I had the gift of a baseball game to which I could give 100% of my attention and it was a wonderful reprieve from a crazy last couple of weeks.

PJ Walters

PJ Walters started for Memphis and threw 7 innings, walking 2 and striking out 6.  He also managed to hit two batters. Nothing serious, but the Memphis play-by-play announcer mentioned PJ has hit 9 batters so far this year.  (yikes?!)

Our ol' buddy Nick Stavinoha

Memphis’ top of the 6th kept what few fans were in attendance on the edge of their seats.  After Pete Kozma lined out, Andrew Brown reached 1st on a throwing error. Nick Stavinoha struck out, but then OKC walked the next two batters.  The bases were loaded with Redbirds and a wild pitch scored Brown from 3rd.  Bryan Anderson then struck out, stranding two, but after four innings with only one baby bird making it to base, it was nice to finally see some action. There were more thrills in the top of the 8th (but not the rah-rah kind) when Freddie Bynum lined into an unassisted double play at first which caught Stavinoha off the bag and abruptly ended the inning for Memphis.

Raul Valdes, lefty with a red glove. Sound familiar?

Jess Todd, Raul Valdes and Victor Marte all pitched in relief. Marte had an impressive 9th inning, and the game ended with Donovan Solano’s glove being in just the right place at the right time to catch a smoked line drive towards 3rd.  Solano smiled, looking surprised to see he had caught it, and the baby birds celebrated on the field for the 2nd time, winning 3-2.

An aside:  There is one thing I am embarrassed to report.  We may need to take up a collection for our baby birds clothing fund.  It was painfully obvious their travel-gray uniforms are getting old and being pieced together with replacements.   For some of the boys, the gray in their shirts mismatched their gray pants. OKC fans around us were making fun, and I had to agree it looked, well… odd.

I’d keep a closer eye on stuff like that for them if they lived closer.  Dress to impress, boys!  ;)

Donovan Solano had a hot bat on Saturday

It’s been nice to read/hear that our Cardinals had a  monstrous weekend, sweeping the Cubs in exciting fashion while my attention was focused on the farm boys.  Albert Pujols heating up??  Well, it’s about time!

The Cardinals have the day off today.  Memphis plays at 7:05.  If you’re in town, I recommend some baby bird watching!  ;)

Lynn, Cleto and our Baby Birds

To say I enjoy watching a ballplayer make his Major League debut would be an understatement.  Whether a Cardinal or not, a player stepping to the plate in the big show for the first time mesmerizes me.  The nerves, the excitement, the once-in-a-lifetime intensity – all that (and more) combine to create that rare thrill.

Thursday night, Lance Lynn got his moment of glory, taking the mound as starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Lynn was off to a tremendous start, retiring the first ten batters he faced.  The Baby Bird was pitching like a pro and the Cardinals had a 3-0 lead heading into the 4th inning.  I couldn’t have been more proud.

But then….

If you watched the game or saw the box score, you know the result wasn’t a picture-perfect debut by Lance Lynn.  The defense let him down.  The defense…. Yes, the Cardinals’ 2011 defense remains a sore subject with me.  And yes, I’m again pointing a finger at a couple of our boys playing down the middle of the field.

Which brings me to Baby Bird Debut Numero Dos for last night, Maikel Cleto.  Cleto came from the Mariners when the Cardinals decided to dump the brilliant defensive glove of shortstop Brendan Ryan.  (insert my trademark Brendan Ryan trade protest here)  Cleto was called up, fresh from AA Springfield yesterday, hopping over AAA to make his first appearance out of the St. Louis bullpen in the 7th inning.  Unlike Lance Lynn, Cleto failed to impress me.  He walked his first two batters, gave up a double and then back-to-back homeruns before finally getting his act together and striking out the final two batters to end the nightmare. (In his defense, Cleto managed a 1-2-3 8th inning and Cardinal Nation breathed a sigh of relief.)

Two Baby Bird debuts plus a field of Cardinal youngsters made last night’s game a must-see for those of us who follow the minors as well as the big boys.  2010 Memphis mentionables playing last night included Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso, Tyler Greene, Tony Cruz (catcher, starting at 3rd base!  But that’s another story…) and pitcher Lance Lynn; Pete Kozma (spent last year in AA Springfield) and as mentioned, Maikel Cleto (low A last year).

A few more fleeting thoughts…

  • Even if the camera adds 10 pounds, I say Lance Lynn still packed on an extra cheeseburger or 50 since I watched him strikeout 16 batters in his PCL Championship game last September.  Noticeably heftier. (I’m a dietitian. I notice this stuff.)
  • Maikel Cleto can throw hard and fast.  Great.  But in my opinion, he should be refining his control back in Memphis.  He didn’t look ready.  My nerves were shot from watching his 7th inning.  Someone remind me, why he was called up so quickly?     note: after I wrote this and before it was posted, moves were made by the Cardinals that included optioning Cleto back to AA Springfield.  Cleto skips Memphis on his way back as well?  I will just be content to be confused on the whole Cleto promotion idea.  onward…
  • our defense…..  *sigh*

On a happier note:   This weekend the Memphis Redbirds are heading my way to play a 4-game series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks. *happy dance*  I keep trying to convince my family how amazingly wonderful this is – the chance to see the young guys on the verge of breaking into the Majors, to watch them play in a more relaxed environment, the opportunity to begin building early baseball memories of these players.

….They just pat me on the head and give me an understanding smile.  But they do go to the games with me.  Win/win.  ;)

It’s ok though.  Even if they aren’t quite the baseball fanatics that I am, I plan to keep dragging them to the ballpark. And someday soon, when we are again watching another baby bird make his Major League debut, they’ll feel that special excitement that comes from remembering these AAA games.

Viva El Baby Birds!….and Go Cardinals!

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