Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Euphoria

World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Roll that around for a bit in your mind. See how it feels on the tip of your tongue.

Who-da-thunk.

I haven’t been around lately. Since the last time you saw me here, I have moved across state lines, started a new job, coached my way through a volleyball season, and lived and died with the Cards. I cheered for them, I cried for them, I laughed with them. I just wasn’t here.

That’s okay, the Cardinals almost weren’t here either.

I live in Missouri now. My coworkers and I daily chatter about baseball. I’ve watched games with family and friends that I haven’t been able to watch games with in years. For the first time since the 2004 World Series, I watched a playoff game while living in the state of Missouri (Okay, I was at game 3 of the 2009 NLDS. That shouldn’t count. It was pathetic).

I almost quit this team. I actually had a thought one day about what I would do with all my free time in October. That day was in August. I couldn’t fathom what else could happen to this team – random injuries, snatching losses from the jaws of victory, drama with the manager and a team that I felt was listless.

I couldn’t quit this team. Most of you couldn’t either. Suddenly I felt a shift. Games started falling the other way. Call it regression to the mean or getting breaks to fall your way or whatever you want to call it, this team looked different. They almost had… wait for it… swagger. Not in the Phillies’ pitching staff of doooooooom. Not in the Brewers’ “Beast Mode.” Not in the Rangers antler clash. The just had this childlike, sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar determination that they were just going to do this. It was going to happen.

They did it. Allen Craig randomly appeared here and there to hit home runs like they were no big deal. David Freese found a way to have every big hit. Chris Carpenter pitched with a bulldog mentality on short rest. Jason Motte closed the door. Tony LaRussa smiled.

Cardinal fans rejoiced. I sit here, a full 14 hours since the game ended, still feeling speechless as to how to describe this game.

But these pictures say it better than I ever could. Enjoy it Cardinal fans – especially those of you that couldn’t quit.

Game 6 Winner

Game 7 Winner

Never say die!

OK, I admit it. I was a bad Cardinals fan.  I stopped believing.  I went to bed at 11 PM after Josh Hamilton’s 2 run HR in the top of the 10th  – my 5:30 AM wake up time comes early. As I tried to fall asleep, I thought to myself, OK, it’s great that the Cards got this far, it was a fun ride, but the better team won.

Imagine my shock this morning when my husband woke me up and told me that the Cards had won last night and there would be a game 7.  This game (actually, the last month and 1/2) has had more drama than a soap opera.  Young and the Restless and the Bold and the Beautiful, indeed.  The Cards have had a real cast of characters in this postseason drama  – from the heroes to the goats and a couple of animals too (Torty Craig and Buschy the Rally Squirrel). There has been more suspense than an Alfred Hitchcock movie (for those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Hitchcock, Google him).

There is a lot we as fans can learn from the Cardinals in the last month and a half.  Never give up, never say die, never stop believing. And when you think it’s over, it isn’t.    The most unlikeliest folks can be the heroes. This has been a World Series for the ages.

The Cards get one last chance to win all the marbles.  Workplace productivity in St. Louis today will grind to a screeching halt because of discussion of Game 6 and lack of sleep from watching Game 6.  LOL!  Carp is pitching game 7 and I like our chances.  Momentum is once again going the Cardinals’ way. We will get another chance to maybe see Albert in a Cardinals uniform one last time.

I will be watching Game 7 tonight at church with friends.  Our church has what’s called Fellowship Cafe every other Friday night and there is an HDTV in the fellowship room, so we will be watching there.

Incidentally, yesterday was Angela’s birthday.  What a great present to not only have a World Series game on your birthday, but such a dramatic one as well!  Hope you had a great birthday, Angela!

I hope to post tomorrow about a World Series win!  Until then -

Go Cards!

Diane

The October Baseball Bubble

Baseball people just get it.  We feel the electricity.  We grasp the magnitude of every play, and we hang on every pitch. We live for October, the Fall Classic, the World Series.   In other words, we live in a big “baseball bubble” during the postseason.  Don’t mind us… we’re baseball fans.

All around us, life moves on.

Five years ago, during the postseason, I fell in love with baseball and my St. Louis Cardinals.  It was a game-changer for me, and I can’t help but wonder how many new eyes are seeing the magic of baseball this week.  I hope there are many, because this series promises to be something special.

Here we are, one game into the World Series of 2011.  The St. Louis Cardinals versus the Texas Rangers: two teams with amazing and unbelievable journeys that have brought them both to this moment in history.   If I could have hand-picked two teams to showcase baseball in October, these were the two.  The 2011 World Series is pure baseball, Midwest baseball, void of Yankees, Red Sox or Phillies.  If that means less television audience, so be it.  Two hot teams of momentum, evenly matched with brilliant management, deep benches, impressive bullpens, solid slugging lineups who play hard & yet challenge the running game and most importantly, two teams of class, teams with players you can’t help but love… THIS is a must-see Fall Classic, guaranteed to convert the non-believer.

So, think of the family, friends and colleagues around you, the ones who don’t yet breathe baseball.  Maybe all they need is a little nudge, someone to answer the questions, explain the nuances and share the inspiring back-stories of the players and the season that have brought these two ballclubs to this final stage.  Those non-baseball people? You could be their guide, their sponsor.  You could change a life.

The October Baseball Bubble is big enough for everyone.  So, let’s spread the joy.

Save someone’s life, share the postseason!

….. and Go Cardinals!  #11in11  ;)

What a wild ride!

If you had asked me on August 26 whether the Cards would make the playoffs, I would have said “absolutely not.”  The Cards were way back in the standing and the Brewers were running away with the division.  The Braves were in the lead for the wild card.   The Cards had as much of a chance of going to the playoffs as I do of winning America’s Got Talent. (Yours truly is auditioning on Saturday in St. Louis – wish me luck!)

But then the tide began to turn.  The Braves fell in a September swoon and the Cards started winning games.  It all started coming together.  Hope for a red October started to surge in my heart.  The last week of the season especially was a nail biter – would the Cards be the wild card or the Braves?  The Cards had to wait for the Phillies to finish off the Braves.  The Cards thanked the Phillies for their assistance by beating the Phillies in the NLDS.

I think that God must be a baseball fan.  Who else could have orchestrated the events of the last month and a half – the Braves’ September swoon, the Cards’ resurgence, and the collapse of the Phillies and the Brewers?  If if were a book, no one would buy it, it’s so improbable.

The last chapter of the book starts tonight.  The Cards are the underdog against the Rangers, which is a very good place to be, as the Cards were the underdog in the NLDS and the NLCS.  I work in downtown St. Louis and there will be electricity in the air today.  Productivity will be at an all time low as people discuss the WS and the Cardinals. What a wild ride the last month and a half has been!  I will enjoy it as long as it lasts and I hope you do too.

Go Cards!

 

Daydream Believer

Pinch me.

It’s the postseason and my St. Louis Cardinals have conquered the unconquerable, done the unthinkable.

This team, who was 10 ½ games out of first place in the NL Central during the last week in August put on the turbo-boosters and raced into October, beating the odds-favorite pitching monsters of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series and then moving on to snuff the mighty Brewers in the National League Championship Series.

Pinch me.

This is the team who lost their “Ace” Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery during Spring Training, whose veteran closer fought a prolonged and painful struggle to “get it right” through a good part of the season before finally hanging up his cleats, whose bullpen woes and injury bugs peaked early and haunted faithful fans.  This is the team who failed to reach a contract extension agreement with their legendary (pending free agent) first baseman before the start of the season, leaving a cloud of doubt over the future of the club. This is the team whose manager battled SHINGLES for what seemed like an eternity.  This was the team nobody expected to be here.

And yet, here we are.

The Cardinals are heading back to the World Series, five years after another of their unexpected (and victorious) runs through the postseason.

The Texas Rangers are the bulldogs waiting for us in the final showdown.  The Cardinals are (again) the underdogs, facing a powerhouse lineup that should strike fear in the hearts of any opposing pitching staff.

Except this team is the 2011 Cardinals, something unexpected, something… special.  This is the team with the power trio of Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday.  This is the team with Golden (glove) Boy, Yadier Molina anchoring the battery.  This is the team of David Freese, whose superhero powers apparently magnify in the postseason.  This is the team of churlish veteran Ace Chris Carpenter, the wise-beyond-his-years lefty, Jaime Garcia, and the resurgence of Kyle Lohse. This is the team with an MVP bullpen (Fernando Salas, Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Lance Lynn…), a work in progress throughout the entire season, rich in talent and tuned to perfection under the mad genius of Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan.

This team exemplifies the saying:  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  The midseason trade for shortstop Rafael Furcal added a potent combo of game-changing glove and switch-hitting hot bat.  The Colby Rasmus trade, initially flunking all seemingly rational baseball criteria, now shines with the luster of La Russa brilliance (isn’t hindsight incredible?) as pitchers Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski have all contributed handily to the magic of these rally Cardinals with Jon Jay in centerfield, making Rasmus’ absence (dare I say?) forgettable.

As I sit here composing this ode to what looks more and more like a team of destiny, I am finding it difficult to know where to stop.  So many players up and down the bench, the bullpen and the rotation have contributed to get this hot surging team to the magical summit: Allen “Do It For Torty” Craig, Nick Punto, Adron Chambers, Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso, Ryan Theriot… the list goes on and on.  When you stop to think, it is beyond belief:  the timely talent really does run that deep, this team has surpassed every expectation.  But don’t tell them that.  They have momentum and their eyes on the ultimate prize.  They are aiming for the top.

This is not a team of superstars, this is a TEAM.  The light-hearted frivolities: Puma suits, rookie hazing costumes, the “shredder”, tortoises, rally squirrels, “Happy Flights” and sprinkles have combined with an underlying burst of what can only be described as a perfect storm of “Do It or Go Home” mentality.

Game 1 of the World Series starts tomorrow…. and it starts at Busch Stadium.

Pinch me.

Go Cards!  ;)

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