Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Happy Spring Training Day!

As the calendar turns the corner into the New Year, baseball fans begin to see the light at the end of winter’s tunnel.  Like the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve, we baseball fans begin the countdown to the first day of spring training, and we at Diamond Diaries have been counting the days too, as you can see in the sidebar to the right of your screen. After Opening Day, the first day of spring training is the second most important day on the baseball fan’s calendar.  I am celebrating the first day of spring training by wearing my World Series T-shirt, my Cardinals watch and my Cardinals necklace. :)

Although it may be cold and snowy where you are, in Florida and Arizona, where spring training is headquartered, the weather is warm and sunny, reminding us that spring and a new baseball season is right around the corner. “Pitchers and catchers report” are the words that get me through a cold and gray February.

On the first day of spring training, all teams are on equal footing.  Fans of teams who made the playoffs and World Series will dream of repeat appearances.  Fans of perennially losing teams will wonder, Is this the year? Could it all gel together this year?  (In the case of the Cubs, probably not.) Cardinals fans have a lot to think about this spring training season.  Let’s take a brief look.

1. Subtractions.  The first big loss was when manager Tony LaRussa announced his retirement.  The Player Who is Not to be Named defected to the Angels.  Then Dave Duncan decided to take a leave to take care of his wife.  Those losses could take down a less disciplined team than the Cardinals.

2.  Additions.  Tony’s replacement is Mike Matheny, who is a well-loved former Cardinal, but who also has no big league managing experience.  Cardinal killer Carlos Beltran is on the prowl in right field, and we’re grateful his bat will be used for us instead of against us.

3.  Variables.  How well will Lance Berkman play at first base?  Will his bat be as hot this year as last?  Will Matt Holiday play and hit better once he’s out of #5’s shadow?  Second base is wide open – who will be the starter in that slot, Greene, Descalso, or Schumaker?  How well will the players adapt to a new manager, especially one who used to be one of their fellow players? Can Derek Lilliquist perform the same magic with the pitching staff that Dave Duncan did?

This spring training promises to be an interesting one, considering all of the above.  I can’t wait to see the boys in uniform again, listening to Mike Shannon and John Rooney on KMOX, and watching the games on TV.  Hurry up March 5th!  Let’s go Cards!

As always, thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

Scorekeeping – a lost art?

And I’m not talking about keeping score as to how far you got with an attractive member of the opposite sex (illustrated  here by Meatloaf, with the sonorous tones of Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto keeping track of the, er, runner).

Keeping score is not just for old people.  It forces you to pay attention to what’s happening on the field.  My ex-stepsister-in-law taught me how to keep score on Opening Night in 1985.  (Yes, Opening Day was at night back then.)  I have kept score ever since at every game I’ve attended in the last 20+ years. I have amassed quite a collection of Cardinals scorecards over the years, and the cover of last year’s scorecard is pictured to the left.  Keeping score is a great way to keep track of the game and remember it long after it has passed.  I write the date and time of the game on each scorecard I keep.  I can pull out a scorecard from a game long past and by reviewing the scorekeeping, I can see in my mind’s eye how the game progressed.

You can purchase scorecards from the program vendors at Busch Stadium.  One of my old scorecards has a price of 50 cents, but now they’re $2.50. The price of scorecards goes up too, just like everything else.  You can purchase a pencil for $1.00, but I bring my own mechanical pencil to the game. You can clip the pencil to the scorecard so it doesn’t get lost and the point of the pencil is always sharp.  The program/scorecard vendors don’t take plastic, so make sure you have paper money with you for your purchase(s).

I try to get to my seat early enough to write down the lineups on my scorecard.  If not, I have to do it as the game progresses.  I write down the last name of the batter, their position, and their uniform number (like 4   Molina  C), but writing the name is sufficient.  I also write the date and time of the game on the top of the scorecard.  This helps when I pull out an old scorecard – I know immediately when the game was played and by reviewing the scoring, I can visualize the game in my mind. Starting this year, I’m going to try to remember to staple my ticket stub to the scorecard.  I have three old ticket stubs in my wallet from 1986, 1987 and 1990; when I get time (what’s that?), I’ll have to look to see if I still have the corresponding scorecards.

The scorecard is a trifold document.  The away team’s score is written on the left hand page and the home team’s scoring is written on the center  page. There are usually stats of some kind on the right hand page.   My oldest scorecards do not have the stats page.  On the scoring sections, there are 9 lines, one for each player in the lineup.  There is eleven columns, one for each of the normal 9 innings and 2 extra columns in case of extra innings.  At the bottom of the columns, you’ll find a line that reads R/H.  This is where you write the number of runs and hits in each inning.  Underneath the scoring sections is a listing of all of that particular team’s players along with their playing positions and uniform numbers, and the names of the manager and coaches.  Here’s an example of part of a blank scorecard (from 1998, so there are no R/H letters on the last line):

I pondered that maybe people don’t keep score at ballgames because they don’t know how to.  So here is a crash course on how to keep score. Each position on the field is assigned a number as follows:  Pitcher – 1; Catcher – 2; First base – 3; Second base – 4; Third base – 5; Shortshop – 6; Right fielder – 7; Center fielder – 8; and Right fielder – 9.

After you’ve written in the starting line ups, you’re ready to keep score.  Here is a glossary of terms used to keep score:

K – Strikeout

BB – Walk

1B – Single

2B – Double

3B – Triple

HR – Home run

F_ – Fly ball (write position number of player who made play)

FC – Fielders’ choice

E – Error

P – Popup

SB – Stolen base

Here’s an example of how to keep score for one half inning. It’s the top of the first and the opposing team is up to bat.  We’ll call the first batter John Doe. John Doe comes up to bat.  He hits a single.  Draw a diagonal line from home to first base, and write in 1B.  Jack Jones bats next, but he strikes out.  Write a K in the box.   Don Smith bats next.  He hits a single.  Write 1B in the box, and draw a diagonal line from home plate to first.  You then go back to John Doe’s box and draw a diagonal line from first to second, since Doe advanced to second on Smith’s single.

Now Tom Hanes comes up to bat, but he hits into a double play, shortstop to second baseman to first baseman.  Write 6-4-3 in his box.  The opposing team’s half of the inning is over.  At the bottom of the column in the box with the backslash in it, write a 0 for no runs and 2 for hits.  You will now go to the right hand page and keep score for the home team’s half of the inning.  At the top of the next inning, you would go back to the away team’s page and start scoring in the 2nd column, for the 2nd inning, etc..

If a player completes an out unassisted, write his position number in the box.  If a player gets on base due to a fielder’s choice, write FC.  If a player gets on base due to an error, you would write E and the number of the player making the error.  If players are removed from the game due to injuries or strategic moves, you simply cross out their name on the scorecard and write in the name of their replacement.  The same goes for pitching changes. If a player steals a base, draw a diagonal line to the base stolen and write SB above the line.  If a player advances on a passed ball or a wild pitch, write PB or WP above the diagonal line.

Should you have to go to the bathroom or go to the concession stand during the game, don’t worry – the next time that batter comes up to bat, the batter’s last-at-bat will be shown on the scoreboard and you can go back and write it in.  If you’re listening at home to KMOX, Mike Shannon or John Rooney will announce what the batter did the last time he was at the plate.  The TV announcers will usually do the same.

Keeping score sounds confusing at first but like everything else, once you do it enough, it becomes second nature.  Below is an example of a mostly completed scorecard (pardon my chicken scratching):

Double click on the image and you can make it larger.  The game scored above took place on my son’s 13th birthday (August 30, 2009), which was also Adam Wainwright Bobblehead Day (since it was his birthday too), but we unfortunately didn’t get to the game early enough to get a bobblehead.  :(  We left after the 6th inning to go to my mother-in-law’s house for my son’s birthday party, and that’s why the scoring ends after the bottom of the 5th.

The next time you go to a Cardinals game, be brave and try keeping score.  You might just start a new trend!

See you next time!

Diane

Take me out to the movies . . . Diane’s favorite baseball movies

While I was watching Moneyball with my husband, it occurred to me that movies and baseball have something in common – there is a lot of drama involved, and sometimes there’s comedy as well.  There sure is a lot of drama in those 2011 World Series DVD’s we’ve all been watching.

There are very few St. Louis Cardinals movies that I’m aware of.  My husband, the movie and baseball fan, reminded me about The Pride of St. Louis (about Dizzy Dean) and The Winning Team (Ronald Reagan as Grover Cleveland Alexander).

Hey movie producers, Stan Musial’s life and career would make an excellent movie.  The book Stan Musial: An American Life by George Vecsey would make a great script. You could end the movie with Stan receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor.  Please make this movie while Stan is still alive to enjoy it, okay?    And when is the movie version of 3 Nights in August by Buzz Bissinger coming out anyway? Now that Tony has retired, it would be a great time to make a movie about his managerial prowess.  Some of the Cardinals players in that book are still on the team, so they could play themselves.

If you’re missing baseball, one of these movies might just be the ticket (pardon the pun) to cure your blues.  Here, in no particular order, are my favorite baseball movies.  If you click on the title of the movie, it will take you to its listing on Amazon.com so you can purchase it if you’d like.  These movies are probably available on Netflix as well.

Field of Dreams – “If you build it, he will come.”  Kevin Costner plays a farmer who hears the voice out of the blue and figures out that he is to build a baseball diamond on part of his corn field.  When you get disillusioned and start to think that baseball is a business and not a game, pull out this movie and get a taste of the magic that is baseball again.  James Earl Jones’ last monologue in the movie is enough to make a true baseball fan cry.  IMDb listing

 

Bull Durham – Kevin Costner plays an aging catcher signed to a minor league team called the Durham Bulls to break in a young pitcher named ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh who is a wild pitcher.  Susan Sarandon plays a team groupie who breaks in Mr. LaLoosh another way, if you catch my drift.  IMDb listing

 

 

For Love of the Game – Okay, what is it about Kevin Costner and baseball movies anyway? Talk about typecasting!  In this movie, Costner plays an aging pitcher who is pitching his final game.  Costner’s character is pitching what could be his final game.  During the game, he has flashbacks of his life and career. Will the girl stay or will she go? IMDb listing

 

 

A League of Their Own – Based on the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League that played during World War II, it is the story of two sisters with a bad case of sibling rivalry.  Tom Hanks is a riot as an aging, alcoholic ballplayer given one last chance to redeem himself as the manager of the Rockford Peaches.  “There’s no crying in baseball!”  Tell that to the team that’s just lost the World Series!  IMDb listing

 

Bang the Drum Slowly –  This movie stars Robert DiNiro as a not-so-bright catcher and Michael Moriarty as a worldly wise pitcher as they deal with DiNiro’s character’s terminal illness.  Be sure you have a box of Kleenex handy when you watch this movie.  You’ll need it. IMDb listing

 

 

Major League – Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen and Corbin Bernsen star in this comedy about a woman who inherits the Cleveland Indians but wants to move them south to warmer climes.  The only exit clause is poor attendance, so she puts together a really bad team, but they turn the tables on her and start to win.  Dennis Haybert is a hoot as the player who practices voodoo. IMDb listing

 

The Natural – Robert Redford plays a middle-aged hitter named Roy Hobbs with a homemade bat and a mysterious past who leads the fictional New York Knights to the top of the league and fulfills the dream he had as a child.   IMDb listing

 

 

Eight Men Out – This movie is about the Black Sox scandal of 1919.  After watching it, you’ll know why the White Sox threw the World Series. This is a period movie with great attention to detail and great acting from an all-star cast which includes John Cusack. IMDb listing

 

 

Moneyball – Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill play against type in this movie about Billy Beane, the architect of the Oakland A’s.  This movie, set in 2002,  is a fascinating study on how Beane put together a team by getting players with great numbers on a low budget and how they won.  IMDb listing

 

 

If you have any other favorite baseball movies or any Cardinals movies that I’ve missed, please comment below.  See you next time!

Diane

Na na na na, hey hey, goodbye!

Erika may be over it, but I’m not (well, at least not yet).  We Cardinals fans feel like jilted lovers.  The one we adored, whose jerseys we bought, whose home runs we cheered, left us for greener (in more ways than one) pastures.

Albert, you deceived us.  You told us you “wanted to be a Cardinal forever.”  You said the Angels were “tugging on your heart,” but it was more like they were tugging on your wallet.  If it “wasn’t about the money,” then why didn’t you sign with the Cardinals?

I can understand when where a favorite player is traded to a different team.  I remember when John Tudor was traded to the Dodgers for Pedro Guerrero in 1988. (Yeah, I know I’m old.  Oh well. Age happens.)  It broke my heart – Tudor was my favorite player.  The Cards eventually got him back, though.  Sometimes, trades are for the best for both sides (i.e., Colby Rasmus). 

This, however, was not a trade.  This was an out and out rejection and it stings. The best fans in baseball are in St. Louis.  Albert, why would you want to play for a team in a place where the fans aren’t as forgiving as we are?  They will boo you if you don’t hustle to first on a ground ball.  The media will rake you over the coals if you don’t play up to their perceived standards.  You had it made in St. Louis. 

 I will always love the St. Louis Cardinals as a team.  But I will have to think long and hard about choosing a player to make my favorite again. Loyalty isn’t what it used to be; it’s a reflection of the world we live in. 

Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

UCB Fall Roundtable: November 15

It was my assigned day to post the question to the UCB Fall Roundtable.  This was the first time I have posted a question to the Roundtable, so I hoped that everyone would be nice and not laugh at my question.  Below is the question that I asked:

Good morning everyone!  Congratulations to Mike Matheny on being selected as the new Cardinals manager!  One of Mike’s first duties will be to look at the Cardinals coaching staff and see if changes need to be made. 

Today’s question is, which of the other Cardinals coaches would you like to see leave and why?  My choice would be Jose Oquendo.  The players obviously don’t respect him – they run through his signs at third base.

Thanks for participating!  Have a great day!

Here’s the answers that I got, some of which were edited for brevity:

Daniel SolzmanI would not get rid of Oquendo just because Albert decided to use his inner-Enos and make a mad dash for home.  Let’s like saying get rid of Derek Lilliquist because the bullpen didn’t hear the right name.  I’m guessing it may be Petini’s time to go though.

Daniel Shoptaw, C70 at the Bat -Interestingly, that was the topic of my post this morning.  Or at least who I believe will go, not necessarily who I want to go.  I think the easiest way to get some new blood into the coaching staff is to let Dave McKay follow Tony either out the door or at least to a different position in the organization.  Chris Maloney could take over first and start learning the ropes at the big league leve.

 

Mark,Retrosimba.com – Diane:  Dave McKay. Seems like a nice guy, but other than being a loyal buddy to Tony La Russa, his contributions to the team were minimal. No one ever talks about him being a leader. His departure wouldn’t hurt the team.

Christine Coleman, Aaron Miles’ Fastball – I agree with Nick – I don’t know that I necessary want to see anyone go. But having just read that Chris Maloney was promoted to the major league staff, someone must be leaving. So my option would be Joe Pettini (and have Maloney be the bench coach).

Dathan Brooks, I70Baseball.com – Jeff Murphy, anyone?  I don’t know.  This seems like it could be a dangerous topic, as I suspect most of us have no idea what these folks do outside of the fraction of what we all see every half inning.  It’d be awfully hard to say goodbye to the man who helped bring us the illustrious 35-game Cardinals career of Cody McKay, no?  (c:

Ray DeBousse, stlcardinalbaseball.com – I wouldn’t really “like” to see any of them go. However, I’d really like to see Chris Maloney promoted, which most likely means Pettini would be sacrificed.  The McGwire situation should be an interesting view, given Matheny’s past comments about steroids and McGwire’s obvious success as hitting coach. I’d like McGwire to stay if possible.

Tom Knuppel, CardinalsGM.com – I am thinking two coaches get “reassigned” or move on. One is the reports that the Cardinals are wanting a new bench coach w/major league experience and the word is a Grady Little hiring may be in the works. This puts Pettini out of in a new position. If Maloney is truly on board, that probably means McKay is on the way out. I would like to see “Pop” Warner gets some coaching time with the big club.

Bob Netherton – My first choice is Jose Oquendo as well, but perhaps not for the same reason.   One of the coaches I want to see continue in some capacity is Joe Pettini.   He was in the Cardinals system long before the arrival of Tony La Russa, and I would like to see him stay.  Pettini’s retention could go a long way in making Matheny’s transition easier since Joe handles a lot of the little things, like organizing practice.  Dave McKay is a “Tony La Russa” guy from his Oakland days but I have no desire to see him anywhere else but St. Louis.   If another spot needs to be opened up for Chris Maloney or Grady Little, I would prefer to keep Pettini over McKay – but that’s a very hard choice.

Chris Mallonee – As others have mentioned, this is a tough question because fans know so little of the behind the scenes that goes on. Matheny faces a tough task. He has no experience, and he has to lead a group of experienced coaches that just won a World Series title.  There is no coach that I would like to see leave unless they can’t commit to backing Matheny 100%.  All that to say, the only coach I would “like” to see leave is one that can’t fully support Matheny and would cause dissension in the clubhouse.

Miranda Remaklus, Aaron Miles’ Fastball – I fully understand your point about Jose Oquendo. I wondered about all the talk that he was the key to Albert staying. Why? So he can run over him? But, I’d hate to see him go. I’d rather he be a bench coach maybe. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pettini or McKay goes. Although I’d hate to see McKay leave for sure! As a Memphis Redbirds fan, I like Chris Malloney moving up! I think Lilliquist stays because he’ll probably be pitching coach once Duncan retires. Oh and I’ve noticed no talk of getting rid of McGwire. The kids – Freese and Craig — have really bought in to his teaching style. Getting rid of him would be a set back for the youngsters. Don’t fire McGwire! :)
Justin W. Adams, InsideSTL.com -We simply don’t have enough information to cast such ballots. Period. That said, in hearing Chris Maloney may get bumped up to the big club staff, I think it would be a great opportunity to offer Oquendo the managerial position in Memphis. For whatever reasons, and I believe they are legit, Oquendo has been passed over…not just by the Cardinals, but other clubs as well. As a pro manager he would have the opportunity to prove his worth in that capacity. Honestly, I’m not sure Oquendo even wants the capo gig. Sure has created for himself a little extra job security/added value by repeatedly throwing his hat in the ring, however, no?

Jon Doble, RedbirdDugout.com –  This coaching staff is a World Series Champion coaching staff. The best change would be no change. Just substitute LaRussa for Matheny and go. The biggest question to me would be how well Jose Oquendo can buy in to what Mike Matheny is doing as manager. It’s a tough situation to be in for a coach. Passed up and now working under the guy you lost the job to. Let alone a guy who has less experience than you. In short, there really isn’t anyone I’d remove from the coaching staff. Duncan, Lilliquist, McGwire, and Aldrete are all among the tops in their roles. Oquendo’s staying depends on how he’ll deal with being overlooked for the managerial role. The other two guys appear to be considering their exits anyway.
JE Powell, STL: Fear the Red -I don’t want to get rid of Jose Oquendo, but I just do not see him staying. He was passed up for a job that for which he has more experience, perhaps not by much, though, than does Matheny. I would like to see him stay, but, personally, I would find it hard to be passed up for a job for a company for someone less experienced and want to stick around. I don’t know what other jobs would be out there for Oquendo, but maybe he would be a good bench coach.  I realize the questions was “who would you want to get rid of?” But I am answering by saying that I think Oquendo will probably answer the question for us.
Bill Ivie, I70Baseball.com –  Allow me to say what no one else is saying: We won the World Championship.  We reached the pinnacle of baseball. They are, in fact, a world championship coaching staff.  All that is true at this moment.  The team deserves a small shake-up.  LaRussa gave that to them on his way out the door.  Matheny deserves the opportunity to lead this team and that may mean that he needs to change some coaches.  Who needs to go?  I don’t know that answer.  But I would say a few new coaches would make this Matheny’s team and not LaRussa’s team run by Mike Matheny.
Thanks to all the Roundtable folks who took the time to answer my question.  I realize I haven’t answered many myself, but that’s because someone else has said what I was going to say and I don’t think I could improve on what was said.  Hopefully I’ll get better as the Roundtable goes on and I can contribute something serious to the conversation!  :)

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

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!

 

How to be a Cardinals fan on the cheap

Times are tough financially for a lot of folks right now, including my own family.  We, along with many others, have learned how to cut corners and pinch pennies so hard that President Lincoln screams.  It can be expensive to be a Cards fan, so here’s some tips for how to be a Cards fan without spending a fortune.

Fan gear

Do the prices at the Cardinals shop online or the gift shop at Busch Stadium really get you down?  There is lots of Cardinals gear available at discount stores like Walmart and Kmart.  If you’re not one of those fashionistas who need the latest, greatest thing, just wait until the end of the season when the item you want may go on clearance.  Be sure to get on the Cardinals’ e-mail list (you can do that here) to receive notices of merchandise sales and ticket specials, as well as a team newsletter.

Game tickets

The best price for game tickets is free, of course, like when someone gives you tickets to a game.  If that doesn’t happen for you very often, there are other ways to save money on tickets.  The KMOX First Pitch Tickets are a great, inexpensive way to get tickets to a Cards game.  I explained more about how this works here.  Craigslist is another place you can purchase cheap tickets.  Just put the word “Cardinals” in the search box and there are lots of folks with tickets for sale.  If you’re an out-of-market fan who lives in a city with a MLB team that the Cards come to play, you could search the local Craigslist for tickets. You can also go to StubHub.com to see if you can score cheap tickets.

All inclusive tickets – You might be thinking, “Diane, are you kidding?  Those tickets aren’t cheap!”  You are correct – they aren’t.  However, if you’re planning on eating and drinking at the game anyway, these tickets may be your best bargain.  You can eat your fill (for 2 hours) and drink beer from 30 minutes before the game up until the middle of the 8th inning.  You can read about the all inclusive tickets here.

Season tickets – Does the company you work for or someone you know have season tickets?  If they aren’t using them for a particular game (and you grovel enough), perhaps they would give them to you.

Getting to and from the game

Driving to and from the ball game can be such a hassle.  Highway driving (and the traffic jam after the game) can give you road rage, not to mention the cost of gas and parking.  If you are within driving distance of a MetroLink station, leave the driving to your friendly light rail train driver and sit back and relax.  The cost of riding the train is only $2.25 each way (and if you work in downtown St. Louis like I do and commute via MetroLink, you probably already have a monthly pass).  The Stadium MetroLink station is right across from the Stan Musial statue on 8th Street.

If you live in St. Clair County, Illinois, you can ride the Redbird Express bus to Busch Stadium.  Round trip fare is only $5.00.  The Redbird Express bus picks up from the water tower at the St. Clair Square shopping mall in Fairview Heights and drops you off at 7th and Clark.  There is more information about the Redbird Express here.

Food and drink

Yes, you can bring food and drink (except alcohol) into Busch Stadium.  Click here to see the specifications on what food and drink can be brought into the stadium.

If you are going to eat a meal before and/or after the game, there are lots of restaurants within walking distance of Busch Stadium.  I have seen people get fast food and bring it into Busch Stadium as well.  Just remember that it has to fit into the bag that fits under your seat.

If the beer is too expensive for you, there are a few bars close to Busch Stadium where you can wet your whistle.

Miscellaneous

If you enjoy watching Cards baseball on TV, subscribe to MLB.TV and watch on your computer, laptop, or smartphone.  If you subscribe to a satellite TV provider or cable provider, you may be able to get a cheaper program package if you don’t need Fox Sports Midwest.  And if you have a laptop, you can watch MLB.TV anywhere that Wi-Fi is available.  For the out-of-market fan, MLB.TV may be the only way to get your Cards fix.

Cards games are broadcast on KMOX radio, which has a far reaching signal.  If you’re not within listening distance of KMOX, you can listen to any of the stations on the Cardinals Baseball Network.  If you’re not within listening distance of any of the Cardinals Baseball Network stations, you can subscribe to Gameday Audio from MLB.com.

Do you buy a scorecard and keep score (like I do)?  Bring your own pencil – it’s cheaper.  Better yet, either bring a mechanical pencil or two regular pencils.  You never know when your pencil’s going to break.

If you have suggestions on how to save money on your Cardinals habit, please feel free to comment below.  Until next time -

Go Cards!

Diane

Bird watching

Our family recently returned home from a vacation in Branson, where my husband and I watched the Cardinals on Fox Sports Midwest in our motel room.  It made me realize how lucky we were that even though we were miles from St. Louis, we could still watch the games on TV.  Previous generations of baseball fans were not that lucky.

In order to follow the Cardinals from baseball’s beginnings to the late 1920’s, you either had to go to the games yourself or read the box score in the daily newspaper.  KMOX first started broadcasting Cardinals games in 1926 with the Cardinals-Yankees World Series, and began regular broadcasts of Cardinals games the following season[1].

Until 1958, the Cardinals were the only baseball team west of the Mississippi.  KMOX’s powerful broadcast signal covered most of the Midwest and on a clear night, into the West as well.  There are many stories of boys listening under their covers to a late night Cardinals game and becoming lifelong fans in the process.  The halcyon tones of Jack Buck and Harry Caray, and later, Jack Buck and Mike Shannon, narrated the game as it was happening, much as Mike Shannon and John Rooney do today. Their vivid descriptions and verbal flourishes made us feel like we were right there at the ball park.   The radio broadcasts of Cardinals games were taken over by KTRS in 2005[2].  In 2011, Cardinals games were once again broadcast by KMOX.

Cardinals games were first broadcast on TV in 1949 on KSD-TV, the first TV channel in the Midwest[3].  If you were an out-of-market fan, you could watch the Cards play on the Game of the Week on NBC, if it was their turn to be televised.  World Series games were televised for the first time in 1947, and for the first time in color in 1955.[4]

KSD broadcast Cardinals games until 1988.  KPLR took over broadcasting the Cardinals games in 1988 until 2006.  KPLR also broadcast games from 1959 through 1962.  From 2008-2010, KSDK once again broadcast games, which were Sunday home games.  Fox Sports Midwest broadcast all the other Cardinals games.  Fox Sports Midwest took over broadcasting all the Cards games in 2011[5].

You have many options to follow the Cards today if you are an out-of-market fan.  KMOX’s signal broadcasts throughout the Midwest, or you can listen to the Cardinals Baseball Network station nearest you if you can’t pick up KMOX.  You can watch the Cards play on the Fox Network Game of the Week if the Cards’ game is scheduled.  ESPN also broadcasts certain Sunday night Cardinals games.  If the Cardinals get to the World Series, you can watch on the Fox network.  There are radio stations devoted to sports alone, where you can listen to baseball sports shows and call in, if you have an opinion (and who doesn’t?).

Baseball may be an old-fashioned game, but today’s technology has made baseball more accessible to the modern fan than ever before.  You can watch Cardinals games by accessing MLB.TV with your computer, iPad, or smart phone.  If you’re not at the game but miss interacting with other fans, you can go on Twitter.com and do a search for the #stlcards hashtag.  If you follow the #stlcards tweets, it’s just like being at the ballpark.  If you have a smart phone, you can even tweet from the ball game.  There are online forums where baseball is discussed and you can chime in if you’d like.  DirecTV has the Extra Innings baseball package where you can watch as many baseball games as you want.  There are blogs like this one where folks like you and me give our opinions on Cardinals baseball. There are Internet radio stations (such as Blog Talk Radio) where baseball is discussed.  There’s no doubt that in the future, there will be more technological advances that will allow us to get even closer to the game we love.

That’s all for now!  Until next time –

Go Cards!

Diane

My FanFest memories

As you may recall, in 2009, the All Star Game came to St. Louis.  Amid all the festivities was a special event called FanFest – a festival for baseball fans.  Yours truly worked at FanFest, and I had a great time.

In the spring of 2009, the Cardinals announced on their website that Major League Baseball was looking for volunteers to work at FanFest.  After clearing it with hubby (you had to be able to work 1 shift a day in 3 consecutive days – he’d have to watch our son), I filled out the form and hit submit.  A couple months later, I received a letter from the Cardinals – I was one of the folks selected to attend an informational meeting about FanFest at Busch Stadium.  At this meeting, representatives from MLB talked about FanFest, how things were going to be set up, etc.  After all the questions were answered, each of us had to meet with a MLB representative and talk about why we wanted to work at FanFest.  I told the lady that interviewed me that I loved baseball, I enjoyed working with people, and that there would probably not be another All Star game in St. Louis in my lifetime.  I must have impressed the interviewer because I received a letter than said that I had been selected to work at FanFest.

The Tuesday evening before FanFest started, I had to attend orientation at the America’s Center, the convention hall in downtown St. Louis where FanFest was held.  A MLB representative gave us a pep talk and thanked us for volunteering.  We received our schedules saying when we were supposed to work. We received an All Star Game fanny pack and an All Star Game lanyard with a FanFest pass.  The lanyard and pass was to be worn at all times. The pass allowed us access to FanFest at any time, even when we weren’t working (a nice perk, considering admission was $30.00).

My first shift was on Friday evening.  I walked over to America’s Center after work and reported for duty.  I received a FanFest polo shirt, an All Star game lanyard with a pass on it, a big button and a couple of pins.  If you go to my bio page, you can see my Build-A-Bear with the pins on it.  Our uniform was the shirt, our lanyard with the pass, the big button and the fanny pack.  We also got a ball cap, but I didn’t wear it because I’m not a hat person.  :D We were also supposed to wear nice shorts and tennis shoes were highly suggested.

On Friday night, I worked at a game.  It was a race.  There were 3 bases and you had to run the distance from the base to the back wall, which was  90 feet.  I ran the computer.  It was  a nice sit down job.  The kids who ran the race got a poster when they were done.

I worked the Saturday afternoon shift.  Another nice perk of working at FanFest was that you got 2 free tickets to FanFest.  Hubby, son and I went  to FanFest on Saturday morning.  We got Ricky Horton’s and Andy Benes’ autograph and a couple of others.  Hubby and son took a shot at the game I worked at in the afternoon, where you got to try to hit against your pitcher of choice.  It’s not easy trying to hit Chris Carpenter’s fastball. We also saw Rollie Fingers signing autographs.  He still  had the handlebar mustache and he still looked good.

The boys got their photos taken in the photo booth.  Here’s the photo:

The boys went back home and I stayed for my afternoon shift (after eating lunch, of course).  I worked at the aforementioned game in the Holiday Inn line.  If  you visited the Holiday Inn booth and signed up, you received a wristband that allowed you to jump ahead in line, sort of like the Flash Pass at Six Flags.  I got to sit down for this job too.  :)

I came back early on Sunday to get John Tudor’s autograph and to view the FanFest on my own.  Rawlings gave a demonstration and showed how a baseball is stitched together.  It was noted that the baseball manufacturing plant was in a Caribbean country. I thought how ironic it was that baseball is America’s national pastime but the equipment used to play it is made in a foreign country.

There was a great display of items from the Baseball Hall of Fame.  It really fueled my desire to try and go there some day. Some of the ladies from the All American Girls Professional Baseball League were there signing autographs.  There was a big display on the history of the Cardinals.  There were also vendors selling baseball merchandise.  There was also a neat booth where you could pick a play to call and it was recorded.  You were given a card with a number on it to go on line and hear your call.  There was also a baseball diamond set up.  There were fielding and hitting demonstrations. On the second floor, there were games for the little ones to play.  There was an autograph table set up there and that’s where John Tudor was signing autographs.  I finally got up to the table and stood in front of him, and got tongue tied.  :(

My shift on Sunday was at the pitching game again, but this time, I didn’t get to sit down.  I stood for about 5 hours.  My hammys were mad at me by the end of my shift.  But I enjoyed it nonetheless.

At the end of my third shift, I reported back to the lounge on the second floor.  There were more presents from MLB for finishing the three shifts, including a certificate for a set of Cardinals tickets and this lovely baseball:

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the All Star Game comes to a stadium near you and you have the opportunity to work at FanFest, go for it! I had a great time and met some new friends.  If you don’t want to work at FanFest, consider attending.  It is well worth the price of admission. It is a true celebration of baseball.

That’s all for now!  See you again soon!

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