Cardinal baseball, from the girls
Category Archives: Cardinals
March 8, 2014Posted by on
Okay! So you have bought the tickets and are planning to hop a plane to Florida and leave the winter cold behind? Congratulations! You soon will have arrived in baseball heaven …or at least the February/March location.
Welcome to Jupiter, Florida, the Spring Training home of the St. Louis Cardinals!
If this is your first Spring Training trip, let me pass along some tips we have learned from those who went before us and some hints we’ve discovered for ourselves along the way.
1) Weather: Any February or March weather in Florida is likely better than weather from where you are coming, but there are two things to prepare for. Rain (the unthinkable MAY happen: your long awaited Spring Training vacation game may be delayed or cancelled) and sun (oh my goodness, the sun… it will bake you before you know it. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen people!)
2) Getting There: The Layout: Roger Dean Stadium is home to both the Cardinals and the Miami Marlins during Spring Training, but Marlins fans are few and far between. The Marlins training fields are to the North of the stadium and the Cardinals facilities are to the East or NorthEast. The Roger Dean Stadium complex is located near the campus of Florida Atlantic University in a community named Abacoa. East of I95, North of Donald Ross Rd, West of Central Blvd.
Parking: There is a parking garage less than a block, west of the stadium entrance. This year they were charging $10. There are also some parking spaces along the roads, but those spots are hard to come by unless you want to hike a bit.
Team Store: This is located at the Southwest corner of Roger Dean Stadium. Hours vary depending on the day (game day, workout day, etc). Here you can pick up special “Spring Training Cardinals” baseballs for autographs and the usual collection of hats, shirts, jerseys and whatnot. It’s not a large space and tends to be extremely crowded just before the stadium opens for games, so plan accordingly. The staff is super helpful – if you are nice. (Which you just really should be because you are at Spring Training and you are happy and warm and there’s baseball!) The team store does have a website with hours, etc at http://rogerdeanstadium.com/team-store/store-hours.html
Backfields: These are a short walk to the East and North of the stadium, past the player parking lot and the clubhouse. There is little chance of getting lost as the signs will guide you if you stick to the sidewalks.
Practice Times: Spring Training games most often start at 1:05 local Florida time (double check your tickets in case of split squad games or other variances). My experience has been that players arrive on the backfields at Roger Dean anywhere from 9AM to 10AM with practice lasting roughly 90 minutes. The gates to the stadium open around 11:30AM for 1:05 game start times.
Autographs: Spring Training is an autograph collector’s dream (usually). This year we went to the first games of the season and the players didn’t sign after practice as much as they have in the past. However this was the exception to our usual experience. The players have been more laid back and willing to hang around for photos and autographs during the later days of Spring Training ). You will see two prime areas for autograph opportunities built into the back fields layout: a short fence on the north side of the spectator area and a smaller barricade directly beside the 3rd base dugout of the main practice field. It’s all very close – just follow the crowds. If these directions aren’t clear, no worries: the sweet volunteers in the bright orange Hawaiian inspired uniform shirts will point you in the right direction. If players are going to sign autographs, they will usually stop by either of those two locations AFTER the conclusion of the practices.
Berm Seating: Tickets for that area go on sale each morning at the stadium. Fans can sit on the grassy berm by RF just behind the bullpen bench and the relief pitchers and bullpen catchers will often sign autographs there between innings.
Know your numbers: We took a printout with all the players’ Spring Training uniform numbers to reference during practices and games. It came in handy, especially with the abundance of minor leaguers in camp. The always informative Cardinal Nation Blog (run by Brian Walton, @B_Walton) has a complete list here.
Make friends at the game: You never know who may be sitting next to you! One year, we were sitting in front of the parents of a player on the opposing team -and come to find out he played 10 years at 2nd base with the San Fransisco Giants (something we only found at AFTER we’d left the stadium!) He only mentioned that he was the father of the kid playing in Spring Training and gave me his email address to send him photos I was taking of his son (If only I hadn’t lost that email! ugh.) If you want to read more about the “Robby Thompson misadventure” I wrote about that back in 2010, here titled Mission Impossible. This year we successfully managed to
stalk find John Mozeliak in the stands during a game and snagged a quick photo.
Keep your eyes and ears open for unique opportunities. For example, Brian Walton also alerted us to an autograph opportunity at a FL Sporting Goods store where we snagged autographs from Mike Matheny, John Mabry and Matt Carpenter. We also stumbled across the Rawlings truck parked outside the stadium, showcasing the Gold Glove Awards that will be presented to Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright in April – we could just walk up and touch them! super cool! And watch out for chance meetings with players on the campus. We bumped into Chris Carpenter taking a jog on the streets around the stadium several years ago. Players may also stop their car on the way out of the player parking lot when they leave for the day to sign for the poor straggler fans who hang around long enough at the end of the day. Spring Training is just too incredible for most diehard baseball fans to imagine… you just have to be there!
So, I hope you have the time of your dreams on Planet Jupier!
Best wishes on your journey, and may you catch a foul ball!
When not at the ballgame or the backfields, some other interesting tourist things you might find to do around Jupiter:
- Visit the Jupiter lighthouse and museum (website link)
- Drive through Jupiter island to ogle at the million dollar beach homes.
- Hit the beach! Weather permitting, there are several beaches within driving distance: Jupiter Beach, Palm Beach, etc. This year we drove to Lake Worth Beach which had a cool pier and shops close by. We rented a little beach umbrella and a couple of chairs right there on the public beach because we hadn’t packed any beach gear and had a fabulous day people watching while the kids splashed in the ocean.
- Visit the Elliott museum, a baseball museum in Stuart, FL. I toured this museum back in 2010, on “special assignment” for Aaron Hooks over at CardsDiaspora.com. (Which pretty much meant that he had free tickets from the place if he would put up a post about it on his website. I had to pretend that I knew what I was doing as a reporter or something, but it got me free admission and a personal tour of the museum. That was also my inaugural internet writing attempt and I was crazy nervous… which looking back on that now cracks me up! ;) Here’s the link to that adventure and the post over at CardsDiaspora: Erika’s Spring Training 2010 Confidential
This was, of course, just a few quick tips I would give any friends heading to Jupiter. If you have more great advice for other Cardinal baseball fans visiting Spring Training for the first time, please share in the comments section!
My spring training trips usually include hundreds of camera shots because the photo opportunities are tremendous. So don’t forget your camera, of course! And if you missed the player photos from my 2014 trip, here is the link to the gallery.
March 4, 2014Posted by on
A quick post to share player photos from our recent trip to sunny Jupiter, Florida – the Spring Training home of our beloved St. Louis Cardinals. Photos (from the February 28th game against the Marlins and the March 2nd game against the Mets.)
Coming soon: Photo diary with tips on how to be a baseball tourist in and around Jupiter Florida, Roger Dean stadium and the practice back fields. (LINK HERE)
Click on any photo to enlarge and/or to shift through larger photos one at a time. Enjoy!
Baseball is back!! :)
October 21, 2013Posted by on
The energy in the air, the roar of the postseason crowd, the Sea of Red at Busch Stadium – add in an offensive surge, a rookie pitcher rising to the occasion and surpassing expectations and a shutout of the LA Dodgers, and you have a Game 6 WINNER!
Here is our Game 6 experience, told in photos…
Oh, hey….. THE CARDINALS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!
Go Cards!! ;)
July 22, 2013Posted by on
Beyond the stats and the standings,there is nothing like falling in love with a ballplayer to intensify your experience of the game. And I feel quite confident claiming a mastery of this process. Just to be clear: I’m not talking about cleat chasing…. because that is something entirely different and most definitely frowned upon by the wonderful husbands/boyfriends who might be taking us to ballgames in the future.
Okay, okay…. It’s a once-every-season feeling if you’re really, reealllly lucky.
Two weeks ago I fell in love again, and here’s the story:
I am convinced the best baseball love stories start in a minor league ballpark, and this one is no different.
On July 11th we stopped in Memphis, TN to visit the home of our AAA Redbirds. With front row seats behind the net, we settled in to savor the spectacle of Carlos Martinez throwing his much touted heat.
What we got instead was an unexpected sideshow. An uncommonly gifted heckler (fairly original content) was just hitting his stride, brewing up discontent amongst the home crowd fans when Redbirds catcher Rob Johnson stepped over and bit back with such professional poise and wit coupled with just the right dose of good-natured humor that the heckling gremlin was not only silenced but forced to fist bump his once prime target as Johnson extended his arm across the first few rows to make contact with a friendly “gotcha!” and a knowing smirk before getting back to work, not missing a beat.
Then, after a hard fought win and even with the lateness of the hour (a game delayed by rain), Mr. Johnson alone hung out in the dugout, signing autograph after autograph for every child with a baseball, engaging them as he scribbled on their keepsakes and further endearing himself to his youngest fans. One young girl squealed “You are my FAVORITE ballplayer” to which Rob quickly responded with a smile “well, YOU are my favorite fan!”
My kiddos wanted a photo with their new hero. So, we asked and Rob readily accepted; but before striking the obligatory pose between the two of them, he held out his hand to each, took a moment to introduce himself and then asked their names and ages. Personal interaction. Building a relationship. Job well done, Mr. Johnson.
Add to his plus personality that we were on hand to witness his speedy pickoff of a runner stealing 2nd as well as his superb handling of the Redbird pitching that evening and I ask you, what’s NOT to love about Rob Johnson?
The very next day, July 12th, as we were continuing our cross-country road trip we were thrilled to hear Rob had received a call-up to join the St. Louis Cardinals. (After the Ty Wiggington release, when Yadier Molina’s injury appeared worrisome.) He’s already made appearances in three games with our big boys. So, if you’ve been watching the Cardinals lately, you might’ve already caught a glimpse of him.
Rob’s no rookie. At 30 years old he’s played for a few other teams (Mariners, Padres and Mets) over the past seven years. And as a third catcher, his time here on the Cardinals bench may be cut short once the team has no lingering concerns about Yadi’s need for further rest. Regardless, Rob Johnson has given us another reason to love the game: another connection, another personal story. If you are in the market for a new favorite ballplayer, we’ll be happy to share him. Or feel free to fall in love in the minor leagues yourself!
Want to learn more about Rob? Here are some recent links from Jenifer Langosch at mlb.com and Derrick Goold at stltoday.com about his value to the club and our pitchers. Don’t love him already? Read these:
April 14, 2013Posted by on
On the road, Memphis continued to mow down the Oklahoma City Redhawks today with a 10-3 victory for starting pitcher Tyler Lyons (6.0 IP, 9H, 3R, 2BB, 4SO, 3.46 ERA). However today’s romp got off to a slower start with the Baby Birds trailing after the 3rd inning and not recovering the lead until the 7th inning when Justin Christian hit in Greg Garcia and Adron Chambers doubled to knock in three (Huffman, Towles and Christian). In the 8th, Jermaine Curtis collected an rbi and J.R. Towles (catcher) hit a 2 run blast giving Memphis a 9-3 lead. In the 9th, Greg Garcia singled to score Oscar Taveras to bring the Redbirds to 10. Memphis leads the series 3-0 with the final game tomorrow (Monday, 7:05pm CT).
Ryan Jackson dazzled at 2B in the afternoon game:
Adron Chambers is so darn friendly… and he made the highlights today too:
Brock Peterson homered in the 2nd inning & played 1B:
Chad Huffman (DH) went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk and a strike out.
Eric Fornataro came in to pitch the 8th, hit the first batter, struck out the 2nd and got a double play to end the inning.
… and just a few more shots from the wonderful day at the park:
….So that’s it for me during this Memphis/OKC series. Tomorrow I’ll be watching my all-time favorite ballplayer on a little league field while Memphis (fingers crossed!) completes the sweep!
Go Baby Birds!!
… and we soon return you to posts about the big boys in St. Louis ;)
April 14, 2013Posted by on
Oscar Taveras, Kolten Wong, Ryan Jackson, Adron Chambers, Jamie Romak, Michael Wacha, Barret Browning, Sam Freeman, Victor Marte, Maikel Cleto, John Gast, Seth Maness, Eduardo Sanchez…
If you recognize any of those names, you might be a Memphis Redbirds fan.
Memphis is in town this weekend for the OKC Redhawks Home Opener, and our boys are spoiling all the fun for the Redhawks. Two games down and Memphis has whupped up on OKC 10-6 on Friday night and 8-7 Saturday night. Here are some photos from our seats in the stands for those of you who couldn’t make it to Oklahoma to cheer on the baby birds personally.
First up: Saturday’s starting pitcher, Michael Wacha. (5 IP, 3H, 3R, 2ER, 1BB, 3SO, 1 HR, 4.0 ERA)
Next: hot prospect OF Oscar Taveras
And here’s a few of another highly anticipated name: Kolten Wong, IF
Manager Pop Warner at the pregame meeting at the plate:
pitcher Barret Browning pitched the 8th on Friday, gave up a HR, walked 1 & struck out 1
Seth Maness, starting pitcher on Friday, pitched a solid 6 innings, allowing only 1 run, striking out 6 with 2 walks.
Sam Freeman, LH pitcher who saw some time in St. Louis last season, pitched the 6th & part of the 7th on Saturday with 3H, 1 run, no walks, and 1 SO.
and then there was Adron Chambers, who although struggling at the plate, is always smiling.
Today’s game time: 2:05 at the Bricktown Ballpark. Then Monday night the Redbirds finish up the series (and hopefully a sweep??) first pitch at 7:05pm.
Come help us cheer on the Baby Birds! ;)
April 12, 2013Posted by on
You know that point when a good relationship has run its course?
You do still love him but in your heart you know he’s not “the one.” You’ve given him your best offer, but you both knew you were holding back. He needed more than you could give. You had a good run together, but you part ways amicably, telling yourself you can still be friends…
That type of breakup is tough.
Some baseball breakups are no different.
Tonight Kyle Lohse will take the mound at Busch Stadium for the first time as a Milwaukee Brewer, and for the first time in 5 years, I will be rooting against him.
My memories of Lohse are good ones: autographed baseballs and a signed cap, photos, a fun chat after a Spring Training morning practice at Roger Dean Stadium… not to mention the years spent hanging on his every pitch, cheering his comeback from a totally weird surgery and celebrating his success. In fact, it was three years ago that I hesitantly started blogging about baseball with my first post dedicated to defending (the then struggling) Mr. Lohse.
Seeing him in that uniform will be atrocious.
Thanks for the memories, Kyle.
Here’s to the type of closure that the end of every good relationship needs: beating your ex at a friendly game of baseball.
March 5, 2013Posted by on
- Rafael Furcal’s injury looks pretty serious.
- The signing of Ronny Cedeno (oldish guy, mediocre bandaid) isn’t the sure cure fans were hoping for.
- Brendan Ryan is still a Mariner.
- And apparently it is uncool to admit you actually have some faith in Pete Kozma.
I am beginning to feel as though I might need a support group.
“Hello, my name is Erika, and I have faith in Pete Kozma.”
* crickets?… *
Okay guys, it’s just Spring Training and most normal non-baseball- addict-type folk aren’t even really paying attention to baseball yet. Sure, some anxious fans are already gearing up for the season, practicing their panic over pitching performances and their elation as otherwise mild-mannered position players are knocking the ball out of the park with the help of some hitter-friendly Florida wind gusts, not to mention the help of experimental opposing pitching; but let’s just sit back and enjoy the moment, shall we?
1) The long winter drought is allllmost over… finally some real baseball is being played.
2) Pitchers are just gearing up and are likely trying out new and unusual stuff they dreamed up in the offseason. So, spring training stats are about as useful as painting your fingernails with your feet (unless you’re really good at that.)
3) Pete Kozma may not be as horrible as his critics would like us to believe.
It’s definitely not time to panic. Heck, according to the calendar it’s not even officially spring yet! So, can we please give this Kozma kid a shot? Remember those flashes of brilliance Pete surprised us with in the post season? And just think about all those David Freese critics just a short time back who have now moved on to newer, younger, untested targets. Past stats are not sure predictors. Afterall, I’m certain we could find some stats somewhere that can prove that not all breakout players had the stats to predict their first truly successful season, right?
So while the boys are warming up down in Florida, I’d prefer to warm up for the season with a little less worry and a little more faith in Mozeliak and Matheny and our shortstop-by-default. ~Enjoying instead the pleasant mental exercise of considering the potential baseball magic ahead for our Cardinals in 2013. I’ll even predict here and now that we will be looking back on this Spring Training shortstop “crisis” in a few months thinking we should have had a little more confidence in Kozma. It’s a lot less stressful that way.
“Hello, my name is Erika, and I have faith in Pete Kozma.”
February 28, 2013Posted by on
Baseball fever is making a comeback now that the boys are kicking it in Florida for Spring Training, and this week my dear friend (and Cardinals fan), Lindsey, asked (again) when Diamond Diaries would be back in action. Without much arm-twisting at all, she agreed to write a guest post for us as sort of our own 2013 season kick-off. And as you will soon see, smart,sassy and lovable Lindsey, an early victim of baseball fever this year, is ready to chat it up, Cardinals style. P.S. If you aren’t already, you can follow Lindsey on twitter: @LoveAlwaysGives
So, Welcome Back!! And welcome, Lindsey! =) ~Erika
We’ve started out another Spring Training with the stomach-knotting stressor named, The Unsigned Contract Extension. This time, for Adam Wainwright. Waino is one of those players I could never lose faith in. I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous for the guy when we all found out about his Tommy John surgery. I still remember that moment when my heart fell into my stomach wondering, Could this be it for Waino? But then I snapped back to reality and realized who I was talking about. Waino is bueno, after all. I can see where the problem lies, he’s a pitcher just coming off of elbow surgery with a year left in his contract. Could that be more nerve wracking? He needs to be set to impress. Although a contract has yet to be signed, I’m ready to see some Wainwright action out on the mound this year. Let’s not forget, Mo…It’s ain’t right til it’s Wainwright!
And hey, has anyone seen Lance Lynn around h—OH MY! Talk about a transformation! Catching my first full spring training game yesterday, I momentarily thought Garcia was pitching until I saw those four red letters: L-Y-N-N. My jaw immediately dropped. I think we all knew of the 40 pound weight loss Lance underwent throughout his offseason dieting and work out program when an interview came out stating his rather, uhm, confident outlook on where he stood in being a part of the starting rotation for the 2013 season. Reading and hearing about that type of weight loss is a lot different than seeing it out on the mound. Although he’s lacking the backside of Jaime Garcia, I do believe I’ll be seeing more Lance Lynn related #chickcomments popping up on my twitter feed this year. Here’s to hoping this season can start just as strongly as the last. Put those new muscles to work, Lynn!
Oh hey, David! I see you’ve been taking advantage of that Florida sunshine…and that strong man workout paid off for ya…
Ahem. Getting back to what I was saying…
I can’t even imagine the conversation between Yadier and Bengie Molina when they found out the good news that Bengie would be appointed Assistant Hitting Coach for the Cardinals this year. No, really, I can’t. I don’t speak Spanish. Nevertheless, I know I was pretty excited to hear we would have the Molina Brothers team effort this year, even if only one of them will make it onto the field. We don’t need no stinking Mark McGwire! Mabry and Molina have got it covered. As long as Bengie isn’t a running coach, I’ve got the faith! In all seriousness, I think all of Cardinal Nation knows the bond between the Molina family is something incredible and with the addition of his brother, I have no doubt that Yadi will be in even more high spirits to go out on the field every day and make his familia proud.
Speaking of families, it’s been quite the offseason for our hairiest member, Mr. Jason Motte. Unlike his teammates, this doesn’t have to do with his physique, work out regimen or contract status. Jason became a father. That’s right, our heat-throwing, ungroomed bear of a closer now changes diapers in his off time. And he couldn’t be happier about it! I predict little Miss Margret Morgan Motte (say that three times fast) is going to be a daddy’s girl in years to come, because he just can’t seem to get enough of his little girl.
Not only is fatherhood the only step forward in Jason’s life, but his charity work is in full swing as well. Throughout last season Jason and his wife, Caitlin, began collecting sports memorabilia to hold an auction called Strike Out Cancer, benefitting the Wings Cancer Foundation. The $37,000 they raised at their first benefit will go to expanding the organization into lower income communities. That is quite a big impact to make with their first endeavor, and there is surely more to come from these two.
Now, in true Erika fashion, it would be wrong not to mention that former Cardinal shortstop, Brendan Ryan knocked one out of the park in his first at-bat for the Seattle Mariners this spring training. You’ve still got it, Boog! Keep ‘em comin!
There is just something remarkable about seeing baseball on my tv again. Although there is still snow in my back yard, and the sunshine has yet to be found, I just can’t help but have something to look forward to on every game day. And it’s baseball. I can only believe that the transformations the guys have gone through this offseason will show onto the field in the 2013 season. We’ve got new birds and new bats, so we are set to make this one a season to remember!
January 24, 2013Posted by on
The more I learned about the Cardinals as I was growing up, the more I realized that there were 3 players that I never really got to see play, but desperately wanted to:
- Bob Gibson was first in my mind. I read the book From Ghetto to Glory for a book report in junior high, and I was hooked on this almost mythological man that pitched on a broken leg and struck out 18 in a World Series game and would knock his grandmother on her ear if she dug in too much on him in the batter’s box. I asked my dad about watching Gibby pitch and if he really was that mean and if he had ever seen a more awesome pitcher.
- Ozzie Smith was second. I really started focusing in on players and teams around the time Ozzie retired. I saw a few of his last games on TV, and I know I was at the stadium a handful of times when he was still diving across the turf and back-flipping on to the field, but I don’t remember it. I don’t remember him. Considering the shortstops the Cardinals have gone through in the last few years, even though there have been a few dazzling plays, I know it doesn’t compare.
- I never saw Stan Musial. Like most of America, it took me awhile to really see how great “the Man” was during his career. I feel like I really didn’t figure it out until I was in college. I had heard of Stan, but I didn’t understand why he was so great.
A perfect knight. The words make you think regal and showy and other such adjectives. Stan was none of those things. He was humble, happy, loyal, a gentleman to the core, and the nicest man you ever got to meet.
I never got to see Stan. He retired long before my parents even met. I never lived in St. Louis to just see him out and about. I never went to his restaurant and had a chance siting of him wandering around glad-handing the customers. I never got to see him drive around the warning track in a golf cart. I didn’t get to be at the stadium to Stand for Stan. I never went to Opening Day and saw him shake Tony’s hand. I never heard him play his harmonica. I wasn’t at the All-Star game in St. Louis when he got his triumphal entry that FOX didn’t even feel the need to really show on live television, and I wanted to throw things at the TV because of it.
I guess I thought I would someday. I live just 3 hours from the stadium now. I’m making plans to go to Opening Day.
I guess I thought there was still time.
I found out about Stan’s passing when I was on vacation this past weekend. In the midst of our relaxing weekend away, my husband and I sat in silence for a little while when we heard the news. I texted my parents, who hadn’t heard the news. We didn’t really have the words to describe what we were thinking. We debated on detouring through St. Louis on our way home from our trip, but it didn’t happen. We both felt drawn to the stadium, like it was calling us to come pay our respects.
I never got to see Stan, but I will never forget him.