Cardinal baseball, from the girls
Nothing is better than Opening Day at Busch Stadium. I’ve never been, and I know this. It’s actually hard saying what I would give to be able to go to an Opening Day… but since you’re reading this a mere hour or two before first pitch, I’m obviously not there yet! Maybe next year.
Your goal today is simple:
- Watch the Cardinals beat down the Cubs.
- Enjoy every glimpse of every red-coated Hall of Famer you can see.
- Tweet us (@DiamondDiaries) or post in the comments and tell us what your favorite part of Opening Day is. Why? Because we’ve got some freebees to give away! The kind people at A+E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions have provided us with Blu-Ray/DVD copies of last year’s game 6 magic to give away to all of you!
It’s that simple. Deadline for our little contest is Sunday afternoon, 1:15 PM CST, otherwise known as first pitch of the final game of this Cards/Cubs series. We will announce the winners on Monday morning.
Excited to see all of your responses. Enjoy the game!
In past years it was easy to accuse the Cardinals of being almost… bland. Elder statesmen of the team like Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter brought drive, passion, and supreme athletic ability to a strong team.
What they didn’t bring? Fun!
It sounds stupid, but the more you think about it, the more you realize that this clubhouse was not one that seemed like a barrel full of laughs. Older teams like the 2006 World Series winners brought winning, although there wasn’t much in the way of personality there. Outside of the Jim Edmonds nightly game ball and Scott Rolen’s drama with manager Tony LaRussa, I can’t say I recall much else that involved the players in the clubhouse.
Over the last couple of years, the combination of Yadier Molina and Pujols created a bromance that Matt Sebek of Joe Sports Fan captured with this:
However, having these two being so close hasn’t translated to a whole clubhouse. Stories surfaced about how Albert’s entourage would do things like go to NBA games and barely notice the peons of the team that also went to the game and wanted to meet Kobe (oh crap, I’m talking about Brendan Ryan again… did you hear he’s engaged?). It wasn’t team things – it was entourage things. Maybe there was something to the whole Colby Rasmus thinking the team was rough on him thing. If it was a fractured clubhouse……..
Wait, was I about to stick up for Colby’s whining? Moving on…
Now that Albert has split for the sunny beaches of California, a new bromance has emerged.
You know who I’m talking about: Matt Holliday and David Freese. They’re everywhere, from a Skype interview on Intentional Talk to their latest endeavor with the Cardinals as the ambassadors for the new “Homers for Health” initiative where fans are encouraged to donate money in quarter increments to help out a local children’s hospital in St. Louis. Their work together has shown up on Twitter, although not in the way you would think…
Offseason squash workouts became Twitter fodder for most of us bored-tired-of-football-when-does-spring-training-start-again?! baseball fans, seeing pictures like this and watching all of the interaction between the Cardinal players on Twitter has brought about a new feel with this team.
They laugh. They joke. They include more than Freese – it’s Lance Berkman’s candid interviews and Jon Jay’s Nike collection and Jason Motte’s beard eating small children.
Wait, that’s wrong too.
What I’m saying is that this is a new era for the Cardinals. One that we can definitely get behind.
Is it Opening Day yet?
Happy day-after-St-Patty’s to you! Green eggs, green beer, green baseball jerseys…. what’s not to love? Checking in on our Cardinals this morning (yesterday’s Spring Training loss, 10-3 to the Tigers), I found a lovely video highlight from MLB: Matt Holliday, in green, belting a two run homer. (With a couple of slow-mo views to savor the moment again and again!) Thank you, MLB!
(click HERE to watch)
Of course, seeing Holliday all dressed in green, smacking the shamrocks off a baseball, reminded me of this gem from 2011. A day late, but definitely worth hunting down.
So Happy St. Patrick’s Day…. from me (and Matt Holliday)
Go Cards!! ;)
Little league practice schedules and reports from Jupiter’s Spring Training games: signs that the world is finally waking up from a long winter, and baseball’s back! …..almost.
Spring Training whets the appetite and refreshes the senses. Lineups, pitching reports, actual games on green grass with familiar faces (and some unfamiliar mugs) donning the birds on the bat… it’s all so surreal, especially with the backdrop of Florida palm trees.
While that’s all very well and tropically good (and I’m still crossing my fingers for the possibility of a quick pilgrimage to Florida), I find myself longing for the real deal: the true start of the 2012 season. The 2011 World Series Champions have a lot to prove. New manager and No Albert Pujols may top the list, but whether ESPN is interested or not, Cardinal Nation has a lot of curiosities about how this team will perform.
My Top 10 Highlights/Curiosities for the upcoming 2012 season:
10. Pregame interviews on Fox Sports Midwest: this is where the players get a chance to prove they have personality. Sink or swim, boys!
8. Eduardo Sanchez’ filthy slider. I fell in love with that pitch only to have it ripped away too early in the season last year. Please, oh please, let’s have a healthy Sanchez and many, many gorgeous dirty pitches out of the bullpen this year.
7. Mike Matheny management style. What attitude will this team have under Matheny’s reins? Will it be more youthful? Will the playbook be more predictable? One thing’s for certain, getting my non-baseball girlfriends to watch a game will be easier with Matheny front and center in dugout shots. (Cute manager? Heckya!)
6. Jason Motte, “The Closer”. Bearded, fidgety, always throwing himself off the mound with the force of that fastball. He makes me smile. Bring on the crazy-Motte! I miss watching him yell at his glove.
5. Lovable Lance at 1st – those are mighty big shoes to fill! Can Berkman be more than “adequate”? For his sake (and ours), I hope we never hear “Albert would’ve…” or “if Albert had been there…” Honestly, Berkman surpassed any and all expectations last year, so here’s hoping he can make us forget all about you-know-who.
4. Chris Carpenter attitude. Yes, he scares me. Yes, he has a mouth on him. But man, oh man, a game with Carp on the mound is like a baseball drug. He’s our bad boy, intense. fierce. And afterwards, please throw in a good dose of that sexy, deep, gurgly Carp-voice in post game interviews? Thank you.
3. Adam Wainwright back on the bump. Remind me again…How did we ever win the World Series without Wainwright?? Soooo glad he’s back. Soooo thrilled he’s healthy. The question now is can we expect him to pick up where he left off?? Pencil him into those pregame TV interviews ASAP. And also into those dugout shots. Ok? Ok. Good!
2. David Freese smiles. Is there anything lovelier? Especially those ginormous joyful grins of a walk-off win. Such a humble, talented, gorgeous MVP… and he tweets?!! (love!) Stay healthy, Dave, stay healthy!
…and for my #1 pick, I gotta say that I am most looking forward to seeing the return of my favorite familiar baseball sight: Matt Holliday digging in at the plate, Matt Holliday leg kicks, Matt Holliday launching ‘em into the stands, Matt Holliday digging for home, Matt Holliday… well, you get the point.
The boys are back! Almost. =)
As part of my Numbers Nerd ways, I am constantly counting down something. Days until Christmas. Hours until the weekend. Weeks until the end of the school year (yes, teachers count those too). But once the clock turns midnight, the champagne has been toasted, and the confetti has been cleaned, chances are there is one countdown that I think about more than others.
When is the first day of the season? What is that day exactly?
For me, we just passed that milestone. Saturday pitchers and catchers all arrived at Jupiter, refreshed from a busy offseason and ready for baseball again. As soon as I start hearing whispers of player X has arrived at camp in the best shape of his life, I know that real live baseball news is right around the corner.
The United Cardinal Bloggers are at it again with their roundtable discussions. My question to them this time around was simple: When does the season ‘begin’? Here’s what they had to say…
Dathan Brooks: Cards Tied For First
For me, it never ends. It just has various cycles. I’ve often said that the offseason is exciting for me, just as is the regular season, only in different ways. But, for me I don’t really “feel” like the season has begun until I’ve seen a game at Busch for the first time that season. Sometimes that’s Opening Day, sometimes a little later, but that’s my short answer.
Daniel Solzman: Redbirds Fun
Opening Day. I don’t have FSN Midwest and MLB TV costs me an arm and a leg. It certainly does not help that the cable company and MLB have yet to come to any kind of an agreement to air MLB Network on TV.If I want to watch baseball on TV, I am limited to ESPN, WGN, FSN Ohio, and TBS. It’s sad. Plus, being a college basketball fan, it works out perfectly. Opening day, at least this season, is two days after the championship game.
Officially, Opening Day. Spring training is great, but it’s not real for me until the games matter.
Opening Day is the first day the season officially begins for me. Spring training for me is like Advent (the countdown to Christmas) and Opening Day is like Christmas Day.
I guess when anyone does what we all do – namely, cover the team – the seasons seem to blend from one phase to the next.
Spring training is wonderful, a welcome ramping up of festivities and a fresh renewal, but nothing beats opening day for sheer excitement and hope. That’s where it really starts for me.
Daniel Shoptaw: C70 at the Bat
I’m with Ray on this one. When I see the pictures on the Post-Dispatch website, when that bit of warmth pervades the winter (such as it has been this year), when I see baseballs being tossed back and forth, that’s when the season starts for me. It means less fumbling for topics on the blog, which helps, but there’s news constantly then. Opening Day is great and obviously that has a lot of import, but baseball is back for me when there’s a couple of guys in Cardinal uniforms playing catch.
Tyler Giles: Rally Birds
The season begins with the first exhibition game of the Spring… but the season OFFICIALLY begins with the first Major League baseball game played where the result stays in the W/L column for the next 6 months. I’m feverishly excited when Spring exhibition play begins, but it’s like that fever breaks as soon as real baseball is being playing across the United States and I can just bathe in the excitement of baseball like Scrooge McDuck swimming in his vault of gold coins. God, I cannot wait for that moment…
Rodney Knuppel: Saint Louis Sports
For me, opening day is that time. Spring Training is nice and all, but the first real game is when they blood really gets flowing.
Matt Whitener: St. Louis Sports 360
Like a few others have said already, it never reallys ends for me. The offseason is just as active of a time for me in following the game, and perhaps even more so sometimes, just due to the mass amount of information that flies around during the Hot Stove season. Spring Training is nice because of the buzz of the team getting back together, but the games don’t really mean much to me. Moreso, the news & player evaluations/status that comes from it is what I check for. It’s kind of like an extension of the winter mostly. Opening Day I really enjoy overall, because it’s back to everybody having a shot again, and how can you not love that. But overall, it never feels like the season ends to me, just moves in different shifts.
Aaron Hooks: Cards Diaspora
I don’t care about the Cardinals teams in Memphis or Springfield or anywhere else for that matter. I hope that a few of the guys playing on those teams make it to the St. Louis Cardinals and kick ass, but the teams I could care less about.
In the same light, all the hot stove, Winter Warm-Ups, and Spring Trainings are nice touchstones, but they don’t mean squat until the games count. At least for me.
Opening Day will always be the perfect St. Louis day.
Mark Tomasik: Retro Simba
The first spring training game makes me feel that baseball is back. Seeing the batting order in the boxscore, checking on which prospects get used late in games, feeling the old familiar pit in the stomach, even though an exhibition loss doesn’t count, and experiencing that wonderful emotional ride when the Cardinals play well and seem to have all the potential in the world.
Bill Ivie: i70 Baseball
The season never ends for me. Sure, I miss live games or consistent news, but with today’s day and age of multimedia access, constant chatter via social media, winter leagues, and much more, the game just never stops for me. There is not a day of the year that I don’t find a way to have a baseball related discussion. To me, this game is a year-round event.
Mary Clausen: MLB Voice
The first day of baseball for me is “pitchers & catchers report” day. It all just falls in right after that. I love every single bit of it!
JE Powell: Stl Fear the Red
First day that pitchers and catchers report starts the “regular” season for me. In baseball there is the “Regular Season” which starts with pitchers anc catchers reporting and ends when the Cardinals season officially ends (whether it’s the last day of the actual regular seaon or the final playoff game) and then there is the “Off Season” which still has quite a bit going on most of the time. So, the answer to the questions is both Pitchers and Catchers Reporting and It Never Ends. Not a very good answer, to be sure, but it’s the only one I’ve got.
Christopher Carelli: Redbird Rants
I’m of the mindset that baseball is going on around the clock. I never stop thinking about the game and there are endless discussions about it daily. Baseball has four seasons which blend into one another; spring training, regular season, post season and hot stove season. Can’t get enough!
Chris Reed: Bird Brained
In the past, it was always the day pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training. But I would also get a return of that “New Season” feeling when I’d hear the first radio broadcast from Florida, then see the first telecast, etc. And that hasn’t really changed since I was a kid. Over the last two years though, thanks to I-70 Baseball, I’ve been able to cover the Winter Warm Up as a reporter and that has become the true start of the new season for me. It’s the first official Cardinal baseball event after the calendar flips to the new year. It’s the first time since the end of the previous season that most of the team is all in one place. And throughout the day, many of the guys talk about when they’re heading down to Jupiter. The St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm Up is my first real “baseball is back” experience of the new season.
Nick: Pitchers Hit Eighth
Clydesdales and red sportcoats.
I just love Opening Day at Busch.
Now you know their thoughts. What are yours? When does the season start for you?
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!
Five? I only get five? I don’t know how Bob Netherton managed to narrow it down, but after reading his I was spurned towards figuring out mine (So… thanks Bob!).
If you are digging back to the very beginning of the Cardinals, the pre-1900′s would be a starting point, but those moments were not really ‘iconic.’ Let’s see… where to start…
5. Bob Gibson’s 1968 season
Have you ever known a player to completely change the way the game was played singlehandedly? No, you think. That doesn’t happen. One player cannot change an entire sport. Oh yes it can…
|162 Game Avg.||17||12||.591||2.91||36||32||1||17||4||0||262||221||96||85||17||90||8||210||7||1||7||1082||128||1.188||7.6||0.6||3.1||7.2||2.33|
Yes, you are reading that correctly. Bob Gibson’s 1968 season was other-worldly. A 1.12 ERA, 13 complete game shutouts, giving up 38 earned runs over 304 innings… who does this?
No one, not since Bob Gibson. You see, 1968 became somewhat of a “year of the pitcher” in Major League Baseball. Run-scoring was down, and since most fans come to see at least a little bit of action at a baseball game, the powers that be determined that this was a terrible thing. The result? The actual pitchers’ mound was lowered from 15 inches to 10 inches. It was a literal leveling of the playing field, and all Gibson got to show for his season was an All-Star selection, Gold Glove, Cy Young, MVP award, and a National League pennant.
Oh, that’s all.
4. October 27, 2011 – “They just won’t go away.”
The 2011 postseason had its share of thrills, spills and chills, but the Cardinals found themselves against the wall, finding themselves down to their final strike not once, but twice, and they still came out on top. David Freese became a household name with his game-tying triple, then followed it up with his walk-off winner. Joe Buck gave us all goosebumps with his call of the home run, channeling his dad with a “We will see you tomorrow night!”
The team wouldn’t quit. They pushed through and came out on top. Also, to further my point that I am a very lucky baseball fan? October 27 is my birthday.
3. The teams that would not die.
The 2011 team was not the only one that was left for dead. 1964 was a wild pennant run in and of itself (and if you want a more detailed look, check out Bob Netherton’s posts on the subject). Ten games back? Nine games back? No matter, somehow these two Cardinal teams rose from the ashes and claimed a place in history.
Now, did it take a hard fall from the teams that were ahead of them in order for the birds on the bat to make it to the playoffs? You betcha. The 1964 Phillies are still remembered for that epic collapse. Will the 2011 Braves be remembered in the same way? Probably not, in all honesty. People don’t talk about the 1964 World Series the same way they will talk about the 2011 version. One thing is certain: no one will forget the Cardinals and their fight to the end!
2. Big Mac breaks the record
1998 was a magical summer for 11 year old me. I was living and dying with every long ball hit by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. I watched more Cubs baseball on WGN than any sane baseball fan should ever have to endure.
Yeah yeah, steriods. I know. But I didn’t back then. I’m not the only one that didn’t see behind the curtain either. Many of those that did, just didn’t care. For the first time since the strike of 1994 crippled many baseball fans from their love of the game, baseball had life. Games at Kauffman Stadium and the Astrodome were being sold out, and those teams had no business having that many fans in the stands. Nightly news would be cut off to update the score and the fact that Mac/Sammy had just blasted another one (and I didn’t live in the St. Louis/Chicago area to get full coverage).
But September 8, 1998 is a night that I will never forget. I screamed, I jumped around the living room, and I almost cut off my poor sisters’ circulation from hugging them so tightly. Watching that ball skirt over the wall, watching Mac almost miss first base, seeing the Maris family and Sammy running in from the outfield and all the people screaming and cheering… I was a part of that! We were all part of that. Despite what we know now… back then we were all just baseball fans again.
1. “Go Crazy Folks”
Ozzie with one out. Took a ball just outside. Cardinals have left ten men on and they left a lotta men on early. A runner at third nobody out in the first and didn’t score, second and third in the second and didn’t score. Smith corks one into into right down the line… it may go… go crazy folks! Go crazy! It’s a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3-2 on a home run by the Wizard! Go crazy!
Seeing the words just doesn’t do that call justice. It never will. The 1985 NLCS game 5 home run by Ozzie Smith was great in and of itself. He wasn’t a home run hitter, especially not from the left side. The home run was incredible, but it was not the iconic moment.
It was the call. It was Jack Buck. There will never be another.
There you go – the top 5 moments in Cardinals history from my eyes. What say you? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments…
Is it baseball season yet?
When Cardinal Diamond Diaries was invited to cover the Winter Warm-Up, one of the first questions I asked before buying my plane ticket and making hotel reservations was “Is my camera invited?”
Cardinals news is wonderful, but Cardinals news with player photos is much, much better! ;)
By spending most of my three-days at WWU behind a lens, I managed to amass quite a hefty collection of digital images. Now, after a few days of picking and choosing, I’ve narrowed them down to a more manageable sharing library. So without further ado, here’s a sampling of my favorite pictures:
(click an image to scroll through larger photos, hover mouse over photo for player name)
All photos copyrighted. For information on republishing images, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Picking the subject of my first Winter Warm-Up Recap was easy. Hometown hero and World Series MVP, David Freese was a media darling. Here’s what he had to say during the short 10 minutes he spent with us in the media room at Winter Warm-Up:
We’ll start with my favorite quotes, the humorous and sweet side of Mr. Freese: (audio link included so you can listen for yourself)
About his squash record with Matt Holliday, who told the media he was ahead of Freese 4-2…
” Is he (Holliday) publicly announcing our record? Wow, he must be nervous because I beat him last time so he’s trying to get that record out there. Yeah, he’s taken me down a few times, but I’m coming back. I’m getting him!”
About being a role model:
“I think I’ve been considered a role model since you get into pro ball. Even in high school and college, there’s kids in this area, being a hometown guy, that are going to look up to you just because. I’ve been in this city for a while and that is something that you can’t take for granted and you have to hold onto. Each day I realize that there is more pressure involved in that. But that’s cool. I think it’s great. I think the kids are the best part about this. As hectic as it is, as crazy as everything gets, every time you see the excitement of a kid, it makes me realize it’s all worth it.”
…” yeah, I KNOW I’m me. I think that’s the easy part. I think about that all the time. Stuff (has) hit me quick, that’s for sure, but I’ve said it before, if you get the right people around you, it’s that much easier to stay you.”
—About getting mobbed by everybody wherever he goes:
“It’s hectic, but it’s flattering. It’s humbling just going in places and seeing fans. I still can’t understand why people thank me all the time, but it’s a cool feeling.
—Characterizing this offseason:
It’s been “preparation for 2012 with holding onto the excitement of 2011. But when I get down to camp, it’s all about 2012.”
“I think expectations maybe from the fan base have risen, but not in my mind or I don’t think in the Cardinals’ mind. I think all they’re worried about is me just being healthy…
I think if I’m healthy, hopefully that’s enough. I can do my part. Losing Albert, we gotta kind of turn it up a little bit. Beltran coming in is HUGE and I think we are jacked up that he’s going to be putting on our uniform, and I’m just going to be me. That’s what this is all about, just be me and do my part.
—Speaking about being considered the hero for Game 6,
Freese said hero is a “tough word.” ”It’s cool. I think everyday I soak it in a little more and really understand what we accomplished as a team. I’m pumped I did my part and glad we’re getting that ring.”
—About this team’s chances to compete again in 2012:
“Losing Albert’s tough, obviously, but 25 guys win a championship, and not one. We are all going to miss Albert and we all wish him the best…. We’re going to have a good team and I think everyone knows that. We’ve got hopefully 20 more wins coming from Waino too. So it’s exciting. I think it’s going to be different having Mike as our manager. It’s going to be different not having Albert… not having Tony, but it’s definitely going to be exciting.”
“There were times when Tony would give me rest in games and also it helped that Descalso’s a gold-glove caliber third baseman so it was a win/win. You could throw D’s in there and keep him fresh. I think 2012 is definitely going to be different in the sense that is going to be like hey Dave, just go in there and play and do what you can do because each day, each year I get more healthy. There is still room for improvement, but that’s the exciting part.
“The weirdest thing is I’ve been really good friends with Mike (Matheny) for two years. To say you have a friend become your manager, usually it’s the other way around. That’s special. That’s great. Everybody in here knows the type of guy Mike is. I think it clouds his knowledge of the game and that is an absolute compliment. I wouldn’t want any other guy taking this team and running it in 2012 than Mike Matheny.”
—About new teammate, Carlos Beltran’s addition to the team:
“(It) fills a void. You can’t fill Albert’s shoes, but Carlos Belran is an elite talent and when he’s healthy, you know, he’s scary for sure… He’s a middle of the order guy. He’s going to do his part and help us out a lot.”
“I’d like to say I could handle 162 (games). I’m not going to throw a number out there, I hope I get this or I hope I get that, but the way I feel now… I’m not nervous. That’s a good thing. That’s a feeling I don’t have and I’ve had that feeling for a long time with my legs and stuff. A year ago today there was definitely a nerve-wracking feeling going into camp. So to pull that off my shoulders is a great feeling.”
“When healthy, I think I get the job done (as a defensive player). Over the past couple of years I go out in the field and sometimes it’s tough just day in and day out getting after it, but I think this year it’s going to be a lot easier because you’re not worried about your feet, you’re not worried about your legs, you’re just being me. I think about ’08 in Memphis ….I remember just running out there and just loving playing defense because I wasn’t worried about my feet. This year it’s going to be like that, so I’m excited.”
“As far as rehabbing my feet, I’ve done less (this offseason). There’s less to worry about. It’s relaxing. The nervous feeling of “am I ready?” isn’t there anymore and I’ve been waiting for that.”
Freese is excited and ready for Spring Training, ready to get out there and play baseball.
We’re ready too, Dave. We’re ready too.
Where do I begin?
Composing this while sitting on the floor of the St. Louis airport, I am still spinning from the wonderful experience of covering Winter Warm-Up. After getting a small taste of the behind-the-scenes media experience, I have a newfound respect for journalists and beat writers who live it, day in and day out.
When I opened my newspaper this morning to the Cardinal coverage, I savored and dissected the columns with even more enthusiasm than usual. Besides the obvious difference of actually holding a real copy of the Post Dispatch in my hands today (a bit hard to find in Oklahoma and one of my favorite little things about visiting St. Louis), I was fascinated to see how the writers would pick and choose their details from the very same player interviews I had experienced the day before and then weave those facts into the stories we read online and in the paper. They make it look so easy…
After 3 days of jam-packed activity, I am truly worn out. The thought of keeping up that pace through an entire baseball season combined with deadlines, hectic travel schedules, game notes, pre- and post-game interviews plus the real-life pressure of it being your JOB to rapidly condense it all into timely, informative and entertaining samplers for the hungry baseball masses… and I’m quite content sticking to this blogging thing where we do it for the love of the game.
Don’t get me wrong however… this was the weekend adventure of a lifetime and I savored every moment of it. The honor of the invitation and the unbelievable access were something I will treasure forever.
Looking back on this amazing whirlwind adventure, I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the opportunity to pass along the sights, player interview tidbits and my experiences at this tremendous event to Cardinal fans through our blog and Twitter. The people of the Cardinals Media Relations team (Brian Bartow, Melody Yount, Chris Tunno, Ron Watermon and especially Terry Rodgers) and the Cardinals Care volunteers were welcoming and helpful. Their hospitality helped ease many of the fears of being out of my element as part of the ”new media” contingency included in this year’s Winter WarmUp coverage. It was great fun visiting with a variety of media folk throughout the weekend, all very kind and accommodating.
The Cardinal organization deserves a big, BIG thank you for opening the doors to us involved in blogging and social media. The responsibility was huge, and I was really proud and (honestly) quite blown away by the volume and quality of material coming from my fellow media credential-newbies. Kevin (posting for C70 at the Bat) was jumping in with both feet, asking players insightful questions that elicited amazing and heartfelt answers. Ann (for Aaron Miles Fastball) was a speed demon at taking notes at those player interviews and getting those words online quicker than… well, quicker than Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth) cranked out summary stories on several hot topics. And Chris Reed (writing for i70baseball.com) ramped up the technology and created his WWU Video Blog. Check them out, if you haven’t already.
My 2nd love (behind family and baseball… so it’s more like my 3rd love, I guess?) is capturing and sharing photographs. So I attempted to gather as many images as possible and pass them along on twitter throughout the day, as well as here on Diamond Diaries. While pursuing this goal, I learned that #1: Winter Warm-Up is a HUGE venue. #2: Comfy shoes can only do so much. #3: Despite my best efforts, even after hustling back and forth all day between player interviews and autograph tables, there were still many other WWU moments that I missed. #4 Who really needs lunch (or dinner) when there are Cardinals to photograph and write about? #5: Ditto for the “sleeping” thing. And #6 Cardinal fans continue to be some of the friendliest people I have ever met.
Winter Warm-Up offers a little bit for everyone. There were lectures, forums, silent auctions, presentations and oh yeah… a World Series trophy! While I only managed to catch a quick glimpse of the variety of vendors and souvenir offerings, Kevin (C70 at the Bat) convinced me the selection was amazing and the prices were spectacular after I saw the treasures he’ll be taking home. It’s no wonder Cardinal fans keep coming back year after year.
With all proceeds from the 16th annual Winter Warm-Up going to the Cardinals Care foundation (the charity benefiting children in the community) fans can enjoy their weekend in baseball heaven, spend lots of money and know it’s for a worthy cause. Win/win!
Yes, the Hyatt was PACKED with people, but the crowd movement was expertly orchestrated. The amazingly adept crew of patient and friendly volunteers directed traffic phenomenally. It was a QUALITY event with the QUANTITY of experiences to match!
This year’s Winter Warm-Up provided hours of voice recordings and hundreds of photo files. It should be enough to keep us entertained for at least a month or so. And from the looks of the Spring Training Countdown, that should just about do it!
Once again, I am excited to share with you my collection of photos from the final day of Winter Warm-Up.
Today’s featured Cardinals include:
- Kyle Lohse
- Tony La Russa
- Kyle McClellan
- Allen Craig
- Manager Mike Matheny
- Carlos Beltran
- Skip Schumaker
- and World Series MVP (with the best smile in baseball) David Freese
And another Thank You to the Cardinals with a special shout-out to Peggy (our wonderful hostess/guide/source in the media area), Patty, Kathleen, Judy and Doris and all the other fabulous Cardinals Care volunteers who made the weekend easier for us all. It was a joy to share the weekend with you!
Although the weekend was truly a dream come true, I am happy to be back home with my family and a slower pace, packing lunch boxes, chauffeuring the kiddos, homework, housework and my real world job. Keep an eye out for more posts and pictures about my adventures. I’m looking forward to digging through my digital keepsakes and sharing the rest of the experience with you… right after I meet the laundry deadline and interview the pets.
Thanks for reading!