Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Adam Wainwright

St Louis Cardinals, Spring Training 2014

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!!  :)

Spring Training Warm-Ups


lindsey twitter photo
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

>Counting Baseball BlessingsWe’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!

lance-lynn-regular- (2)

photo from robrains.com

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…

photo from stltoday.com

photo from stltoday.com

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.

Photo by Michael Donahue

Photo by Michael Donahue

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!

Fill ‘Em Up!

Aah, postseason baseball…

Everyone’s a little on edge.  Professional athletes (even the seasoned ones) get jitters. Fans are barely holding onto their sanity.  Winners, losers, adrenaline, infield fly primers….  all part of the drama.  And from what I can tell, there are two ways to dwell in this unique era (not “error”, mind you… that’s something entirely different despite what the TBS broadcast sounds like during a Cards/Nats game.)

This 2012 Cardinals Postseason Era rallies Cardinal Nation under a set of unique circumstances that, while touched on here, run far deeper if you bleed Cardinal red:

#1 The Cardinals are the reigning 2011 World Series Champions (hard-fought, comeback Cardinals defying all odds – remember??  Of course you do.)

#2 The Cardinals are the first postseason team in history to have won entry as a 2nd wildcard team.  (Of course they did.)

#3 The first-ever Wildcard playoff game was a doozy, temporarily played under a big ol’ P (for protest) and the Cardinals won (of course they did.)

And lest we forget some of the other less-than-lovely 2012 defining sidenotes:  Tony La Russa and Albert La Pujols have left the building.  You may have heard it mentioned that new manager Mike Matheny has zero previous managerial experience.  Lance Berkman, the 2011 National League Comeback Player of the Year, spent much of 2012 injured and most likely has already taken his last career at bat, with rumors of retirement sounding increasingly likely.  Defensively, at shortstop we’ve lost Rafael Furcal (strained elbow ligament) in exchange for Pete Kozma.  (love him or hate him, he’s made it interesting already.)  The Cards squeaked into the postseason with only 88 regular season wins, again rallying juusssst enough to beat the clock as the door slammed shut on the 2012 regular season.

So, with a lead-in like this, why would anyone expect the Cardinals to win in the postseason?  I would.  And let me tell you why.

#1 These are the St. Louis Cardinals.

 Enough said.  ;)

Okay then, back to the reason that got me writing this morning-

From the sounds and smells of the internets yesterday, there are two predominant camps in Cardinal Nation and things started to get ugly (a few notches below bottle-throwing, temper tantrum, Atlanta Wildcard crowd-type ugly, but still…) when their rights to free speech bumped up against the others’ rights to look on the Brightside.

(Quick note for those of you under the rocks:  Despite an other-worldly performance by Adam Wainwright in which he struck out TEN batters in under 6 innings, the Cardinals lost Game 1 of the NLDS to the Nationals even though their rockstar pitcher, Gio Gonzalez, walked – or hit – so many redbirds that we could potentially have won the game by a landslide while Gio still had a no-hitter.  Plus there were pesky SHADOWS on the field, and our boys couldn’t get a hit to save Torty.  In all truthfulness, Allen Craig summed it up best saying “We just didn’t get it done.”)

 

The flood of postgame accusations and criticisms of Matheny’s 8th inning pitching choices spread like wildfire.  Yes, Cardinal Nation was bitterly disappointed in the loss, but why the landslide of gloom and doom and the crazy amount of time spent  slinging blame at all the easy targets?  Why would you want to spend your postseason angry?  This is October baseball and it is a-maaaaaaazing.  The fact that a game can turn on the smallest nuance (Kozma, for instance) means that even those pesky Cardinals have a shot.

Some of us (guilty as charged) are choosing to look at this postseason as a gift.  Yes, our Cardinals snuck in the backdoor (again).  Yes, we started out by losing game 1 of the NLDS (again).  Yes, our offense is schizophrenic (again).  But my postseason glass will be half full until we’re down to the last strike (….again).  Because these are our comeback Cardinals and we’ve felt the magic before.

Sure, on the flipside, even the grumpiest, angriest and down right hostile-est (grammar be darned, it sounds better that way) of baseball fans have a right to their opinions and comments.  And after a tough loss it can even be highly therapeutic (and informative) to read/hear impassioned pleas for why certain armchair management decisions would have saved the planet (hindsight and all.) Truth be told, I follow a whole slew of intelligent, but grumpy Cardinal fans on twitter because most of them throw out some valid points and after unwrapping their anger, I can, at times, discover an interesting nugget and learn a thing or two… and sometimes not, but still…  ;)

So, if I had one postseason wish, it would be for our Cardinals to repeat. (Of course it would!)  Okay, but if I had TWO postseason wishes, I might consider spending the other wish that the glass-half-empty-ers would be more tolerant of us glass-half-full-ers because IMHO the postseason is a heckuva lot more fun when you think  when you KNOW there’s a chance.

Go Cards!!

The Boys Are Back! Almost.

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!

9. Who’s on 2nd?  Descalso? Greene? Schumaker??  The anticipation’s killing me.  Wishlist:  quick glove, soft hands, excellent range, add in a little offense… Honestly, I’m just glad it isn’t Theriot.

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.  =)

Winter Warm-Up, Day 1

The Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up kicked off today at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis. Throngs of Cardinal fans, all clad in red and looking for a midwinter baseball boost crowded the 2nd and 4th floors to see favorite baseball players, buy souvenirs, collect autographs and talk ball.

As I mentioned earlier in the week (click HERE for that post), I have had varying levels of anxiety mixed with complete joy over the Cardinals’ invitation to cover the event as a credentialed member of “the press”.

My Winter Warm-Up began at the St. Louis airport, where while waiting for my bags I looked up to see Tyler Greene walking my way.  I of course greeted him with a warm “Hi Tyler.” He stopped, smiled, said “Hi,” and paused…

(This “press” thing had me all confused!  Here I’d been working on suppressing fan tendencies all week in preparation for WWU, yet there I was at the airport dressed in my not-fan press’ly attire mentally preparing to be professional and what happens? I run into one of the Cardinals.  My mind short-circuits, knowing this was not the place to ask my prepared interview questions. So…. what to do???)

I went with the obvious, and brilliantly asked him if he was on his was to WWU.  Small, mundane chatter. My mental dialogue is sarcastically critical: “Perfect, Erika.”  Tyler answers, smiles again. and pauses…  (I am not blocking his way. promise.)  We established what time he was signing autographs & I finally (mercifully) waved him on his way, ending with a mostly fan-like “I’ll see you there!”  ugh.

Awkward Tyler Greene airport conversation.  My WWU is starting off oddly.

I arrived at the Hyatt around noon, dropped my bags in the room, grabbed my camera, my spare iphone (voice recorder) and all the questions I had worked on for the day’s listed player interviews. (The players come to the press area after signing autographs and answer questions, as time allows.  Well actually, I thought the players would come after signing, but learned that they may instead come to the interview area before scheduled WWU autograph sessions.  [lesson #1]  So, I was a bit disappointed to discover that I had already missed interview opportunities with minor leaguers Jordan Swagerty, Zack Cox, and Ryan Jackson (yep, they missed out on those amazing questions I had prepared for them) as well as the big boys, Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal.

Despite studying maps of the layout beforehand, I was lost in the crowd on the 2nd floor while hunting for the spot to pick up my credentials.  Who should come to the rescue, but Matt Sebek (there with Josh Bacott to hunt their Joe SportsFan WWU bread-and-butter:  the elusive, but always rewarding Unusual Cardinal Fan photos).  With good directions from Sebek, I found the lovely Cardinals Care volunteers who handed over my credentials, and I was off to the 4th floor!  … into another crowd, and lost. again.  A text to a friendly blogger buddy: Kevin (covering the WWU for Daniel Shoptaw’s site: C70 at the Bat) helped me find my way to the media work room.  I had arrived!  Late, but ready to hit the ground running!

I spent the next 20-30 minutes hearing what I had missed and waiting for my first media scrum.  Yep, the word is “scrum”.  Apparently that is the term used to describe how the press crowds around a player to ask questions and record soundbites.   It isn’t actually as horribly nasty as it sounds, but the experienced scrummers definitely had an advantage and there is most assuredly a scrum pecking order.  The pros were up close, on the player’s immediate right or left.  The television cameras had front and center.  The tall guys holding the microphones were in front.  This, of course, made it hard on us shorter folk left in the back. However, later in the afternoon, I found a loophole:  stand on a chair. [lesson #3] (I was assured by Brian Stull of 101 ESPN in St. Louis that standing on a chair was perfectly acceptable and he would take the blame if it was not.)  I believe he was right because another (more seasoned-looking) photographer stood on a chair next to me during Adam Wainwright’s scrum time.  When in Rome….  ;)

My first scrum experience was with John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ GM.  As advised by my fellow newly credentialed blogger comrades, I set my iphone recorder on the podium and managed to snag a prime position with a clear shot of Mo – right next to the tv cameras (beginners luck).

Mozeliak talked for over 20 minutes.  Topics ranging from the opening at second base, to Yadier Molina’s no-show (again) at WWU and including bits about Kyle McClellan- is he staying or going?, how he (Mo) felt when he got the call that Albert had accepted the deal with the Angels, and the future of the organization with all the offseason staffing/coaching changes.

I learned that John Mozeliak really likes to talk about Tyler Greene’s athleticism and his being a superb athlete.  When asked about the 2B options for 2012, Mo was insistent that Tyler Greene would have every opportunity to get more playing time in 2012 and went on to be very supportive of Greene and his potential.  This ode to Tyler Greene caught me off guard, as it seemed to shock others in the room as well because Mo was then questioned about Greene’s prior chances to prove himself.  I am proud to say that I did speak up and ask Mo what getting Tyler Greene more playing time would mean for Daniel Descalso.  In response, Mo praised Descalso’s contributions, emphasizing his abililty to play multiple positions, but finished up with another nod to Tyler Greene’s ability to ALSO play multiple positions.  From the sounds of it, Spring Training may bring quite the battle for 2B, which at this time is “open”.

Another tantalizing tidbit from Mo’s moments:  Yadi will be making a donation to the Cardinals Care fund since he has backed out of Winter Warm-Up this year.  (All proceeds from the Annual Winter Warm-Up benefit Cardinals Care, the team’s community foundation supporting kids.)  Mo also mentioned that Yadi doesn’t like to do public autograph sessions, which although not surprising, was disappointing to hear (from a fan’s perspective, which I would never admit to while being a member of the press.) But truthfully, Yadi… what gives??

I did discover lesson #2 after the Mozeliak ditty:  “when hurriedly putting your voice recorder on the podium prior to the scrummage, you should check to make sure it is actually recording.” In the excitement of it all, I thought I hit the little red button.  I did not.  And that is why I am relying on memory here for the Mozeliak interview…  (consider that my disclaimer).  You can check out the links below from the other Cardinal bloggers who were smart enough to turn on their recorders.

Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn

My 2nd scrum was less informative and cut short.  Matt Carpenter (AAA Memphis), pitcher Lance Lynn and the previously-showered-with-Mo-love Tyler Greene all came in together about 10 minutes before their scheduled autograph sessions.  Matt Carpenter looked as though he knew the other two would get most of the questions (he was right.)  The highlights: appearing slimmer than when we last saw him, Lance Lynn discussed how his mentality had changed from starting to relieving and how he “just wants to pitch, wherever it may be.”

Tyler Greene

Tyler Greene talked about being “ready to play… to come into Spring Training ready to play…to play as much as he can….”  When told that Mo was pretty adamant about his getting every opportunity to win the 2B job, Tyler said “it’s great! it’s an open spot… there’s going to be some competition… everybody’s going to be working for it & working hard.”  Tyler then deflected some questions about his prior efforts at the Cardinal infield, reiterating that it was in the past and he is just looking forward to Spring Training while emphasizing his extra practice at 2B this offseason.  Matt Carpenter spoke about working on being versatile and practicing other positions.  (An assumed reference to the burgeoning wealth of 3B talent with World Series MVP David Freese ahead of him and Zack Cox likely surging up to AAA this season.)  All three spoke highly of their former Memphis skipper, Chris Maloney, newly promoted to Cardinals 1st base coach for 2012, and then they were quickly scooted off to the autograph tables.

Adam Wainwright was the highlight of my first day Winter Warm-Up.  Although slumming it in a boring gray hoodie, he was darling, as usual.  Waino answered questions about his rehab (“feeling great” and saying “I am actually worried that I’m too far along instead of the other way around.”) He joked about when he might feel comfortable ribbing new teammate Carlos Beltran about “the curve” and told how Matt Holliday liked to tease him about his gardening hobby that helped occupy his time and “kept him sane” in 2011.  It was obvious Waino is ready to get back to the game.

Some more Waino highlights:  In his humble, yet upstanding way, Adam spoke about his role in the clubhouse, saying “I feel like I have a leadership role on the team.  I feel like I can help in a lot of different ways.”  He also took the opportunity to elaborate on the role faith played in his recovery, explaining “when you are leaning on somebody who is a lot stronger than any human could be and is inspiring like God is, then you are always going to be okay.”

And as luck would have it, my first day of Winter Warm-Up wrapped up with my baseball player talking about a football player.  You may have heard of him?  His name’s Tim Tebow, and Adam Wainwright is a huge fan.

For more WWU goodies, be sure to check out my partners in crime:

Chris Reed will be posting updates on i70baseball.com

Kevin‘s updates are at C70 at the Bat

Nick is covering WWU at PitchersHitEighth

and Ann is posting updates at Aaron Miles Fastball

—–

Tomorrow, I’m back at it again.  More pictures, more player info.  Winter Warm-Up Day 2!

Daydream Believer

Pinch me.

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

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

Pinch me.

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

And yet, here we are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pinch me.

Go Cards!  ;)

In a Perfect World…

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

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

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

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

Italics indicate starter

Catchers (2)
Gerald Laird
Yadier Molina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best of times.

Two days without baseball, and so much rain. Since the boys haven’t played in a while, and there (probably) isn’t much new to say about the Ryan Franklin/new closer situation (at least for a minute), this seems a good a time as any to present my inaugural solo post here at Diamond Diaries. I thought briefly about babbling on and on about myself, but then I realized–there is no better way for me to introduce myself to a bunch of Cardinals fans than to recount my top three best moments as a Cardinals fan.

So. Without further ado.

3. August 7, 2005: David Eckstein’s walk-off grand slam

This game… it’s been nearly six years, and I still have visceral memories of this game. I was watching by myself at my parents’ house in St. Louis, and for most of the first eight innings, it was beyond frustrating. It wasn’t unlike the first week of this 2011 season–people struggling to get on base, people struggling to hit when other people finally got on base. But David Eckstein, god bless his scrappiness and enormous heart, was doing everything that he could. As the lead-off man, he certainly did everything he was supposed to, which was get on base for the big bats behind him to knock him in. So he walked. Twice. He singled. He doubled. He stole a base. All of these efforts left him stranded out there on various bases, until the bottom of the ninth rolled around, and Davey found himself in a position to do a little more damage.

At the time of this game, I was only in the midst of my second full season as a Cardinals fan. I did not yet fully appreciate the Cardinals’ history of scrappy middle infielders, but on that day, I fell in love with them. There’s something so heartwarming and gratifying about seeing someone try so hard and then succeed–with Albert, it never looks like trying. So when Davey belted that walk-off grand slam to give us the 5-4 victory over Atlanta on that random August day in my parents’ living room… I’m not going to lie. I might have cried a little. And then I ran outside and danced a little. And then I called every baseball fan I knew at the time to squeal about it.

In retrospect, maybe that game didn’t mean all that much to the Cardinals season–after all, they won 100 games in 2005 and ran away with the division. But for me, watching Eckstein both play small ball and then swing the big bat was undoubtedly one of my best and most memorable moments as a fan.

2. October 18, 2005: Albert Pujols breaks Brad Lidge

I have heard a lot of argument about this moment and whether or not it is significant (mostly from the other side, who is all YOU DIDN’T EVEN END UP WINNING THE SERIES). I think it is. A lead-changing (and ultimately game-changing) home run is always at least mildly significant, and this one was just so… HUGE. Not in implication, but in… hugeness. (Huge enough that I can’t even find the right words!) I think we can all agree that Brad Lidge has not been the same since this home run, which is awesome.

For me, though, this moment was something else entirely. I didn’t even see this game. While this game was being played, a cruel fate had me somewhere in the sky between Shanghai and Tokyo, and I was a mess. So my memory of one of Albert’s greatest home runs goes more like this:

I am running through Narita airport. I am frantic. I need the Internet! A man spots my Cardinals shirt as we pass by each other on moving walkways moving in opposite directions. He says something like, “Hell of a game. Can’t believe they lost that one.” My heart drops.

“We LOST?!” I yell, turning around as he glides by. The man clarifies: “Astros. Astros lost. Hell of a home run.”

My plummeting heart shoots back up. The Astros lost! That means we won! And I have no idea what “hell of a home run” means, but I’ll be damned if I’m not about to find out. Now I run happily through the terminal. I find some Internet. I pay an inordinate amount of yen to use the Internet. I sit and read, gulping up every happy word, every joyous description.

It is the best.

1. October 19, 2006: Oh, you KNOW

Hmm. So it appears that all of my favorite baseball moments happened when I was alone, and the top two happened when I was alone in Asia. I will address this in a minute.

Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS is the best St. Louis Cardinals game I’ve ever seen. I’ve only been watching for 7+ years, of course, but I think that’s a fair statement. For this game, I got up at the crack of dawn, scootered across the city of Taipei, and let myself into my friends’ apartment–their TV got the English broadcast, and mine did not. Watching American baseball with the Taiwanese broadcast is certainly an experience worth having (the announcers, honestly, yell HASTA LA VISTA, BABY! whenever someone hits a home run), but not for the playoffs. And certainly not for Game 7.

My friends were off to work, so it was just me on their couch with my Cardinals cow. Yes, that was my company for the biggest game of my young life as a baseball fan–a stuffed cow that I made at Build-A-Bear and dressed in a Cardinals uniform. (You might say I was lonely, sometimes.)

We all know about this game. How Endy Chavez robbed Scott Rolen (and us!) of hope, and Yadier snatched that hope right back and knocked it out of the park. Given the present closer situation, we’ve all had Wainwright’s stellar rookie stint as a closer in mind.  We all remember holding our breaths and staring as Carlos Beltran, the “Cardinals Killer”, went: strike looking, strike swinging, strike looking, with the bases loaded and all our hearts on the verge of cardiac arrest. This, along with the day I got married, might have been the best moment of my life.

I guess it’s kind of weird that all of these “best moments” are kind of lonely moments, but maybe it’s significant that I don’t think of them in that way. Baseball makes me feel connected to a community, no matter where I am or what stuffed animals are keeping me company. Joining Diamond Diaries and getting more involved in that community is a really exciting step for me, and I look forward to it greatly!

Compare and Contrast – Class

 

Waino no bueno? *tear*
h/t @MatthewHLeach

I sat, stunned, as I saw twitter explode with the news that Adam Wainwright was heading to St. Louis with elbow trouble. My fears were realized when another explosion occurred in my little corner of the internet with the sad tale that Waino was going to be shut down for the year to have Tommy John surgery. I then became horrified when I heard of Jonny Gomes’s comments about the matter.

So what I’m here to talk about today is this – class. Some people have it, others need it, and others need it defined for them before they can figure out how to get it.

*ahem*

What happened with Gomes frustrated me. The cover-up/spin put on it by the Reds organization/media made it seem all the more ridiculous that people allow themselves to say things like that without realizing that yes, your voice is being heard, and your words will be spread to the masses by lunchtime thanks to twitter, blogs, and the like. If you’re looking for amusing thoughts on the situation, head over to Pitcher’s Hit Eighth… Dennis did a better job injecting some amusement into the situation than I ever could.

I could handle the Gomes thing to a certain extent. At least someone was bright enough to tell him that he should probably apologize. He’s in the spotlight. I definitely hit the eject button this afternoon though when I spotted a comment awaiting moderation from a Reds fan. It was posted on Erika’s goodbye to Jason LaRue from back in September. I did not publish said comment due to the fact that it used no less than six words that I would not be allowed to speak at my grandmother’s dinner table, much less publish as representation of a website that I belong to. What sparked such heinous comments months after the fact is absolutely beyond me. All I could think to say was, “Stay classy, Reds fans.”

This morning I was directed to this post written by none other than Adam Wainwright himself. I was mesmerized while reading it. I already had a tremendous respect for Adam as a player, person, and Christian, but what I read in that post made that admiration grow exponentially. If I were him, I would have felt devastated with the news that my body had broken down on me at such a high point in my career. Instead he is looking at it as an opportunity, a way to spread God’s love to others through his actions and words off of the diamond. He won’t be gone though, as evidenced by this thought:

I absolutely hate the idea of missing this season with teammates. I think we have a real good shot to win the World Series. The group we have is really special, and I’ll have my pom pom”s out in full force. But here’s the deal. This injury, the one that makes me miss an entire year of baseball, has allowed me to stop missing what is right in front of me. I am blessed with an amazing God. A God who continues to teach me lessons in mysterious ways. 

I love that! Waino’s got class. He will be back. I hope Cardinal fans take after him, instead of spending their time firing dumb comments into the atmosphere in retaliation of what others say about our team.

2011’s Top Five Cardinal Stories

I’ve been thinking about working on this UCB post for awhile now, but haven’t really come up with anything worthwhile. Someone (not naming names since I don’t remember) made it sound like I could write something sarcastic and completely nonsensical. Score!

So without further ado, here are our top five stories for 2011:

1. Adam Wainwright will win the 2011 NL Cy Young. Okay, this point is obviously legitimate. I really do believe Waino capable of beating out the fierce competition in the National League to take home the Cy. There are a lot of incredible pitching staffs floating around the senior circuit, from the Phillies on the east coast to the Giants on the west, not to mention the Reds, Brewers, and Cardinals in the middle of the country. There are big names like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Zack Greinke. That said, I think Wainwright can match them, pitch for pitch, out for out.


Warning: That was probably the last ‘prediction’ that I actually think could happen. The rest is for my own entertainment.

2. Yadi starts a brawl in Cincinnati when Johnny Cueto kicks him in the shins during warm-ups. Who knows why he did it. Cueto that is. Yadi beat the crap out of him, and we know why that happened. Don’t mess with Yadi… especially not his shins. Watch your back, Reds’ players…

3. The amount of scrappy and/or gritty references made about the Cardinals infielders on various blogs, highlight reels, radio shows and Twitter will quite possibly reach infinity. Good grief. Every new player that has been signed this offseason (with the exception of Berkman who is definitely not the right size or shape to be considered for either) has been labeled with one of these two monikers. Theriot? Punto? What is this? We already had both of those guys, except they were Brendan Ryan, Aaron Miles, and/or David Eckstein, respectively. Can you have too much scrap or grit on one team? The Cardinals might be pushing the limit. Quick, someone find a big slugger to hold together the infield! It would help if he has a good contract that makes him a Cardinal for life.

Wait, what’s that?

“Pay me my money.”

Yes, sir! Get on it Mo!

4. All of our scrappy/gritty infielders come down with bird flu and Tony LaRussa, in a moment of desperation, begs that Mo undoes the trade with the Mariners for Brendan Ryan. A stretch? Sure. Don’t look at me. Erika penned this one. I mean… it could happen.

5. Kyle Lohse’s arm will fall off. Again… it could happen (but Erika says I should be nice). He’s never known a normal injury for a pitcher, whether it was getting a broken wrist while batting, having an injury only known to long distance runners and motocross bikers, or coming down with that frustrating condition known as crap-itis. Oops, that wasn’t nice. My bad.

Let me be perfectly honest – I want Lohse to do well. I hope he becomes the best fifth starter in the National League. But in my mind, the odds of him doing well compared to his arm falling off have to be about even by now.

*~*~*~*

Open in Mobile AppIf you’re interested, check out the new UCB app for iPhone and Android by clicking on the little icon to your left. It’s shiny and NEW! Also make sure that you check out the archive of all the Top 5 stories for this month’s UCB project here.

Baseball season is almost here… just hold on a little longer Cardinal fans! :)

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