Diamond Diaries

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Tag Archives: Albert Pujols

Pujols’ Presser Giveaway Contest Winner

Sometimes a contest doesn’t go the way you planned it to…

When Erika and I decided on how to give away our copies of the World Series DVD, I doubt that either of us really considered how weird it would feel if the Pujols’ press conference announcing his new contract would really be for another team. That said, we do have a winner! While we didn’t hit the exact date, Dan got about as close as possible. He picked December 9, at 11:00AM. Considering the contract broke a day before and the presser was a day after, that’s about as close as you can get without hitting the bulls-eye. Congrats Dan!

For me, it was weird watching the DVD. I felt the same thing in 2006 watching that DVD, because I was seeing names like Jeff Weaver and Preston Wilson being interviewed. Those guys were names that I expected to go away. In fact, when I watched the DVD a couple years later on a cold snowy day I had actually forgotten about those names completely.

Watching this DVD, it would be impossible to forget about Pujols playing on this team. I almost felt like a knife was being turned in my stomach. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a stunning movie, and it gave me butterflies watching it over and over. Seeing the joy of the players, hearing that crack of the bat again after going several weeks without any baseball, and listening to those familiar voices and sounds of the game I love… it was incredible. I didn’t even jump into the bonus features and see the extra goodies like game 5 of the NLDS and bonus material from This Week in Baseball, among others. It truly is a treasure, and if you haven’t grabbed your copy yet, seriously, what are you waiting for?

Be on the lookout for our next big giveaway. We’ll be filling a few more Christmas stockings with some copies of the 8 disc set – yippee! :)

The UCB’s “Too Soon” Attempt at Pujols Nostalgia

Pujols is gone. We saw magic for 11 years, and now we will find new players to find that spark.

Oh ugh. It is way too soon to be sunshine-y about this one. Just shut it.

I know. Too soon. Who tries to spin some silver lining when every Cardinal fan everywhere feels like we were just collectively spit on by a man we once compared to “The Man,” a man who we felt could one day be as incredible as Stan… a lifer with the Cardinals. A legend.

He won’t be. Not anymore.

But dangit, I drew the crazy straw and landed on today for the annual United Cardinal Bloggers roundtable discussion. My options were to:

1) Mope, whine, and complain. Let everyone vent.

2) Go for the “Okay, what do we do now?” tactic.

or 3) Attempt to put a bow on the career he did have here.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I tried. I am trying. Earlier in the day yesterday I was able to be more okay with it. I was able to be Erika, if you want to spin it like that. I was okay. Then I read this. Now, if I wrote like Hooks, I would have written a piece closer to the one that Hooks posted yesterday (not suitable for my family – don’t click that mom! :)).

But here it is… the UCB’s attempt at nostalgia, including my original question out to the team:

Here’s your chance to not talk about the contract, the money, the betrayal (the venom!) that we have seen all over the internets today. Here is your chance to be nostalgic.

What is your favorite Pujols memory? The Lidge bomb? The MVP awards? A specific game or meet-and-greet or whatever you choose. What specific memory will you tell your kids and grandkids about when you talk about Albert Pujols. The fact that he’s gone stings, but it doesn’t negate how we felt when he was here.

I was not let down. I absolutely understand that many could not bring themselves to answer this one. The state I’m in currently… I’m not sure I could have either. But the news broke while I was at work, and I like my job, so I wasn’t upset about it all really until later in the afternoon/evening.

For me, my favorite Pujols memory has to be the Lidge homerun. I was in college, watching the game with 1 Cards fan and approximately 200 Astros fan. Okay, maybe only 15-20 of them. Texas kids all over the place. They were shaking hands, poking fun, having a good time, making World Series plans.

Boom. Bang. Pow.

Their jaws were on the floor. I was screaming and hugging a girl I barely knew, knowing that not only did the Cardinals have life, the also had the opportunity to go back to Busch II for at least one more game. It was beautiful. But that’s my thought… what did the rest of the UCB think?

Bill Ivie: i70 Baseball

I’m going to have to go “nostalgic” a few months ago.
Three home runs in one World Series game, no matter how far out of reach, was impressive.  I seriously do not think anyone in the crowd thought that last at bat would go differently.  It was a flash back to the Pujols of old seeing him step in and do exactly what we expected him to do.  It was a moment that I will tell my kids about, the way my dad told me that he watched Reggie do it.

Daniel Solzman: @dsolzman

Like many of us, I was in the first step of denial when I started thinking about 2005 NLCS Game 5.  I’m starting to sob as I type this because of all that I associate with that memory.  I will be forever grateful for Albert bringing the series game to Busch for one final farewell.  Even though we lost, it was one final way to say goodbye.

In May 2006, I was at a rare game.  Rolen was out with the flu.  Pujols was at the hotel with back spasms or something.  Jimmy?  Well, he had the day off.  It was the first time since the MV3 started that none of them were starting.
Game 5 stands out as a special memory as does the 3 home run game during this past World Series.  I know exactly where I was when it happened.

Daniel Shoptaw: C70 at the Bat

Favorite moment?  Wow, that’s tough.

Besides the obvious, the Lidge homer, the big game in Texas this year, I think one of my favorite memories is going to be a mid-season game in Colorado.  Pujols is on third and a ground ball is hit to the third baseman, I believe.  As soon as it was hit, I was sure what was going to happen and, sure enough, Pujols rounded third and came home, scoring the winning run.

It was pure Pujols.  Doing the little things, the heads-up things, to win a ball game.  Something we’ll sorely miss.

Aaron Hooks: Cards Diaspora

Too soon, Angela. Too soon. I’m still ready to hammer that backstabbing, St. Louis hating, money chasing, double play machine, former Cardinal.

Jesus. Former Cardinal. That sounds so weird.

Favorite Pujols Moment? I really did think hard about this. And even though it’s pretty obvious, that HR in 2005 against the Astros was so incredible. Not only was it a go-ahead homerun to put the Cards on top of a game they had no business winning, but it was sooooo top tank.

On the road, nevertheless. And it also melted a dominant closer down for years and provided us with the classic Andy Pettite “OH MY GOD” clip from the dugout. I can still watch that specific play 20 times in a row and find something new to love every time. Just wish Gus Johnson could have somehow been on the call.

Kevin Reynolds: Cards ‘n Stuff

For me, it was a couple years ago…when Albert was on his grand slam tear…a buddy (@dmbfan81 actually) and myself had gone up like a week before my wife was due to have our daughter for two games against the Cubs in Busch. We were in the right field bleachers…Albert hit a grand slam to LF so hard we never saw the ball…just heard the crowd’s reaction and saw Soriano turn and watch it go…and we started screaming and jumping up and down in the bleachers so hard that half our beer ended up all over the other bleacher goers (who were doing the same) and my buddy fell and nearly broke his ankle (swelled up the size of a softball on the way home). Was amazing to actually be present when he hit that.

Erika Lynn: You know her!

For the glory story, I’m going with being in the stands at Arlington to see Albert hit those three homeruns in Game 3 of the World Series AND at Busch Stadium for Game 7 to witness (what we didn’t know at the time would be) his final at bat as a Cardinal.  (Future grandkids may be impressed by that in a few decades.)  I have Hubby to thank for those memories.  He had to convince me to spend the money, said it was a bucket list kinda thing.  I’m so glad he did.  It was our chance to witness history.

For the personal story:  We’ve watched Albert at Spring Training for the past few years and in 2009 I remember being surprised and struck by Albert’s camaraderie with players and staff from the OTHER teams.  It was one of the final Spring Training games, against the Mets, and both before the game and after, Pujols was greeting the Mets players, coaches and managers like long lost buddies.  I was taken aback at first, but then it hit me: Pujols wasn’t just a Cardinal, he was a Major League baseball player and these were his peers.  The meaning of baseball family got bigger for me that day.

Tom Knuppel: Cardinals GM

2001- Vonachen Stadium- Peoria Illinois- Pujols hit his first home run. The scorboard flashed Jose Pujols…. he told the local sports guys, “I prefer to be called Albert” ………..from then on, he was Albert.

Ray DeRousse: Stl Cardinal Baseball

My favorite Pujols memory was Easter Sunday of 2005. Pujols ripped three home runs that gorgeous afternoon while I got completely drunk and screamed my head off with my friends. Afterwards, driving home down highway 55, the wrecked hood of my car flipped up and smashed my windshield. I was forced to drive like Ace Ventura while hoping the police never saw me. They didn’t, which only makes the memory even sweeter.

Malcolm Pierce: The Redbirds Menace

July 20, 2004.  The Chicago Cubs put up seven runs against Matt Morris and the Cardinals in the second inning in Wrigley Field.  Cal Eldred comes into pick up the pieces.

The wind is blowing out, but even the most optimistic Cards fan doubts the team can come back from this one.  This isn’t your usual sadsack Cubs squad.  This is the team that prompted Sports Illustrated to announce “Hell Freezes Over”, handing the league championship to the Northsiders before the season even began.  They’re several games back but the national media wants us to believe they’re just biding their time.  Glendon Rusch, the Cubs starter, is having a career year and the Cardinals always seemed to struggle against his wily left-handed ways.  It’s almost enough to make you turn off the game.  Almost.

In the top of the third inning, Pujols turns on a pitch to tack on a run.  7-1 becomes 7-2.  Still need to bat around to take the lead.  Still looks like a struggle, but at least the team has life.  At least you got to see a Pujols home run.  It almost looks pointless, as Eldred immediately gives the run back in the bottom of the inning when Aramis Ramirez makes a bad pitch disappear.  8-2.

Three more innings pass.  Rusch is doing what Rusch did best, changing speeds and making you wonder if Jim Edmonds should start switch-hitting to get a better look.  But there’s Albert again.  Leads off the sixth inning with a single.  Doesn’t seem like much at the time, but it’s the start of something.  Rolen and Edmonds follow him up with singles of their own.  Rusch is out, replaced by Francis Beltran who treats the strike zone like it has the plague.  He can’t touch it.  Walk.  Bases loaded walk.  Single by So Taguchi.  Giving up a critical hit to Taguchi is unacceptable.  Beltran is out, replaced by old friend Kent Merker to face Ray Lankford.  Sacrifice fly.  8-6.  The rally Pujols started made it a game, but the good guys were still losing.

Pujols smashes another solo home run, second of the day, to lead off the seventh.  Cardinals fans everywhere bemoan what Cardinals fans have been bemoaning for eleven years now: why aren’t there hitters with better OBPs in front of Pujols?  But it’s a one run game now.  Later, So Taguchi’s second most unlikely HR of his career ties the game.  The Cardinals have battled back from oblivion.  It’s a new start.  Bullpen versus bullpen, but who will give?

In the ninth, Edgar Renteria leads off the inning with a single against Latroy Hawkins, bringing Pujols to the plate.  Do I know what’s going to happen next?  Is it that obvious?  Is Pujols that amazing?  Or do I just dare to hope so much that I convince myself of such a glorious inevitability?  the ball jumps off Albert’s bat.  It sails through the sky and it doesn’t land until the Cardinals finally have the lead. Third home run of the day.  Fifth hit.  Fifth RBI.   Comeback complete.

Even Isringhausen’s bases-loaded tightrope act to get the save in the ninth can’t kill the high.

JE Powell: Stl Fear the Red

My fondest memory of Pujols wasn’t historic, but personal in a lot of ways. In September of 2009 my wife and I spent our honeymoon in Milwaukee for a three game series against the Brewers. I had never been to a full series before and it was definitely memorable. The Cardinals swept the Brew Crew and Pujols went 7-12 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI. The final game the Cardinals won 5-1 and Pujols hit two homers. We had very good seats for the series (Miller Park is a very good stadium) and it was was great to seem him hit so well and put on a power display.

Chris Reed: Bird Brained

I’m going to have to take the easy route for my memory, and then tell a little story about this year.

The Lidge Home Run in the 2005 NLCS stands out for me because I remember all the circumstances surrounding the moment so perfectly. When the game got to the 9th inning and the Cards got a couple outs, my roommate turned the channel to the Rams game (Monday Night Football, if I remember correctly) because the game was “over.” I went downstairs to our other TV and flipped the Cards back on, because I’ve learned time and again never to give up on baseball early. When Eckstein got on with his seeing-eye single, I ran back upstairs and told my roomie “Turn the baseball game back on; they’re not done yet!” He did, and we watched Edmonds also get on in front of Albert. We both scooted to the edge of our seats. And when he connected, we both yelled and jumped high enough to damn near hit our heads on the ceiling. It was such a pure baseball scene: two buddies sitting around watching the ballgame, and it turns into an iconic moment which causes them to act like kids celebrating a little league win. And I will never forget the home run or our reaction.

OK, story time. I split season tickets to Busch with three other people so my girlfriend and I go to about 20 games per year. At the beginning of each season, we “draft” our games for the year. My first pick is usually the last home game, because 1) it could have playoff ramifications; and 2) you get a voucher for a free ticket the following year. This season was no different, and in March I thought it could be an even bigger deal because who knew what would happen with La Russa, Pujols and Carpenter, let alone the team. So we were there 09/25 vs. the Cubs and did the Standing O for Pujols and everything. Then, of course, they make the playoffs. Time to draft tickets again. As luck would have it, we drew #1 for the playoff series tickets so we got the extra game (maximum possible 5 games at Busch between the NLDS and NLCS). My first pick was NLCS Game 5 on the off chance it might be a clincher/last game. The game that was left after everyone else picked was NLDS Game 4…also a possible clincher/last game. When it came time to pick for the World Series, we each got tickets to one game (maximum possible 4 games at Busch). But I drew the shortest straw this time, and we got “stuck with” Game 7. So I was present for what could have been the absolute last possible AB for Albert Pujols as a Cardinal at Busch Stadium four times this season. But each game was a winner, eventually leading to them moving on. And it turns out I did see his final AB as a Cardinal, in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. I did think about it each time, too…”Wonder if this is the last one.” My intuition turned out to be correct, but my timing isn’t as strong as my luck. That seems so long ago now…

Nick: Pitchers Hit Eighth

The photo in this post – that’s how I choose to remember Pujols.  For all his accomplishments and notable events – that’s what I want to see when I think of Pujols and his time with the Redbirds.

Thanks for all of your thoughts!

“You know…. I’m really okay with this”

“You know, I’m really okay with this.”

Yep, that was my shrug of a reaction upon hearing that Albert Pujols, “the greatest player in baseball,” accepted an offer from the Anaheim Angels for somewhere near $250 million for 10 years.  That’s BIG money. Huge. Ginormous.

Good for Albert, getting the $$$’s to match his reputation.  His legacy?  Well, I guess that’s not such a game changer anymore.  Pujols snagged his mega contract AND a ten-year NO TRADE CLAUSE (reportedly).   That No Trade Clause issue was rumored to be the deal breaker between Pujols and the Marlins on Tuesday.  So, there was some writing on the wall to warn us that Mr. Pujols was seriously moving beyond just testing other waters.

John Mozeliak should be commended. Sure, the “best player in baseball” left the building on his watch, but I fully expect history to look favorably on ol’ Mo here.  He didn’t sink the ship to save the aging treasure chest.

This little corner of Cardinal Nation (well, ok, maybe just me) hasn’t shed a tear.  I’m not going to riot or rant.  Heck, honestly I’m not even really disappointed in Albert.  He got a heck of an offer and he took it.

Today we were just reminded that baseball really is a business.  Lance Berkman’s words have been stuck in my head all week: “It’s always about money. No matter what people say, it’s always about the money.”

Well now, Lance…. How do you feel about scootching on up to first base for 2012? OK? Thanks!

Moving on feels great actually.  We can finally kiss all those “will he/won’t he” debates goodbye and look forward to 2012 which may just turn out to be the best flip of the apple cart that baseball has seen in a while.

Thank you, Mo!

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!  ;)

Happiness Is A Home Run

No, not the Lance Berkman power shot from last night.  Not even the Nick Stavinoha blast in the 14 inning AAA Memphis game.  No, it took a Brendan Ryan long shot (in more ways than one) to start my day off with a smile.

What is it about baseball’s sleeper moments that resonate with some of us so completely?  I regularly get the chance to admire Cardinals like Berkman, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday smacking it out of the park, but seeing highlights of my former Cardinal-favorite & light-hitting Brendan get his first homerun as a Mariner tops them all.

It’s a recurring theme, probably the main reason I’m an AAA baseball fan.  I enjoy championing the underdogs.  Following minor leaguers on their quest to break into the Majors or cheering surprise clutch hits from players who are valued for their gloves, but don’t garner as much fan confidence with their bats feeds that fascination I have for the human side of the game.

Heart, personality, positive energy and a palpable, genuine love for baseball coupled with an overwhelming, single-minded drive to succeed.  THOSE are the qualities that capture my attention in the ballplayers worth watching.  Superstars often get quiet – sometimes overconfident – and don’t wear their heart on their sleeves once they make the big show.  At that point, they’ve often become part of a machine, part of a business.  Go to work, win the game, job accomplished.  Once a player gets to that point in his career, it seems I’ve usually lost interest.

Give me a reason to love you beyond your batting average or slugging percentage and I’ll cheer you through ups and downs.  For me, the human side of baseball trumps a team’s final W-L record. Don’t shoot me here … I LOVE my team, but I need to really love the players to truly celebrate wins or agonize over losses.  And honestly, it’s easy to admire a superstar who has tunnel vision focused on his job but harder to LOVE him.  The big names don’t “need” me to cheer for them.  Their names are on a gazillion tshirts and bandwagon fans are making enough noise for the rest of us.  Show me the underdog with that spark – those qualities I cherish – and I will delight in his random successes… the human side of baseball.

My baseball habit may have moderated a bit lately while I’ve had opportunities to focus on summer events and precious moments with family, but in moments like today I enjoy a sudden surge of baseball fever from watching one of my beloved ballplayers crack a huge smile in the dugout after a baseball moment that took us all by surprise.

Happiness is a Brendan Ryan homerun.

Want to smile?  Here’s the link.

Blessings and Go Cards!!

;)

My Cardinals bucket list

The below is a post from my old blog.  I thought I’d update it and use it for my first official post on Diamond Diaries.  Thanks to Angela for having me here!  :)

The 2007 movie The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, was about two men who escaped the cancer ward and did all the  stuff on their bucket lists before they died.  Now I’m not planning on dying anytime soon, but I do have a  Cardinals bucket list that maybe I’ll get to accomplish before I die.   So here’s my Cardinals bucket list:

1.  Sit in the Commissioner’s Box seats next to the dugout.
The closest I’ve ever sat to the field in Busch Stadium III is on the second level.  It would be so nice to sit in these box seats, and not have to worry about getting up to get food and drink. I would love to be able to see batting practice up close and personal.   Plus, the view would be awesome.  And I might be able to accomplish #4 below.

2.  Sing the National Anthem before a Cardinals game.
I’ve performed the National Anthem at a Cardinals game, but not vocally.  I was part of a 100 person handbell choir that rang the National Anthem at Busch Stadium II for the Cardinals’ 100th anniversary in 1992.  My associate’s degree is in music and I took voice lessons in college.  I also sang in church choirs for over 20 years.  I’m a first soprano, so I can sing the National Anthem in the original key (F).

3.   Sit in the radio broadcast booth with Mike Shannon and John Rooney and maybe do an inning of play-by-play. 
I met the late Jack Buck at a Cardinals pep rally, not long after his book That’s a Winner! came out.  I told him that I had really enjoyed his book and he told me to bring my copy up to the broadcast booth and he would sign it for me.  Unfortunately, I never got to do that.  But it would really be cool to sit up in the broadcast booth with Mike and John and talk baseball.  I think a woman could call play-by-play just as well as a man could.

4.  Catch a foul ball.
The closest I have ever gotten to a foul ball was when my family went to a Cards game a couple of years ago and Yadi Molina hit a foul ball that landed 2 rows below where we was sitting.  Darn!  So close and yet so far!

5. Catch a home run ball.
At a game in 2001, my husband and I were sitting at a table in Homer’s Landing in Busch Stadium II.  The Cards were playing the Reds that night, and Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a HR shot that bounced off of a table 2 rows below us.  I wasn’t fast enough to get that one. Maybe someday I’ll get another chance.

6.  Meet Albert Pujols and Yadi Molina.
The closest I’ve ever gotten to Albert was viewing him from afar at Winter Warmup.  I couldn’t afford the price to get his autograph. :(  I have been to Albert’s restaurant Pujols 5 a few times and admired all of his awards that are on display there.

7.  Go to a Cardinals home playoff game or World Series game.
I’ve been a Cardinals fan for over 30 years but have never had the pleasure of attending a Cardinals home playoff or World Series game in person.  My husband would rather watch these games at home, but I would love to feel the electricity from the crowd that I can see on TV.

8.  Go to an All Star Game.
The closest I got to the 2006 All Star Game in St. Louis was working at Fan Fest.  That was fun in and of itself, but it’s not the same as being at the actual game.

9.  Go to spring training.
Another Cards activity I’ve never been able to attend.  I have vacation time, but not the funds.

10.  Go to a Cards game at another MLB stadium.
Kaufmann Stadium and Wrigley Field are the closest ones to where I live.  Maybe a road trip to either stadium would be in our future.

11.  Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It would be so cool to visit all the Cardinals exhibits at the Hall. I would also love to see the All-American Girls Professional Baseball exhibit.  I cry every time I watch A League of Their Own and the ladies enter their branch of the Hall for the first time.

12.  Go to an Opening Day game again.
I miss the days when Opening Day games were at night.  I would have to take off work to attend an Opening Day game now. I do go on my lunch half-hour (I work in downtown St. Louis) and go to the Opening Day rally.

Are there any Cardinals items on your bucket list?  Feel free to comment below.

See you next time!

Diane

Diane’s Excellent Adventure at Social Media Night

By Diane Schultz

Roving Reporter for DiamondDiaries.net

I work in downtown St. Louis (on Market Street about 3 blocks from Busch Stadium), so instead of going all the way home and then turning around and coming right back, I decided to stay in downtown.  I had some time to kill before I met my hubby at the Musial statue (where else?) so I walked over to the Culinaria grocery store at 9th and Olive.

After perusing the groceries at Culinaria, I decided to walk over to Kiener Plaza to kill some more time.  Kiener Plaza is the home of all pre- and post-season Cardinals pep rallies.  There were no pep rallies this night, however.  Instead, there was a group of older gentlemen guarding some Segway machines.  If you were interested (and had the money), you could learn to ride a Segway.  No thanks – my two feet work just fine.

I sat on a bench for a while.  An old guy saw my Cardinals shirt and assumed I needed game tickets.  He flashed four game tickets at me.  I told him no, I didn’t need tickets. I got up from the bench and started walking around Kiener Plaza, hoping to get away from Mr. Ticket Guy.  Mr. Ticket Guy crossed my path later on and he tried to get me to buy his tickets again.  To paraphrase Reba McEntire, what part of no didn’t he understand?

It was starting to get a little creepy, so I called my hubby to see just where he was. I figured he was about 20 minutes away from Busch Stadium.  We decided I’d go to the Hardee’s at 6th and Chestnut and pick up a couple of burgers and fries for dinner.

Our tickets

I walked down to the stadium. Mr. Ticket Guy couldn’t bother me at the stadium – the City of St. Louis has a law that says you can’t scalp tickets within 50 feet of the stadium.  Hubby got off the MetroLink train and met me at the Musial statue.  We ate our burgers and fries and then went to the will call window to pick up our tickets.  When we got up to the window, we discovered we were supposed to go to the group sales ticket window.  Oops!  Once that was all straightened out and we got our tickets, I stopped by the program vendor and bought a scorecard.  I have a scorecard for almost every game I’ve been to in the last 20 years.  Scorecards used to be $1.00, but are now $2.50.  It seems that everything is going up in price.

We then went to the area where the Social Media event was being held.  The event location was across from the Champions’ Club party room on the second level of Busch Stadium.  We proceeded to a table where three smiling Cardinals employees gave us our “Tweet Me in St. Louis” T-shirts – after we showed them our tickets, that is.

Our gathering place for the evening

Where we got our t-shirts

Some nice ladies in their seventies asked me to take a couple of photos of them with their new T-shirts, so I obliged.  I asked them if they were on Twitter, but they said no, they were only on Facebook.  I gave them my name and told them to look me up on Facebook.

I met Tom Knuppel, who runs the CardinalsGM.com blog.  He gave me his card.  I asked about Bill Ivie, but Tom said he’d be along later.  We ended up sitting behind Tom during the game and had some really nice conversations about baseball with him.  Hubby and I were sitting at a table near the outside wall but I started getting cold, so we moved to another table.

My nametag for the evening

I made a name tag with my Twitter handle and avatar on it in case any of the Twitter #stlcards hash tag folks were there.

I saw a group of guys hanging around talking.  The back of one of their T-shirts said “Pitchers 8” and I realized it must be Pitchers Hit 8th from Twitter, who I follow (along with many others).  Seeing as this was “Social” Media Night, after all, I went over and introduced myself.  I also met Jason R. (@CardsFaninBigD) and his girlfriend; Chris Reed (@birdbrained); and a couple of other folks.  I also met Bill Ivie and yes, Erika, he did have some freebies for me.  Bill gave me a couple of can koozies, a Fox Sports MW hat, and a little book called “Tale of a Baseball Dream” by Jerry Pearlman.  Bill and the other guys told me where all you Diamond Diaries ladies live.  No wonder you all can’t get to Busch Stadium very often!  You all live too far away!

From L-R: Bill Ivie (@poisonwilliam), Dennis Lawson (@gr33nazn), Jason R (@CardsFaninBigD), me, Dathan Brooks (@Dathan7) and Chris Reed (@birdbrained)

I told the guys I was looking for Matt Sebek because I was supposed to touch his hair.  I even printed the Tweet that said that the recipient of the DDN SMN tickets could touch Matt’s hair, but the elusive Mr. Sebek was nowhere to be found.  Perhaps he thought I would stalk him, who knows?  I tried, Erika, I really did!  I tried looking for him in the stands, but I struck out there too.

Around 6:50 p.m., hubby wanted to find our seats, so we took our leave of my new friends.  On the way out, I showed the Cardinals employees at the entrance to the event my name tag and suggested that the next time they scheduled a SMN, they should have name tags available to write our Twitter handles and our Facebook names on.  They told me that it was a good idea and thanked me for my suggestion.  Maybe they should set up some laptops too so folks could post on Twitter and Facebook right from SMN.  Hey, not all of us have smart phones.  My cell phone bill is expensive enough without adding a data plan.

Here is a photo of me and my hubby in our seats.

Somewhere between the gathering and our seats, I lost my ticket.  But hubby had his ticket, so we knew where our seats were.  Our tickets were in section 170, row 15, seats 2 and 3.  Or so we thought – when we got there, someone was sitting in seat 3.  (Darn squatters.)  Whoever had seat 1 didn’t show up, so hubby and I sat in seats 1 and 2.  It’s nice sitting on the end of a row; you don’t have to make people get up so you can get out to go to the bathroom.

Section 170 is near the left field foul pole.  Here are some photos of the view from our seats:

Hubby thought that no one would hit a foul ball back in Section 170, but Albert Pujols hit a foul ball to Section 169, which was the section to the right of us.

May 16th was our 19th wedding anniversary, so I went to the Cards’ website on Sunday night (the deadline is 48 hours before the game you want the greeting posted at) and entered an anniversary greeting to be shown on the scoreboard at the ball game.  You only get 24 letters and spaces, so you have to be creative.  The message appeared on the scoreboard in the 4th inning.  It read, “Happy Anniv. Mike-Diane.”

And oh, yes, I guess I need to write a little bit about the game.  Dirty Danny D did a great job on defense.  Jaime Garcia looked very sharp – he gave up some hits, but they were only singles.  And we unfortunately had to watch Albert Pujols hit into yet another double play.  Albert!  Please run a little faster.  Thank you, your fans.

We had to leave after Lance Berkman’s AB in the 6th inning.  We had to get back on the MetroLink train, ride it all the way to Scott Air Force Base and pick up our son at grandma’s house.  It was 11:20 p.m. by the time I got to bed.

Thanks again for the opportunity to attend SMN on Diamond Diaries’ behalf!  Hubby and I had a great time at the game!

Shingles and Slumps: A Baseball Diagnosis

photo from stltoday.com

Tony La Russa just looks like he hurts.  Exhibiting symptoms of shingles, an extremely painful skin rash causing blisters, the right side of La Russa’s face is red, puffy and scabbed, his eye nearly swollen shut.  If he hurts half as bad as he looks, Tony must be intolerably miserable.

Now I’m not a doctor, but I like to play one when I’m bored.  Also, I’m a mom, and we all know that mom’s are better at intuitive diagnostics than medical doctors.  So, here’s what’s up:

Shingles often appears during times of STRESS.  Sometimes with illness, we have to look at the environment. Currently the Cardinals are winning – thanks to a surging offense spurred by Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday.  These two super sluggers were both batting over .400 in early May.  However, what’s missing in this massive batting explosion is an expected solid contribution from sir Albert Pujols who is having the slowest start of his career, batting a currently light .252.

Why is Albert, perhaps the best player in baseball, riding such an uncharacteristically long slump?  This topic has been bludgeoned to death all over the sports blogosphere.  So, I will keep it limited to my Mom Intuitive Diagnostics:  While Pujols is quick to deny it, that mega-contract he won’t talk about is bound to be keeping him up at night.  He may not be worrying about the hundreds of millions of dollars or how he will spend it, but I expect he IS pondering the uncertainties right now.  His career and his family’s future are both very much contingent on this ever-present, yet taboo topic.

In my expert mom opinion, that-of-which-we-do-not-speak is causing some STRESS for both Pujols and La Russa.

Patients: TLR and Pujols

Symptoms: Miserable face/eye rash and uncharacteristic poor batting average

Diagnosis:  STRESS.

Cure: Sign a contract.

<Confidential> There is another, more sinister explanation.  Unconfirmed sources have reported that a voodoo curse was flung on the Cardinals when they decided to trade away shortstop Brendan Ryan, ultimately sacrificing top tier defense for more pop in an infield bat.  We may be witnessing the manifestations of an obscure baseball hex known as Shingles, Singles and Errors.  Obviously, this hex would explain Tony La Russa’s face AND the performance of Ryan Theriot. We will keep you informed if more evidence surfaces.

Tonight the Cardinals begin a 3-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Here’s hoping the aromatherapy, bubble bath and soothing Nature Sounds CD’s we shipped express-delivery to the clubhouse today help ease the STRESS.

(pssssstttttt…. Get a contract signed!)

Oh, and if it is that Shingles, Singles and Errors hex instead?

Well…. let’s just hope our unconfirmed sources are wrong.  ;)

Don’t Blink

There’s something to be said about how life can change in the blink of an eye.  Yesterday was one of those days on many levels in my life.  On a personal note, my family suffered the unexpected tragic loss of a dear loved one, much too young.  Late breaking news of Osama Bin Laden’s death united the nation and brought spontaneous celebrations and outpourings of patriotism.  And sandwiched somewhere in the middle of a day that will forever be remembered for everything else, there was baseball.

Being that this is a site about baseball, and if you’re reading this now, you are probably looking for something about baseball, let’s talk.

Heading into the weekend, Cardinal Nation was riding high.  The Birds have been collecting wins at an impressive rate, winning 14 of their last 18 games going into Sunday, with a chance to get their first series’ sweep of 2011 against the Braves. A young bullpen surge from Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez has helped distract from the ongoing crash-and-burn of Cardinal closer, Ryan Franklin.  Jake Westbrook, the early weak link in our rotation, has picked up the slack and added two improved outings to his 2011 resume.  Matt Holliday, solid as ever, has defied his “notorious slow starter” label and is batting .418 and slugging .646 with a.521 OBP.  (Translated:  Matt is hitting the ball and hitting it well.)  Lance Berkman too, is absolutely killing it right now.  On April 28th, Lance had another two homerun game, his THIRD multiple homerun game in this young 2011 season.  Combine the offensive threat of Holliday, Berkman and one Albert Pujols with the scrappy play of newcomers Daniel Descalso, Nick Punto and backup catcher Gerald Laird and it was easy to see why Cardinal fans were smiling.

Which brings us to Diamond Diaries’ darling David Freese…

Even cautiously playing only 2 of every 3 games due to his having both ankles surgically repaired in the offseason, Freese has again reminded the Cardinals why they took another chance on him.  David was batting .356 with 2 homeruns and 14 RBI as of yesterday’s game.

However, disaster struck in the 6th inning when Dave was hit on the back of his left hand by a fastball pitched inside, breaking his 3rd metacarpal.  Estimates of recovery time for this injury are 6-8 weeks. Go ahead… take a moment and let it sink in.  It took me a while too….

Can the guy be any unluckier?  After months of grueling rehab on his ankles (both during the 2010 season injuries and then again after surgeries) Freese was finally back in the game only to be sidelined AGAIN.  My heart goes out to him. After all, we were just getting past those “bubble wrap” and “injury prone” comments.  Luckily we have some third base alternatives not named Albert Pujols to hold down the hotcorner until Dave heals yet another injured extremity.

Let’s not talk about how Ryan Theriot dropped that routine pop fly in the 9th inning yesterday, helping to earn down-on-his-own-bad-luck Ryan Franklin the loss after pitching a gem of an 8th inning that could have been a turning point in his string of unfortunate events.  Nah…. We won’t talk about that.

And being that utility infielder Nick Punto, fresh off the DL himself, was also pulled from the game yesterday as a precaution for hamstring tenderness, we won’t talk about our dwindling supply of infielders.  (Although watching Albert Pujols briefly patrol 3rd base yesterday was an enjoyable oddity.)

All good reminders not to take anything for granted… in baseball, or life.

Get Well Soon, David Freese!  ;)

Have a blessed Monday, Cards fans.

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!

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