Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Cardinals

How to be a Cardinals fan on the cheap

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

Fan gear

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

Game tickets

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

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

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

Getting to and from the game

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

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

Food and drink

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

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

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

Miscellaneous

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

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

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

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

Go Cards!

Diane

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

April Observations

This post was written on Monday, April 25th, so I know some things are outdated.

It has come to my attention that I have been slacking and I didn’t even write a post about Opening Day!  I want to apologize to the few readers who look forward to seeing what I have to say.  I will try to do better, promise.

There has been a lot going on in Major League Baseball since March 31st, and with so much to talk about, I figure why limit this post to only one topic.  It may not all be Cardinals-related, but all important to the sport we love.

Phenomenon.
The Chicago Cubs have started 2011 with a rare accomplishment; having hit every single .500 mark up to this point.  They are the perfect .500 team, with exception to their loss yesterday.  They have had records of 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, & 10-10.  While I never really root for the Cubs to win, I think it would be funny to see the streak continue.  This is quite the interesting phenomenon that has really intrigued me.  So far, they have set the record for even-steven marks and they are going to be able to go for 11-11 tonight.  I wonder if anyone in Chicago is rooting for this to happen.

Mabry & Matheny on FSMidwest.
As a huge John Mabry fan, I cannot explain to you how excited I was to hear that Mabry and Mike Matheny would be joining FSMidwest as pre-game and post-game analysts.  Two of my favorites to wear the Cardinal uniform are on my TV almost every night.  To me, John Mabry portrayed that “play like a Cardinal” mentality his whole time in St. Louis and I am sure glad that this is where he chooses to keep his ties.  If you follow me on twitter, I am sure you have noticed that I mention something every time I see his face on my pre-game show.  Not to mention, I think this is part of the reason I love Daniel Descalso so much – he looks just like him.  Thank you, FSMidwest, with providing commentary from two players who really do love this team.

MLB Taking over the Dodgers.
Can I say finally?!?  The melodrama of the McCourt divorce over in LA has been nothing but trouble for the organization.  The greedy back-and-forth of Frank McCourt and his wife over their assets has truly hurt this team and I think it was overdue for MLB to take over.  I don’t know all of the details, but when you hear more about their divorce than how the team is doing, something is wrong.  This makes me happy that we have such great leadership in the Cardinal organization.  The fiscal irresponsibility of the Dodger organization has led to chaos and I just think that it would be best for Frank McCourt not to fight this and count his losses before anything else bad happens to the organization.  With all the celebrities in LA who claim to be huge Dodger fans, why don’t they try to buy the team?  Actually now that I think about it…that could be an even bigger problem.  Nevermind.

Booing Brandon Phillips.
Alright, we get it…we can’t stand they guy.  Last year, it made sense to boo after he ran his mouth.  Yes, I still can’t stand him.  But honestly, haven’t we realized that he LOVES that?  He loves the attention he gets because fans boo him every time he comes to the plate or even comes near the ball.  I mean, he got an interview on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball pre-game last night just because of that.  He got what he wanted.  I sincerely like the idea of crickets, silence, or even laughter the next time he comes to the plate in St. Louis.  Stop giving him the attention he deserves or the slams on the city, organization & fans will never end.  It is obvious that he is an attention-whore and that is all he wants.  Can we please move past it?

Nick Punto’s walk-up song.
Ok, I love this.  Who else would have the ability to pull off Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”?  I was so upset when Ryan Ludwick was traded, for obvious reasons, but also because I would no longer get to hear “Brass Monkey”.  I love the original songs…they are great.  Who doesn’t like rocking out and playing the air drums to “In the Air Tonight”??  I know I do.  Thank you, Nick Punto.

Lance Berkman….the Berk-man.
I have to admit, I had no idea what to expect from the Lance Berkman signing.  I wasn’t mad or nervous, I just honestly had no idea where he would fit in on this team.  Well, my questions have been answered.  He fits in just perfectly in that number 5 spot.  Lance Berkman hit 6 home-runs last week to be the second Cardinal named as the National League Player of the Week (Jaime Garcia of course was in week one).  The guy is on fire.  He is hitting .377 in 19 games, an 8-way tie for 2nd with 6 home-runs, is tied for 3rd in runs scored, and has 15 RBI’s.  I am not huge on stats, but for not knowing what to expect, I must say I am pretty excited to see this.  I am hoping his homers can heat up at Busch Stadium, cause I would sure love to see one.  All 6 of his home-runs this season have been hit on the road.  He returns to Houston this week, and I am excited to see what kind of damage he can do in his old stomping grounds. LB, I am officially a member of your fan club.

Predictions.
Ok, so week one was pretty ugly, but the Cardinals really turned in on during the West Coast swing in week 2.  Also, claiming 4 of 6 during this past week’s home stand was good to see.  I know it won’t be easy to win the Central this year – the Reds are going to be barking up our tree all season as long as they stay healthy and we do the same.  It’s great to know that our young guys are stepping up again – Salas and Sanchez have been incredible out of the ‘pen, Descalso and Jay are fitting in nicely yet again, and Hamilton could prove to be some pop if he ever gets a chance to play.  I am happy with the team.  It was hard to watch week one, but I have been so impressed with Kyle Lohse’s start and Jaime Garcia’s bounce back from a spectacular rookie season and rough spring training.  I had no doubt that Garcia would figure it out & I saw something positive in Kyle Lohse’s last couple outings of 2010.  If Westbrook can pitch like he did last night and hometown boy Kyle McClellan can continue to fly under the radar, I think this could be a fun season to watch.  It would be sad to see a postseason without Adam Wainwright, but I think I would be happy with it even without Waino – and I know he will be cheering us along all season.  I am getting very excited about this 2011 squad.  Look out, Cincy, we won’t let what happened last year happen again!

Girl Talk – Would you rather….

THE QUESTION:  Would you rather deal with fair weather fans that only show up when the team is doing well and otherwise don’t really care, or  fans that live and die with every. single. pitch.  and think the season is lost in the first week when Pujols goes 0-4 or Carp gives up a handful of runs?
Erika says:  
Is there a 3rd choice?  Fair weather fans who respond to a few rough games by bailing out probably can’t name the team’s starting lineup anyway.  While that type of detachment could be a good defense mechanism for a Cubs fan, it hardly befits a true member of Cardinal Nation.  I’m not good at sharing a baseball game with someone who just doesn’t care.  On the other hand, volatile fans give me anxiety through proximity.  It’s either melt-down or mania with them – and that gets tiring faster than Franklin can blow a save.  If I had to pick (and Angela says I do…) I’d pick the live-and-die-with-every-pitch type of baseball buddy as long as they are capable of providing a reasonable, intelligent defense explaining what makes them crazed lunatics (for better or worse) on any given day of the baseball season.
Angela says:
To me, the answer is simple – if I have to choose between the crazies that were blowing up Twitter this afternoon or people that head for the hills during the bad times… I might take the good timers. I think this is a partially emotional response, since I checked out on Twitter after seeing the venom there after Franklin’s blown save today by the ones that are grabbing their pitchforks. Some of these fans just become too much for me. The Cardinals win a blowout and they say, “But so and so went 0-4 and left the bases loaded in the 6th and whatever reliever gave up 2 runs in mop-up duty in the 8th.” People – the Cardinals are winning. They just took three of four from the Dodgers in LA and have gone 5-2 in their last seven. You can smile. You can high five. Enjoy the good times.
Emily says:
I’ve lived on Chicago’s north side for nearly 10 years now, which is the natural breeding ground and safe haven for the fair weather fan, so my first instinct is to say that I can’t stand fair weather fans. This part of the country is full of people who moved to Chicago in their early 20s, purchased a Derrek Lee shirt or a pink Cubs hat, and spend each summer chugging beers in one of America’s largest bars–Wrigley Field. For a truly invested fan, it can be infuriating.
That being said, I think that part of the beauty of baseball is its versatility. There is a time for casually enjoying a game and some badly needed sun; there is a time for watching with fellow fans in a rowdy bar; there is certainly a time for watching from under your bed or behind your couch, pushed into solitude by the sheer intensity of the game. Baseball in June is different from baseball in October, and I feel that the fair weather fan, no matter how gross in October, is a necessity to June baseball and all its fun and warmth. We (the die hard, the obsessed, the truly invested) have a tendency to take things a little too seriously a little too early on (see: week one of the 2011 season), and we need those fair weather fans to remind us, sometimes, to keep things in perspective, to breathe and think, “162 games.”
I think what I’m trying to say is that die hard fans and fair weather fans are both crucial to baseball, because part of what makes baseball great is how it can be enjoyed at different levels and loved to different degrees. I believe that if you care more, the game gives more back to you. Yet as much as I can understand and marginally appreciate every level of involvement, I’ll personally  take the “live and die with every pitch” fan any day, because when it comes right down it, I want to talk to someone who can knowledgeably talk about baseball—not a “Cubs fan” who just found out that Ryan Theriot doesn’t play for them anymore.
Cadence says:
This is a very hard topic for me to approach, because I can’t say I can pick either one. Fairweather fans – at least the ones who obviously don’t care unless they get free tickets to a game – are the worst, but sometimes I consider the living and dying (the extreme version) to be very similar. Passion is a tricky thing and in my opinion, it isn’t always a good thing. I consider myself to be a passionate person…in everything I do. I hate it when we lose, when someone blows a game or when we go on a losing streak. On the other hand, I am very happy when we can score 60-plus runs on a 10 game road trip, we go on a winning streak or someone has a complete game, just to name a few things. I guess what I am trying to say is that my passion for the team (my 5 shelves of Cardinals memorabilia, my 6 shelves full of t-shirts & jerseys, and the fact that almost every one of my profile pictures on facebook is of me at a Cards game) is there…and vivid, but I have many other things going on in my life for me to really place my mood fully in the hands of Ryan Franklin or any other member of the St. Louis Cardinals. It gets me more frustrated to see the huge dynamics from people – ecstatic when we score 15 runs in a game and cursing the name of a player who made a bad play the next game – then it does for me to even have to deal with the people who leave games in the 7th inning.
Ultimately, I can’t change anyone and how they react to sports…they are free to do whatever they want. I will cheer along with my fellow fans when things are good (and I am ok if they are bandwagon fans), but when things go bad, I just have to tune out the stuff I don’t want to hear. I would rather just cheer on my team.
————————————————————————-
Have an idea for future Girl Talk posts?  Let us know!
The Cardinals have today off, a much needed rest for players and fans alike after the brutal 10 game West Coast Road Trip.  The Cardinal offense surged on the road and the Redbirds are now sitting at .500 with 8 wins & 8 losses.  Can they keep the magic alive at home?
Next up?  Back home to Busch stadium on Tuesday, facing the Washington Nationals.  Rick Ankiel and Jayson Werth…. this should be interesting!
Go Cards!!

Scary Stuff

I woke up worrying about ballplayers this morning.

Baby birds Shane Robinson and Andrew Brown collided in the outfield early in the Memphis Redbirds game yesterday. Brian Walton reported on twitter that both players were taken to the hospital with concussions, and Shane Robinson left on a cart with possible head/facial injury. This morning’s update is that Robinson suffered a fractured orbital bone, and Walton shared that surgery was “likely” for Shane and he would “miss considerable time but should fully recover.”

—-Our friend, Bob Netherton,  describes the details of the game’s dreadful collision in his blog On The Outside Corner today.  <click here>>

In last night’s Cardinals game, a fan was struck by a foul drive off the bat of slugger Matt Holliday. The camera was on Matt after the swing and caught him wince as he saw the fan in the stands.

It is sometimes easy to forget baseball is a dangerous sport. In a nearby town, an 8 year-old girl was playing softball in the outfield and was struck in the head earlier this week by a line drive from another young girl. Her skull was fractured. She is home and will recover, but that story is another reminder of the serious risks involved on the field.

This string of injuries got my attention.

Best wishes for speedy recoveries to Shane, Andrew, the injured fan and the little girl (my Mom’s neighbor).

In news from the big club, La Russa said on KMOX this morning that Skip Schumaker has a hyperextended elbow and will not play again today AND Allen Craig has a groin or leg problem that will likely keep him out of the game today as well.

Bubble wrap, anybody??

Carpenter gets the ball today at 3:10 CT with a chance to sweep the four-game series against the Dodgers.

Go Cards!! (and BE CAREFUL!)

Spring Training, Episode 1

Spring Training means different things to different people.  To me, a trip to Florida in late March when the weather is warm and Opening Day is juuussssst around the corner makes perfect sense.  Mornings spent soaking up the sights and sounds of baseball drills on the backfields of Roger Dean stadium are not too chilly.  Starters are going longer into games and the lineups are full of actual, live 2011 Cardinals!!  It’s as close to “real” season baseball as possible… while still in the cozy setting of the Cardinals Spring Training facility, surrounded by palm trees, sea breezes and sunshine.
Brief Recap:
Previous Spring Training trips (’09 and ’10) were hard on Hubby.
In 2009, new fan syndrome was in full effect.  I’d be up at the crack of dawn, not wanting to miss a single glimpse of a guy in a Cardinal uniform.  I was on Yadi Watch constantly. We hadn’t heard about the opportunity of watching morning practice drills.  I took a total of 178 photos (many of them were blurry because I was shaking from the excitement of it all.)  I noticed a guy named David Freese (#66) and took pictures of Chris Duncan and Rick Ankiel.  We saw two games and fell in love with the Spring Training atmosphere.
In 2010, new fan syndrome was still rampant.  PLUS I was armed with useful information from a baseball fan’s best tool: twitter. For example, this time I knew about Roger Dean stadium’s back fields, morning workouts & autograph opportunities, and the existence of Pyros Grill.  I was on Matt Holliday watch.  I took over 700 photos (some were still blurry because Brendan Ryan was spinning too fast for my camera or because I was drooling -just a little- over David Freese.)  I took pictures with Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse.  We saw 4 games – 2 home and 2 away.  I toured a baseball museum (because Aaron Hooks offered me free tickets if I’d review it for Cards Diaspora… #win!)  Highlight?? David Freese signed my shirt!!!  I was addicted to Spring Training.  Baseball overdose at it’s most extreme.
(Hubby was more than relieved to finally get me out of Florida!)
So, on our third trip to Spring Training, this year we did something different. Maybe because I’ve matured in my fandom, maybe because Hubby medicated me…who knows?  But somehow we achieved a more well-rounded Florida vacation.  Don’t get me wrong.  It revolved around baseball!  But we did venture away from Roger Dean.  We enjoyed restaurants and sight-seeing that didn’t involve player-stalking. (Granted, I knew I had to behave myself if Hubby would ever agree to a Spring Training trip #4!)
Last week we even went to see some *gasp* non-Cardinals games.  In fact, while Hubby was meeting friends for a day of fishing (he saw dolphins!!), I ventured off all by myself to watch the Phillies play the Braves.  That experience was a perfect Spring Training warm-up.  I was a berm bum, taking in a game whose players/teams I was less familiar with.  Honestly, I bought that ticket hoping to see Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee pitch for the Phillies and fully expecting to be cheering on former Cardinal Joe Mather in a Braves uniform.  Alas, none of my hopefuls were in the game.  So, I spent a lot of time watching just baseball. I didn’t care who won or lost. And you know what?  I loved every second of it.  The view from the grass was different, enlightening – the game looks different and catches that seem so simple when watching from the infield are suddenly a heckuva lot more impressive when the fielder manages to intercept a rocket while chasing across the outfield grass.  It was baseball.  Good baseball. Man, you gotta love Spring Training!
ST Game 1
Yay!! – 78 degrees, light winds and sunshine.
- Ryan Madson, in all his Madson glory, LIVE!
- Beach party on the OF berm
Boo   – No Joe, Halladay or Lee, but I got over it. ;)
That same night we went to watch the Yankees take on the Astros at the Yankees Spring Training complex.  We were late to the game and the gate guardian wouldn’t let me bring in some of my camera gear. So we were even later after lugging it back to the parking lot again.  No Mariano Rivera appearance. (So far I was shooting 0-fer on my Spring Training hopefuls.)  However it was a night game and the stadium was full of New York fans.  Suffice it to say, that was a FAR different experience than Roger Dean Stadium full of Cardinal fans at 1:05pm games. ;)  Again, I savored every second.
ST Game 2
Yay!! –    Joba and Dave Robertson pitching relief.
- Jeter. Jeter. Jeter.
- Brett Wallace (former Redbird) playing 1st, but hitless
- Kettle corn for dinner!
- Chuckling about “Mr. Know-It-All” sitting behind us who was always handing out words of (incorrect) wisdom to his kids
Boo   -  Gate trolls and repeat trips to the parking lot.
With that, my Spring Training warm-up was complete and we had a 4-hour drive to Jupiter, Florida (near West Palm Beach) for Cardinals camp the next morning.  Needless to say… it was hard to fall asleep that night.
Next post:   my stories from Jupiter and my time at Cardinals’ Spring Training:  running into Chris Carpenter out of uniform, on the sidewalk by the stadium; the batting practice frivolity of Lance Berkman; autographs, meeting players, and my favorite Spring Training game moments.
Fitting it all in a blog before Opening Day (tomorrow) was poor planning… but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Like I said, we all do Spring Training a little differently.  I spend a lot of time taking pictures instead of keeping a scorecard.  I love watching ballplayers sign autographs and how they interact with fans.  Spring Training provides a unique opportunity to live and breathe the beginnings of baseball season…. until the big show begins.
Happy Opening Day Eve!!  =)

Even if it was only one game…I finally made it back to Spring Training!!

Finally back after 5 long years!
It has been 5 years (almost to the week) since I last attended a Spring Training game at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. March 2006 was also the first time I ever went to Spring Training. We also know what happened in October 2006….so if I am any kind of luck, 2011 could potentially be a Red October. :) Of course I am just being a little superstitious and silly, but it is always fun to think about.

For the last Spring Break of my college career (hopefully!), I visited a friend in Miami, Florida. I told her that I would do anything else during the week as long as we could go to a Spring Training game in Jupiter. Knowing how obsessed I am with baseball and the Cardinals, she agreed, even though she barely knows anything about baseball. I promised her that I would teach her as much as I could and we would have a great time.

Yadier Molina – you can’t tell here, but I
swear his eyes were closed!
In my usual over-zealous fashion, we got there before the gates even opened and I spent a good 20-30 minutes in the official team store buying quite a few goodies. Don’t worry, I did bring back my little sister an official Spring Training t-shirt. I knew she would have been disappointed if I didn’t. Once the gates opened and we got in, I made my way down to the first row on the 1st base side of the stands. I parked myself right in front of the bullpen pitchers mound and waited for players to begin to enter the field.

After about an hour of waiting, finally John Gast, LHP, was the first to enter the field. I think about 3 people bothered even showing interest in him before a little boy in the berm asked for his autograph. He turned around and gladly gave it to him. After a while several more players began to enter the field, with Yadier Molina being one of the first as usual. As I watched him warm up, catching soft-tossed balls from bullpen catcher Murphy, I swear he actually did close his eyes when taking those warmup tosses. (remember the commercial from 2009 when he was blindfolded catching baseballs??). More and more players entered the field, and I got that same excited feeling I do every new season…I was shaking I was so excited. I think this is probably the coolest part of spring training. Instead of the players entering the field from the dugout, where very few fans are able to see them up close, they enter from the outfield where the berm is, so many fans are able to see the players up close and personal and get autographs and chat with their favorite players.

Me & Daniel Descalso
I was lucky enough to meet Daniel Descalso & Mark Hamilton while they were signing autographs near the Cardinals’ bullpen on the first base side. If you have read Daniel’s MLB blog (http://danieldescalso.mlblogs.com/), you know that he has given us a really great inside look on what a day of spring training is like. When I saw him coming around the corner signing autographs, I was excited that I would hopefully get to meet him…and I did. Everyone else just seemed to be asking for autographs, so I asked for a picture as well. My list of pictures with Cardinal players is getting checked off quickly. :) A little while later, Mark Hamilton was doing the same thing, and I got a photo with him as well.

Me & Mark Hamilton
We continued to watch Jaime Garcia warm up before we got booted out of the seats we were using. We headed to our seats in the second level and got to watch an awesome baseball game against the Boston Red Sox. I was actually really glad I got to see this game because I don’t think I have ever seen the Red Sox live and in person. There were a lot of Red Sox fans sitting around us, but thankfully the guy next to me was a Cardinal fan, and I got to impress him with my knowledge. I remember him saying to me, “yeah, you need to work for this team, you know so much!” I hope this comes true someday. We all know it would be a dream come true for me!

Me & CJ Beatty – sorry it’s not the best,
iphone picture… :)
Prior to the game, I had contacted one of my favorite Cardinal twitter-ers, @CJBeatty44, to see if I could meet him. Fortunately, he was supposed to be attending the game before his workouts started the next day! He so politely obliged and we decided to get in contact with each other on March 8th at the game. After several emails back and forth, we realized that we were actually sitting one section away from each other! So, before he had to leave (those dang American League teams cause games to be sooooo long!), we met up. Ok, people, if you enjoy CJ on twitter, you would love to meet him in person! Such a nice, humble guy. I must admit, when I read on his stats that he was 5’10”, I wasn’t sure what to expect (honestly, I thought I might be a little taller than him because I too am 5’10”), but we were the same height. Good for you CJ, I hate it when players fudge their height on their stats page. Haha. Unfortunately we couldn’t spend much time chatting, his girlfriend only had a few more hours to spend with him before his season started, and of course I wanted to watch the rest of the game. However, I can say from what I have read on his website (www.cjbeatty.com) he is a sincerely genuine person, and any Cardinal fans that get a chance to meet him would be very lucky. I am happy to say that we are now friends and I am looking forward to watching his journey as a member of the Palm Beach Cardinal and hopefully on up through the organization and as a St. Louis Cardinal one day. CJ, thanks so much for meeting me! I wish you the best of luck in 2011 and in the future!

Me & my friend Kristin at Roger Dean Stadium
Cardinal fans, I am soooo excited for baseball season! I know we have already had some setbacks and some scares heading into the 2011 season, but I still have faith…I think that there will be several young-veterans and other younger guys (baby birds maybe) who will be able to step up and take advantage of an opportunity. Next time you hear from me will probably be right after Opening Day! I will be there with bells on and I can’t wait to cheer this team to victory in 2011. All things that have happened thus far, I am excited and I am ready to see what this team does this year. I am not extremely superstitious, but remember, I was last at Spring Training in 2006, and we know what happened then…lets hope for the same in 2011! GO REDBIRDS!!



PS…all of these are my pictures, if you wish to see more, I can post em on twitter!

End of an Era

It has been a while since I’ve felt like putting together a post on baseball.  Life’s been crazy and there has not been a whole lot to talk about.  Yesterday however, the Cardinals made some moves.  Blake Hawksworth was sent to the Dodgers for Ryan Theriot (be expecting a Hawk-dedicated post from Ang any second now…) and in another move the Cardinals picked up a left-handed reliever, Brian Tallet.

Where does this lead me… to my Hot Stove hot button, Brendan Ryan.  If this is the first time you’re reading Cardinal Diamond Diaries, you should know…. Brendo’s a favorite.  If you don’t like BRyan, don’t bother reading the rest.  Fair warning?
Ok…. here goes… Girl rant ahead:
If you missed this article in stloday.com, let me hit the highlights – or rather, the absolute lowest of low points.  The scribes see the writing on the wall and are reporting that Brendan Ryan’s era with the Cardinals is nearing an end. Mr. Mozeliak and the front office are making it clear that Brendan is on his way out.
Ahem…. Excuse me while I find the words to express my frustration with Mr. Mozeliak and the Cardinals organization…
Okay, first let me get this out….
WHAT IN THE WORLD DO YOU MEAN: BRENDAN’S PERSONALITY ISN’T A FIT???!!!”
If Brendan’s loveable, quirky, heart-on-his-sleeve, boy-you-grew-up-with, hilarious, camera-hound, fun-loving and friendly personality is not a fit for the Cardinals then I am seriously wondering how I fell in love with this team.  Maybe I’m not a good match as a Cardinal fan?  Maybe I’m a bad judge of character.  But I loved the team with the goofy shortstop who made us laugh and cry and cheer through the season’s struggles.
Is the true nature of the organization starting to show up – like after dating someone long enough to finally see the true person behind the charade and you discover Mr.(or Mrs.) Right is really a jerk who is actually a slob when you aren’t around? Well, I fell in love with the Cardinals, and my heart is breaking to think it was all a figment of my imagination.  Give me heart and fire and honesty.  If that doesn’t “fit”the team, well….
Brendan has always been one of the main reasons I am glued to the television for every single Cardinal game. I know I’m not alone in that as I meet more and more Brendan Ryan fans.
Brendan isn’t a “fit” for the team??
Brendan’s Gold-Glove caliber defense, his amazing range, his spinning, jumping, and diving plays that put him at the top of all MLB shortstops defensively are something that the Cardinals don’t value?
One last time…The Cardinals are a ground ball pitching staff.  I know this because everyone says so.  Defense behind that type of hurler? It absolutely matters. Remember what it was like in those games when Brendan’s glove wasn’t in the game? It was ugly.
Why does it seem obvious to me that the hole in the middle infield defense was at second base?  Was Mo watching a different team than I was?    The Cardinals decide to fix the middle infield problem by replacing the best defensive shortstop?  Does that make sense?  Really??
I have no problem with this Ryan Theriot guy. In fact I am quite sure that I would love him – at second base.  I’ve read the various opinions, and yesterday Bernie Miklasz had some great info on the comparison of Brendan Ryan and Ryan Theriot.  Link here.
I wish Mo would let me in on the grand scheme.  Beginning with the Ryan Ludwick trade and continuing to this shortstop dump idea, I have absolutely NO CLUE what the Cardinal brass are thinking. In this Brendan situation - IF there had been an available player whose defense was great and whose bat was strong, then I may have understood and accepted the decision to upgrade. Instead I’m left wondering how this Theriot fella fixes the problem.
I am new at this baseball circus and I do know a lot more than I did just two years ago.  However I catch myself wondering how a gal who has followed baseball for only 4 or 5 years can feel so betrayed and frustrated by a series of moves made by baseball professionals and executives who are in this to make money and win?  Have I missed the big picture?  We are trying to win, right? If the Cardinal blueprint continues with this type of shuffling without major improvement, getting ‘veteran’ players past their prime and neglecting the potential of young, talented players in the process then I worry this team has bigger issues than just locking up the historical golden contract of Mr. Pujols.
Maybe I have blinders and cannot see the wisdom behind the madness.  Oh, I certainly hope that’s it.
But for now…
I am a Brendan Ryan fan.  I look forward to seeing him on the highlight reels in 2011 and winning his many future Gold Gloves.  The Cardinals would be crazy to give up on him now.  And I may be crazy for being a Cardinal fan.  Time will tell. ;)
Now, excuse me while I go kick the crud out of the Hot Stove…..

America’s Pastime…Taking a backseat?

I missed game 5 of the World Series, the Giants clinching and becoming world champs. I can’t say that I am all that disappointed I missed it, but I didn’t do it on purpose. As a baseball fan, I wouldn’t do that. I was in class on Monday night until approximately 8 PM, and then I went to dinner with friends. It was by complete momentary brain-dysfunction that I forgot I needed to go home and check it out. (I even had people saying to me “YOU missed the game?!?”). By the time I did get home the game was over, and all I had to do was pull up the twitter homepage to see that the World Series was in fact over as “World Champions” and “Edgar Renteria MVP” trending topics scroll across my screen. Surprising that I heard no reaction in the bar/restaurant that I was in indicating that the game was over; I guess most people in Edwardsville, Illinois felt the same way I did – they either didn’t really care who won or they didn’t want the Giants to win. My other guess as to why there was no reaction from the crowd in the bar; there was a Monday Night Football game on, and they weren’t watching baseball.


As much as it breaks my heart every time I see stats that a Sunday Night or Monday Night football game ratings beat LDS, LCS or World Series TV ratings, it doesn’t surprise me in the least bit. Baseball is lasting too long; people begin to move on to other sports – heck, we are halfway through the NFL season at this point. This year, the World Series wrapped up and the NFL, NHL and even the NBA are all underway. So, is it surprising that America’s Pastime is taking a backseat in late October-early November? No, not really. I don’t have to go explaining to you all how much I love baseball, but I have gotten myself fully lodged into the football and hockey seasons. And even though the postseason games were still being at least partly watched on my TV, I lost interest. Baseball is having to compete with the other 3 major sports after a 7 month long season…going into that eighth month (while it was only one day, and could have only potentially been 4 days) is where a lot of casual baseball fans get lost. (Side Note: this year’s WS ratings equaled the lowest ever…see here).

Let’s face it, there is a lot going on around here (St. Louis and otherwise) other than baseball. If you are like me, you are very interested in what the St. Louis Rams are doing; 4 wins at home, a first-round draft pick quarterback, and Stephen Jackson breaking the all-time rushing record for the organization. Not to mention, the St. Louis Blues are undefeated at home and have been recently ranked number one in the ESPN power rankings poll (even if it doesn’t mean much now). On top of that, Mizzou beat Oklahoma! WOW. Yeah, they got roughed up by Nebraska, but if you are a Missouri fan, you can’t deny that it was exciting. I know not everyone that is a Cardinals fan is a Rams, Blues and Mizzou fan as well – most are not or don’t even like/pay attention to other sports besides baseball. Even if you don’t like all St. Louis sports, you might have other teams to root for. But, I am an avid sports enthusiast, and I love watching all sports whenever I can. Because the last few winters in St. Louis have been pretty painful because of under-achieving or competitive teams besides the Cardinals, this comes as quite the warm welcome.   Not to mention, since the Cardinals had a dismal season, it has been exciting to look forward to and enjoy other St. Louis sports again!  And because of that, I, like many others, might have lost an interest in baseball.

This is my beg and plea to Bud Selig; we have got to end the baseball season earlier. I hate the offseason; it is a long 4-5 months without my boys of summer, but the MLB is taking a backseat to the other major sports in late October-early November, and it just devastates me. I want the World Series to be the most watched sporting event, not a middle-of-the-season Monday Night Football game. I understand that the ratings may have had something to do with the teams playing (God forbid there are other teams besides the Yankees in the World Series), but the World Series – the Championship for Major League Baseball for goodness sakes – should be getting more attention. I mean, on Monday, the last game of the series, EVERY SINGLE intro for EVERY SINGLE sports program was about Randy Moss being waived from the Vikings, not about Lincecum vs. Lee – probably one of the greatest pitching matchups to end a World Series in a long time. As much as I don’t like him, Lincecum (before the night began) had a chance to be a back-to-back-to-back Cy Young, Cy Young, World Series Champ. How incredible? But yet everything was about Randy Moss.

This is unacceptable for baseball. They have to figure out a way to get back into the spotlight during their designated time. All eyes are on Football during the Super Bowl – no hockey game or basketball game out-rates that championship game. I know that every season is like this; football starts in early September, Hockey starts in early October, Basketball starts in late October, but why is it that all of a sudden, baseball seems to be losing its steam? I don’t think it would have even mattered if the Yankees were in the WS this year – I mean, I wouldn’t have watched, but that’s just me. I hope that with an earlier start to the baseball season in 2011, there will be an earlier end to the season and the World Series will get all the attention it deserves. Thankfully, with Hot Stove season now in full swing, there will be more baseball stories. However, I have a gut feeling it might all be about the Yankees again. Egh.

End Rant. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. As a sport management grad student, I pay a lot of attention to these details, less about players and games, more about the behind the scenes stuff and what drives discussion topics amongst TV programs and even fans of the game. Do you see it that way too? Are you angry that the World Series had low ratings? When will baseball be able to get back to having its time in the spotlight – or has the long season turned into too long of a season for that to ever happen again? I might be a tad dramatic, but I am curious to hear what others think.  

And Then There Were Four

Cliff Lee (AP photo) celebrating the Rangers ALDS victory
Last night I watched as the Texas Rangers won their first (ever) postseason series in franchise history.  Cliff Lee topped off the night with a complete game gem to beat the Rays 5-1.  The Rangers expertly navigated the bases as if their lives depended on it.  It was beyond good baseball.  It was fun!   
While I do still bemoan the fact that my Cardinals are long gone for the season, I must honestly admit that our 2010 Cardinals would most certainly have been outplayed last night. 
Nolan Ryan’s Rangers were aggressive with brilliant base running, phenomenal offense, pitching magnificence, manufactured runs and stolen bases. It was brilliant, scrappy baseball magic strung together in a way that I have really only read about.  Visions of Whitey Herzog’s Cardinals – and what their version of smart small ball must have been like – were flashing before my eyes.
Maybe it was just the excitement of yesterday’s do-or-die postseason battle, but for the first time in a long time I was enjoying baseball for the pure energy of the moment – and I loved it!
If you are reading this today, I am guessing you too are one of the loyal (aka stubborn) baseball fans still fighting the good fight and savoring the last vestiges of the 2010 MLB season?   
The Reds, Rays, Twins and Braves are all out, and the party is down to four.
Rangers versus Yankees (ALCS)
Giants versus Phillies (NLCS)
Warning: wavering, indecisive, attempt at an opinion-forming train-of-thought paragraph ahead:
Personally, I find it hard to cheer for the Phillies. (See: Friday May 7th CDD post )
But after their stomping of the Reds, I have a very, very small fondness in my heart for that scruffy bunch of mugs.  And since another Yankees/Phillies World Series seems unfair and unimaginative, I guess I need to cheer for the Rangers?  But then again… I really like that Derek Jeter… and Mariano Rivera … and David Robertson (my new happy pitcher fascination). 
Hmmmm… the only team I don’t want to see in the World Series would be the Giants.  That Tim Lincecum is just so hard to watch. You know what I mean….right?  ;)
But no matter… Whether the Rangers continue to impress or the big money superstar teams run away with it all over again, I’ll be watching.
Don’t look now, but there may be only 3 weeks of baseball left!
Savor the postseason, play ball!
 
  
And in case you missed it! —The UCB (United Cardinal Bloggers) October Project is in full swing with a roundtable discussion that keeps the baseball talk front and center.  Each day is a new topic and today the bloggers chimed in on how they are spending October.  Who is watching postseason baseball?  Who has moved on to football?  How do you compare to the other Cardinal faithful?  Check out today’s answers here (link pending).


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