Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Felipe Lopez

Girl Talk – A Frustrating Year

We’re trying something new here on CDD – a Monday morning roundtable, covering a different question to kick off the beginning of every week. You’ll see answers from us and maybe even some guests from time to time! We are hoping to spark some discussion, so feel free to jump in on the comments and add your two cents!


This week’s question: What is the one thing you would say was the most frustrating thing about this year’s team?

Allen Craig can play baseball too!

Angela: I’m not sure there is any one thing, but for me it had to be all the jettisoned players that found their way on to the roster. Randy Winn, Aaron Miles and Jeff Suppan have all been designated for assignment this year and got picked up by the team for ‘veteran presence.’ Now, I am not of the #hpgf (Hyperventilating Prospect Geek Fraternity… and seeing as how I’m not a guy I guess I never will be), and I’ve never been overly excited about any one particular player, however I do remember being so excited at the beginning of the season seeing all of the “Baby Birds” hanging out on the roster. Joe Mather, Allen Craig, Tyler Greene… they were all there!


What frustrated me was seeing all of those boys get sent back down to Memphis to make room for all the old fogeys. I won’t be naive and say that those guys would have made the difference, and I will be enlightened enough to say that Jeff Suppan was serviceable and Aaron Miles wasn’t a total waste of space… but I think the young guys could have done that as well. The overall makeup of the roster never came together. There were the superstars and the everyone elses. You could pin that kind of blame anywhere, from the front office making poor moves to Tony using poor lineups to players just not performing, but for me it had to be watching guys that were tearing the cover off the ball in Memphis get passed by in favor of those ‘veteran presences.’




Jacqueline: First of all I love this idea. Way to go Angela and Erika for coming up with another way for us me to get to give my opinion. I look at it as our own little Cawffee Tawlk. Ya know, that great Mike Myers skit on Saturday Night Live where he played Linda, based on his Jewish mother in law, who loved two things: tawlking-giving her opinion and Barbra Streisand. So from now on just think of me(although I’m a shiksa) as Linda’s sports loving sistah, Brenda. I have the big hair, shoulder padded sweaters, big glasses, the long nails, the jewelry and animal print clothing and accessories to fit right in. First let me say that Albert Pujols is my Barbra Streisand. He’s like buttah. The man can do no wrong. And does he look good in that uniform! His toucas/tuches (bumm for us Gentiles) is a sight to behold! I get verklempt.

Seriously, my biggest frustration is this: The sum is should be greater than it’s parts.That’s what is so frustrating about the 2010 Cardinals. The sum some how adds up to less than it’s parts. On paper we look like a contending post season team. We have the games best player in Albert Pujols. The man was born to play baseball and wear the Birds on the Bat. If you designed the perfect player it would be Albert. We have two Cy Young caliber shut em down pitchers in Chris Carpenter and my favorite Cardinal Adam Wainwright.Oy vey! The toucas on Waino es Bueno! Like buttah! We have All Star catcher Yadi (don’t even think of running on me) Molina. He’s the best defensive and  game calling catcher in baseball. We’ve got Matt Holliday, one of the best hitters in the league. That is our core as Tony would say. We have a good 2nd year center fielder power or at least a doubles hitter in Colby Rasmus, an above average defensive short stop in Brendan Ryan and three very good rookies or newbies in Jaime Garcia, Jon Jay and David Freese. Add these up on paper and we looked like a great team. But…that’s why we play the games.


As Adam Wainwright said yesterday, we came out of spring training with every intention  of playing in the post season and making it to the World Series. What the what happened? We had players who didn’t play up to expectations, others regressed to the mean, were slow to get up to par or were very erratic. We had injuries. Such is life in baseball.


But still something major was missing. Spark, leadership, enthusiasm, killer instinct, will to win, never give upness, chemistry. Our parts added up to a great big pile of bupkes disappointment. “Discuss amooangst yooaselves”


Erika: Since I could easily just say “ditto” to both Angela and Jacqueline on their assessments (the early birds got the worms!), I am changing it up a bit and looking at the question from merely a spectator point of view.
Biggest disappointment – on a purely aesthetic level:  Since June 27th there has been no David Freese in the lineup.  This season could have been so much better (looking) had Mr. Freese hung around at the hotcorner for more than 70 games.
Plus Felipe Lopez then could have toodled around at SS or 2B instead of being assigned to 3B where he is not, shall we say, a “natural.”  And then Angela might have been a happier member of the Less-Is-More Aaron Miles fan club.  All good reasons to support the theory that the absence of rookie stud Freese was the major disappointment of the 2010 Cardinal season.
Prince Boo Boo Feet
The Cardinals can of course make up for this disappointment pretty easily –
David Freese (a.k.a. Prince Boo Boo Feet) gets another shot at the hotcorner next season.  Maybe a pair of good ankle splints, some steel toe workout shoes and a megapack of bubble wrap could help protect those dainty hooves of his?  I’ll help wrap!  ;)


Cadence: It is really hard for me to pinpoint an exact moment where the season went wrong. There are many things that have been frustrating, especially in the last 2 months, and trying to pick one might just be the reason that the season has turned so disappointing. We all know that the lack of wins by a team with a ton of potential and talent has to be the number one most frustrating thing; a team loaded with proven veterans like Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Yadier Molina and a group of young guys full of potential including Brendan Ryan, Jon Jay, Colby Rasmus and David Freese, it is hard to grasp why a team that came into the 2010 season with high expectations might finish just above .500 and second in the NL Central standings behind the Reds. What is even more frustrating is that when the Cardinals swept the Reds in early August and the team was defending itself, it only lead to a downward spiral. Even more frustrating than that, Jason LaRue was put on the 15-day DL, then the 60-day DL, then announced his retirement after a kick in the head by Johnny Cueto ended his season and eventually his career. We lost a great back up catcher and a great asset to our team for no good reason. Disappointing.

Brad Penny after his Grand Slam on May 21, 2010.  The last time
we saw him this season. (I was at this game)
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch

So, I guess the conclusion I have come to is that the most frustrating thing about the 2010 season is the injuries and the (as I like to call them) leftovers used to fill the void. David Freese twisted his ankle and then hurt it again during his rehab assignment, Brad Penny strained his oblique muscle in May and we haven’t even seen him since, Ryan Ludwick strained his hamstring and spent several days on the bench before finally getting DL-ed and then eventually getting traded a couple days after coming back, Colby Rasmus was injured off and on for parts of the season, and Kyle Lohse had a surgery that no one even heard of that we thought could end his season if not his career. We all know Lohse came back (disappointingly…sorry, Kyle) and Colby was able to work his way back into the starting lineup even with the TLR drama, but we lost Penny & Freese for the season, and Ludwick forever (sad face again). So, instead of allowing the farm guys come up, for the most part, wholes have been filled with leftovers; Randy Winn, Aaron Miles, Jeff Suppan. Sure, they have done their part and I don’t hate them, but I still can not justify in my head that this was the best decision. A lot of spark was lost when the minor league guys left; in particular when Joe Mather got sent down, I think some of that energy in the clubhouse disappeared and I think a lot of Brendan Ryan’s spunk went away too (we all remember Brendo-vision & the home movies). I could definitely notice a change in him at photo day when he spent less time chatting with fans than he did the year before. And that kind of thing is what I felt made the 2010 Cardinals what they were…fun and exciting, and this was all lost when injuries took over, baby birds didn’t get much of a chance, and leftovers filled their place. The camaraderie wasn’t as strong as I thought it might have been. My hope for next season is that David Freese comes back better than ever and we figure out how to fill positions (bench and other) with legitimate players. Here’s to 2011!

Where There’s Smoke…?

Fact: There is something wrong with the 2010 Cardinals.

This season has gone horribly wrong.  It is more than just bad luck, more than an injury-prone roster. Yet nowhere have I read a good enough explanation for this season’s unbelievable Redbird slump.  My faith in this team is deep, but my concern is taking over.  Call it woman’s intuition or just blame it on an imagination run wild, but even I am beginning to wonder what horrible secret could be at the root of this Cardinal demise.
Yesterday breaking news from the Cardinal clubhouse insinuated bad blood was again boiling as Felipe Lopez was given his ‘unconditional release’ from the Cardinals.
For being late.
I am well aware that the public is not (and should not) be privy to all team dynamics.  However we are the ones left watching as the Cardinals systematically dismantle a team BEFORE the season has ended.  The organization recently attempted (and failed) to sweep escalating troubles between Colby Rasmus and Tony LaRussa under the rug. Then last week management announced it was shutting down pitcher Jaime Garcia early, as a precaution.  (The fact that Twitter found out before Jaime himself knew of the decision looks to be another symptom of a much larger illness plaguing the club.)
David Freese
Brad Penny
Ryan Ludwick
Jason LaRue
Sure, we lost some vital components in the Cardinal machinery through the season.  However the ‘leftovers’ are hardly scrubs.
Albert Pujols
Matt Holliday
Yadier Molina
Adam Wainwright
Chris Carpenter
What is becoming more and more obvious is that this team is no longer having fun.  The spark is gone.  But why? I am certain every player has been through bad baseball seasons before.  Most of these guys are experienced professionals.  They know the ups and downs of a season.  Afterall, baseball is a crazy game.  Sometimes the ball drops in the gap and sometimes the hits just won’t come.  Luck has something to do with it.  Attitude has more.
Unlike some writers and bloggers I have read, I am not blaming the boys for giving up.  I truly believe they care.  The Cardinals are a GOOD group of GREAT guys, and I will defend (most) of them with every breath I have left.  However, it saddens me to see these proud, talented guys struggling (and here is where the supposition starts…) under some invisible weight that seems larger than the sum of its parts.
Back to that intuition (aka:  lack of facts, but saying it anyway).  I get the feeling there is something larger looming in that clubhouse. It could be anything.  Tempers may be flaring and the guys may be fussing.  However I have to say I am worried it is something deeper.  Bad calls and misfortune at the plate may have played a part in some hard luck losses, but I fear something else is eating at this team from the inside.
Have the players lost confidence or respect in their skipper for some yet unrevealed reason?  Do the boys know Albert is on his way out the door?  Are they too assuming that LaRussa will be calling it quits after this season?  Would those rumors be enough to dismantle the dedication of an entire club of professionals?  I would hope not.
I am trying to keep my imagination in check.  But speaking as a fan who loves the players as much as the game, it is heartbreaking to see the joy leave the field.
I know the superstars are getting paid exorbitant amounts of money to do a job, but my baseball-loving heart wants to believe that ballplayers continue to go out there on the field every day, dedicated to a career they enjoy and a game they are still passionate about.
Wins are nice, but happy ballplayers are my ultimate viewing pleasure.  I miss my energetic and fun-loving Cardinals.  Something just isn’t right with the 2010 Cardinals and I hope – whatever it takes- that they cure the problem and get back to the love of the game.

So…
To the Cardinals:
I am willing to help. Homemade cookies? A listening ear?  I’m your gal!  Just let me know!  My heart is breaking here boys.  Tell me how we can fix this!  It isn’t about the playoffs anymore.  I just miss true “play like a Cardinal” baseball and the sight of you having fun on the field.


A little perspective: no matter what, it’s the team (and the game) we love

A note from Ang…
Are the boys going to make a run at a playoff spot? They continue their absolutely baffling ways of beating good teams and losing to bad ones, so I suppose if the boys play winning teams the rest of the year (they don’t – darn) it’s always possible. Either way, we’re not giving up hope yet!!!
We have a surprise for all of you – not one, but TWO new writers! Cadence and Courtney Rippeto are a fabulous sister duo located in the St. Louis area, and have thankfully accepted our offer to join the team. More about them will be coming in the next week, but their big premiere is here now talking about their experience with photo day!
Enjoy and show them some love so they come back next week! ;)
Go Cards!
Ang



Entering the weekend 8 games behind the Reds, we took the time to enjoy the Friday and Saturday Cards/Reds games for what they were worth; photo day on the field and booing Brandon Phillips.

Courtney and I attended the first game of the Cards/Reds series on Friday night and we just knew that we were looking forward to hearing the roar of boos that Brandon Phillips would receive from the adoring Cardinal Nation after he ran his mouth in Cincy during the previous series. We all know what happened there. Needless to say, he was greeted with boos every time he came to the plate and every time he even came near to the ball. Even the foul ball that he got a piece of was thrown back on to the field. As much as I HATE it when that happens (hello, we are NOT Cubs fans), I had to applaud the guy who threw the ball back. Probably one of the greatest things I have seen. I think he would agree that it was worth him getting thrown out over. :)
Obviously, if you watched any of the games, you would know that the “love” for Brandon Phillips continued all weekend. Even the Reds fans sitting next to us on Saturday said “I hope that he gets a hit so it will shut them up.” HAHA. Sorry, Reds fans, but the hate will never disappear for Phillips, and he brought that upon himself.
To end Friday night, after another fantastic Jaime Garcia performance, Busch Stadium had another fireworks night. And after getting to see the Mizzou Tigers marching band battle the Fighting Illini marching band before the game (Go Mizzou!), it was quite a great end to an awesome night. We couldn’t wait to get to Saturday’s game.





While almost everyone else was focusing on the fact that “the season is over”, we were busy enjoying a day we had been looking forward to since early this season – yes, I bought the tickets in May. Saturday, September 4th was fan photo day on the field at Busch Stadium. Having missed out last year, I was determined to go this year and enjoy it to the fullest. (Courtney’s friend, Laura, came with us – so that is who the blonde is in all of our pics!) Courtney had gone last year and I knew I couldn’t miss out. Although my fave (Luddy), who I had been looking forward to seeing earlier in the season, wasn’t there, I still couldn’t wait to go!
We knew we were in a great position to get close to the players, having placed ourselves in kind-of a corner of the roped off area, we were certain there would be opportunity for us to at least try and get the attention of our favorites. We had NO idea what was about to happen! First the coaches made their way around the field, waving to the fans and being very courteous. Then, the first round of players entered the field; Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and Jon Jay. Those three almost ran around the field so quick, I forgot they were even there! But, I guess since they were starters, it was understandable considering pre-game rituals and superstitions.
As more players proceeded to enter the field (Brendan Ryan, Randy Winn, Matt Pagnozzi, Nick Stavinoha – we called him Dr. Thunder and he got a kick out of it!, Pedro Feliz, Bryan Anderson) we saw Matt Holliday coming our way. Somehow, we got his attention and lured him over to take a photo with us! It was so surreal that we couldn’t believe it…he even had his hand on my shoulder! Pretty amazing. Needless to say, we were so stunned in our excellent convincing skills that we thought we would try it with other players as the rounded the field.
















Aaron Miles was one in the next group to come by. We talked to him for a second and he even stopped in his tracks to read my shirt, “It Ain’t Right til it’s Wainwright”, and he gave me the thumbs up (the pics below are him reading my shirt, and then posing for us) and told me he liked it. In fact several of the guys really liked my shirt; too bad Waino was pitching and he didn’t participate in photo day, so he couldn’t see the shirt like I had hoped. Dennys Reyes and Fernando Salas came around next. Again, very nice, but kinda scooted along without stopping to talk.

The group of Felipe Lopez, Trever Miller, and Ryan Franklin were the next to walk by. Trever Miller was a hit with this crazy curly wig he wore (which he explained on the Sunday pre-game show to be a way to loosen up the guys and make them laugh in the clubhouse – it worked with the fans too!). While Lopez and Miller were stopped taking pictures with other fans, I chatted up Ryan Franklin asking if he would take a photo with us. He replied “Sure! Just a second, ok?” What was he waiting for? He was rounding up the other guys to come over and take a photo with us! Totally awesome of him.
At this point, we were even more geeked and couldn’t wait for others to show up. Courtney wanted a picture with Jason Motte and we all wanted one with Colby Rasmus. Jaime Garcia was also tops on our list. So, as they kept coming, we continued to reach out to the players to get photos with us as well as help a fellow cardinal fan who was much shorter than me standing behind us. She was desperate for a picture with Skip Schumaker, so we made sure we helped her get one. For some reason, the guys just couldn’t say “no” to a group of girls begging for photos with them. This, of course, was good for us.
Some of the bullpen guys made their way around the warning track and I got Mitchell Boggs while waiting for Jason Motte. Both pics were achieved and they were both so sweet to us. We expressed our appreciation for them stopping to take photos with us.


When another group made their way around the corner, we noticed that Mike MacDougal wasn’t getting much love, so we asked him if he would take a photo with us… “Sure!” And we had officially made it up to 7 different players! Meanwhile, we helped our short Cardinal friend we met get a picture with Blake Hawksworth. Courtney said to him “Hey, I follow you on twitter!” He was very responsive and said, “Really? That’s awesome.” Whether he actually meant it or not, he was very nice about it.








In the last group, we were super confident that we could get the last two on our list; Jaime Garcia and Colby Rasmus. We were extremely successful and we also got Kyle Lohse in there too! All three had to be so tired of fans yelling at them and wanting pictures, but they were so sweet to us and obliged.

What these guys might not know is that they made our day! Win or lose, we were never going to forget how awesome it was to get pics with all these guys.  See, how we look at it is that this is our team. Whenever something like this happens, you seem to forget a stretch of bad play and remember that this is baseball, the sport we absolutely love.  And they are the team that we absolutely love. Yes, they did lose, but there was no shortage of amazing memories that we will never forget. Thank you, St. Louis Cardinals for hosting this event and thank you to the players for being so amazing and courteous to the fans, we truly appreciate it.

Hopefully this is just the beginning of many entries to come from us. Courtney is divulged in pharmacy school, so you will mostly see my writing, but because we do so many things together (in regards to the Cardinals) it will likely be a combined effort. We really look forward to sharing our Cardinal experiences with all of you in Cardinal Nation!
Cadence (and Courtney)

The Simple Proof – Wins and Losses

Yesterday’s game was frustrating. The offense is obviously frustrating, but for some reason I was fixating on the defense, so today you’re getting a little middle infielders by the numbers. Erika and I (along with several other diehards in Cardinal Nation) had a collective heart attack when we heard that Brendan Ryan and Jon Jay were the two names that had been potentially offered to the Astros in return for Roy Oswalt. Now, I don’t think this is actually a true offer, just a rumor, sent out into the world to make fans spaz out and scribes scramble to find out whether or not it is actual fact or fiction. We won’t go into that one any more today…

CardinalsCandids.com

After seeing a couple of botched double plays yesterday afternoon, and hearing one of our middle infielders dropped into trade talks made me wonder what this team has looked like with our various fielders in and out of the games.


I’ll admit – I didn’t go too in-depth on this one. I think you will see that it wasn’t particularly necessary. All I did was look at sheer numbers – did the team win or lose on any given day with any given player playing at various positions. So here it is – Aaron Miles, Tyler Greene, Felipe Lopez, Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan by the wins and losses:


With Miles…

  • starting at 2B: 3-4
  • starting at 3B: 0-1

I’ll admit, this is a very small sample size. Fair enough. Moving on.


With Greene…

  • starting at 2B: 2-2
  • starting at SS: 6-7

This is still a small sample size. Let’s keep going.


With Lopez…

  • starting at 2B: 6-5
  • starting at SS: 6-10

The numbers are getting bigger, and they are starting to paint a picture.


For Schumaker and Ryan I looked at it a little differently. They both have started in just the one position (in the middle infield at least), and I was curious as to how they fare with and without each other. Let’s look at Skippy first.


For Skip…

  • starting at 2B: 43-29
  • starting with either Lopez or Greene: 12-13
  • starting with Brendan: 31-16
  • sitting on the bench at the start: 11-14

The number line to catch here: Skip and Brendan in the lineup together has produced a Cardinals team that is 15 games over .500. Yes, I did contact Erika when I found that out. She and I thought the same thing, ‘No way and HECK YES!‘ But we’re just getting started…


For Brendan…

  • starting at SS: 42-20
  • starting with either Lopez, Greene or Miles: 11-8
  • staring with Skip: 31-16
  • sitting on the bench at the start: 12-23

This absolutely blew my mind. Brendan Ryan in the lineup equates to 22 games over .500, and out of the lineup is 11 games under. 

Scott Rovak – US Presswire



I think the answer is simple. Put Brendan and Skip in the lineup and let them play. Just by observation (read: don’t yell at me for the next sentence – it’s my observation), it looks like Brendan and Skip have the easiest camaraderie on the field. I don’t know if it’s because they have played together more than any of the other pairings (although that would make sense) or if they just blend the best. Obviously they have both had their share of errors, miscues and otherwise ugly plays this year. The fact of the matter remains – Brendan and Skip in the lineup together has produced winning baseball.


Wins and losses don’t lie.

Parties, Gut-Wrenchers, and the Flat-Out WEIRD

Sometimes, the best thing about baseball is that during the regular season there’s always another game tomorrow. For the Cardinals, after a brutal sweep at the hands of the Rockies, their next tomorrow couldn’t come fast enough, but fans and scribes everywhere weren’t sure what to expect coming into yesterday’s game against the Astros and Bud Norris. Norris had been inexplicably dominant against the Cardinals… right up until last night. Eight shutout innings by Adam Wainwright and eight wild runs by the boys in red helped everyone find serenity last night!


The Cardinals have been wrapped up in their fair share of craziness already this season. Today we thought we’d look back at the good, the bad and the strange. Ready? Here we go!


Gut Wrenchers

Chris Lee – STL Today

May 21: Cardinals – 9, Angels – 5
I’m sure you didn’t expect the first ‘bad’ game to be a win. However, after shocking everyone (including himself) with a third inning grand slam, Cardinal fans watched in horror as Brad Penny went out in the next half inning and, after throwing a couple of warm-up pitches, was quickly ushered off the field by the training staff. He hasn’t seen the mound since. The team might have won the game, but was losing Penny worth it?


May 25: Cardinals – 0, Padres – 1
What on earth did Adam Wainwright have to do to win this game? Here’s what he did do: give up 4 hits and 1 run over 7 dominant innings, walking 1 and striking out TWELVE. To add to the madness, the Cardinals actually outhit the Padres 7-4, but couldn’t figure out how to bring any of those baserunners back around to home plate. It was a frustrating start to a strange six game road trip to San Diego and Chicago.


July 6: Cardinals – 9, Rockies – 12 and July 7: Cardinals – 7, Rockies – 8
What could possibly be worse to a fan than seeing your team give up a huge lead in the ninth inning? Watching them do it all over again the next day in the eighth and ninth. Salt? Meet wound. Both games were so winnable. The bats were getting things done and the baserunners were going crazy. Fans were lauding Matt Holliday and Jon Jay for having big games at the plate,  seeing so many 2 out RBI’s and stringing hits together in a way that we haven’t seen in weeks. Then, everyone watched in horror as the strong bullpen fell apart and some bizarre defensive positioning and play let to back to back walk-offs for the Rox. It was a horrible 2 days in Cardinal Nation.


Flat-Out WEIRD
April 17: Cardinals – 1, Mets – 2
The Fox Saturday game of the week provided fans with almost 7 hours of listening to Tim McCarver spout nonsense as the Cards and Mets clashed for 18 innings of no-run baseball, a 19th inning in which both teams scored exactly 1 run, and the Pond Scum finally pulling ahead to stay in the top of the 20th. 19 pitchers battled through the game that never seemed to end, including appearances by both Felipe Lopez and Joe Mather. Skip Schumaker had 10 plate appearances. Brendan Ryan, who pinch hit for Jaime Garcia after 7  innings of 1 hit ball, had six plate appearances. At the end of the game, fans couldn’t decide whether to just breathe a sigh of relief that it was over, or agonize over enough missed opportunities to cover a week’s worth of games.

Scott Rovak – US Presswire

June 28: Cardinals – 6, Diamondbacks – 5
In a game where the team was playing with an extremely short bench, Adam Wainwright became player of the game, and all he did was walk to the plate in the bottom of the 9th with instructions to bunt. A throwing error on Waino’s bunt scored Jaime Garcia (who was pinch running for Yadier Molina), and after a weak groundout by Randy Winn, Skip Schumaker came up with runners on second and third. He slapped a ball to the first base side, and Adam LaRoche threw wildly to the plate, allowing not only Brendan Ryan to score, but Adam Wainwright to swipe home plate as well! If you want the definition of a gift-wrapped win, that was it. 


Parties
May 30: Cardinals – 9, Cubs – 1
After Erika had the gall to question Albert Pujols on Friday, Albert had his revenge on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, blasting 3 home runs deep into the bleachers and on to Waveland Avenue. Wainwright knew what to do with that kind of lead, throwing 7 innings of 1 run ball and sending Cardinal fans home happy. David Freese also got in on the fun, going 3 for 5 with 3 RBI’s and a home run.


June 4: Cardinals – 8, Brewers – 0
How did Waino choose to follow up his Memorial Day weekend game mentioned above? How about a his first complete game – a 9 strikeout, 2 hitter vs. the Brew Crew? The Cardinals were patient, tossing runs on the board in 4 different innings and putting up 5 runs on starter Randy Wolf and 3 on relief pitcher Jeff Suppan. 3 days later the Brewers released Suppan and… oh wait, this is the happy section. Moving on!


Broken!
Chris Lee – STL Today
Mark this down as the day Nick Stavinoha broke Trevor Hoffman. In a game that the Brewers had seemingly been running away with since about the 4th, Cardinal fans had felt little reason to cheer coming into the 9th, save a Matt Holliday home run in the 6th that went farther than any other regular game home run I have ever seen at Miller Park (Yes, I was there). When Hoffman came trotting in for the 9th, it felt like game over. A walk to Colby Rasmus gave me a little hope, but then two warning track shots by David Freese and Yadier Molina left the Cards down to their last out, and pinch hitter Stavinoha trotting to the plate. Who could have predicted Stavi golfing a shot from his knees deep into the left field bleachers?! Miller Park went silent, and I went crazy. Poor Trevor Hoffman went into a dive, blowing 4 of 5 save opportunities. Brewer fans still haven’t forgiven me for being at the game where it all went downhill.

We’ve had some ups and downs with this Cardinals team. By the end of the season, we’re hoping that the good outweighs the bad. We’ll find out! 

Game time tonight is 6:05. Go Cards!

Photo Thursday

Apparently interleague play was exactly what the Cardinals needed! The Cards finish up in Canada tonight at 6:07 PM and then head to Kansas City for a weekend series.

Hope you enjoy this week in photos. Go Cards!

Motte is so awkward, but absolutely awesome!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
Would you run on this face? We wouldn’t!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
Flashing the leather? Yes please!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
So is this a close your eyes and hope the ball shows up type thing?
Jeff Roberson – AP
The boys brought out the boom boom sticks on Tuesday!
Chris Young – The Canadian Press
Pensive Yadi? Yes please!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
Brendan’s hits have been few and far between again lately – time for a little Brendan luv!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
‘You can’t catch me, mang!’
Dilip Vishwanat – Getty Images
Jaime’s beard has the official #chickcomment stamp of approval, in case you were wondering. ;)
Chris Young – The Canadian Press
Wednesday’s play of the night!
Chris Young – The Canadian Press

Photo Thursday

Photo Thursday is here again!

First, a video that Fox Sports Midwest posted yesterday in honor of Mark Mulder’s retirement and Jeff Suppan’s Cardinals return. It’s a blast from the past – all the way back to 2006 – and features those two plus Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter on a golf outing. (So how can it not be enjoyable to watch?) Mark, best wishes on your retirement and good luck on your new golf career. Had our blog been around in 2005, you definitely would have been featured regularly!

Safe!
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Colby JACK, with a scenic view. We love St. Louis!
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
More amusing: whatever’s in Luddy’s mouth, or Yahoo! thinking this is Ryan Franklin?
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Yadi! No kicking!
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
We like that Albert hasn’t lost his Little League tongue-sticking-out focus, or using both hands to get that grounder!
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Nice catch, Matt … Now let’s talk about your bat …
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Brendan hit a homer? Really? We mean, YAY! Brendan hit a homer!
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
So is this a fist bump … or a stiff arm by Yadi? We can’t really tell.
Scott Rovak/US Presswire
Up, up and away!
Scott Rovak/US Presswire
Admit it – Motte is a beast.
Chris Lee clee@post-dispatch.com

Photo Thursday

Not a lot of pictures to be found this week (maybe the photographers all took the week off?) so as an added bonus we’re bringing back Erika’s photos from her trip to Busch that she posted earlier in the week. Enjoy!

We love seeing the boys happy – but why didn’t we know Yadi could jump that high?!
Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
Walk-off single? That’s a winner!
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Image
Ouchie!
Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
Would we give back this grand slam if it meant Penny wasn’t hurt? Yes.
Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
A frustrated Holliday is still #chickcomment worthy!
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Image
Unsportsmanlike conduct! 15 yards from… oh wait, wrong sport. In baseball, he’s just a jerk.
Emily Rasinski erasinski@post-dispatch.com
No words for this. Just laughter at LaRue’s funny face.
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
We #standforstan too… can Ang stand with Adam though? #chickcomment
by @MLBSTLCardinals

Baptized at Busch

The last day of school, the start of summer… Life-changing events for kids and parents.  This year we planned an exciting launch to summer with a momentous pilgrimage: an 8-hour journey to the Motherland …. Busch Stadium.
I am proudly raising two enthusiastic young baseball fans and am thrilled that Cardinals baseball has become a family interest.  We watch the games together on television and talk about all the Cardinals news and chatter.  So taking our kiddos to Busch Stadium for their inaugural FIRST game at Busch Stadium was a family milestone.
First on the agenda: a tour of Busch stadium. 
Last Wednesday, we joined the earliest tour of the morning, a small group of 8-10 people and ours were the only children. (An elementary school field trip filled the next tour group, so we were feeling very blessed!)  We entered a peaceful, quiet Busch stadium, empty except for the grounds crew and a handful of employees cleaning the ballpark.  The view of the ballpark in the early morning was breathtaking and was a perfect introduction to what would later be a loud cheering stadium filled with that familiar sea of red. Our tour guide led us through various areas of Busch stadium including Mike Shannon’s broadcast booth, the Champions Club, Musial’s bridge and onto the field, dispersing tidbits of Cardinals history along the way.   
Favorite part of the tour? 
Hands down, the dugout!  The kids loved standing on the steps where they had seen Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and all the boys lean over the fence during games.  There was a special excitement in touching the phones Tony LaRussa uses to call the bullpen as well as sitting on the wooden dugout benches scarred by the cleats of countless Cardinals ballplayers.
*side note: if planning to take a stadium tour, be forewarned that it does NOT include a tour of the clubhouse (except during Winter Warm Up)
Next on our Cardinals Baseball Trip Agenda:
After the tour we ventured into the team store and did our best to contribute to the ‘Keep Albert Pujols’ fund, buying up far too much of the must-have Cardinals gear that can’t be found in our Oklahoma hometown!
On our road trip into St. Louis we had collected our Mobil On The Run 25-cent drinks, compliments of the Cardinals’ 6-run win over Washington on Monday.  And after our stadium tour, we continued our Cardinal broadcast commercial experience with lunch at Imo’s Pizza.  Driving past a Schnucks (non-existent in Oklahoma) also sent the backseat into a flurry of excitement.  Obviously advertising dollars spent during Cardinals games works – at least on this family!  =)
Pregame Adventures:
Batting practice before Wednesday’s game brought its own share of excitement. Cardinals sluggers Ryan Ludwick, Matt Holliday and Nick Stavinoha were all firing shots into the stands.  Several of the balls that didn’t make it into the seats were tossed up to fans by players on the field.  A Marlins player threw a baseball to my son, but sadly, moments later, the ball fell out of his glove, back over the wall.  Twice we ‘almost’ caught other balls hit into the stands, but a teenage boy stuck his glove right in front of ours, stealing the catch and the baseballs away at the last second.  So, despite our attempts to catch another, we left with merely a good story instead of a batting practice baseball. 
The Real Deal:  Baseball at Busch Stadium:
Even with drizzly and cool weather for Wednesday and Thursday’s games against the Florida Marlins, we were happy to be in the stands cheering on our Cardinals.  Hot chocolate may have helped, but the energy in the stands overcame the chill, and the kids were having fun, focused on the game and cheering for the players by name. I could not have been more proud of my little Cardinals fans!  They sang along to Matt Holliday’s walk up song, cheered their hearts out for Brendan Ryan, David Freese and the ‘Boys’, and they marveled as the wave made it all the way around the stadium.  They also worked feverishly to punch out their votes on as many All Star ballots as they could collect.  (I’m predicting an all-Cardinals team right now…)
Looking Back on It All:
The time in St. Louis flew by too quickly.  While we did visit the arch and enjoyed wandering through City Park and the streets between our hotel and the stadium, there was much left undone.  So, happily I can say that more family trips to St. Louis and Busch Stadium will definitely be in our future!   
The one memory I will forever cherish was watching the excitement of my kids as they hung on the Cardinals dugout fence, thoughtfully looking out over the field at Busch Stadium in that early morning light.  I have visited Busch Stadium before, but it was truly magical to see it through the eyes of children experiencing it for the first time.  I hope this is just the beginning of their love affair with baseball and that some day they too will be able to pass it down to another generation.
To help pass the time during a baseball ‘off-day’ today, here is a photo slideshow from our trip.  

Highlights include:
1-     Joe Mather in high socks
2-     Brendan Ryan and Felipe Lopez & their victory happy dance handshake
3-     David Freese and a killer grin
4-     Yadier Molina visits Jaime Garcia
5-     Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Nick Stavinoha and more…
Enjoy!  =)
GO CARDS!

Brendan on the Bench

Brendan Ryan being one of our absolute favorites here at Diamond Diaries, we have blogged about him before. I dedicated an entire post to the then uncharacteristic drought he was suffering back on April 30th, and Chris followed up on May 14th.  Sadly, we are still talking about our dear Brendan, and the ‘situation’ has gotten worse.
On Sunday Tony La Russa announced Brendan Ryan’s demotion of sorts.  The Cardinals’ shortstop will be ‘taking a break’ from the starting lineup, at least until he has recovered from whatever mystery illness has infected his bat (and temporarily spread to his glove).  Evidently Tony thinks that continuing Brendan as an everyday player when he is so obviously struggling may be compounding the problem.  The mental stress may indeed be taking its toll on Brendan’s entire game.
Fan reaction to Brendan’s slump has ranged from sympathetic encouragement to demands to ‘bench him’.   Personally, my mood has gone from patient optimism to disbelief to concern for long-term effects on his baseball confidence.  And I do agree with Tony:  Brendan needs a break. 
Brendan’s stand-in at shortstop will most likely be Felipe Lopez returning from the DL.  Tyler Greene has been filling the role of middle infield sub since Lopez left for the DL on April 26th.  Felipe’s right elbow had been reportedly bothering him since April 11th and may have been worsened during his one-inning of relief pitching during the Cardinals’ marathon 20-inning game on April 17th.


Below are some comparisons among Brendan (current and 2009), Lopez and Greene – both at the plate and on the field to take a little deeper look into what we are giving up & getting in return by removing Brendan from the game. 
Offensive comparisons  (data compiled from Baseball-reference.com)
Plate
appearances
Batting
HR
RBI
Brendan Ryan 2009
429
.292
3
37
Brendan Ryan 2010
120
.162
0
6
Felipe Lopez 2010
50
.273
1
4
Tyler Greene
28
.231
1
3
Defensive comparisons:  (data compiled from Baseball-reference.com)
Games played
Errors
Chances
Dble plays
Fielding %
B Ryan 2009
105 (at SS)
19 ( at 2B)
8
1
507
53
71
9
.984
.981
B Ryan 2010
33 (at SS)
7
143
22
.951
Felipe Lopez
5 (SS)
5 (2B)
4 (3B)
0
0
0
21
9
13
1
2
1
1.000
1.000
1.000
Tyler Greene
6 (at SS)
3 (at 2B)
2
0
17
7
2
1
.882
1.000
In my opinion, we do need Brendan back at shortstop, but we need him back healthy. (And it should be noted that 5 of those 7 errors this season occurred in the recent span from May 9 – May 13.) 
Is it merely bad luck?  A lagging effect from his February wrist surgery?  Or something more fundamental? Whatever the reason, even a true Brendan fan as myself has to admit that the cycle must be broken.  For his own mental well-being and for the good of the team, Brendan must step back and breathe.
If not for the carryover into Brendan’s defense, I would still be preaching the irreplaceable value of his glove.  Afterall, our pitch-to-contact style of hurling demands an impenetrable defense to back it up.  With the Cardinals’ current lack of run support, every error on the field is magnified.  
Does Felipe Lopez have the range and the ability?  Only time will tell.  So far, I am hopefully optimistic.  However, Lopez’ returning from the DL with a recovering elbow injury does give me pause for concern.
I miss seeing the joyful energy and confident defensive production we had come to expect from Brendan.  Games have been (and will be) different without it.  While the mental burden of this prolonged slump may have stolen his spark, I am confident Brendan will be back to claim his rightful role as infield ball-hog very soon.

Until then, let’s hope Lopez continues to impress and the Cardinal offense has some luck with RISP.  It’s time to wake up and regain our lead!  GO CARDS!!
PS – We love you Brendan!   
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