Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Jason Motte

St Louis Cardinals, Spring Training 2014

A quick post to share player photos from our recent trip to sunny Jupiter, Florida – the Spring Training home of our beloved St. Louis Cardinals.  Photos (from the February 28th game against the Marlins and the March 2nd game against the Mets.)

Coming soon:  Photo diary with tips on how to be a baseball tourist in and around Jupiter Florida, Roger Dean stadium and the practice back fields.  (LINK HERE)

Click on any photo to enlarge and/or to shift through larger photos one at a time.  Enjoy!

Baseball is back!!  :)

Spring Training Warm-Ups


lindsey twitter photo
Baseball fever is making a comeback now that the boys are kicking it in Florida for Spring Training, and this week my dear friend (and Cardinals fan), Lindsey, asked (again) when Diamond Diaries would be back in action.  Without much arm-twisting at all, she agreed to write a guest post for us as sort of our own 2013 season kick-off.  And as you will soon see, smart,sassy and lovable Lindsey, an early victim of baseball fever this year, is ready to chat it up, Cardinals style.  P.S. If you aren’t already, you can follow Lindsey on twitter: @LoveAlwaysGives

 So, Welcome Back!!  And welcome, Lindsey!  =)    ~Erika

>Counting Baseball BlessingsWe’ve started out another Spring Training with the stomach-knotting stressor named, The Unsigned Contract Extension. This time, for Adam Wainwright. Waino is one of those players I could never lose faith in. I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous for the guy when we all found out about his Tommy John surgery. I still remember that moment when my heart fell into my stomach wondering, Could this be it for Waino? But then I snapped back to reality and realized who I was talking about. Waino is bueno, after all. I can see where the problem lies, he’s a pitcher just coming off of elbow surgery with a year left in his contract. Could that be more nerve wracking? He needs to be set to impress. Although a contract has yet to be signed, I’m ready to see some Wainwright action out on the mound this year. Let’s not forget, Mo…It’s ain’t right til it’s Wainwright!

lance-lynn-regular- (2)

photo from robrains.com

And hey, has anyone seen Lance Lynn around h—OH MY! Talk about a transformation! Catching my first full spring training game yesterday, I momentarily thought Garcia was pitching until I saw those four red letters: L-Y-N-N. My jaw immediately dropped. I think we all knew of the 40 pound weight loss Lance underwent throughout his offseason dieting and work out program when an interview came out stating his rather, uhm, confident outlook on where he stood in being a part of the starting rotation for the 2013 season. Reading and hearing about that type of weight loss is a lot different than seeing it out on the mound. Although he’s lacking the backside of Jaime Garcia, I do believe I’ll be seeing more Lance Lynn related #chickcomments popping up on my twitter feed this year. Here’s to hoping this season can start just as strongly as the last. Put those new muscles to work, Lynn!

Oh hey, David! I see you’ve been taking advantage of that Florida sunshine…and that strong man workout paid off for ya…

Ahem. Getting back to what I was saying…

photo from stltoday.com

photo from stltoday.com

I can’t even imagine the conversation between Yadier and Bengie Molina when they found out the good news that Bengie would be appointed Assistant Hitting Coach for the Cardinals this year. No, really, I can’t. I don’t speak Spanish. Nevertheless, I know I was pretty excited to hear we would have the Molina Brothers team effort this year, even if only one of them will make it onto the field. We don’t need no stinking Mark McGwire! Mabry and Molina have got it covered. As long as Bengie isn’t a running coach, I’ve got the faith! In all seriousness, I think all of Cardinal Nation knows the bond between the Molina family is something incredible and with the addition of his brother, I have no doubt that Yadi will be in even more high spirits to go out on the field every day and make his familia proud.

Speaking of families, it’s been quite the offseason for our hairiest member, Mr. Jason Motte. Unlike his teammates, this doesn’t have to do with his physique, work out regimen or contract status. Jason became a father. That’s right, our heat-throwing, ungroomed bear of a closer now changes diapers in his off time. And he couldn’t be happier about it! I predict little Miss Margret Morgan Motte (say that three times fast) is going to be a daddy’s girl in years to come, because he just can’t seem to get enough of his little girl.

Photo by Michael Donahue

Photo by Michael Donahue

Not only is fatherhood the only step forward in Jason’s life, but his charity work is in full swing as well. Throughout last season Jason and his wife, Caitlin, began collecting sports memorabilia to hold an auction called Strike Out Cancer, benefitting the Wings Cancer Foundation. The $37,000 they raised at their first benefit will go to expanding the organization into lower income communities. That is quite a big impact to make with their first endeavor, and there is surely more to come from these two.

Now, in true Erika fashion, it would be wrong not to mention that former Cardinal shortstop, Brendan Ryan knocked one out of the park in his first at-bat for the Seattle Mariners this spring training. You’ve still got it, Boog! Keep ‘em comin!

There is just something remarkable about seeing baseball on my tv again. Although there is still snow in my back yard, and the sunshine has yet to be found, I just can’t help but have something to look forward to on every game day. And it’s baseball. I can only believe that the transformations the guys have gone through this offseason will show onto the field in the 2013 season. We’ve got new birds and new bats, so we are set to make this one a season to remember!

The Boys Are Back! Almost.

Little league practice schedules and reports from Jupiter’s Spring Training games: signs that the world is finally waking up from a long winter, and baseball’s back! …..almost.

Spring Training whets the appetite and refreshes the senses.  Lineups, pitching reports, actual games on green grass with familiar faces (and some unfamiliar mugs) donning the birds on the bat… it’s all so surreal, especially with the backdrop of Florida palm trees.

While that’s all very well and tropically good (and I’m still crossing my fingers for the possibility of a quick pilgrimage to Florida), I find myself longing for the real deal:  the true start of the 2012 season.   The 2011 World Series Champions have a lot to prove.  New manager and No Albert Pujols may top the list, but whether ESPN is interested or not, Cardinal Nation has a lot of curiosities about how this team will perform.

My Top 10 Highlights/Curiosities for the upcoming 2012 season:

10. Pregame interviews on Fox Sports Midwest:  this is where the players get a chance to prove they have personality.  Sink or swim, boys!

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

8. Eduardo Sanchez’ filthy slider.  I fell in love with that pitch only to have it ripped away too early in the season last year.  Please, oh please, let’s have a healthy Sanchez and many, many gorgeous dirty pitches out of the bullpen this year.

7.  Mike Matheny management style.  What attitude will this team have under Matheny’s reins? Will it be more youthful? Will the playbook be more predictable? One thing’s for certain, getting my non-baseball girlfriends to watch a game will be easier with Matheny front and center in dugout shots.  (Cute manager?  Heckya!)

6. Jason Motte, “The Closer”.  Bearded, fidgety, always throwing himself off the mound with the force of that fastball.  He makes me smile.  Bring on the crazy-Motte!  I miss watching him yell at his glove.

5. Lovable Lance at 1st – those are mighty big shoes to fill!  Can Berkman be more than “adequate”?  For his sake (and ours), I hope we never hear “Albert would’ve…” or “if Albert had been there…”  Honestly, Berkman surpassed any and all expectations last year, so here’s hoping he can make us forget all about you-know-who.

4. Chris Carpenter attitude.  Yes, he scares me.  Yes, he has a mouth on him.  But man, oh man, a game with Carp on the mound is like a baseball drug.  He’s our bad boy, intense. fierce.  And afterwards, please throw in a good dose of that sexy, deep, gurgly Carp-voice in post game interviews?  Thank you.

3. Adam Wainwright back on the bump.  Remind me again…How did we ever win the World Series without Wainwright??   Soooo glad he’s back.  Soooo thrilled he’s healthy.  The question now is can we expect him to pick up where he left off??  Pencil him into those pregame TV interviews ASAP.  And also into those dugout shots.  Ok?  Ok. Good!  ;)

2. David Freese smiles.  Is there anything lovelier?  Especially those ginormous joyful grins of a walk-off win.  Such a humble, talented, gorgeous MVP… and he tweets?!!  (love!) Stay healthy, Dave, stay healthy!

…and for my #1 pick, I gotta say that I am most looking forward to seeing the return of my favorite familiar baseball sight: Matt Holliday digging in at the plate, Matt Holliday leg kicks, Matt Holliday launching ‘em into the stands, Matt Holliday digging for home,  Matt Holliday… well, you get the point.

The boys are back!  Almost.  =)

Winter Warm-Up, Day 2

Who is this guy and what did he do with Mitchell Boggs?

Today, Day 2 of the Cardinals Winter Warm Up, was a lot of fun hard work!

Yesterday, I figured out the system and broke in my sparkly new media pass.  Today, I put it to full use.

In between player interview opportunities, I branched out to explore more of the Warm-Up environment.  By staking out some hallways and talking to folks waiting for autographs, I met a slew of wonderful Cardinal fans who were willing to answer all kinds of questions about their Winter Warm-Up experiences.  (Be watching for the poll results in an upcoming post!) I also made an executive decision to postpone the transcribing of over 2 hours of player interview recordings from today in order to take lots and lots of photos – which was way more fun hard work.  ;)

The media room was hopping with visits from a phenomenal sampling of Cardinal players and one Mr. Bill Dewitt, Jr.  Among those who stopped by:

  • J.C. Romero
  • Shelby Miller
  • Matt Adams
  • Brandon Dickson
  • Daniel Descalso
  • Mitchell Boggs
  • Jason Motte
  • John Jay
  • Jaime Garcia
  • Shane Robinson
  • Lance Berkman
  • and ….Matt Holliday

Some of the highlights/stand-out moments of the day (for me) included getting an introduction to our new pitcher, J.C. Romero, who made a wonderful first impression with his fun personality, making jokes about being “old” and doing a bang-up job of being a likeable character. Romero spoke honestly and openly about his desire to protect his reputation and to be a role model to kids.  He’s a long-time friend of Yadier Molina (Romero teased “He’s my boy.  I knew Yadi before all of you guys knew him.”) and made it a point to talk about his faith in God.

Stumbling upon a barely recognizable baby-faced Mitchell Boggs signing autographs for fans had me amused mid morning, as did the interviews with Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, Jason Motte and Lance Berkman.

I was impressed by minor league pitching prospect Shelby Miller’s openly discussing how the suspension last season (alcohol related) helped him to realize his priorities and to make necessary changes in his life and “keep his head on his shoulders.”

Shane Robinson spoke to a small group of us, detailing his horrific outfield collision in a AAA ballgame last season and the recovery process involved, mentally and physically.  Shane also shared the exciting news that he and his wife are expecting their first child in May, grinning nervously as he spoke about being a new dad.

And of course there was Matt Holliday.  Matt spoke to a packed house of very determined journalists, so I knew my chances of getting in any questions were honestly hopeless.  So, I climbed up on my chair and balanced on my tiptoes to snap a dozen (or hundred) fairly gorgeous shots of the birthday boy. Yes, Matt Holliday spent the afternoon of his 32nd birthday with ME…. annnnd a small multitude of Cardinal fans. ;)

Okay, I’m keeping the post short tonight, because honestly? I’m exhausted – a good exhausted.  It’s time for bed so that I can wake up and do it all again tomorrow!  Winter Warm-Up, Day 3 – the last hurrah!

I leave you now with a slideshow of some of my favorite photos from today AND a promise to write more later!  =)

Euphoria

World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Roll that around for a bit in your mind. See how it feels on the tip of your tongue.

Who-da-thunk.

I haven’t been around lately. Since the last time you saw me here, I have moved across state lines, started a new job, coached my way through a volleyball season, and lived and died with the Cards. I cheered for them, I cried for them, I laughed with them. I just wasn’t here.

That’s okay, the Cardinals almost weren’t here either.

I live in Missouri now. My coworkers and I daily chatter about baseball. I’ve watched games with family and friends that I haven’t been able to watch games with in years. For the first time since the 2004 World Series, I watched a playoff game while living in the state of Missouri (Okay, I was at game 3 of the 2009 NLDS. That shouldn’t count. It was pathetic).

I almost quit this team. I actually had a thought one day about what I would do with all my free time in October. That day was in August. I couldn’t fathom what else could happen to this team – random injuries, snatching losses from the jaws of victory, drama with the manager and a team that I felt was listless.

I couldn’t quit this team. Most of you couldn’t either. Suddenly I felt a shift. Games started falling the other way. Call it regression to the mean or getting breaks to fall your way or whatever you want to call it, this team looked different. They almost had… wait for it… swagger. Not in the Phillies’ pitching staff of doooooooom. Not in the Brewers’ “Beast Mode.” Not in the Rangers antler clash. The just had this childlike, sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar determination that they were just going to do this. It was going to happen.

They did it. Allen Craig randomly appeared here and there to hit home runs like they were no big deal. David Freese found a way to have every big hit. Chris Carpenter pitched with a bulldog mentality on short rest. Jason Motte closed the door. Tony LaRussa smiled.

Cardinal fans rejoiced. I sit here, a full 14 hours since the game ended, still feeling speechless as to how to describe this game.

But these pictures say it better than I ever could. Enjoy it Cardinal fans – especially those of you that couldn’t quit.

Game 6 Winner

Game 7 Winner

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)

Production by the Pound plus Pics!

Well, I guess I do have to say something about the disaster – at least mention the trauma so that we can move on to happier thoughts…

The Cardinals’ 8-2 pounding by the pondscum (Mets) is something we all want to forget, nobody more than pitcher Adam Wainwright.   
You know it’s bad when the postgame show’s ‘Great Play’ of the game is video of a confusing onfield delay during the 2nd inning when Yadier Molina suddenly decided he needed sunglasses behind the plate and everybody from Blake Hawksworth to Brendan Ryan and finally Albert Pujols himself was involved in fetching Yadi his shades.


On the bright side… with 2 hits in the game, Brendan Ryan now has a batting average above .200!   Oh, the simple pleasures…


Changing the subject…..

Today, I have a piece over at i70baseball.com that delves into statistics (I can hardly keep a straight face typing that!) analyzing our Cardinals’ batting based on their body weight.  Who gives the most bang for their hunk?
Find out here!


Now, how about a few pictures, yes?

Ooh, someone finally caught at least a little of Chris Carpenter’s tattoos!
Nam Y. Huh – AP
‘Can’t catch me – I’m the gingerbread man!’
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
‘Being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame… is like going to heaven before you die.’
Congrats Whitey!
Jim McIsaac – Getty Images
If those aren’t the craziest eyes you’ve ever seen…
Dilip Vishwanat – Getty Images
Brendan says, ‘When are you going to learn? You don’t run on Yadi!’
Dilip Vishwanat – Getty Images

Photo Thursday

So… the last two games. They happened. The great thing about baseball is that we have another game to look forward to. Today. 2:10. Chris Carpenter vs. Ubaldo Jimenez. It promises to be a pretty fantastic match-up!

On to the week in pictures (Sorry, no sadness here)!

Ang wants a Brockabrella. No really, she does.
Who can make it happen?!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
The Baby Birds are coming BACK! Tyler Greene doesn’t plan
on leaving anytime soon!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
See? Even Matt Holliday is happy to see him back!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
Now this? This is just an awesome picture.
Would you run on this face? Not a chance.
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
It’s not every day a B-52 flies over before the game!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
More Baby Birds! How about Jon Jay -
back in business in St. Louis!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
¡Vamanos!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
We admire the hustle from Jason Motte, but…
yeah.
The Canadian Press
Ho hum, another complete game for Adam.
We don’t like – we LOVE these games!
Dilip Vishwanat – Getty Images
‘Oh! Look at it go!’
Best picture we’ve had yet? Probably!
Dilip Vishwanat – Getty Images

Five Bright Spots on the Cardinals

Let’s just forget yesterday happened. Rockies – who? The Cardinals haven’t even played them yet this season! Tonight will be the first time in 2010 because the calendar always goes from July 5 to 7, right?

Although I guess ignoring the game would mean ignoring that the Cardinals did score 9 runs last night – 3 on a powerful two-out Matt Holliday homer (with a runner in scoring position!) – which is definitely a plus for this season’s mostly inconsistent offense. That also would overlook the fact Blake Hawksworth pitched well enough to continually get out of trouble for five innings. So maybe we’ll just forget the 9th inning and instead look at five bright spots on the 2010 Cardinals.

1. Jason Motte
He had a “perfect game” and more earlier this season, when he retired 32 consecutive batters. He’s been a reliable, and entertaining to watch, presence from the bullpen and has 36 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched, as well as two saves.



2. Mitchell Boggs
As noted in the Post-Dispatch last Thursday, Boggs is thriving out of the Cards bullpen. At that point, “in Mitchell Boggs’ last two appearances, the Cardinals’ reliever has entered the game with opponents on base, a taut game on the line, and an All-Star or a .320 hitter as his assignment. He’s managed to retire both of them. It took him two pitches, total.” Since then, he’s pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out two.


3. Nick Stavinoha
A Baby Bird who’s been around the whole season, Nick has been playing more regularly instead of just pinch-hitting as he’d done earlier in the season. He’s hit a little better off the bench than as a starter, and both of his homers – including the memorable one off Trevor Hoffman at the beginning of the season – have been when he’s pinch-hitting.



4. Matt Holliday since June 1
The man we call Hunky has been heating up since the beginning of June, with 7 of his 12 homers coming in the last five weeks. Since he traditionally hits better in the second half, his production since the beginning of June gives us much to look forward to in the months ahead. (By the way, has anyone ever heard the nickname “Big Daddy” used for him? I haven’t, but that’s what’s listed on his Baseball Reference page.)

5. Adam Wainwright
Let’s save the best for last. Is there anything he can’t do? Not only does he lead National League pitchers in strikeouts with 123, is second in the NL with 12 wins and is third in the league with a 2.24 ERA (just behind Jaime Garcia’s 2.10), he also has hit 4 doubles and has 4 RBI this year at the plate AND scores game-winning runs when he pinch-hits. He has finally been named to the All-Star team as well – could he be the starter for the National League? That would be a well-deserved honor.

Here’s one more bright spot: the Mets beat the Reds last night.

Then there’s the beauty of baseball: today’s a new day, tonight’s a new game. Plus Jaime Garcia is starting. Things are looking up already …

Go Cardinals!

A winning first trip to Kauffman Stadium

My trip to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City for Saturday’s Cardinals-Royals game marked Major League ballpark number 15 that I’ve visited. And other than sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley Field on my 21st birthday, this was the hottest game I’ve ever been to (temperature-wise, of course). Luckily, the Cardinals made sitting in that heat worthwhile.


The Ballpark

Kauffman Stadium has always looked beautiful on television, especially the fountains in the outfield, so I was excited about the game. (Then again, I was seeing the Cardinals. How could I not be excited?) I went to the game with my friends Michael and Tammy, who live in Omaha, so we had a three-hour drive to get to the ballpark. As we came to a complete stop before even reaching the I-70 exit for the ballpark, I discovered one problem with Kauffman: it’s difficult to park there. Once you are able to exit, and temporarily think you’ll be there soon because there’s the ballpark – no. You have to wind around and around, merge into one lane countless times and, finally, eventually, get into a real parking lot. We did get a good view of the tailgating going on (which reminded me of Miller Park in Milwaukee) as we drove toward the lots. Plus we got a great view of Arrowhead Stadium from our parking spot right in front of it.

The employees at Kauffman all seemed very friendly, from the usher who told us our seats were in the sun to start with but would be in the shade soon to the concession stand worker who apologized for having to double-check she’d charged us for the right number of hot dogs. Of course I was wearing a Cardinals shirt, and was in the majority that day wearing red. And the gift shops were ready for the red-clad fans too, with Cardinals merchandise for sale.

The concession prices seemed reasonable and there was a good selection, including Kansas City barbecue. Given that it was so hot, it was great that the concourse was cooled by overhead fans and that there were three gigantic water coolers with paper cups on a table leading toward the seats. There also was a drinking fountain right outside the bathroom, where many people were refilling water bottles.

Speaking of water, the fountains in the outfield at Kauffman have always looked beautiful on television and they are definitely the most picturesque feature of the park. The scoreboard is also very nice, with it crown on top, but almost filled with too much information. It was easy to get sidetracked reading the facts and stats and almost miss an at-bat completely.

Many Major League parks have their tradition of playing certain songs during games – “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway Park, “Beer Barrel Polka” at Miller Park and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” at Camden Yards. At Kauffman, it’s “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks, complete with Garth introducing the song on the big-screen and lyrics so you can sing along. Seems an interesting choice for a song, given the Royals typical finish in the standings.

As Angela mentioned in her post about Friday night’s game, there was a definite sea of red when you looked around the stands and the cheers for the Cardinals on Saturday were tremendous. However, when there was something for the Royals fans to cheer about, they made themselves heard. Well, most of the time. Highlights of the 1985 World Series were shown after each inning – one game per inning. Not being a Cardinals fan in 1985, I wasn’t sure who won each of the earlier Series games (of course I know about the final two games), but it was easy to tell by the music accompanying the highlights. Sad, slow music: Cardinals won. Upbeat music: Royals won. After the sixth inning, I’m not sure what the music was. All I could hear were boos.

The Game Itself

As mentioned, I was with Michael and Tammy for this game. Tammy and I went to quite a few Quad Cities River Bandits games together years ago, back when the team was an Astros and then Twins farm team. So this was, in all likelihood, not the first time we were together watching Aaron Miles play since he was on the Bandits in 1997 and 1998.

Yes, I have to mention Aaron Miles right away. Michael is, to put it mildly, a passionate Cardinals fan. And (as is the case for many of us) he’d prefer to see any of the Baby Birds on the roster to Proven Veterans such as Miles. So, there was Miles – not just playing on Saturday, but the designated hitter. “If that isn’t an argument for abolishing the DH, I don’t know what is,” Michael said after the lineups were read. So, to be obstinate (or maybe it was the heat), Tammy and I cheered like crazy for Miles. He responded in his first at-bat by getting the Cardinals first hit. “He doubled just to piss me off,” Michael responded. He also singled his second time up, scoring on Skip Schumaker’s homer.

Yes, the homers – first the Colby jack in the fourth and then Skippy’s in the fifth. Wonderful to see, great to be part of the roaring crowd and interesting to hear the following from Tammy immediately after Colby hit his: “I just got chills.” Which always happens when it’s 95 degrees, right? But I saw proof, since it happened again after Skip’s homer: she seriously had goosebumps on her arm.

Pitching-wise, Blake Hawksworth had a very impressive five innings. The sixth inning had a couple of pitching changes, as first Trever Miller and then Jason Motte came into the game. It was while Motte was warming up that we noticed Matt Holliday, Colby and Nick Stavinoha meeting in centerfield.

Then we saw David Freese and Brendan Ryan standing together and chatting.

Which meant that Skippy and Albert were together too, right? No. Skip was all alone, and Albert was doing this.

That hands-on-his-hips death stare did the trick: Motte threw one pitch, which resulted in a double play to get out of the inning. When Motte had to leave the game in the seventh, though, it really made us wonder what Albert was doing while glaring at Motte …

All in all, it was a nice 5-3 win for the Cardinals, and especially good to see Ryan Franklin have a one-two-three ninth inning for his 15th save. And Kauffman Stadium is definitely worth the visit. Hopefully, though, the next time I’m there they’ll be done talking about the 1985 World Series. Twenty-five years seems like enough.
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