Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Memphis Redbirds

*Not an NFL Draft Post*

Oh, the pervasiveness of the stupid NFL draft…

Oscar Taveras

Oscar Taveras

Let’s talk baseball instead, shall we?

Exit McGregor

Exit McGregor

Last night, the Cardinals’ AAA Redbirds of Memphis faced the local Oklahoma City Redhawks in Bricktown for the 3rd match of a 4–game series.  The Redbirds struck first with an Oscar Taveras triple, scoring Shane Robinson and then Taveras scored on a wild pitch.  However, the lead was short-lived as Memphis’ starting pitcher, Scott McGregor had a rather messy outing, giving up 5 runs in just the first 2 innings, leaving Memphis with a differential their bats simply could not overcome.  Hard-throwing Memphis pitcher Jose Alamarante entered the game with two outs in the 2nd inning, pitched a 3-up, 3-down third inning and then gave up a double and a homerun in the 4th inning to give OKC a 2-7 lead.

Stephen Piscotty

Stephen Piscotty

A spark of hope was ignited at the top of the 5th when Kolten Wong hit a lead-off single, but Shane Robinson followed with a pop out and Oscar Taveras then flew out to CF.  Kolten Wong bit back and stole second, with Stephen Piscotty’s rbi single then scoring the speedy Wong (Memphis 3, OKC 7).  Piscotty, not to be outdone, followed up his single by stealing second and then got a bonus bag after a throwing error by OKC’s first baseman, Jon Singleton.  However Scott Mooore (walked in the 1st, singled in the 4th) struck out to end the inning and strand Piscotty at third base.

Heath Wyatt

Heath Wyatt

Submarine pitcher Heath Wyatt took the mound for the bottom of the 5th and faced just three batters – striking out two and inducing a pop out to Scott Moore at first. In the 6th inning, our old pal Pete Kozma smacked a double on a line drive to left field, but the Redbirds couldn’t bring him home.  Wyatt returned with his mesmerizing sidearm throw to strike out two more in the 6th (with a single and a pop out as well). Lefty Nick Greenwood entered the game throwing for Memphis in the 7th, hit a batter and gave up two singles (one run scored) before getting OKC to hit into a double play and a groundout to end the inning.  (Memphis 3, OKC 8).

This game is not going well!

This game is not going well!

Memphis bats failed to get anything going in the 8th inning, but Nick Greenwood returned for a clean bottom of the 8th – 3 up, 3 down with two ground outs fielded quickly and cleanly by second baseman, Kolten Wong.

Good ol’ Kozma drew a walk to kick off the top of the 9th, but was erased on the double play ball off the bat of catcher, Ed Easley.  All of our hope for a two-out Redbird rally was then quickly dashed as Luis Mateo grounded out to first.

That being said, it was a perfect night for kicking back and watching baseball.

Wong, Kozma, Moore and Mateo

Wong, Kozma, Moore and Mateo

Some observations from a Cardinal fan:

  • Shane Robinson (recently sent down from St. Louis) was visibly frustrated at the plate. He did draw a walk (and scored) to start the game, but grounded out, popped out and had a knee buckling strikeout in the 7th.
  • Oscar Taveras tripled (scored), walked, flew out to CF, and grounded out to 2nd.  I had hoped to be able to report on something impressive defensively, however I was disappointed.  Curiously Shane Robinson appeared to be covering far more outfield grass from LF than Taveras in CF.  And on the one occasion I watched Taveras field a hit (bottom of the 7th), a run scored easily from 2nd as Taveras did little to challenge, nonchalantly scooping the ball and holding onto it as the runner raced home.
  • Kolten Wong flew out, grounded into a double, singled (stole 2B, scored), and grounded out- a rather mediocre performance offensively.  Defensively, he started off a bit shaky, with a little trouble getting a ball out of his glove (but still making the out at first.)  However by the end of the game, Wong was flashing the leather quite well and giving us reason to ooh and aaah.
  • Ed Easley made some young fans, tossing both of my kiddos baseballs during the game – and I have to give him credit for catching a crazy first couple of innings when McGregor couldn’t find the plate!
  • Stephen Piscotty was hit by a pitch, ground into a double play and smacked 2 singles (one rbi), but his show-stopping moment came late as he chased a Matt Holliday-esque linedrive/almost-homerun to far right field line and caught it on the run with outstretched glove, looking over his shoulder.
  • But my absolute highlight of the night was watching Heath Wyatt take the mound.  I LOVE to watch the mechanics of sidearm and submarine pitchers, and Heath was brilliant.
Heath Wyatt Baseball

Heath Wyatt Baseball

After the final out, Heath came out of the dugout just as we were leaving – serendipity, I tell you!  He signed a ball for us and I’m going to add it to my collection of favorite baseball mementos.  I’ve been hoping to catch a game when Heath Wyatt pitches for a couple of years now.  And last night, a baseball wish came true.

Sometimes, it’s not getting the win that makes a baseball night special…

Thanks for reading.

~Erika

Souvenir Baseball Pic

Souvenir Baseball Pic

How To Fall In Love With a Baseball Player

Beyond the stats and the standings,there is nothing like falling in love with a ballplayer to intensify your experience of the game.  And I feel quite confident claiming a mastery of this process.  Just to be clear:  I’m not talking about cleat chasing…. because that is something entirely different and most definitely frowned upon by the wonderful husbands/boyfriends who might be taking us to ballgames in the future.

Rob JohnsonNo, this is the “real thing,” that once-in-a-lifetime feeling.

Okay, okay…. It’s a once-every-season feeling if you’re really, reealllly lucky.

Two weeks ago I fell in love again, and here’s the story:

I am convinced the best baseball love stories start in a minor league ballpark, and this one is no different.

On July 11th we stopped in Memphis, TN to visit the home of our AAA Redbirds.  With front row seats behind the net, we settled in to savor the spectacle of Carlos Martinez throwing his much touted heat.

What we got instead was an unexpected sideshow.  An uncommonly gifted heckler (fairly original content) was just hitting his stride, brewing up discontent amongst the home crowd fans when Redbirds catcher Rob Johnson stepped over and bit back with such professional poise and wit coupled with just the right dose of good-natured humor that the heckling gremlin was not only silenced but forced to fist bump his once prime target as Johnson extended his arm across the first few rows to make contact with a friendly “gotcha!” and a knowing smirk before getting back to work, not missing a beat.

Then, after a hard fought win and even with the lateness of the hour (a game delayed by rain), Mr. Johnson alone hung out in the dugout, signing autograph after autograph for every child with a baseball, engaging them as he scribbled on their keepsakes and further endearing himself to his youngest fans.  One young girl squealed “You are my FAVORITE ballplayer” to which Rob quickly responded with a smile “well, YOU are my favorite fan!”

rob johnson handshakeMy kiddos wanted a photo with their new hero.  So, we asked and Rob readily accepted; but before striking the obligatory pose between the two of them, he held out his hand to each, took a moment to introduce himself and then asked their names and ages.  Personal interaction.  Building a relationship.  Job well done, Mr. Johnson.

Add to his plus personality that we were on hand to witness his speedy pickoff of a runner stealing 2nd as well as his superb handling of the Redbird pitching that evening and I ask you, what’s NOT to love about Rob Johnson?  ;)

The very next day, July 12th,  as we were continuing our cross-country road trip we were thrilled to hear Rob had received a call-up to join the St. Louis Cardinals.  (After the Ty Wiggington release, when Yadier Molina’s injury appeared worrisome.)  He’s already made appearances in three games with our big boys. So, if you’ve been watching the Cardinals lately, you might’ve already caught a glimpse of him.

Rob’s no rookie.  At 30 years old he’s played for a few other teams (Mariners, Padres and Mets) over the past seven years. And as a third catcher, his time here on the Cardinals bench may be cut short once the team has no lingering concerns about Yadi’s need for further rest.  Regardless, Rob Johnson has given us another reason to love the game:  another connection, another personal story.  If you are in the market for a new favorite ballplayer, we’ll be happy to share him.  Or feel free to fall in love in the minor leagues yourself!

rob johnson and kidsWant to learn more about Rob?  Here are some recent links from Jenifer Langosch at mlb.com and Derrick Goold at stltoday.com about his value to the club and our pitchers.  Don’t love him already?  Read these:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130709&content_id=53221184&vkey=notebook_stl&c_id=stl

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130424&content_id=45633730&vkey=notebook_stl&c_id=stl

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/rob-johnson-the-cardinals-shepherd-of-memphis/article_2c9e46c0-18f2-58c4-ba99-943bfda349d3.html

Go Cardinals!  ;)

Happiness Is A Home Run

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happiness is a Brendan Ryan homerun.

Want to smile?  Here’s the link.

Blessings and Go Cards!!

;)

Baby Birds Weekend Update

Memphis dugout celebrates a run

The Memphis Redbirds have won the first two games in their current series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks, and I was in heaven there at the ballpark this weekend for all the baby bird fun.  The two games were very different experiences, both wonderful in their own way.  The first game, Saturday, was an evening game with the family – the kiddos, Hubby, me and my Mom.  We laughed and chatted about the players, cheered on our boys and enjoyed each other’s company.  With Memphis the visiting team, it was auditorily obviously we were in the minority cheering for the Redbirds – just the crickets and us!

Aaron Luna books it towards 1st

Memphis had a big game, winning 8-4.  Adam Ottavino pitched well, into the 7th inning.  Both Pete Kozma and Andrew Brown smacked homeruns.  Aaron Luna stole 2nd.  Kozma kicked off an adrenaline packed 6-4-3 double play.  A balk was called on OKC’s pitcher (I missed it, as usual…. Balks continue to mystify me.)  Donovan Solano was on base all night, going 4 for 5 at the plate. And Cory Rauschenberger, Chuckie Fick and Raul Valdes all pitched in relief for Memphis (some better than others). ;)

Pete Kozma returns to Memphis

And bonus!  There was a new Baby Bird making his AAA debut!  Jose Garcia was a fresh call-up from Springfield during the shuffle that sent both Matt Carpenter and Mark Hamilton up to St. Louis and brought Pete Kozma back down to AAA.  Garcia had an applause-worthy game both defensively (playing 2nd) and at the plate with a walk, a double, a single and 2 runs batted in.  A .500 AAA batting average!… for the moment.

Andrew Brown

Sunday’s game was night-and-day different, both literally and figuratively.  Bright (hot) sunshine and a smaller crowd.  I was on my own (with my camera) for this one since the kiddos (and Hubby) had ball practice and a date with the swimming pool.  I grabbed a seat in the shade – first row seats were open all around the park, and I moved around a few times to catch a better camera angle here and there.  It was a shame really, to see the park so empty.  Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was Sunday… it sure wasn’t because the baseball was disappointing!  I enjoyed the peace and quiet that afternoon.  There is something almost magical about watching a ballgame by yourself, with no distractions.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the experience of sharing a game with friends and family.  But for just those few hours, I had the gift of a baseball game to which I could give 100% of my attention and it was a wonderful reprieve from a crazy last couple of weeks.

PJ Walters

PJ Walters started for Memphis and threw 7 innings, walking 2 and striking out 6.  He also managed to hit two batters. Nothing serious, but the Memphis play-by-play announcer mentioned PJ has hit 9 batters so far this year.  (yikes?!)

Our ol' buddy Nick Stavinoha

Memphis’ top of the 6th kept what few fans were in attendance on the edge of their seats.  After Pete Kozma lined out, Andrew Brown reached 1st on a throwing error. Nick Stavinoha struck out, but then OKC walked the next two batters.  The bases were loaded with Redbirds and a wild pitch scored Brown from 3rd.  Bryan Anderson then struck out, stranding two, but after four innings with only one baby bird making it to base, it was nice to finally see some action. There were more thrills in the top of the 8th (but not the rah-rah kind) when Freddie Bynum lined into an unassisted double play at first which caught Stavinoha off the bag and abruptly ended the inning for Memphis.

Raul Valdes, lefty with a red glove. Sound familiar?

Jess Todd, Raul Valdes and Victor Marte all pitched in relief. Marte had an impressive 9th inning, and the game ended with Donovan Solano’s glove being in just the right place at the right time to catch a smoked line drive towards 3rd.  Solano smiled, looking surprised to see he had caught it, and the baby birds celebrated on the field for the 2nd time, winning 3-2.

An aside:  There is one thing I am embarrassed to report.  We may need to take up a collection for our baby birds clothing fund.  It was painfully obvious their travel-gray uniforms are getting old and being pieced together with replacements.   For some of the boys, the gray in their shirts mismatched their gray pants. OKC fans around us were making fun, and I had to agree it looked, well… odd.

I’d keep a closer eye on stuff like that for them if they lived closer.  Dress to impress, boys!  ;)

Donovan Solano had a hot bat on Saturday

It’s been nice to read/hear that our Cardinals had a  monstrous weekend, sweeping the Cubs in exciting fashion while my attention was focused on the farm boys.  Albert Pujols heating up??  Well, it’s about time!

The Cardinals have the day off today.  Memphis plays at 7:05.  If you’re in town, I recommend some baby bird watching!  ;)

Lynn, Cleto and our Baby Birds

To say I enjoy watching a ballplayer make his Major League debut would be an understatement.  Whether a Cardinal or not, a player stepping to the plate in the big show for the first time mesmerizes me.  The nerves, the excitement, the once-in-a-lifetime intensity – all that (and more) combine to create that rare thrill.

Thursday night, Lance Lynn got his moment of glory, taking the mound as starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Lynn was off to a tremendous start, retiring the first ten batters he faced.  The Baby Bird was pitching like a pro and the Cardinals had a 3-0 lead heading into the 4th inning.  I couldn’t have been more proud.

But then….

If you watched the game or saw the box score, you know the result wasn’t a picture-perfect debut by Lance Lynn.  The defense let him down.  The defense…. Yes, the Cardinals’ 2011 defense remains a sore subject with me.  And yes, I’m again pointing a finger at a couple of our boys playing down the middle of the field.

Which brings me to Baby Bird Debut Numero Dos for last night, Maikel Cleto.  Cleto came from the Mariners when the Cardinals decided to dump the brilliant defensive glove of shortstop Brendan Ryan.  (insert my trademark Brendan Ryan trade protest here)  Cleto was called up, fresh from AA Springfield yesterday, hopping over AAA to make his first appearance out of the St. Louis bullpen in the 7th inning.  Unlike Lance Lynn, Cleto failed to impress me.  He walked his first two batters, gave up a double and then back-to-back homeruns before finally getting his act together and striking out the final two batters to end the nightmare. (In his defense, Cleto managed a 1-2-3 8th inning and Cardinal Nation breathed a sigh of relief.)

Two Baby Bird debuts plus a field of Cardinal youngsters made last night’s game a must-see for those of us who follow the minors as well as the big boys.  2010 Memphis mentionables playing last night included Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso, Tyler Greene, Tony Cruz (catcher, starting at 3rd base!  But that’s another story…) and pitcher Lance Lynn; Pete Kozma (spent last year in AA Springfield) and as mentioned, Maikel Cleto (low A last year).

A few more fleeting thoughts…

  • Even if the camera adds 10 pounds, I say Lance Lynn still packed on an extra cheeseburger or 50 since I watched him strikeout 16 batters in his PCL Championship game last September.  Noticeably heftier. (I’m a dietitian. I notice this stuff.)
  • Maikel Cleto can throw hard and fast.  Great.  But in my opinion, he should be refining his control back in Memphis.  He didn’t look ready.  My nerves were shot from watching his 7th inning.  Someone remind me, why he was called up so quickly?     note: after I wrote this and before it was posted, moves were made by the Cardinals that included optioning Cleto back to AA Springfield.  Cleto skips Memphis on his way back as well?  I will just be content to be confused on the whole Cleto promotion idea.  onward…
  • our defense…..  *sigh*

On a happier note:   This weekend the Memphis Redbirds are heading my way to play a 4-game series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks. *happy dance*  I keep trying to convince my family how amazingly wonderful this is – the chance to see the young guys on the verge of breaking into the Majors, to watch them play in a more relaxed environment, the opportunity to begin building early baseball memories of these players.

….They just pat me on the head and give me an understanding smile.  But they do go to the games with me.  Win/win.  ;)

It’s ok though.  Even if they aren’t quite the baseball fanatics that I am, I plan to keep dragging them to the ballpark. And someday soon, when we are again watching another baby bird make his Major League debut, they’ll feel that special excitement that comes from remembering these AAA games.

Viva El Baby Birds!….and Go Cardinals!

St. Louis Cardinals on Twitter

(note: please click “Twitter Guide” tab at top of page for most recent updates)

Here’s the thing:  Twitter is my baseball connection, and I am proud of my Twitter feed.  Breaking news?  Got it.  Cardinal lineups?  Got it.  Game photos?  Absolutely!  Links to MLB.com, Post-Dispatch and StL Today articles about the Cardinals?  Check!  News about all my babybirds?  yep!  Even twitpics of Jon Jay’s newest shoes!  … Plus baseball chatter from some of the best tweeps in Cardinal Nation!  I LOVE  my collection of Twitter follows.

With this week’s new Redbird Twitter arrivals, I figure it’s a good time to take stock and share the wealth.  So, here you go:  My List of the Cardinal Twitterverse

The links should be hot, so click to follow…. and if I’ve missed someone, please let me know!   Thanks!  ;)

Cardinals

Manager: TonyLaRussa Tony La Russa – People Rescuing Animals…Animals Rescuing People

Left Fielder:  mattholliday7 matt holliday – (hasn’t tweeted since February 2010)

Outfielder jonjayU Jon Jay  – Official Twitter page of Jon Jay from the St. Louis Cardinals

Pitcher ESanchez52 Eduardo sanchez – St Louis cardinals baseball player

Cardinal Legends

OrlandoCepeda30 Orlando Cepeda – Official Twitter of Orlando Cepeda — former SF Giant & Hall of Fame 99′

STLWizard Ozzie Smith – St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Shortstop

 

AAA Memphis Redbirds

memphisredbirds Memphis Redbirds – The official Twitter feed of the Memphis Redbirds, Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals

Outfielder kingchambers_8 Adron

 

AA Springfield Cardinals

Sgf_Cardinals Springfield Cardinal – Official Twitter of the Springfield Cardinals. Double-A Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Become a follower to get updates on Springfield Cardinal news.

Outfielder cswag8 Chris Swauger

 

Palm Beach Cardinals – A Advanced

PBCardinals Palm Beach Cardinals – The official Twitter account of the Palm Beach Cardinals, Class-A Advanced affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Game updates, player news, great deals and more

Pitcher JordanSwagerty Jordan Swagerty – Went to Arizona State now play for the St. Louis Cardinals. (edit 5/12/11 – Swagerty promoted from Quad Cities)

Pitcher ShelbyMiller19 Shelby C Miller – Texas born and raised, Brownwood, TX. Drafted by St. Louis in 2009. Born October 10, 1990. Follow my Career on here. God Bless you all!


Quad Cities River Bandits  – Class A

QCRiverBandits QC River Bandits – Single-A Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals…Season opener April 7th @ Modern Woodmen Park! (563) 3-BANDIT

Catcher codystanley21 Cody Stanley – Being happy, main objective to life. Playing baseball makes me happy. I will continue



Front Office

CardsInsider St. Louis Cardinals – The official Twitter of the St. Louis Cardinals Front Office at Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri.

stlcardinals St. Louis Cardinals  – Official Twitter of the St. Louis Cardinals

jluhnow Jeff Luhnow – Vice President of Scouting and Player Development for St Louis Cardinals

Media/Scribes Covering the Cardinals

dgoold Derrick Goold – Baseball Writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Avid reader. Proud father. Lapsed cartoonist. Former World Record-holding second baseman. Look it up.

stlhensley Roger Hensley – Deputy Sports Editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MatthewHLeach Matthew Leach – Cardinals beat reporter for MLB.com. Lots of tweets about the Cardinals and baseball, but also college football, music, and plenty more

JohnMarecek John Marecek – St. Louis sports talk show host on KTRS Radio

miklasz Bernie Miklasz – St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist

BJRains B.J. Rains – Cardinals beat writer for FOXSportsMidwest.com. My thoughts and comments are my personal opinion and in no way reflect the view or opinion of Fox Sports Midwest 

JoeStrauss Joe Strauss – Cardinals beat writer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Into pitching duels, hold ‘em, cobalt Mustangs, betting the rail, O’Brycki’s and window seats

Covering the Baby Birds

Dustin_Mattison Dustin Mattison – Senior Minor League Writer-Scout.com

B_Walton Brian Walton – Operates TheCardinalNation.com on Scout.com, TheCardinalNationblog.com, writes for Mastersball.com and FOX Sports Midwest

jrocke217 Josh Jones – St. Louis Cardinals Fan, Run the Cardinals Best News Links Blogspot, Write Various Articles For The Cardinal Nation @scout.com, Follow Latin Baseball Happenings

Future_Redbirds Future Redbirds – Hyperventilating Prospect Geek Fraternity

 

For Cardinal Game Photos

scottrovak Scott Rovak – Photographing professionally over 28 years. I’m a photographer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Rams and StL Sports Magazine.

 

For Cardinal Blogs

Get links to all new posts from member blogs of the United Cardinal Bloggers

utdcardbloggers U. Cardinal Bloggers – The United Cardinal Bloggers is a group of writers that have come together in a network to complete writing projects about the St Louis Cardinals.

stlbaseballapp StL Baseball – I love everything Cardinal baseball! Check out my Cardinals iPhone app StL Baseball!


and of course, there’s us!  DiamondDiaries Diamond Diaries – Blogging about our #stlcards from the female side of the stands.

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!)

Catching Baby Birds

If you are just here for the Memphis pictures today, I totally understand. Scroll down and check out our AAA baseball boys on their way to a championship!  However, in order to create a post through which to weave these pictures, I had to fill up the rest of today’s space with some words.
So… let me tell you a story.  It is about the Friday night I spent with the boys from Memphis. 
For those of you who might not already know: I absolutely REVEL in the opportunity to watch the Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals’ AAA affiliate, affectionately termed the Baby Birds) when they come to my hometown of Oklahoma City. Last weekend’s Memphis game was the icing on my personal cake for two reasons.
First, Memphis was playing OKC in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) Playoffs and had already grabbed a 2-game lead in the best of five series. Friday would be game 3 and their chance to sweep. 
Second, I would be returning to the ballpark with another press pass (thanks to my favorite i70baseball editor, Bill) and was crazy-thrilled because once again I would have great views, unlimited access and a spot so close to the dugout, I would be sharing the same air as the ballplayers.    *Breathe in. Breathe out.* 
Friday night’s ballgame was a definite doozy! The Baby Birds did indeed get the win and Memphis hurler Lance Lynn pitched his way to a new franchise record with 16 strikeouts. I am also happy to report: I did not hyperventilate, no restraining orders were issued and Joe Mather’s personal space was not violated. The fact that I was slightly “under the weather” may have limited my enthusiasm, but no little germ could keep me away from the ballpark that night.
Yes, some of my favorite Memphis players were absent – Jon Jay, Tyler Greene, Matt Pagnozzi, Bryan Anderson and Nick Stavinoha are all now up in St. Louis with the Cardinals while Shane Robinson remained on the DL (since May) with a shoulder injury.  Thankfully Daniel Descalso was manning shortstop for the Baby Birds (great glove, fun to watch), and Jim Rapoport continues to be another prime reason to be a Redbird fan (chick comment).  But selfishly I was most glad to see Joe Mather and Allen Craig still slumming it in the minors. (Sorry guys!)
Unlike my first media pass adventure when the photo targets were ballplayers unknown to me, this time we had history.  Names and faces from ballgames past were right next to me.  It was glorious!
The Best Laid Plans
As this was my second ballpark adventure with a Golden Ticket (media pass), my rookie fears about the how’s and where’s had vanished.  I knew the layout. My plan of attack was simple: be there when the press gates opened (2 ½ hours before the game) and get on the field to snag several glorious batting practice photos.  I had envisioned the possible scenarios so many times in my mind that when my mental script hit a snag (i.e. batting practice was OVER by the time I got there), I was momentarily stunned.  
But ballplayers were on the field, and I recovered my senses quickly.
Moving on.  No batting practice…
Adjusting the plan, I set up shop in the shady right field bleachers and watched the pitchers warming up. I even talked briefly with one of the Memphis coaches and immediately spilled the beans.  It is virtually impossible for me to keep my love of baseball under wraps.  
Me: “Are you going to win today?”
Memphis Coach: “Of course!  Are you a Memphis fan?”
Me: “YES!…… but don’t tell anyone…  
       (laughing) I am supposed to be impartial.”
The coach assured me he would keep my secret, and if you can’t trust a MiLB coach, who can you trust?  ;)
No cheering when you are at the ballpark with a press pass?  Well, that rule was broken in less than 10 minutes.  But I rationalized that away as a minor violation because my lapse into baseball fandom occurred during pregame warm-ups and there was only one witness – and he isn’t talking!    
Blabber mouth
Without batting practice to keep me busy, I wandered the stadium, visited the press box to collect lineup and roster information and then met my family for dinner.  About 30 minutes before game time, I headed back down to the field and staked my claim in the photo well by the visitor dugout (of course) just in time to watch the Redbirds ascend from the clubhouse, up through the dugout and onto the field to sign autographs.  Another gal with a camera-to-die-for was in the dugout talking to Joe Mather.  When Joe pranced out onto the field, I had to know.  Who was she?  (More importantly…. How do I get a job like that?!)
Filling me in, she told me of her role as a team photographer, mentioning that she had to pay her own way to Oklahoma City – as well as to the series in Iowa where the Redbirds clinched their spot in the playoffs.  I asked where fans could see photos from the champagne celebration in Iowa, but learned that when a photographer pays their own way to a game, the pictures taken are the property of the photographer instead of the team.  

Translation: no Memphis champagne celebration photos for us. 
Talking with her was such fun that once again, I felt compelled to fess up and lay my fan cards on the table.  The Memphis boys may never know I was their biggest fan in the stadium that evening, but my intentions had now been officially registered with two appropriate Memphis personnel. 


Conflicted and Oblivious
Those are the two words that pop into my mind when asked how it was to experience the game as a photographer instead of a fan. 

Conflicted – I watched from afar as my family enjoyed the game from seats behind the Memphis dugout.  My kids got autographs before the game, but this time I would be an observer instead of a participant.  A player tossed a game ball over the dugout to my daughter when he noticed she was wearing a Memphis Redbirds jersey (not many of those in Oklahoma.)  And my clan celebrated and cheered our Baby Birds each time they stepped to the plate. There were many moments that night when my empty seat there in the stands beckoned me.  I was sorely missing those special fan experiences.


Oblivious – At the end of the evening, my amazing Hubby kindly filled me in on an incredible game fact: Memphis’ starting pitcher Lance Lynn had thrown SIXTEEN strikeouts.
During my stint behind a camera lens I was entirely isolated from game discussion.  That works great for focusing on the moments on the field, but is horrible for the ‘big picture.’  It was suddenly clear to me why I had not captured any diving defensive gems  – no baserunners tends to limit flashy gloves and defensive plays, and 16 K’s severely restricts the number of potential baserunners.  I was entirely unaware of the magnitude of the pitching feat while jockeying for good photos.  


So, if I ever get the chance again, I will find a way & listen to the game broadcast. Being oblivious to drama like that?  Unacceptable for a true baseball fan, er… uh… a photographer.  ;)
Mission Accomplished:
Amazing ballgame.  Unmatchable experience. I had more fun than I deserved. I did my best professional photographer impersonation and (thanks to my tough little camera and a magical new lens) came home with some pictures I love.  I will try not to get all mushy about it, but I have to say that for a gal who lives and breathes baseball (especially Cardinal and Memphis baseball), I felt as though I had gone to heaven.  The opportunity to be on the grass for the action and close enough to the dugout to hear players and coaches discuss strategy during the game will be a memory I will cherish.  I hope for many more!

Since I have now typed enough words to fill this space with a spattering of beautiful baseball boys, I will close this out. 

But I will be crossing my fingers for another Golden Ticket and a Memphis return next Tuesday night.  



Looking Ahead:
The Cardinals may be faltering in the final moments of 2010, but our Memphis Redbirds are pushing full-steam ahead.  This week they will be taking on Tacoma in the PCL Championship Series September 14th-19th at Memphis’ Autozone Park.
When these Redbirds win their second consecutive PCL Championship title (yes, I am that confident in my Baby Birds), they will return to Oklahoma City for the AAA Championship game on September 21st.
So, if you are in need of a boost to renew your Cardinal baseball postseason fervor, keep your eyes and ears on the Memphis Redbirds. 
Their website is here:
You can see more photos of the Memphis Redbirds’ Friday night game at my Baseball Digest twitter account : @Erika4Baseball or here on twitpic.



Viva El Baby Birds!!!  =)
If you would like to read more, the story of my unbelievably fun first media pass adventure can be found here on i70baseball.com. I am thrilled to share with you photos from the Memphis playoff game in today’s Diamond Diaries post, but kindly ask that the photos not be used or redistributed without permission.  Thank you! 



The Week People Forgot About Baseball

What a depressing week to be a baseball fan. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still going to watch the games, cheer for the boys, and hope for what is now getting to be dangerously close to mathematically impossible. But people keep talking about football… I’m not ready. I’m not ready for the season to be over. I’m not ready for baseball to be over. I’m not ready for Sportscenter to be 35 minutes of football, 10 minutes of hockey, 10 minutes of basketball and the last 5 for a quick baseball drop-in.

The Cardinals are playing the CUBS! Remember when we used to get excited about this?

No? You don’t?

Well I do.

Guess what else?

Adam Wainwright is on the mound today.

Who? Hey, he’s one of our aces. He’s fighting for a chance at the Cy Young. Yeah, starting to ring a few bells in there? I hope so.

More things to watch? That Albert Pujols guy is still pretty good. He’s still leading the league in home runs, RBI, runs, and intentional walks (I didn’t even look this one up – I’m just assuming).

Did you know that Brendan Ryan is 9 for his last 20? He’s riding a 5 game hitting streak, which isn’t a lot, but it is for Brendan this year!

In minor league news…

  • AAA – Memphis starts their best of 5 PCL championship series tonight against Tacoma. In the off chance that Waino has a rough outing, I’d advise jumping over to a Memphis broadcast to see how that game is going!
  • AA – Springfield’s season ended last night against NW Arkansas in the North Division playoffs. They ended the season with a regular season record of 76 wins!
Head on over to Baseball Digest and check out the numbers on what happens by the numbers when the Cards score runs.
Game time is 7:15. Go Waino! Beat the Cubs! :)

A Dream Come True….

Go take pictures of ballplayers over the holiday weekend?

 Why, yes… of course I will
Who am I supposed to take pictures of? 
Don’t worry… here’s a list.
And so began my first photo assignment, taking pictures of the AAA Omaha Royals for i70baseball.com during last weekend’s series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks.
The opportunity to take pictures with the freedom a press credential provides was an offer dreams are made of. Yet there I was, headed into a ballpark where I had been many times, with a media pass, player access and roaming privileges. I could hop into photo wells alongside the dugouts to get those up-close bench shots shielded from public view.  And when the players were stretching and tossing balls before the game, I had the freedom to walk right out onto the field. As a fan who has always been stuck behind the gate, the thrill of experiencing baseball from beyond that jail was hard to contain.
Admittedly, I was nervous. Would I mess up?  Get in trouble?  Do something wrong?  Would I stand out like the rookie I was?
Before heading out on my inaugural media pass adventure, I had decided on several personal rules of conduct.  I wanted to make a good impression, but I also wanted to make sure this would not be my last chance to attend a game with a press credential.
Rule #1: No Cheering from the press box or photo wells.
Rule #2:  Do not dress like a fan.
Rule #3: Maintain professional distance.
… Rule #3 didn’t last very long!  ;)
The weekend was quite an adventure for a baseball-loving gal such as myself.  I met broadcasters, got tips from a real pro photographer from Baseball America, met the Royals’ superstar prospect and cheated on my Memphis Redbirds for just a few days.
And like any good lead in should, I hope this leaves you wanting to read more.
Today i70baseball.com published the full story of my media pass adventure including pictures and stories about the fun I had photographing the boys of the AAA Omaha Royals.
You can read more by clicking the link:  “The Omaha Challenge
Or by copying/pasting this address:  http://www.i70baseball.com/?p=3225
Thanks for reading!
This weekend I will be even more excited to use my second media pass when our Memphis Redbirds (aka Babybirds) take on the OKC Redhawks in the best-of-5 American Conference Championship playoffs.  Games 3 through 5 will be played in Oklahoma City starting Friday.
GO MEMPHIS!!!!!
And GO CARDS!  ;)
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