Cardinal baseball, from the girls
Tag Archives: Memphis Redbirds
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.
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!”
My 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!
Want 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:
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!!
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!
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).
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.
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 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?!)
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.
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!
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! ;)
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.
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!
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! ;)
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
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
memphisredbirds Memphis Redbirds - The official Twitter feed of the Memphis Redbirds, Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals
Outfielder kingchambers_8 Adron
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
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!
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
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
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
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
Future_Redbirds Future Redbirds - Hyperventilating Prospect Geek Fraternity
scottrovak Scott Rovak - Photographing professionally over 28 years. I’m a photographer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Rams and StL Sports Magazine.
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!
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!)
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.
Since I have now typed enough words to fill this space with a spattering of beautiful baseball boys, I will close this out.
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!
Go take pictures of ballplayers over the holiday weekend?
What this constant shuffling of players has taught me is that baseball is a small world. The more I watch, the more I learn and the more players and teams I develop a connection to.