Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Phillies

Spring Training, Episode 1

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

Memories Wrapped in Baseball

I was in Texas this past weekend for a family Fall Break trip to San Antonio. We took the kiddos to the Alamo and the Riverwalk.  We saw the Shamu family, dolphins, sea lions and penguins at Sea World.  We lounged by the pool, rode bikes, played catch on the grass and truly enjoyed our time together having fun.

And of course, each evening we ended up back at our hotel in time to watch Postseason Baseball.
We were in Texas when the Rangers won the ALCS (their first championship in franchise history) against the Yankees.  It may not have been a typical postseason memory – being there in the ballpark- but I smile when I think of how my kids will remember the 2010 baseball postseason.  We were all tucked into our beds watching the games together in a hotel room, exhausted from each day’s adventures and falling asleep to the sounds of October baseball.
Ryan Madson  - my reason to cheer the Phillies (vs the Giants)
photo from dailypostal.com
The youngest of our clan never made it into the 6th inning of any game.  His sister lasted to the end of the first game, but by the last night – when the Giants won the NLCS over the Phillies – she too tuckered out before the 7th inning stretch.  (Plus she was the sole Giant fan of our bunch, so she was disappointed to find out the next morning that she had missed the celebration.)
I certainly treasure the fact that our family memories have been wrapped in baseball over the past few years. 
No matter where we travel or who we are with, baseball can always make a nice side-story, enriching the experience and bringing us together at the end of a long day.
Enjoy your week, Cardinal fans. 

Trying to find my postseason groove

Logo Credit: MLB.com
Ok, so I have found myself getting into the postseason a little bit more than I expected I would. Yeah, I was really bitter a couple weeks ago and I really just wasn’t feeling it. Then, as game 1 of the NLDS started, I was a little more interested. Sad thing about it all…is the team I have been forced to cheer for. So,who have I been cheering for?
The Phillies. Um, excuse me?!
Yeah, the -gulp- Phillies. My reasoning?
Because, as I said on twitter last Wednesday, having a postseason team to root AGAINST is almost as fun as having a team to root FOR. So, take a breath, I am technically not rooting for the Phillies, just against the teams they play. From the moment the Cardinals were *officially* eliminated, I was ready to root for any team that would be playing against the Reds in the postseason regardless of who they were playing. Of course, I am not the only one who was doing the same – my sentiments have been echoed across Cardinal Nation. But, for not being excited about postseason at all, this was the one thing I was looking forward to. Now, that the Reds have been swept right out of the postseason, I am happy – not to mention, watching Brandon Phillips bawl like a baby in the dugout after the sweep and Johnny Cueto being the LP was just icing on the cake. Now, I am looking forward to the pitching match-ups in the final four teams. (Sort of still rooting for the Phillies since they are taking on the Giants, even as much as it makes me sick to see the Phils in the World Series again).
Cliff Lee & Teammates celebrate his CG and series win.
(Oh hey…there’s a MOLINA!)
Photo Credit: J. Meric, Getty Images
The LCS starts tonight, with the AL going first – Yankees vs. Rangers. I am really excited for this series. There have been stories about how the Yankees were hoping that the ALDS between the Rangers and the Rays would be stretched to a Game 5. I came across this article while doing research for my graduate classes. The Yankees were hoping this because it means that the Rangers starting pitcher would be out of commission until Game 3 of the ALCS. Sounds like a pretty decent reason to cheer on your potential opponents. However, I have never been one to believe in doing better with time off or that it really matters when which of your ace pitchers will be starting. If you have done well enough during the regular season, you should do well even without it being in the order the team desires. The Yankees may be excited that they don’t have to see Cliff Lee until Game 3, but when that game comes, they might need to be shaking in their boots. Cliff Lee pitched an amazing Game 5 of the ALDS – a complete game, 6-hit, one-run game with NO walks and 11 strikeouts. As long as the offense shows up that game, I think the Yankees might be regretting their wishes.

I am also a believer in momentum. Not a “momentum-beats-all” believer, but I believe that it exists. The Yankees haven’t played since Saturday – 5 days off – and the Rangers have only had 2 days off. I think that plays a factor in the outcome of the LCS. During the regular season, no one has that many off days – no one really even gets 2 off days except for during the ASG. So, do I think the Yankees have been sitting around too long waiting for their opponent? Yes. I think that the Rangers have a good chance of coming in and winning. The Rangers won all of their road games (another reason for the Yankees to be worried about Cliff Lee in Game 3, since it will be in New York) in the ALDS, and I think that they have what it takes to make it to the end. The series might last all 7 games, but I think they can pull it off. After all, do we really want to see the Phillies and the Yankees in the World Series
again? I will be rooting for the Rangers this series and for the Giants to lose. I really don’t think I could stand seeing Tim Lincecum winning a WS Ring – even if that does mean the Phillies are playing for the title again. If it ends up being the Yankees in the World Series, you can count me out this year. I’ll just wait for the Cardinals to take the crown next year. :)
Everyone enjoy the rest of the postseason. Not much time left before there is no actual baseball being played and we are being bombarded with trade rumors. And while I am anxious for awards season, I am dreading this offseason. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best news on a certain first baseman. :)  

And Then There Were Four

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


Photo Diary of a Winning Streak

7 wins in a row. Beautiful feeling, isn’t it? 


We’re switching things up here on Cardinal Diamond Dairies and moving our photo day to Wednesday. Today instead of just random pictures I’m trying something out – a photo from each day of the 7 game streak (plus a bonus shot – you’ll see)! Hope you enjoy it!


7/11/2010 – Cardinals 4, Astros 2
Matt Holliday provided almost all of the offense with this 3 run blast the day before the All-Star break began. I don’t know how to point out the packet of sunflower seeds in his pocket that made me laugh without sounding like a #chickcomment… so there you go.

David J. Phillip – AP Photo

7/13/2010 – NL 3, AL 1
I couldn’t help but put in a shot of the Cards’ All-Stars together at the game in Anaheim. Hey, our team won that night too, so it fits!

Kirby Lee – US Presswire

7/15/2010 – Cardinals 7, Dodgers 1
The Cardinals jumped right back in after the break, putting up seven runs against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, who had been very effective against the Cards… until this night. After a day in which we were treated to no baseball at all, it was nice to be back seeing scenes like this one of Chris Carpenter pitching in the fifth inning.

Chris Lee – Post-Dispatch

7/16/2010 – Cardinals 8, Dodgers 4
You can’t help but enjoy a game that features runs and flashy defensive plays like this one Albert Pujols made from the seat of his pants! Two games after the break we were seeing what looked like a team that was putting things together. Solid pitching, scoring runs in bunches and defense? We love it!

Scott Rovak – US Presswire

7/17/2010 – Cardinals 2, Dodgers 0
With Adam Wainwright on the mound, thankfully the Cards didn’t need more than two runs on this day. Close games like this mean turning solid double plays like Skip Schumaker does here. Note where his feet are. Where is second base? (I’ll spare you all from the “Who’s on First?” joke I almost made here.)

Scott Rovak – US Presswire

7/18/2010 – Cardinals 5, Dodgers 4
The Cards were rather rude hosts to the Dodgers, running them out of town with ninth inning heroics on Joe Torre’s 70th birthday no less! Allen Craig didn’t care about Torre. He had his own 26th birthday to worry about, and he did it in style, making the hit to tie the game in the ninth inning and set up Matt Holliday for the game winning hit in the next at-bat!

Chris Lee – Post-Dispatch

7/19/2010 – Cardinals 8, Phillies 4
Back to back days of come from behind wins. This is a treat we were not privy to in the first half of the season. The team started chipping away at an early 3-0 hole behind Blake Hawksworth, scoring a single run in both the first and second inning before exploding for three home runs (including Allen Craig’s first big league HR!) and five runs in the fifth to blow the game open. This photo? Yadier Molina picking Jason Werth off first in the third inning. I like Albert sticking his tongue out at Werth. ‘Nana nana boo boo. We got you!’

Scott Rovak – US Presswire

7/20/2010 – Cardinals 7, Phillies 1
After a couple less than Carp-like starts towards the end of the first half, Carpenter has been a rockstar since the break, throwing 62 strikes over 90 pitches in eight dominant innings last night against the Phillies. Randy Winn kicked off the fireworks in the third inning with his second home run in as many days, and Matt Holliday put the game away for good with his three run blast in the fifth that put the Cards up 6-0. 

Chris Lee – Post-Dispatch

Winning is fun. How about we keep it going tonight, say 7:15? Jaime Garcia will be there…

My Musings about the Phillies…

As if I needed another reason to grumble about the Phillies…


I have searched for information on the Cardinals DAILY without any problems . Wednesday I was working on this post. 30 minutes of googling Phillies and BAM! – a virus crashed my computer.


My friend Jake made a good point though: “just think what you could catch if you googled the Cubs!”


So, for your Friday I offer up a “fluff-post”… just the meanderings of my Cardinal-loving brain from the hours spent watching our boys battle those nasty Phillies.



1. Last year I was convinced that Jason Werth was moonlighting as Shaggy (from Scooby Doo). Now he’s looking more like a scary, homeless, Mountain-Man version of Shaggy. Can somebody please give that dude a mirror…. or a haircut?



2. Cardinals fans deserve a big pat on the back and gold stars for being the “best fans in baseball.” When compared to those Phillies fans: Cards fans are kinder, more intelligent and more considerate of others. Plus we know how to behave ourselves at games.


Twice in this series, Phillies fans ran out onto the field, interrupting the ballgames and disrupting the flow of the game for the players.


….. even a Phillies fan should’ve known a stunt like this would end badly.
AP photo/// Matt Slocum

*disclaimer #1: I do know 2 very nice people who are Phillies fans, so they can’t all be that bad?!

3. Chase Utley should ALWAYS keep his hat on.


Even the thought of seeing that slick hair from last postseason makes me shudder.





4- Confession: I was actually disappointed that Ryan Madson (Phillies closer) was not on the mound.


I could watch him his pitching every day! ;)


But he was unavailable for viewing due to a temper tantrum resulting in a self-inflicted broken toe and a trip to the DL.


(stupid move, Mr. Madson….)
*disclaimer #2: I do NOT own a Phillies calendar. This is compliments of Google search (and probaby where my computer virus came from….
5. I hereby nominate the umpires for LVPs of this roadtrip!


Brendan Ryan alone had serious grounds for complaints… the ump crew robbed him of a triple and a single – on replay, both were missed calls.
photo by H. Rumph Jr. AP @ stltoday.com

I don’t know how many times I sat there shaking my head at the failures of the umpires. Has there been a series with as many failed calls?


But enough about that….

photo by Matt Slocum/ AP via stltoday.com

Jaime Garcia ROCKS! ERA of 1.13?!
This ranks him 3rd among MLB starting pitchers so far this season.

Keep it up, Rookie!





Another reason to be a proud Cardinals fan:
Our pitching staff continues to lead the majors with a combined 2.71 ERA.
source: http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/team/_/stat/pitching


Plus the National League Player of the Week was our own David Freese!!!

http://www.globe-democrat.com/photos/2010/apr/29/4533/
Way to go, Batman!! ;)


TGIF Cards Fans! Enjoy your weekend and please stay safe…
PS – Don’t google any Phillies!

The Merry Month of May

Chris closed the books on April quite nicely yesterday, and the boys started out May with a solid win against Dusty Baker and the Reds. I know this has been said elsewhere, but if there’s any manager in baseball that uses his pitchers worse than Dusty, I have yet to see him. I feel bad for the guys on that staff – especially the starters. Their starters are averaging 102 pitches per game, a 35% quality start rate, and have 16 games already in this young season of 100+ pitches in a game (the Cardinals, by contrast, are at 97, 87%, and 9). That’s ridiculous.

Anyway, today I thought we’d have a little preview of the month ahead. If you’re interested, @DBear5 has created a nice desktop calendar for the month of May, which can be found here as well as pictured on the right. It’s easier than actually looking up/memorizing the schedule!

After today’s getaway day game against the Reds, the Cardinals are heading on the road for 4 games in Philly and 3 in Pittsburgh (May 3-9). As far as the Phillies series goes, it looks like the only pitcher we’ll miss is good old, old, old Jaime Moyer. Unfortunately, that means we’ll face two lefties in Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ, as well as a little ol’ Cy Young winner by the name of Roy Halladay. The last Philly pitcher we’re likely to see is Kyle Kendrick, who, as far as I can tell, hasn’t faced the Cardinals since June 13, 2008, a game in which the Cardinals lost 20-2, and Aaron Miles pitched a scoreless 9th. Ouch. Needless to say, the Phillies are going to be a tough match-up for the Cards.

I’m glazing over the Pittsburgh series, because I saw them in person last week, and despite the whuppin’ they put on Trevor Hoffman 2 days in a row, they’re still the Pirates, and that really isn’t Trevor Hoffman anymore, just a guy who looks like him. We’ll be okay.

From there, the Cards come home for 3 against Houston (May 11-13), then head to Cincinnati for 3 (May 14-16), before turning around and coming back home again. That’s a head scratcher. I do find it odd that we’ll face Cincy 3 times in the season’s first month and a half, and both the first two Houston series are in St. Louis, which means late in the season we’ll be playing in that bandbox known as Minute Maid a lot. I’ll save my rant on Minute Maid for later in the summer though…

On May 17-23 the Redbirds get to a home series featuring the Nationals, Marlins, and Angels. Wow, the more I look at this schedule the more demented it looks. Okay, so the Nationals actually aren’t horrible this year, and that’s without their savior-in-training, Stephen Strasburg (who might be getting the call to AAA after his next start). They’re being led by Pudge Rodriguez of all people, who’s putting up an insane line of .400/.431/.508, as well as Ryan Zimmerman with his line of .373/.418/.784. Another blast from the past – Jason Marquis – is 0-3 with a 20.52, and has only pitched 8.1 innings. In 3 starts. Tell me – is that bad?

After 2 with the Nats, we’ve got 2 with the Marlins, who are playing .500 ball through the first month. We then face the Angels, our first interleague series on the year, as well as our last until June 14th. One interleague series and then none for 4 weeks? Like I said, very strange schedule. Last year’s Duncan project – Joel Pinero, had a really rough outing on Friday, and is having issues with his sinker, which was his go-to last year. If he loses that, good luck LAA… in other Angels news, the offense is starting to heat up after a slow start, led by (a sentimental favorite, for reasons I’ll never know) Torii Hunter’s .314/.378/.535.

We’ll close out the month with one of the weirdest road trips I’ve seen in recent history, with a 3 game set in San Diego, followed up by a 3 game set in Chicago. Why on earth wouldn’t the powers that be do another West Coast series there? Depending on how the month goes, this will be either a brutal trip or just one of those random things we complain about (get-away day in SD is a 5:35 Central start, followed by the opener in Chicago at 1:20 Central)… but chances are Tony is not pleased with this set-up.

Those of you out-of-towners without mlb.tv will be able to enjoy national broadcasts for the month on the following days:
Wed, May 5 – @PHI on ESPN (the worldwide leader)
Sat, May 29 – @CHI on FOX (the worldwide failure)
Sun, May 30 – @CHI on TBS (very funny)

So here’s to a month of dominant pitching, solid hitting, W’s in the scorebook and leaving scribes scratching their heads as to what could possibly keep the Cardinals from October baseball. Pretty much like April, plus guys like Skip and Brendan breaking out of their beginning of the season slumps and Lohse having more games like the one he started the month with yesterday. It’s good to be a Cardinals fan.

Editor’s Note: We keep finding new toys – off to the left you’ll find a poll question on who April’s MVP was. We picked out Garcia, Penny, and Rasmus (though we could’ve picked others, such as Yadi or Wainwright). Who do you think the MVP should be?

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