Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: St Louis Cardinals

A Bromance We Can Get Behind

In past years it was easy to accuse the Cardinals of being almost… bland. Elder statesmen of the team like Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter brought drive, passion, and supreme athletic ability to a strong team.

What they didn’t bring? Fun!

It sounds stupid, but the more you think about it, the more you realize that this clubhouse was not one that seemed like a barrel full of laughs. Older teams like the 2006 World Series winners brought winning, although there wasn’t much in the way of personality there. Outside of the Jim Edmonds nightly game ball and Scott Rolen’s drama with manager Tony LaRussa, I can’t say I recall much else that involved the players in the clubhouse.

Over the last couple of years, the combination of Yadier Molina and Pujols created a bromance that Matt Sebek of Joe Sports Fan captured with this:

However, having these two being so close hasn’t translated to a whole clubhouse. Stories surfaced about how Albert’s entourage would do things like go to NBA games and barely notice the peons of the team that also went to the game and wanted to meet Kobe (oh crap, I’m talking about Brendan Ryan again… did you hear he’s engaged?). It wasn’t team things – it was entourage things. Maybe there was something to the whole Colby Rasmus thinking the team was rough on him thing. If it was a fractured clubhouse……..

Wait, was I about to stick up for Colby’s whining? Moving on…

Now that Albert has split for the sunny beaches of California, a new bromance has emerged.

You know who I’m talking about: Matt Holliday and David Freese. They’re everywhere, from a Skype interview on Intentional Talk to their latest endeavor with the Cardinals as the ambassadors for the new “Homers for Health” initiative where fans are encouraged to donate money in quarter increments to help out a local children’s hospital in St. Louis. Their work together has shown up on Twitter, although not in the way you would think…

Offseason squash workouts became Twitter fodder for most of us bored-tired-of-football-when-does-spring-training-start-again?! baseball fans, seeing pictures like this and watching all of the interaction between the Cardinal players on Twitter has brought about a new feel with this team.

They laugh. They joke. They include more than Freese – it’s Lance Berkman’s candid interviews and Jon Jay’s Nike collection and Jason Motte’s beard eating small children.

Wait, that’s wrong too.

What I’m saying is that this is a new era for the Cardinals. One that we can definitely get behind.

Is it Opening Day yet?

The Top 5 Iconic Moments in Cardinal History

Sometimes the fearless leader of the UCB Daniel Shoptaw puts us on the spot with the monthly projects. January’s project is the top five moments in Cardinal history.

Five? I only get five? I don’t know how Bob Netherton managed to narrow it down, but after reading his I was spurned towards figuring out mine (So… thanks Bob!).

If you are digging back to the very beginning of the Cardinals, the pre-1900’s would be a starting point, but those moments were not really ‘iconic.’ Let’s see… where to start…

5. Bob Gibson’s 1968 season

Have you ever known a player to completely change the way the game was played singlehandedly? No, you think. That doesn’t happen. One player cannot change an entire sport. Oh yes it can…

Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
32 STL NL 22 9 .710 1.12 34 34 0 28 13 0 304.2 198 49 38 11 62 6 268 7 0 4 1161 258 0.853 5.8 0.3 1.8 7.9 4.32 AS,CYA-1,MVP-1,GG
17 Seasons 251 174 .591 2.91 528 482 21 255 56 6 3884.1 3279 1420 1258 257 1336 118 3117 102 13 108 16068 128 1.188 7.6 0.6 3.1 7.2 2.33
162 Game Avg. 17 12 .591 2.91 36 32 1 17 4 0 262 221 96 85 17 90 8 210 7 1 7 1082 128 1.188 7.6 0.6 3.1 7.2 2.33
Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2012.

Yes, you are reading that correctly. Bob Gibson’s 1968 season was other-worldly. A 1.12 ERA, 13 complete game shutouts, giving up 38 earned runs over 304 innings… who does this?

No one, not since Bob Gibson. You see, 1968 became somewhat of a “year of the pitcher” in Major League Baseball. Run-scoring was down, and since most fans come to see at least a little bit of action at a baseball game, the powers that be determined that this was a terrible thing. The result? The actual pitchers’ mound was lowered from 15 inches to 10 inches. It was a literal leveling of the playing field, and all Gibson got to show for his season was an All-Star selection, Gold Glove, Cy Young, MVP award, and a National League pennant.

Oh, that’s all.

4. October 27, 2011 – “They just won’t go away.”

Despite the recentness of this moment, it is crazy to think that game 6 of this past year’s World Series might not make this list. On the whole I feel like I am a pretty lucky baseball fan. I’ve seen my team play in 3 World Series (winning twice) and countless playoff games in my 25 years on this earth. On the flip side, my grandpa turned 80 years old last year and is still waiting for his beloved Cubs to win it all.

The 2011 postseason had its share of thrills, spills and chills, but the Cardinals found themselves against the wall, finding themselves down to their final strike not once, but twice, and they still came out on top. David Freese became a household name with his game-tying triple, then followed it up with his walk-off winner. Joe Buck gave us all goosebumps with his call of the home run, channeling his dad with a “We will see you tomorrow night!”

The team wouldn’t quit. They pushed through and came out on top. Also, to further my point that I am a very lucky baseball fan? October 27 is my birthday. ;)

3. The teams that would not die. 

The 2011 team was not the only one that was left for dead. 1964 was a wild pennant run in and of itself (and if you want a more detailed look, check out Bob Netherton’s posts on the subject). Ten games back? Nine games back? No matter, somehow these two Cardinal teams rose from the ashes and claimed a place in history.

Now, did it take a hard fall from the teams that were ahead of them in order for the birds on the bat to make it to the playoffs? You betcha. The 1964 Phillies are still remembered for that epic collapse. Will the 2011 Braves be remembered in the same way? Probably not, in all honesty. People don’t talk about the 1964 World Series the same way they will talk about the 2011 version. One thing is certain: no one will forget the Cardinals and their fight to the end!

2. Big Mac breaks the record

1998 was a magical summer for 11 year old me. I was living and dying with every long ball hit by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. I watched more Cubs baseball on WGN than any sane baseball fan should ever have to endure.

Yeah yeah, steriods. I know. But I didn’t back then. I’m not the only one that didn’t see behind the curtain either. Many of those that did, just didn’t care. For the first time since the strike of 1994 crippled many baseball fans from their love of the game, baseball had life. Games at Kauffman Stadium and the Astrodome were being sold out, and those teams had no business having that many fans in the stands. Nightly news would be cut off to update the score and the fact that Mac/Sammy had just blasted another one (and I didn’t live in the St. Louis/Chicago area to get full coverage).

But September 8, 1998 is a night that I will never forget. I screamed, I jumped around the living room, and I almost cut off my poor sisters’ circulation from hugging them so tightly. Watching that ball skirt over the wall, watching Mac almost miss first base, seeing the Maris family and Sammy running in from the outfield and all the people screaming and cheering… I was a part of that! We were all part of that. Despite what we know now… back then we were all just baseball fans again.

1.  “Go Crazy Folks”

Ozzie with one out. Took a ball just outside. Cardinals have left ten men on and they left a lotta men on early. A runner at third nobody out in the first and didn’t score, second and third in the second and didn’t score. Smith corks one into into right down the line… it may go… go crazy folks! Go crazy! It’s a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3-2 on a home run by the Wizard! Go crazy!

Seeing the words just doesn’t do that call justice. It never will. The 1985 NLCS game 5 home run by Ozzie Smith was great in and of itself. He wasn’t a home run hitter, especially not from the left side. The home run was incredible, but it was not the iconic moment.

It was the call. It was Jack Buck. There will never be another.

~*~*~*~*~*~

There you go – the top 5 moments in Cardinals history from my eyes. What say you? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments…

Is it baseball season yet?

Winter Warm-Up Photo Gallery

When Cardinal Diamond Diaries was invited to cover the Winter Warm-Up, one of the first questions I asked before buying my plane ticket and making hotel reservations was “Is my camera invited?”

Cardinals news is wonderful, but Cardinals news with player photos is much, much better!  ;)

By spending most of my three-days at WWU behind a lens, I managed to amass quite a hefty collection of digital images. Now, after a few days of picking and choosing, I’ve narrowed them down to a more manageable sharing library.  So without further ado, here’s a sampling of my favorite pictures:

(click an image to scroll through larger photos, hover mouse over photo for player name)

All photos copyrighted.  For information on republishing images, please contact us at cardsdiamonddiary@gmail.com.

WWU Recap: David Freese

Picking the subject of my first Winter Warm-Up Recap was easy. Hometown hero and World Series MVP, David Freese was a media darling.  Here’s what he had to say during the short 10 minutes he spent with us in the media room at Winter Warm-Up:

We’ll start with my favorite quotes, the humorous and sweet side of Mr. Freese:  (audio link included so you can listen for yourself)

About his squash record with Matt Holliday, who told the media he was ahead of Freese 4-2…

” Is he (Holliday) publicly announcing our record?  Wow, he must be nervous because I beat him last time so he’s trying to get that record out there.  Yeah, he’s taken me down a few times, but I’m coming back.  I’m getting him!”

About being a role model:

“I think I’ve been considered a role model since you get into pro ball.  Even in high school and college, there’s kids in this area, being a hometown guy, that are going to look up to you just because.  I’ve been in this city for a while and that is something that you can’t take for granted and you have to hold onto.  Each day I realize that there is more pressure involved in that.  But that’s cool.   I think it’s great.  I think the kids are the best part about this.  As hectic as it is, as crazy as everything gets, every time you see the excitement of a kid, it makes me realize it’s all worth it.”

–When asked if he still feels like himself after all the World Series fame:

…” yeah, I KNOW I’m me.  I think that’s the easy part.  I think about that all the time.  Stuff (has) hit me quick, that’s for sure, but I’ve said it before, if you get the right people around you, it’s that much easier to stay you.”

—About getting mobbed by everybody wherever he goes:

“It’s hectic, but it’s flattering. It’s humbling just going in places and seeing fans.  I still can’t understand why people thank me all the time, but it’s a cool feeling.

—Characterizing this offseason:

It’s been “preparation for 2012 with holding onto the excitement of 2011.  But when I get down to camp, it’s all about 2012.”

—-About expectations of him from this point on:

“I think expectations maybe from the fan base have risen, but not in my mind or I don’t think in the Cardinals’ mind. I think all they’re worried about is me just being healthy…

I think if I’m healthy, hopefully that’s enough. I can do my part. Losing Albert, we gotta kind of turn it up a little bit.  Beltran coming in is HUGE and  I think we are jacked up that he’s going to be putting on our uniform, and I’m just going to be me.  That’s what this is all about, just be me and do my part.

—Speaking about being considered the hero for Game 6,

Freese said hero is a “tough word.”  “It’s cool.  I think everyday I soak it in a little more and really understand what we accomplished as a team.  I’m pumped I did my part and glad we’re getting that ring.”

—About this team’s chances to compete again in 2012:

“Losing Albert’s tough, obviously, but  25 guys win a championship, and not one.  We are all going to miss Albert and we all wish him the best…. We’re going to have a good team and I think everyone knows that.  We’ve got hopefully  20 more wins coming from Waino too.  So it’s exciting.  I think it’s going to be different having Mike as our manager.  It’s going to be different not having Albert… not having Tony, but it’s definitely going to be exciting.”

—About changes in the way he expects to be used with Matheny as the manager now:

“There were times when Tony would give me rest in games and also it helped that Descalso’s a gold-glove caliber third baseman so it was a win/win.  You could throw D’s in there and keep him fresh.  I think 2012 is definitely going to be different in the sense that is going to be like hey Dave, just go in there and play and do what you can do because each day, each year I get more healthy.  There is still room for improvement, but that’s the exciting part.

“The weirdest thing is I’ve been really good friends with Mike (Matheny) for two years.  To say you have a friend become your manager, usually it’s the other way around.  That’s special.  That’s great.  Everybody in here knows the type of guy Mike is.  I think it clouds his knowledge of the game and that is an absolute compliment.  I  wouldn’t want any other guy taking this team and running it in 2012 than Mike Matheny.”

—About new teammate, Carlos Beltran’s addition to the team:

“(It) fills a void.  You can’t fill Albert’s shoes, but Carlos Belran is an elite talent and when he’s healthy, you know, he’s scary for sure…  He’s a middle of the order guy.  He’s going to do his part and help us out a lot.”

—About how he expects to be able to perform in 2012: 

“I’d like to say I could handle 162 (games).  I’m not going to throw a number out there, I hope I get this or I hope I get that, but the way I feel now… I’m not nervous.  That’s a good thing.  That’s a feeling I don’t have and I’ve had that feeling for a long time with my legs and stuff.  A year ago today there was definitely a nerve-wracking feeling going into camp.  So to pull that off my shoulders is a great feeling.”

“When healthy, I think I get the job done (as a defensive player).  Over the past couple of years I go out in the field and sometimes it’s tough just day in and day out getting after it, but I think this year it’s going to be a lot easier because you’re not worried about your feet, you’re not worried about your legs, you’re just being me.  I think about ’08 in Memphis ….I remember just running out there and just loving playing defense because I wasn’t worried about my feet.  This year it’s going to be like that, so I’m excited.”

“As far as rehabbing my feet, I’ve done less (this offseason).  There’s less to worry about.  It’s relaxing.  The nervous feeling of “am I ready?” isn’t there anymore and I’ve been waiting for that.”

——

Freese is excited and ready for Spring Training, ready to get out there and play baseball.

We’re ready too, Dave.  We’re ready too.

:)

Winter Warm Up, Day 3

Where do I begin?

Composing this while sitting on the floor of the St. Louis airport, I am still spinning from the wonderful experience of covering Winter Warm-Up.  After getting a small taste of the behind-the-scenes media experience, I have a newfound respect for journalists and beat writers who live it, day in and day out.

When I opened my newspaper this morning to the Cardinal coverage, I savored and dissected the columns with even more enthusiasm than usual.  Besides the obvious difference of actually holding a real copy of the Post Dispatch in my hands today (a bit hard to find in Oklahoma and one of my favorite little things about visiting St. Louis), I was fascinated to see how the writers would pick and choose their details from the very same player interviews I had experienced the day before and then weave those facts into the stories we read online and in the paper.  They make it look so easy…

After 3 days of jam-packed activity, I am truly worn out. The thought of keeping up that pace through an entire baseball season combined with deadlines, hectic travel schedules, game notes, pre- and post-game interviews plus the real-life pressure of it being your JOB to rapidly condense it all into timely, informative and entertaining samplers for the hungry baseball masses… and I’m quite content sticking to this blogging thing where we do it for the love of the game.

Don’t get me wrong however… this was the weekend adventure of a lifetime and I savored every moment of it.  The honor of the invitation and the unbelievable access were something I will treasure forever.

Looking back on this amazing whirlwind adventure, I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the opportunity to pass along the sights, player interview tidbits and my experiences at this tremendous event to Cardinal fans through our blog and Twitter.  The people of the Cardinals Media Relations team (Brian Bartow, Melody Yount, Chris Tunno, Ron Watermon and especially Terry Rodgers) and the Cardinals Care volunteers were welcoming and helpful.  Their hospitality helped ease many of the fears of being out of my element as part of the  “new media” contingency included in this year’s Winter WarmUp coverage.  It was great fun visiting with a variety of media folk throughout the weekend, all very kind and accommodating.

The Cardinal organization deserves a big, BIG thank you for opening the doors to us involved in blogging and social media.  The responsibility was huge, and I was really proud and (honestly) quite blown away by the volume and quality of material coming from my fellow media credential-newbies.  Kevin (posting for C70 at the Bat) was jumping in with both feet, asking players insightful questions that elicited amazing and heartfelt answers. Ann (for Aaron Miles Fastball) was a speed demon at taking notes at those player interviews and getting those words online quicker than… well, quicker than Aaron Miles’ Fastball.  Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth) cranked out summary stories on several hot topics.  And Chris Reed (writing for i70baseball.com) ramped up the technology and created his WWU Video Blog.  Check them out, if you haven’t already.

My 2nd love (behind family and baseball… so it’s more like my 3rd love, I guess?) is capturing and sharing photographs.  So I attempted to gather as many images as possible and pass them along on twitter throughout the day, as well as here on Diamond Diaries. While pursuing this goal, I learned that #1: Winter Warm-Up is a HUGE venue.  #2: Comfy shoes can only do so much.  #3: Despite my best efforts, even after hustling back and forth all day between player interviews and autograph tables, there were still many other WWU moments that I missed.  #4 Who really needs lunch (or dinner) when there are Cardinals to photograph and write about? #5:  Ditto for the “sleeping” thing.  And #6 Cardinal fans continue to be some of the friendliest people I have ever met.

Winter Warm-Up offers a little bit for everyone.  There were lectures, forums, silent auctions, presentations and oh yeah… a World Series trophy! While I only managed to catch a quick glimpse of the variety of vendors and souvenir offerings, Kevin (C70 at the Bat) convinced me the selection was amazing and the prices were spectacular after I saw the treasures he’ll be taking home.  It’s no wonder Cardinal fans keep coming back year after year.

With all proceeds from the 16th annual Winter Warm-Up going to the Cardinals Care foundation (the charity benefiting children in the community) fans can enjoy their weekend in baseball heaven, spend lots of money and know it’s for a worthy cause.  Win/win!

 Yes, the Hyatt was PACKED with people, but the crowd movement was expertly orchestrated.  The amazingly adept crew of patient and friendly volunteers directed traffic phenomenally. It was a QUALITY event with the QUANTITY of experiences to match!

 

This year’s Winter Warm-Up provided hours of voice recordings and hundreds of photo files.  It should be enough to keep us entertained for at least a month or so.  And from the looks of the Spring Training Countdown, that should just about do it!

Once again, I am excited to share with you my collection of photos from the final day of Winter Warm-Up.

Today’s featured Cardinals include:

  • Kyle Lohse
  • Tony La Russa
  • Kyle McClellan
  • Allen Craig
  • Manager Mike Matheny
  • Carlos Beltran
  • Skip Schumaker
  • and World Series MVP (with the best smile in baseball) David Freese

And another Thank You to the Cardinals with a special shout-out to Peggy (our wonderful hostess/guide/source in the media area), Patty, Kathleen, Judy and Doris and all the other fabulous Cardinals Care volunteers who made the weekend easier for us all.  It was a joy to share the weekend with you!

Although the weekend was truly a dream come true, I am happy to be back home with my family and a slower pace, packing lunch boxes, chauffeuring the kiddos, homework, housework and my real world job.  Keep an eye out for more posts and pictures about my adventures.  I’m looking forward to digging through my digital keepsakes and sharing the rest of the experience with you… right after I meet the laundry deadline and interview the pets.

Thanks for reading!

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!  =)

Pujols’ Presser Giveaway Contest Winner

Sometimes a contest doesn’t go the way you planned it to…

When Erika and I decided on how to give away our copies of the World Series DVD, I doubt that either of us really considered how weird it would feel if the Pujols’ press conference announcing his new contract would really be for another team. That said, we do have a winner! While we didn’t hit the exact date, Dan got about as close as possible. He picked December 9, at 11:00AM. Considering the contract broke a day before and the presser was a day after, that’s about as close as you can get without hitting the bulls-eye. Congrats Dan!

For me, it was weird watching the DVD. I felt the same thing in 2006 watching that DVD, because I was seeing names like Jeff Weaver and Preston Wilson being interviewed. Those guys were names that I expected to go away. In fact, when I watched the DVD a couple years later on a cold snowy day I had actually forgotten about those names completely.

Watching this DVD, it would be impossible to forget about Pujols playing on this team. I almost felt like a knife was being turned in my stomach. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a stunning movie, and it gave me butterflies watching it over and over. Seeing the joy of the players, hearing that crack of the bat again after going several weeks without any baseball, and listening to those familiar voices and sounds of the game I love… it was incredible. I didn’t even jump into the bonus features and see the extra goodies like game 5 of the NLDS and bonus material from This Week in Baseball, among others. It truly is a treasure, and if you haven’t grabbed your copy yet, seriously, what are you waiting for?

Be on the lookout for our next big giveaway. We’ll be filling a few more Christmas stockings with some copies of the 8 disc set – yippee! :)

The October Baseball Bubble

Baseball people just get it.  We feel the electricity.  We grasp the magnitude of every play, and we hang on every pitch. We live for October, the Fall Classic, the World Series.   In other words, we live in a big “baseball bubble” during the postseason.  Don’t mind us… we’re baseball fans.

All around us, life moves on.

Five years ago, during the postseason, I fell in love with baseball and my St. Louis Cardinals.  It was a game-changer for me, and I can’t help but wonder how many new eyes are seeing the magic of baseball this week.  I hope there are many, because this series promises to be something special.

Here we are, one game into the World Series of 2011.  The St. Louis Cardinals versus the Texas Rangers: two teams with amazing and unbelievable journeys that have brought them both to this moment in history.   If I could have hand-picked two teams to showcase baseball in October, these were the two.  The 2011 World Series is pure baseball, Midwest baseball, void of Yankees, Red Sox or Phillies.  If that means less television audience, so be it.  Two hot teams of momentum, evenly matched with brilliant management, deep benches, impressive bullpens, solid slugging lineups who play hard & yet challenge the running game and most importantly, two teams of class, teams with players you can’t help but love… THIS is a must-see Fall Classic, guaranteed to convert the non-believer.

So, think of the family, friends and colleagues around you, the ones who don’t yet breathe baseball.  Maybe all they need is a little nudge, someone to answer the questions, explain the nuances and share the inspiring back-stories of the players and the season that have brought these two ballclubs to this final stage.  Those non-baseball people? You could be their guide, their sponsor.  You could change a life.

The October Baseball Bubble is big enough for everyone.  So, let’s spread the joy.

Save someone’s life, share the postseason!

….. and Go Cardinals!  #11in11  ;)

Daydream Believer

Pinch me.

It’s the postseason and my St. Louis Cardinals have conquered the unconquerable, done the unthinkable.

This team, who was 10 ½ games out of first place in the NL Central during the last week in August put on the turbo-boosters and raced into October, beating the odds-favorite pitching monsters of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series and then moving on to snuff the mighty Brewers in the National League Championship Series.

Pinch me.

This is the team who lost their “Ace” Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery during Spring Training, whose veteran closer fought a prolonged and painful struggle to “get it right” through a good part of the season before finally hanging up his cleats, whose bullpen woes and injury bugs peaked early and haunted faithful fans.  This is the team who failed to reach a contract extension agreement with their legendary (pending free agent) first baseman before the start of the season, leaving a cloud of doubt over the future of the club. This is the team whose manager battled SHINGLES for what seemed like an eternity.  This was the team nobody expected to be here.

And yet, here we are.

The Cardinals are heading back to the World Series, five years after another of their unexpected (and victorious) runs through the postseason.

The Texas Rangers are the bulldogs waiting for us in the final showdown.  The Cardinals are (again) the underdogs, facing a powerhouse lineup that should strike fear in the hearts of any opposing pitching staff.

Except this team is the 2011 Cardinals, something unexpected, something… special.  This is the team with the power trio of Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday.  This is the team with Golden (glove) Boy, Yadier Molina anchoring the battery.  This is the team of David Freese, whose superhero powers apparently magnify in the postseason.  This is the team of churlish veteran Ace Chris Carpenter, the wise-beyond-his-years lefty, Jaime Garcia, and the resurgence of Kyle Lohse. This is the team with an MVP bullpen (Fernando Salas, Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Lance Lynn…), a work in progress throughout the entire season, rich in talent and tuned to perfection under the mad genius of Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan.

This team exemplifies the saying:  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  The midseason trade for shortstop Rafael Furcal added a potent combo of game-changing glove and switch-hitting hot bat.  The Colby Rasmus trade, initially flunking all seemingly rational baseball criteria, now shines with the luster of La Russa brilliance (isn’t hindsight incredible?) as pitchers Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski have all contributed handily to the magic of these rally Cardinals with Jon Jay in centerfield, making Rasmus’ absence (dare I say?) forgettable.

As I sit here composing this ode to what looks more and more like a team of destiny, I am finding it difficult to know where to stop.  So many players up and down the bench, the bullpen and the rotation have contributed to get this hot surging team to the magical summit: Allen “Do It For Torty” Craig, Nick Punto, Adron Chambers, Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso, Ryan Theriot… the list goes on and on.  When you stop to think, it is beyond belief:  the timely talent really does run that deep, this team has surpassed every expectation.  But don’t tell them that.  They have momentum and their eyes on the ultimate prize.  They are aiming for the top.

This is not a team of superstars, this is a TEAM.  The light-hearted frivolities: Puma suits, rookie hazing costumes, the “shredder”, tortoises, rally squirrels, “Happy Flights” and sprinkles have combined with an underlying burst of what can only be described as a perfect storm of “Do It or Go Home” mentality.

Game 1 of the World Series starts tomorrow…. and it starts at Busch Stadium.

Pinch me.

Go Cards!  ;)

My Cardinals bucket list

The below is a post from my old blog.  I thought I’d update it and use it for my first official post on Diamond Diaries.  Thanks to Angela for having me here!  :)

The 2007 movie The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, was about two men who escaped the cancer ward and did all the  stuff on their bucket lists before they died.  Now I’m not planning on dying anytime soon, but I do have a  Cardinals bucket list that maybe I’ll get to accomplish before I die.   So here’s my Cardinals bucket list:

1.  Sit in the Commissioner’s Box seats next to the dugout.
The closest I’ve ever sat to the field in Busch Stadium III is on the second level.  It would be so nice to sit in these box seats, and not have to worry about getting up to get food and drink. I would love to be able to see batting practice up close and personal.   Plus, the view would be awesome.  And I might be able to accomplish #4 below.

2.  Sing the National Anthem before a Cardinals game.
I’ve performed the National Anthem at a Cardinals game, but not vocally.  I was part of a 100 person handbell choir that rang the National Anthem at Busch Stadium II for the Cardinals’ 100th anniversary in 1992.  My associate’s degree is in music and I took voice lessons in college.  I also sang in church choirs for over 20 years.  I’m a first soprano, so I can sing the National Anthem in the original key (F).

3.   Sit in the radio broadcast booth with Mike Shannon and John Rooney and maybe do an inning of play-by-play. 
I met the late Jack Buck at a Cardinals pep rally, not long after his book That’s a Winner! came out.  I told him that I had really enjoyed his book and he told me to bring my copy up to the broadcast booth and he would sign it for me.  Unfortunately, I never got to do that.  But it would really be cool to sit up in the broadcast booth with Mike and John and talk baseball.  I think a woman could call play-by-play just as well as a man could.

4.  Catch a foul ball.
The closest I have ever gotten to a foul ball was when my family went to a Cards game a couple of years ago and Yadi Molina hit a foul ball that landed 2 rows below where we was sitting.  Darn!  So close and yet so far!

5. Catch a home run ball.
At a game in 2001, my husband and I were sitting at a table in Homer’s Landing in Busch Stadium II.  The Cards were playing the Reds that night, and Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a HR shot that bounced off of a table 2 rows below us.  I wasn’t fast enough to get that one. Maybe someday I’ll get another chance.

6.  Meet Albert Pujols and Yadi Molina.
The closest I’ve ever gotten to Albert was viewing him from afar at Winter Warmup.  I couldn’t afford the price to get his autograph. :(  I have been to Albert’s restaurant Pujols 5 a few times and admired all of his awards that are on display there.

7.  Go to a Cardinals home playoff game or World Series game.
I’ve been a Cardinals fan for over 30 years but have never had the pleasure of attending a Cardinals home playoff or World Series game in person.  My husband would rather watch these games at home, but I would love to feel the electricity from the crowd that I can see on TV.

8.  Go to an All Star Game.
The closest I got to the 2006 All Star Game in St. Louis was working at Fan Fest.  That was fun in and of itself, but it’s not the same as being at the actual game.

9.  Go to spring training.
Another Cards activity I’ve never been able to attend.  I have vacation time, but not the funds.

10.  Go to a Cards game at another MLB stadium.
Kaufmann Stadium and Wrigley Field are the closest ones to where I live.  Maybe a road trip to either stadium would be in our future.

11.  Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It would be so cool to visit all the Cardinals exhibits at the Hall. I would also love to see the All-American Girls Professional Baseball exhibit.  I cry every time I watch A League of Their Own and the ladies enter their branch of the Hall for the first time.

12.  Go to an Opening Day game again.
I miss the days when Opening Day games were at night.  I would have to take off work to attend an Opening Day game now. I do go on my lunch half-hour (I work in downtown St. Louis) and go to the Opening Day rally.

Are there any Cardinals items on your bucket list?  Feel free to comment below.

See you next time!

Diane

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: