Diamond Diaries

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Is that Baseball Season I smell??

Thoughts on the 2011 Winter Warm-Up



Yes, baseball is almost back! Pitchers & Catchers report in less than a month and I can hear the sound of Adam Wainwright’s curveball hitting Yadier Molina’s glove already. Deep breaths people, winter is almost over and the boys of summer are preparing to do what they do best.

As everyone already knows, this past weekend was Winter Warm-Up at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis. Considering myself lucky enough to live just 30 minutes from Busch Stadium, my sister and I were able to attend for a second consecutive year. Being able to pull out some of my Cardinal t-shirts and jackets was such a great feeling – they get so lonely all folded up in my closet without regular wear like during the summer. I just love having a reason to wear Cardinal gear all weekend long (especially in the winter!).

This year, we had more tickets for autographs than last; Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jon Jay, Skip Schumaker & David Freese. Good thing we decided to actually purchase autograph tickets because the lines for some of the free autographs were extremely long. Lines for Shelby Miller & Zack Cox were so long it created a madhouse on the right side of the main ballroom. I won’t go into criticizing how terrible the organization of these lines was, but if you were there, you can back me up. Needless to say, sticking with our pre-mapped out plan, we had the right idea.

I know many people aren’t fans of the idea of paying for autographs and standing in long lines for a 2 second encounter with their favorite player. I understand this. However, I love the idea. At games, you tend to see a lot of people waiting along the first base line and around the home team dugout screaming at players for autographs. That isn’t really my style. I enjoying getting down close and conversing with the players/getting pictures, but you won’t find me screaming at them for autographs. So, if an event like the Winter Warm-Up has been created specifically for this, then I am willing to participate. Besides, I don’t think any other Major League Organization has an event like this where practically every single player and many former players show up to sign autographs and chat with fans/media for a couple hours. I consider us very lucky. I look forward to this every year. Not only do we get to see our favorites and our new additions, we get an almost 72-hour taste of baseball while the thermometer reads 8 degrees outside.

While I was looking forward to my autographs, there were several other things I look for when attending the Winter Warm-Up. While waiting in lines, I watch the big video screens to see what else is going on around the event. I look to see if other players are enjoying themselves, I look to see if new additions are interacting with the fans, and I look at the reactions of players being interviewed on the main stage. Lets face it, unless you get a good seat or you are in line to meet every single player, you can’t see any of that.

This year, I was looking to see what kind of reaction the newest Cardinals had to being at the Winter Warm-Up. Ok, yeah…I couldn’t bring myself to buying a ticket for Ryan Theriot or Lance Berkman just yet, but I did want to see how they were responding to being a part of the Cardinals. There have been many articles with Berkman saying that this team stacks up against any other in the NL and Theriot has said that he is now on the right side of the Cards/Cubs rivalry. Obviously all things Cardinal Nation wants to hear…and I applaud them for doing that. They know they have to win over the crowd. You can talk all you want, but if you don’t look like you are truly enjoying being in St. Louis, then I don’t believe you for a second. Good for them, I do believe it. I watched Berkman on the video screens chatting with fans and his new teammates, and I am convinced. Of course his on-field play has yet to be evaluated, but if he says he is glad to be here, I believe it. It was apparent from his constant smile throughout his entire autograph session at Winter Warm-Up that he is indeed happy to be here. Same with Ryan Theriot. He wasn’t on the video screens near as long as Berkman, but he appeared to me that he was also excited to be here – I mean, he has a lot of people to win over since he took the place of Brendan Ryan, he was a Cub, and he may not have THE best stats. But, if a former Cub (and fan favorite) can come out and say that he is now on the right side of the Cards/Cubs rivalry, you have immediately won over many fans. I still need to see more, but I am glad to see that he is trying. That is all I can ask for right now. I am a wait-and-see kind of fan. I get upset when my favorite player is traded (ahem, Ryan Ludwick) but I did give Westbrook a chance, and I am happy to see him a Cardinal for the next 2 seasons.

I think that Winter Warm-Up is one of those events that give fans a chance to see these things, and I know I can’t possibly be the only one who looks for these things as well.

Now, on to our Winter Warm-Up experience. I do my best to block out some of the rude volunteers – yeah, the ones who tell you you aren’t allowed to take a photo with a player after you waited 2 hours in line because they want to move the line along (did I mention I hate that??) – and instead I do my best to just enjoy the experience of getting to meet some of my favorite players.

Chris Carpenter…*swoon*
Courtney had tickets for Jon Jay, David Freese & Skip Schumaker. I had those 3 as well as Chris Carpenter & Adam Wainwright. Our Saturday started with Chris Carpenter. I went over and over in my head what I would say to Carp when I finally got to meet him – after all, his jersey t-shirt was the first one I ever bought with my own money. And, my twitter handle (stl_cardsfan29) is because of his number and because my birthday is on the 29th of the month. Anyway…by the time I got up to him, I couldn’t say a word. He was so nice – his smile was so big and his eyes were sparkling (not to mention that beard!) – that I couldn’t say anything! I froze. At least I didn’t say anything stupid.


His name is Jonathan.
Jon Jay was next. While we were waiting in his line, we noticed that Brian Tallet had very few people in his line. Courtney and I felt bad, but I’m not gonna lie…that happens when people don’t know who you are. I am sure he doesn’t mind. Moving on…Jon Jay was nice but SOOOO quiet. Similar to fan photo day back in September, he didn’t look like he was saying anything to anyone. So, Courtney decided that she would ask him something to try and get him to crack a smile. If you watch SportsCenter or Baseball Tonight, you will notice that the reporters/anchors called him “Jonathan” but all of the local media call him “Jon”. When Courtney approached him it went something like this: “I just have to know something.” “OK.” “Do you want to be called Jonathan or Jon? Because I want to call you whatever you want to be called.” “Haha…It doesn’t matter to me. Whatever you want.” Courtney has decided that she will be calling him Jonathan. I think she made a new friend in Jonathan Jay. :) 


Jon Jay

Our final ticket for Saturday was for David Freese. And we couldn’t wait for this. We waited to get in line for about 2 hours, and finally we made it. Colby Rasmus was seated next to David. The Colby Rasmus 13-year-old-girl-Fan Club was in the photo-only area. As we rounded the first turn of the 2-turn line, we heard a shrill hyena-type scream. Apparently Colby had waved to the fan club after they had been yelling his name for 5 minutes. All we could do was look at each other and laugh. Yes, we get excited about our experiences with players, but we by no-means are huge fan girls in front of the players. We have a professional-type approach to our encounters. I turned to Courtney and reminded her of the time we were able to get Colby to say hello to us at a game last year. Courtney and I were down near the field taking pictures and watching the guys warm up when Courtney waved and said “Hi Colby” in probably the quietest voice possible. He stopped what he was doing and waved back. Moral of the story, you don’t have to be loud and crazy to get someones attention – you actually look idiotic when you do that. We looked back at Colby and David after the fan club went nuts and they were laughing almost hysterically at them. No, not because they were happy, they were obviously laughing at them. – End Mini-Rant –


Courtney & David.
We finally made our way to David Freese. I told him I was happy to see him all in one piece. He laughed and said “Thanks”. I told him we also saw that he had been attending Blues games and he had to be more careful. Again, he laughed and said “I know, I know.” I am sure I wasn’t the first person to say something to him about that, but I couldn’t help myself. I LOVE that Freese is one of many St. Louis athletes who supports the other teams, but come on, the guy needs to wear a bubble OR just sit in a suite way up high so there is no chance of a hockey puck coming near his head EVER. AGAIN. Other than that…Freese was really nice to us as well. I think he might have to be one of my new faves in 2011 since my two faves are gone. 


The boy that needs a bubble while at Scottrade.
Day 2. Schumaker & Wainwright. Before we got in line, we sat in the seats in front of the main stage to listen to John Rooney for a bit. Some jerk had to ask some dumb question about why we don’t still try to get someone like Orlando Hudson because Theriot isn’t really an upgrade from Brendan Ryan. Hey guy, Hudson was signed by the Padres a couple weeks ago, but nice try……ugh, pay attention. Why do I always end up near these idiots?

Courtney with Skip!




Considering we had just about enough, we

decided to get in line for Skip. Nothing interesting happened this time. One thing that was different about Skip though, was that after I gave my routine “It’s so nice to meet you!” he answered back “It’s nice to meet you too! Are you having a good time?” Um, yeah Skip…I am surrounded by members of the St. Louis Cardinals and hundreds of fans who love them just as much as I do…of course I am! But I just stuck with “Yes, I am having a great time!” Seriously, one of the most sincere responses. I consider us so lucky to have/had some of the most sincerely nice guys to play for the Cardinals. It really makes it worth it. Besides, I could deal without having someone like Brandon Phillips EVER playing for the Cardinals. ;) I love how our guys seem to really care about being a part of this team and they must really believe that we are the “best fans in baseball”. It makes spending the time and money on them worth it.


Skip!
After a quick lunch with a friend of mine from college, it was time for Adam Wainwright. I had been waiting for this moment all weekend. Besides Carp, Waino is up there on my list of faves – we are almost birthday twins (mine being the 29th, his the 30th of August). What I planned on saying to Waino was also something I had been thinking about all day. This time, I actually got it out. I knew I had to be creative. I had to think of something that not everyone would have asked him. Something that might catch him off guard, but in a good way. So, I decided I would ask him if he could show me his curveball and see what his response might be. After the guy in front of me finished asking Waino to right a letter to him on his photograph (ugh), it was my turn.


Hi Adam, it’s so great to meet you.” “Thanks.” “Can I ask you one thing? Will you show me your curveball?” “Haha…what?” “Can I ask you to show me your curveball with that baseball? And then take a picture. Is that ok?” “Haha…of course.” “Thanks so much, you have no idea.” “You’re welcome!” Oh my gosh, I just got Adam Wainwright to show me his curveball! And I really do think I caught him off guard, in a good way! He laughed at me, but I think it was good. After all, he did oblige my request…and I have the photos to prove it!
Asking….
SUCCESS!!

Waino showing me his curve…that’s one
sexy curveball.
Success. And now, I am more than ready for baseball season. I am still going to root on my Blues and my Missouri Basketball Tigers, but I cannot wait for February 13th. I am ready for those boys to make me jealous in the sunshine state, preparing for March 31st. Speaking of which…I cannot wait for March 31st. Opening Day…it’s right around the corner. I can feel it. Now, if only we could get the Cards front office to sign number 5 to a contract forever, I will be good to go.



One last thing…I am so happy I got to meet some awesome people from twitter at Winter Warm-Up; @emilyjune87, @nlw1013 & @MattSebek. You all were fantastic and I am so glad I got to meet you all! Sorry to those who I just couldn’t get together with…I look forward to meeting MANY more of you from my twitter family in 2011 at Busch Stadium! 

Offseason Ramblings

Just popping in…

Hello readers! After a long semester with no free time, I’m using my four week winter break to finally feel a part of this wonderful blog. I don’t have much to say, but I thought I’d spend a few minutes to get some of my thoughts that have been in my mind since the end of the 2010 season.

This is my first time being around twitter during the “Hot Stove Season”, and it’s been an interesting one to say the least. Not only have I learned a lot more about the game than I ever thought I would, but I’ve also been growing as a baseball fan. Growing in the sense that I’ve had to learn to stick to my guns and love the Cardinals no matter what happens. Even though I love my boys, and I hate to see them loose, I always get frustrated when they aren’t doing as well as I’d hoped. It’s been easier as of late to get over the low points of the season and pull out the positive in any situation. I’ve definitely grown some tough skin since I grew up loving sports – more specifically, loving some teams that don’t always win – and had to (& still do) deal with some people giving me little to no respect for my opinions. I want to thank all my wonderful twitter friends for helping me continue to grow as a fan and for being there through the ups and downs of the season! I really don’t know how I ever got through a tough season without you all!

This offseason has been rough. Some of our favorites have left, and we didn’t even get to say our proper goodbyes. I get just as attached to these boys as the rest of my CDD girls do, and it’s been hard for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes I was among those who wept over the departure of Joey “Bomb Squad” Mather and his best friend Brendan Ryan. But I am also so excited to see that Jake Westbrook will be a part of our starting rotation. One small positive point to this sadness is that I’ll get to follow a few more teams this season! (In particular, the Braves and the Mariners).

Through all the trials and tribulations of the off-season I’m glad to be among some of the smartest baseball fans I’ve ever known. I can’t believe that in only about a month and a half we’ll be diving in to the beginning of spring training! This season is going to be pretty exciting for me for a few normal, but also some not so common, reasons. I know it may be silly, but I’ll be spending my 21st birthday at my favorite place on earth (Busch Stadium, if you couldn’t guess). I’ve only been planning it since I was 16…no biggie. I am also very excited to see how some of our offseason acquisitions can help us this season. I haven’t quite grasped the fact that Lance Berkman and Ryan Theriot are actually a part of the Cardinals organization and I still don’t know how I feel about it. I’m not upset by any means; I just hope that they bring something special to boost this team up to its ultimate potential. And of course, I can’t wait to spend another season spending way too much money going to games with my favorite person. That person of course, is my sister, Cadence. How boring life would be without her to go to games with.

I’m looking forward to being able to enjoy another great season with everyone on Twitter and I also hope to be able to write and share more of my thoughts and opinions throughout the season.

This was short and sweet, but thanks for reading!

Courtney

Thank You, Mr. Musial

I have no idea how old I was. Old enough to have vivid memories enhanced over the years by photographs and family stories. We were in St. Louis for a business meeting of my fathers. We were going to dinner at Stan and Biggies. Stan had long ago retired from playing, but still showed up at his restaurant to meet and greet the patrons and his fans. 

Stan was always a product of his small town PA upbringing. He was quiet, humble, but unfailingly polite and genuine.“I was a poor boy who struck it rich in many ways through the wonders of baseball,” he said in his autobiography. He never forgot how lucky he was to play the game we all love. 

My grandmother told me to make sure and be very polite if Stan the Man came round to our table. She might have told me this more than once. Of course my grandmother and my father had told me many times about the greatest Cardinal ever, so I knew a lot about The Man. 

Stan and Biggies was a coat and tie restaurant. The gentleman in front of us did not have a jacket, so one was provided for him from some special closet close by. That really impressed me. 

When we were seated I remember scanning the room trying to figure out which of the men was Stan. My mom told me not to worry because he usually walked around and greeted people at their table.

I was also taken care of by the very nice waiter. He brought me a “Kiddie Cocktail”. That was the most magnificent drink I had ever had. That really really impressed me. 


It wasn’t long before I saw a very distinguished looking man walking around from table to table. I knew from the moment I saw him it was Stan the Man. He was stopping and greeting people and handing out cards that had his picture and signature on them. He had at least 5000 tables to go before he got to us. At least that’s what I thought at the time. I wouldn’t go to the bathroom for fear I would miss him. I might have had a couple of those Kiddie Cocktails.

The table next to us seated a large party. I did not think he would ever get away from those people. Did I mention the Kiddie Cocktails? I might have really had to go to the bathroom by this time.

Only one “Stan the Man” (photo MLBLOGS)

Finally he made it to our table. He greeted my parents.
He turned to me and said “Hello, I’m Stan Musial.” I remember that so clearly. He actually didn’t think I would know who he was. Well I would rectify that real quick. I jumped out of my chair, grabbed him to hug him, which happened to be around his legs, and said something like, I know who you are Mr. Musial. You’re the greatest Cardinal ever. I had to go to the bathroom so badly and was so excited that I was jumping up and down. There I was in the middle of Stan and Biggies in my pink dress and black patent shoes jumping up and down and hugging Stan Musial. Around his legs. Thank the good lord my bladder withstood the excitement. 


Color my parents mortified. He was a true gentleman and so nice. He bent down and said something about how nice it was that a little girl like me knew about baseball. I don’t recall anything else of that conversation. I was just totally entranced that Stan Musial had talked to me. He handed me his photo card and laughed with my parents. He then went on to the next table.That experience impressed me more than I can ever put into words.

I finally went to the bathroom. I don’t think I walked, I floated. My mother might have mentioned something about being “surprised” I grabbed Mr. Musial.

My photo looks like this one. (PhotoFile)
When I got back to the table there was an 8×10 picture at my place setting. It was a picture of Stan Musial in his Cardinal uniform standing in that famous batting stance of his. It said, “To a sweet girl. Best wishes, Stan Musial.” I was over the moon. By this time he was no longer in the room for me to thank him. Can’t imagine why.

That photo, along with my grandmother’s Wrigley and Busch programs and some other memorabilia are tucked away safely in storage. I am thankful for them.

But what is really important is one small memory of “baseball’s perfect knight” that I treasure, will never forget, and for which I am forever truly grateful. 

Thank you, Mr. Musial. 

YO! DUDE! GO GIANTS!

Sooo glad the World Series is finally here. I am really looking forward to this one. Sorry to my friends out east, but elated we finally have a Series without the damn Yankees, the bloody Sawx and the fightin Phillies. 


I’m ready for some new blood and nothing makes me wanna scream more than when I hear the east coast whiners cryin about the upcoming low ratings. Oh paaaaallllllleeeeeease! Like no one in the great US of A wants to see a WS without the same ole same ole. 

To hear the ESPNers talk, you’d think Dallas and San Francisco were tiny little burgs in the middle of nowheresville that are still waitin for cable tee vee. I’ve met enough easterners, specifically NYers, who think the country miraculously drops off at the Hudson River. Well, too bad-so sad, cause the rest of the country is ready for this series. 



I’m a National League girl. Can’t imagine cheering for an American League team. Maybe the Royals. Maybe. I am really excited to get behind the Giants. This is a great team to root for. And by great I don’t necessarily mean talented. This is a motley band of misfits known as the Dirty Dozen. They have everything I wish the Cardinals had shown.They play as a team with joy and passion. They’re loose, positive and easy going. They persevere. They play a hard nine. They wear orange and black. Cool.




 
Their home is the beautiful privately financed AT&T Park, located in the world’s most lovely setting, where booming homers land out in McCovey Cove. They play in a gorgeous, zany, liberal city with great food and crazy, creative, innovative people. They choose people to sing God Bless America that wear sequins and a replica skyline on an humongous hat. One of their best selling tees says ‘Let Timmeh Smoke.’ (and they ain’t talkin bout his fastball.) 


And they have two of my all time favorite players that don’t wear the Birds on the Bat. Timmeh Lincecum, who looks like a surfer dude, loves to drop the f bomb, and pitches like the Freak he is. I love that dude. 

 

And then there’s closer Brian Wilson with a Mohawk 
haircut, a dyed jet-black best-ever real but fake-lookin 
beard and um..several tattoos. The guy is seriously gloriously hysterically out there and, maybe just maybe, a little insane. I love that guy. 






Oh…and of course they have a 1,000 year old rookie catcher named Buster. Posey.








You can’t make this stuff up. Gotta love this team. 











GOOOOOOO GIANTS! Win for the N.L. Win for real baseball. Yo!








All photos from MLB and San Fransisco Giants. 

Boredom Buster – Answer Reveal

If you missed our game yesterday, we were giving you a chance to show off how well you know your St. Louis Cardinals!  We asked how many of the 2010 Cardinal players you could recognize by just their eyes.

And now the big reveal….. *drum roll please*

The Answers

Chris Carpenter -1, 10
Ryan Franklin – 14
David Freese – 16
Jaime Garcia – 7
Blake Hawksworth – 17
Matt Holliday – 4, 21
Jon Jay – 13
Josh Kinney – 18
Jason LaRue – 23
Tony LaRussa – 26
Kyle Lohse – 6
Felipe Lopez – 19
Ryan Ludwick – 9
Aaron Miles – 27
Trevor Miller – 12
Yadier Molina – 11
Jason Motte – 8
Brad Penny – 25
Albert Pujols – 2
Colby Rasmus – 24
Dennys Reyes – 15
Brendan Ryan – 3, 22
Skip Schumaker – 5
Adam Wainwright -20
Thanks for playing!  
Go on, fess up…. how did you do? (without peeking, that is!)  =)

The World Series starts tonight on Fox!  
Play Ball! 


Who Do We Like On ESPN

My friend, John P.Wise, founder of the website, One Great Season (link below) produced an unscientific survey of who we like and dislike on ESPN. He asked some of his writer and blogger friends to send him a list of around ten on air personalities on the WWL that we like and ten we dislike with a short quip explaining our reasons.

Thought it would be fun to start a conversation with our readers since we all have our faves on ESPN. Following is the list I sent to him with my choices. You will find the results of the survey on his website. (link below)
Favorites
Neil Everett-Smoothest and wittiest SC anchor. Perfect for late night when you want the facts and a little entertainment.
Kirk Herbstreit-Most knowledgeable of all CFB experts and perfect on Gameday. Hunky delight.
Ron Jaworski- His NFL Matchup show, hidden in some god-awful early morning slot on Sunday, is required viewing if you want to really understand the game of football. Love Jaws and everything he does. Often imitated but irreplaceable.
Linda Cohn-One of my heroines and still my favorite female SC anchor. Funny, smart. Makes it look easy. Great laugh.
Tim Kurkjian-Huge crush on my little baseball nerd. He gets why baseball is more about emotion and history than all other sports.
Tom Jackson-Old school. Gives us the info and gets out of the way of the pre-game hoopla.
Jay Bilas- Very bright, knowledgeable, fearless and I pray he does the college hoops game I’m watching.
Tony Kornheiser- The man I think of when I think of an old school sports reporter. Smaht. Loves the game. Crotchety. Makes me laugh.
Michael Wilbon- Perfect partner to Kornheiser. Wry. Just gets why we love sports. Love PTI.
Chris Carter-Fearless and says what he believes.
Wright Thompson-Perfect features reporter. Knows less is more in choice of words. Paints the emotion of a story with his simple words. ESPN should feature him on camera much more. His piece on New Orleans and the Saints was pitch perfect.
Un-Favorites
Skip Bayless- His whole spiel is irritating. He’s wound too tight and the outrageous things he says to get attention just gets old. Forrest Gump of sports. Been to every sporting event known to mankind. Am I right?
Jim Rome- Like Bayless he seems to dislike athletes in a personal way that is unappealing. Gives preferential treatment to those who appear on his show. Arrogant.
Chris Berman-Used to love him, but he has outlived his sell by date. Seriously induces migraines.
Dick Vitale-Enough already. Go away. Seems to gives his coaching pals a pass. i.e.-Calipari.
Dana Jacobson- Moody. Comes across like she doesn’t want to be there. Thank God she’s actually not there all that often. Chick takes more vacations than George W. did.
Rick Reilly- Grew up reading him in SI. Love to read him, just don’t like to watch him. Ego on overdrive.
Craig James- Why does he still have a job? 
So do you agree or disagree with my choices? Let me know. Would love to hear some of yours. 
Please check out John’s site to see the results and also to read some great posts about college football. John spent last fall traveling around to a different major college football game each weekend and created his website so people could follow along. His website grew so popular that he has continued it. It’s a great source for all sports, most especially college football and basketball. He is currently writing a book about his year on the road.
(photos from ESPN)

http://onegreatseason.com/home/2010/10/20/the-best-worst-of-espn.html

CURT and TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE


To Cooperstown or bust. In our United Cardinal Bloggers we have been doing a daily roundtable answering a question posed by each of the members. Yesterday we were presented with a list of former Cardinals. Our task was to decide which player should be inducted into the Hall Of Fame first. The list included, along with others, Curt Flood and Ted Simmons. (to see the complete list as well as today’s UCB post which includes the player I eventually chose, as well as the players chosen by all those involved, please go to http://retrosimba.com ).
This was a hard question for me because I happened to think they are all deserving for various reasons. After researching each player I went back and forth between Curt Flood and Ted Simmons. My head told me Ted Simmons. My heart told me Curt Flood. I thought I’d give the case for both of them here and let you, our readers, decide which one of these you would choose.  
The fact that Curt Flood is not in the Hall of Fame is an inexplicable omission. Curt belongs for two reasons: what he did on the field but even more so by what he accomplished off. His courage has impacted every player that plays the game. 
Curt’s accomplishments on the field can probably be argued as being HOF worthy. But they ARE worthy in my opinion. He was a superbly talented ballplayer. Sports Illustrated referred to him as the best defensive CF in major league baseball. This was at the same time Willie Mays was still showing his defensive prowess in the National League. Flood had a 15 year career in center field. He finished in the top ten in batting every year from 1963-68. His lifetime batting average was .293. His career OBP was .347, SLG was .390 and his OPS was .732. His career high BA was .335. He had 1,861 career hits. He was a seven time consecutive Gold Glove winner and a three time All Star. 
He helped the Cardinals win two World Series. He was one of the top defensive center fielders in Cardinal history. Only Willie Mays and Richie Asburn played more games in CF in NL history that Flood.
Off the field, Curt Flood social significance is unchallenged. Flood challenged the notorious reserve clause which tied players to the clubs that owned their contracts. In 1969 when the Cardinals attempted to trade Flood to the Phillies, he refused to move. It wasn’t about the money. He simply wanted to remain a Cardinal or have a say in where he was traded. Taking this to court, he went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Flood, with the backing of the Major League Baseball Players Association attempted to break a system that was the equivalent of 20th century indentured servitude. The Supreme Court ruled against Flood, but Flood’s actions set in motion a series of events that led to the elimination of the reserve clause and the beginning of the system of free agency, which most Major League baseball players today take for granted.   
                          
That was Curt Flood’s greatest accomplishment. He elevated the game for generations of players by his courage and willingness to stick by his belief: that he was not property, but a human being with rights. He sacrificed and shortened a terrific career to do so. Curt Flood died of cancer in 1997. For his contribution to our beloved sport, Curt Flood deserves to be inducted in the HOF.
Ted Simmons, one of the Cardinals greatest catchers, should, without a doubt, be a member of the HOF. Voters have traditionally been stingy with their support for catchers. There are only fourteen in the Hall. Ted also had the misfortune of playing in the era of a HOF catcher you might have heard of…Johnny Bench. 
Ted should make it on hotness alone.
His offensive numbers alone make him more than worthy. Simmons played in the majors as a switch hitting catcher for 21 years. Ted stood out as one of the most feared hitters in the NL. He hit for an extremely high average for a catcher. 
His lifetime batting average was .285, hitting in the top ten six times. He’s tied with HOFerYogi Berra and better than HOfers Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk. He hit higher than .300 seven times. His career OBP is .348, his SLG is .437, and he has a .785 OPS. 
Simmons has 2,472 lifetime hits, more than any catcher in the HOF. Simmons also had great power, hitting 483 doubles which ranks second among all HOF catchers. 
Simmons had 1,389 RBI in his career. That total is higher than every catcher in the HOF except for Yogi Berra. He drove in at least 90 runs eight times in his career, ranking in the NL top 10 in RBI six times.
Simmons hit 248 home runs in his career. Only four of the fourteen HOF catchers have hit more.
He received MVP votes seven times, including three top 10 finishes. He was an 8-time All Star. He won the NL Silver Slugger Award. He had six 20-Home Run Seasons and three 100 RBI Seasons. 
Ted Simmons had an extremely long career at catcher, playing in 1,771 games at that position.  The Cards did not provide him with a great pitching staff.  Simmons still had a career fielding percentage of .987.  He did work with one great Cardinal pitcher and Hall of Fame starter, but only had the chance to catch Bob Gibson during the last five years of Gibby’s career. 
He was considered adequate defensively, but won no Gold Gloves. During most of Simmons’ career as a catcher, Johnny Bench won the Gold Glove for the NL catcher every year.  
Simmons’ numbers are definitely worthy, as he ranks in the top 10 among all-time catchers already in the Hall of Fame in a number of categories. He ranks 5th in runs, 1st in hits, 1st in doubles, 4th in HR’s, 2nd in RBI, 6th in BA, 4th in games caught, and 6th in fielding average. 
He did finally get off those terrible 70’s Cards teams and to the1982 World Series in his days with the Milwaukee Brewers. Ironically they lost to the Cardinals. 
Nicknamed “Simba”, his absence represents one of the Hall of Fame’s most startling omissions. 
(photos courtesy in order-HOF, redbirdrants.com, HOF, cinenema.com)

Should He Stay or Should He Go Now-Apologies to The Clash

That’s the first question we’ll get answered in the off season. Will Tony stay or will he go? I just got off the phone with one of my all time best friends,Yancey. Yancey loves sports, strong drinks, playin golf, his dad, real food-none of that ‘foo-foo sh^t’, fantasy football, his friends, and the Cardinals. Yancey hates one person. Tony La Russa. He refuses to say his name. He calls him La Doucha. He swears TLR fills out the lineup card just to spite him. He says he’d like to gently remind TLR his name is not La Doubleday. You would love Yancey as much as I do. Along with Yance, most of my family are not enamored of La Russa either. They are of the “he may know what he’s doing, but he drives me insane” type of TLR fan. 


What is it about Tony La Russa that engenders so much “unlikability”? Shall I count the ways? Could it be his prickly, moody, allergic to smiling, having fun is verboten, lint-like personality. His mercurial, rapier response, Vesuvius-like treatment of the press. His insistence that hitting the pitcher eighth really does increase the odds of having another runner on base for Albert. Instead of…oh, let’s see…the pitcher coming up with runners in scoring position and two out. Or how about his love of filling out 162 line up cards 162 different ways. There’s always his disdain and avoidance of having any rookies on his team. If we do sneak a rookie up, his refusal to coach and bring them along in a way that’s beneficial to them and the team is maddening. His bizarrely enamored way of dredging up re-retreads. His my way or the hi-way running off of several beloved Cardinals. Or the aspect of his managerial manual that says platooning a position just makes all the players involved ‘better’. There’s also his motto that ‘intense pressure produces diamonds’. Course it also produces teeny tiny grains of sand, but I digress. There’s always his over managing in certain situations, which inevitably leads to some weird double switches. The fact that he just seems to know one way to manage players, when a modern manager has to know how to manage all types and ages of ballplayers and find ways to get the most production from them. And finally there’s the curious case of his teams folding at the end of the season or just not doing well consistently in post season play. Okay…negatives taken care of.

“When I first became a manager I asked Chuck (Tanner) for advice. He told me, ‘Always rent.'” – Tony La Russa  Kind of ironic, since Tony has only been with three teams. The Whitesox, where he coached and managed for eight years, and where he won his division once, but lost in the ALCS. He then was with the A’s for ten yrs where he won the division four times, lost in the ALCS once, won the pennant three times and won the 1989 World Series. He was the AL Manager of the Year in ’83, ’88, ’92. He’s been with the Cardinals fifteen years where he has a .543 win percentage. We’ve won our division eight times, lost in the NLDS twice, lost the NLCS four times, won the NL Pennant twice and of course won the 2006 World Series. He was NL Manager of the Year in 2002. 

In his 32 years of managing he has a winning percentage of .535. He ranks 2nd only to Connie Mack in total games managed and shares winning 2,500 victories with only two legendary managers: Connie Mack and John McGraw. He’s one of only five major league managers to obtain a law degree. One of the other five was Branch Rickey. He kinda knows what he’s doing. Okay…there’s your positives.

He speaks fluent Spanish. He has four daughters. He is loyal to a fault. His favorite Bruce Hornsby song is ‘Hooray For Tom.’ He’s a vegetarian and loves dogs and cats. He is a human.

He may be quirky. He may drive us insane. But he’s ours. So should he stay or should he go, now? I hope he stays. One reason-Albert likes him. And as another Bruce Hornsby song says…”That’s just the way it is. Somethings will never change”…..At least for one more season. (photos courtesy of Post Dispatch)



Welcome Cadence and Courtney!

We have already enjoyed Cadence’s blogs for a few weeks here, but never quite got around to the formal introductions…

So today we are getting our act together (or at least pretending to!)
We are beyond excited that Cadence and Courtney have joined our party here at CDD!  You may know them from twitter as @stl_cardsfan29 and @yadifan1327.  They are two amazing ladies, sisters, who live in the St. Louis area and are passionate about Cardinals baseball. Cadence and Courtney will add a special voice to the Diamond Diaries since they are able to attend Cardinal games and events (and stalk the players) more regularly than Angela, Jacqueline and I, the  (jealous) long-distance fans!

They have written some absolutely wonderful background stories, giving us a great look inside their love for Cardinals baseball.  The season is winding down and we might all be running a little low on the Cardinal spirit right now, but reading about Cadence and Courtney will remind you how wonderful it is to be a Cardinal fan through and through!
Great job, Gals!!
Check out Courtney’s story : “A Simple Story: The Cardinals, My Lifestyle
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!  See you on Monday for our 2nd round of “Girl Talk!”
GO CARDS!!

Postseason? Egh…I’m not feelin’ it.

No champagne party this year.  :(
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch
It’s likely many of you might feel differently than I do, but I am hardly looking forward to the postseason. I know, as a fan I should be excited for baseball to continue until the end of October, but I am depressed and I just don’t have that desire to follow games. I have felt this way for about a week or so now. I made up my mind before the Cardinals were eliminated. Of course I will still watch the postseason, and I will be rooting for Ryan Ludwick and the San Diego Padres if they make it in (and I think I have decided to cheer for the Tampa Bay Rays on the AL side as well). But for some reason I am just not feeling it. I have felt for several weeks that I am definitely over the 2010 season, so maybe that has something to do with it. I am ready for 2010 to be over so we can move on from this mess. So many depressing things have happened with our Cardinals this season that it has made it almost impossible for me to be excited about watching some other team play in the postseason. How can I really be excited to see someone else win when I know my team’s season was a disaster?


Ah, the happier times.  Feb 19, Yadi & Waino after
their first throw in Spring Training 2010.  Yadi said
“That was fun!”  Where did that go?  What happened?
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch
I know that Cardinal Nation will forget all about 2010 as soon as 2011 Spring Training is underway (if not before then – most cards fans are probably going into the postseason just looking forward to Opening Day 2011, kinda like the Royals do every year), but I just can’t seem to get past feeling stuck…like this year almost didn’t even happen. I mean, the National League FINALLY won the All-Star Game – with the help of Cardinals Matt Holliday, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols & I’m gonna go ahead and say Chris Carpenter helped too – but we don’t get to even share in the benefits that have come from it. I have to see the Cincinnati Reds potentially get home-field advantage in the World Series…gross. We had star-power, we had a promising team, we had 3 solid starting pitchers, the 3-4 duo in the lineup, the personalities…and what are we left with? Nothing.

I hate feeling this way. I hate having to be negative. But this year has really done it to me. The worst part about it is that I have finally gotten to the point where I think it is time for the Cardinals and TLR to part ways. I have never wanted someone to leave (ok, maybe Chris Duncan), but I just don’t think it is working anymore and it is time to try something else. As Aaron Hooks mentioned in his blog, it has been one disappointment after another with this team, and I think that TLR is a big part of that. Where is the enthusiasm? Where is the calling-out of guys who aren’t doing their jobs? Why is he taking it out on the media – Why is he being so short with them? I don’t hate Tony (I met the guy in December 2007, and he was pretty cordial) and I don’t want things to end on a bad note, but I just kinda feel like it’s time to move on. I definitely do not blame everything on him; I just have an “egh” feeling about him returning. But, I don’t make those decisions, and no one is going to take my opinion for worth, so I will just leave it at that.



Remember when the biggest worry was how big the
McGwire media circus would be? (ST, 2010)
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch
Something else that has bothered me a little bit is that people (media, fans, etc) are upset with how little reaction the players are giving us to their poor season. Ok. They deserve it…they have played poorly and they did not live up to their potential and expectations. Fine. But, does it really surprise anyone that they don’t want to fess up to being terrible? These are grown men, they get paid tons of money to play this game and yet they can’t get it together. They play sub-.500 baseball against crap teams and play to the level of the competition for teams above .500. So when reporters are constantly asking “What’s the deal?” and their only answer is that they are “disappointed”, does it surprise you? Not me. Sure, I want more from them…I want them to give me an answer and I want to know why this team has been so bad. I want them to tell me if there are issues in the clubhouse. I want them to say they are sick of themselves. I want a reason. But, we honestly aren’t going to get it. Would you want to admit how much you suck if you played professional baseball? While most of them don’t have outwardly stuck-up egos, they are grown men, pro baseball players, and they do have egos. So, to be astonished that there isn’t an answer or a reaction more than “we are disappointed” would be naïve. I am not surprised at all.

So, what’s the answer to this season? Maybe it is simply, “it wasn’t meant to be.” That is the easy way to look at it. And with the list of things we can pinpoint that were wrong or terrible, it seems pithy, but that is the only thing I can come up with. If they won’t tell us, we shouldn’t have to worry about guessing. I think I am over the fact that 2010 was a tragedy and all I need to do is look forward to 2011.

I want to know how you feel about the 2010 postseason?  Who are you rooting for?  Share your thoughts with me, cause I know I might be the minority in my thinking here.  
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