Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Yadier Molina

St Louis Cardinals, Spring Training 2014

A quick post to share player photos from our recent trip to sunny Jupiter, Florida – the Spring Training home of our beloved St. Louis Cardinals.  Photos (from the February 28th game against the Marlins and the March 2nd game against the Mets.)

Coming soon:  Photo diary with tips on how to be a baseball tourist in and around Jupiter Florida, Roger Dean stadium and the practice back fields.  (LINK HERE)

Click on any photo to enlarge and/or to shift through larger photos one at a time.  Enjoy!

Baseball is back!!  :)

NLCS Game 6 Photo Diary

The energy in the air, the roar of the postseason crowd, the Sea of Red at Busch Stadium – add in an offensive surge, a rookie pitcher rising to the occasion and surpassing expectations and a shutout of the LA Dodgers, and you have a Game 6 WINNER!

Here is our Game 6 experience, told in photos…

Thanks to Carey and Patricia for the invite!

Thanks to Carey and Patricia for the invite!

and some brought signs...

and some brought signs…

Sea of Red with their rally towels, ready to get the party started.

Sea of Red with their rally towels, ready to get the party started.

First pitch.  Wacha Wacha Wacha!

First pitch. Wacha Wacha Wacha!

by the 5th inning, all the scoring became ho-hum for this little fan in front of us.  ;)

by the 5th inning, all the scoring became ho-hum for this little fan in front of us. ;)

Exit Kershaw

Magic Johnson's face says it all.... exit Dodgers.

Magic Johnson’s face says it all…. exit Dodgers.

WINNER!!!

WINNER!!!

Group HUG!

Group HUG!

Matheny shows it off

Matheny shows it off

The Hollidays, postgame

The Hollidays, postgame

a HUGE hopping hug for Yadi

a HUGE hopping hug for Yadi

MVP Wacha

MVP Wacha

Oh, hey….. THE CARDINALS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!

Go Cards!!  ;)

Spring Training Warm-Ups


lindsey twitter photo
Baseball fever is making a comeback now that the boys are kicking it in Florida for Spring Training, and this week my dear friend (and Cardinals fan), Lindsey, asked (again) when Diamond Diaries would be back in action.  Without much arm-twisting at all, she agreed to write a guest post for us as sort of our own 2013 season kick-off.  And as you will soon see, smart,sassy and lovable Lindsey, an early victim of baseball fever this year, is ready to chat it up, Cardinals style.  P.S. If you aren’t already, you can follow Lindsey on twitter: @LoveAlwaysGives

 So, Welcome Back!!  And welcome, Lindsey!  =)    ~Erika

>Counting Baseball BlessingsWe’ve started out another Spring Training with the stomach-knotting stressor named, The Unsigned Contract Extension. This time, for Adam Wainwright. Waino is one of those players I could never lose faith in. I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous for the guy when we all found out about his Tommy John surgery. I still remember that moment when my heart fell into my stomach wondering, Could this be it for Waino? But then I snapped back to reality and realized who I was talking about. Waino is bueno, after all. I can see where the problem lies, he’s a pitcher just coming off of elbow surgery with a year left in his contract. Could that be more nerve wracking? He needs to be set to impress. Although a contract has yet to be signed, I’m ready to see some Wainwright action out on the mound this year. Let’s not forget, Mo…It’s ain’t right til it’s Wainwright!

lance-lynn-regular- (2)

photo from robrains.com

And hey, has anyone seen Lance Lynn around h—OH MY! Talk about a transformation! Catching my first full spring training game yesterday, I momentarily thought Garcia was pitching until I saw those four red letters: L-Y-N-N. My jaw immediately dropped. I think we all knew of the 40 pound weight loss Lance underwent throughout his offseason dieting and work out program when an interview came out stating his rather, uhm, confident outlook on where he stood in being a part of the starting rotation for the 2013 season. Reading and hearing about that type of weight loss is a lot different than seeing it out on the mound. Although he’s lacking the backside of Jaime Garcia, I do believe I’ll be seeing more Lance Lynn related #chickcomments popping up on my twitter feed this year. Here’s to hoping this season can start just as strongly as the last. Put those new muscles to work, Lynn!

Oh hey, David! I see you’ve been taking advantage of that Florida sunshine…and that strong man workout paid off for ya…

Ahem. Getting back to what I was saying…

photo from stltoday.com

photo from stltoday.com

I can’t even imagine the conversation between Yadier and Bengie Molina when they found out the good news that Bengie would be appointed Assistant Hitting Coach for the Cardinals this year. No, really, I can’t. I don’t speak Spanish. Nevertheless, I know I was pretty excited to hear we would have the Molina Brothers team effort this year, even if only one of them will make it onto the field. We don’t need no stinking Mark McGwire! Mabry and Molina have got it covered. As long as Bengie isn’t a running coach, I’ve got the faith! In all seriousness, I think all of Cardinal Nation knows the bond between the Molina family is something incredible and with the addition of his brother, I have no doubt that Yadi will be in even more high spirits to go out on the field every day and make his familia proud.

Speaking of families, it’s been quite the offseason for our hairiest member, Mr. Jason Motte. Unlike his teammates, this doesn’t have to do with his physique, work out regimen or contract status. Jason became a father. That’s right, our heat-throwing, ungroomed bear of a closer now changes diapers in his off time. And he couldn’t be happier about it! I predict little Miss Margret Morgan Motte (say that three times fast) is going to be a daddy’s girl in years to come, because he just can’t seem to get enough of his little girl.

Photo by Michael Donahue

Photo by Michael Donahue

Not only is fatherhood the only step forward in Jason’s life, but his charity work is in full swing as well. Throughout last season Jason and his wife, Caitlin, began collecting sports memorabilia to hold an auction called Strike Out Cancer, benefitting the Wings Cancer Foundation. The $37,000 they raised at their first benefit will go to expanding the organization into lower income communities. That is quite a big impact to make with their first endeavor, and there is surely more to come from these two.

Now, in true Erika fashion, it would be wrong not to mention that former Cardinal shortstop, Brendan Ryan knocked one out of the park in his first at-bat for the Seattle Mariners this spring training. You’ve still got it, Boog! Keep ‘em comin!

There is just something remarkable about seeing baseball on my tv again. Although there is still snow in my back yard, and the sunshine has yet to be found, I just can’t help but have something to look forward to on every game day. And it’s baseball. I can only believe that the transformations the guys have gone through this offseason will show onto the field in the 2013 season. We’ve got new birds and new bats, so we are set to make this one a season to remember!

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?

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

Thoughts That I Need To Let Go Of

I have a few thoughts in mind right now… one of them might turn into something, but it’s been a busy week, school is out, and this teacher has turned her brain OFF, so we’ll see…

No Colby, Albert's not laughing with you... he's laughing at your hair. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

-> Colby Rasmus needs a haircut. No excuses. No delays. Go straight to Hair Jail, Colby dear.

-> Brendan Ryan is currently batting .275 for the Mariners with 4 errors in 235 chances, while Ryan Theriot is batting .298 with 10 errors in 202 chances. You know, I know, everyone knows that we were in love with Brendo over here……… but (Erika don’t read the rest of this sentence) Brendan couldn’t do what he’s doing in Seattle in St. Louis. Okay, he could, he’s capable, but he wore out his welcome with his teammates and his manager. He could have stuck around this year, but I’m not sure it would have made a difference. I don’t particularly care for Ryan Theriot. I have made peace with this though, especially with his 15 game hitting streak and his not really being a dud in the field as of late. (I was born in the Show Me State after all… and I’m from the ‘what have you done for me lately?’ generation)

-> Yadi’s defense has been bothering me all year. He’s not making throws as crisply as he used to make them, and he hasn’t blocked some pitches that I feel like he should be blocking. It’s a concern. However, he’s batting .320 and has 24 RBI. I find it much harder to be concerned when I am be distracted by that fact. Truth.

-> I want to like Tyler Greene. I really do. I just can’t make myself do it. Even when he makes good plays or gets a key hit – my brain flashes to his dropped popups and things of that nature, and I just get irritated. Also, I really don’t like it when Allen Craig starts at second base and then gets subbed for in the later innings, especially by Greene. What are you subbing for – defense? He hasn’t made an error today. Offense? He has one of the best hitting lines on the team. Defense? He has zero errors. As friend of the site Bob Netherton pointed out on twitter yesterday – Craig is no longer a AAAA player. Subbing him out of the game is completely unnecessary.

-> Also, I like Craig at second. I really like him there, and I like him in the lineup on a consistent basis. Or Dirty Danny D at second – him too. With Holliday going on the DL, do you know who I want as the 4th outfielder behind Rasmus, Berkman, and Jay? Skip. Schumaker.

-> I’m concerned about the pitching staff at the moment. In the last six games, no pitcher has made it past six innings, and Lohse is the only one that did that. Westbrook’s last two starts were 5 2/3 and 5. Carpenter’s last one was 5. McClellan? 4. Jaime? 3 1/3. This is not a recipe for success. The reason the team was surviving the low-scoring games was the starting pitching going 7 or 8 innings every night. To top it off, Lance Lynn is starting tonight on three days rest. That makes me nervous. I will be seriously pulling for the kid, but I will also be very nervous.

-> Finally, I want to know how this stayed hidden from Erika and myself until yesterday. HOW LONG had this been out before we were made aware of it? (To see the full issue click here or the behind the scenes video here!)

June 2011 cover of Alive magazine... WOW. Holliday. Wow.

Cards are still playing the Giants? I’m ready for this series to be done!

Agree? Disagree? Think I’m a little off my rocker lately? Say so in the comments!

UCB Progressive Game Blog – 7th Inning

2011 marks the fourth annual progressive game blog for the United Cardinal Bloggers. We participated in the event last year, and apparently we did alright, since not only did Daniel allow us to come back for this year’s event, he even was nice enough to let us draw the seventh inning stretch again!

Welcome to those of you that are coming over from El Maquino, who posted the sixth inning. If you would like to see the rundown of the entire lineup for today’s progressive game blog, head over to the official UCB site. There are a lot of unique voices this year, and you will see a lot of different styles and opinions being tossed out. That would be one of the best things about the UCB in my opinion. Seriously, head over there and check them all out. Tell them I sent you! :)

Now, on to the seventh! Being a resident of the frozen tundra known as Wisconsin, and knowing just how bad the Brewers had been over the last seven games (Yes, 0-7), I was secretly hoping for another blowout, but in true 2010 style, the Cardinals have laid a nice game down for a struggling pitcher. Darn.

Kyle Lohse came into the seventh with 83 pitches, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks and 1 strikeout. Erika note: Great to see him going deeper into games. I agree! Thankfully Matthew Leach echoed my other thoughts with his tweet of, “Seems to me that Lohse is getting away with a lot today. Not getting his pitches down nearly as much as I suspect he’d like.”

Yovani Gallardo came into this game on a horrible stretch. He has not won in his last five starts, and came into the game with an ERA over 6. He honestly just sounded and looked down on himself during the pre-game interviews.

Jonathan Lucroy was up first for the Brew crew in the top of the seventh inning and struck out on a sinker up in the zone from Lohse.

Carlos Gomez, who made a fantastic catch in the bottom of the first inning, lined a shot just to the right of Tyler Greene, who snared it for out number two. Erika note: Would Theriot have caught that? I think that Ryan Theriot would have probably been able to make that play, but dang if I didn’t smile that Greene was there instead. The Brewer announcers really like Greene’s arm, describing many of his throws throughout the day as “frozen ropes.”

Gallardo then came up, and didn’t waste any time striking out. The interesting thing about constantly watching the away team’s TV broadcast is that you always get their little spin on it. I’ll be honest – the Brewers’ TV color analysts are actually fairly knowledgeable about the opposing teams. They caught Tony on camera, and made a few references about his tendencies to analyze everything, and ended the inning with, “Tony LaRussa, wondering how to solve this young Brewer pitcher.” A puzzle indeed…

Gallardo comes into the bottom of the seventh having already pitched 92 pitches, so despite the fact that he has a no-hitter, I don’t expect him to actually finish this game. He does only have 3 walks, which is good (for Brewer fans at least), but the Cardinals have at least gotten deep into the count on him.

Matt Holliday came up first, and despite his still being over .400 on the season, grounded out weakly to Rickie Weeks at second.

Lance Berkman is up. You just feel that every time the Cardinals need a big hit this year, Berkman is going to be the guy to get it. However, it wasn’t to be this time, as he worked the count full and drew his second walk of the day, which puts Gallardo’s pitch count at 101 with just one out in the seventh.

Yadier Molina is up next. Erika note: Last night on FSMW we saw Yadi’s neck tattoos (right side) really close up.  They are musical notes?!!  No kidding. 

The shadows have reached that awkward point in the afternoon where the line between sun and shadow is between the pitcher and the batter. Advantage, Gallardo. ……………….Yeah, Yadi hit into a double play. I think the biggest dagger in that one was hearing the Brewers announcers say, “And Molina hits into the double play to end the inning, barely running it out.”

*growls something about Yadi not running anything out. Ever.*

Bob Netherton might have said it best about that frustrating 1-4-3 double play when he tweeted, “In almost half a century of watching baseball, that is the first time I’ve seen a hit and run turned into a double play with a ground ball.”

So that ends the seventh inning. Gallardo still has his no-hitter intact, although he is also now at 104 pitches. Head on over to Cards ‘N Stuff for the 8th inning recap. Here’s hoping Kevin can break up the no-no for us!

An Interesting Game

There are many beautiful things about the game of baseball. The smell of the grass. The pop of the glove. The crack of the bat. Many people have written many words about its beauty. Announcers talk about all the things that make the game great. They have to use a variety of words and probably constantly find themselves looking for new ways to describe a 6-4-3 or a routine fly ball. I think of Bob Uecker’s character Harry Doyle in Major League 2 when it comes to summing up baseball on some days…

"It's a funny game, eh Monty?"

A lot of words are flying around about last night’s game with the Marlins. I could pick out a few right now – awkward, rollercoaster-esque (okay, I made that one up), ugly, confusing – but there was one word last night that is just stuck in my mind.

Interesting. It was an interesting game.

I won’t rehash all of the issues with the Cardinals defense this year. Emily did that quite nicely yesterday. 28 errors in 31 games. I’ve seen better lines on slow pitch softball church league teams… with me in the lineup (all bat, no arm). It’s just… bad.

Yadi’s throws were scaring me last night. All the errors are terrible. No error is a good error (unless it is made by the opposition… or the Cubs), but seeing Yadi throw the ball away twice in a game just hit a nerve with me. I was good with Berkman being a less than average defender (and he hasn’t embarrassed himself totally out there). I’ve been able to make peace with second base being sub-par (although I think Dirty Danny D, with consistent playing time, could change that). I’ve forced myself to deal with Theriot at short (but that doesn’t mean I like it).

But Yadi throwing balls into the outfield? I can’t handle it. It makes me sick. I take his defense for granted, and dangit, I can’t say that about many players. I need it for someone, and I thought it was him.

More interesting, although rather unsurprising, was Carpenter’s start. I’m not going to say that Carpenter is pitching poorly this year, because he’s obviously not. Last night he threw roughly 110 pitches and 67 strikes over six innings. A roughly 60% strike rate? Not great. Fell behind in the count, walked some guys. He also fussed at a couple of Marlins after Hanley Ramirez made an interesting slide after he was already out at home, the ump called a close play at first against Carp, and when Ramirez reacted after grounding out and Carp got on him about that. Geeze. I honestly just don’t like seeing his hot-headedness come out like that. Nothing good comes of it. Some players become more effective when angry – the anger propels them to perform at their peak. When Carp gets hot-headed he doesn’t really get good results.

People compare Carp’s intensity to Bob Gibson. I hate that comparison, and that’s not a knock to Carpenter so much as it is a rather severe nod to the excellence of Gibson. Dude tried to pitch on a broken leg. He was accused of being surly, crass, and borderline rude. The words I would use to describe Carp (besides intense, obviously)? Fierce is fair, but after that… crabby. No really. When he does things like that, it seems like a hissy fit from an old man yelling at you to get off his lawn to me. I have no idea where that image of Carp came from, but it’s all I see.

This game exhausted me. Thankfully it never felt out of reach. This is a team that has the ability to come back, and they honestly almost did at the end, despite it all. It was just… interesting. I caught this tweet last night, and all I could do was agree…

Early start today – 12:45PM Central. Westbrook is on the hill to hopefully continue to forget his first few starts of the year and continue with the momentum he’s built in his last two outings. Go Cards! :)

Note: Coming up this Saturday is the UCB Progressive Game Blog. It looks like we have drawn the seventh inning, which could mean either we spend our time talking about how great the starting pitching is, how Tony is using the bullpen, hoping the team holds on or cheering for a comeback. Either way, it should definitely be exciting! Head on over to the UCB website to see the entire roster of blogs for the event!

The best of times.

Two days without baseball, and so much rain. Since the boys haven’t played in a while, and there (probably) isn’t much new to say about the Ryan Franklin/new closer situation (at least for a minute), this seems a good a time as any to present my inaugural solo post here at Diamond Diaries. I thought briefly about babbling on and on about myself, but then I realized–there is no better way for me to introduce myself to a bunch of Cardinals fans than to recount my top three best moments as a Cardinals fan.

So. Without further ado.

3. August 7, 2005: David Eckstein’s walk-off grand slam

This game… it’s been nearly six years, and I still have visceral memories of this game. I was watching by myself at my parents’ house in St. Louis, and for most of the first eight innings, it was beyond frustrating. It wasn’t unlike the first week of this 2011 season–people struggling to get on base, people struggling to hit when other people finally got on base. But David Eckstein, god bless his scrappiness and enormous heart, was doing everything that he could. As the lead-off man, he certainly did everything he was supposed to, which was get on base for the big bats behind him to knock him in. So he walked. Twice. He singled. He doubled. He stole a base. All of these efforts left him stranded out there on various bases, until the bottom of the ninth rolled around, and Davey found himself in a position to do a little more damage.

At the time of this game, I was only in the midst of my second full season as a Cardinals fan. I did not yet fully appreciate the Cardinals’ history of scrappy middle infielders, but on that day, I fell in love with them. There’s something so heartwarming and gratifying about seeing someone try so hard and then succeed–with Albert, it never looks like trying. So when Davey belted that walk-off grand slam to give us the 5-4 victory over Atlanta on that random August day in my parents’ living room… I’m not going to lie. I might have cried a little. And then I ran outside and danced a little. And then I called every baseball fan I knew at the time to squeal about it.

In retrospect, maybe that game didn’t mean all that much to the Cardinals season–after all, they won 100 games in 2005 and ran away with the division. But for me, watching Eckstein both play small ball and then swing the big bat was undoubtedly one of my best and most memorable moments as a fan.

2. October 18, 2005: Albert Pujols breaks Brad Lidge

I have heard a lot of argument about this moment and whether or not it is significant (mostly from the other side, who is all YOU DIDN’T EVEN END UP WINNING THE SERIES). I think it is. A lead-changing (and ultimately game-changing) home run is always at least mildly significant, and this one was just so… HUGE. Not in implication, but in… hugeness. (Huge enough that I can’t even find the right words!) I think we can all agree that Brad Lidge has not been the same since this home run, which is awesome.

For me, though, this moment was something else entirely. I didn’t even see this game. While this game was being played, a cruel fate had me somewhere in the sky between Shanghai and Tokyo, and I was a mess. So my memory of one of Albert’s greatest home runs goes more like this:

I am running through Narita airport. I am frantic. I need the Internet! A man spots my Cardinals shirt as we pass by each other on moving walkways moving in opposite directions. He says something like, “Hell of a game. Can’t believe they lost that one.” My heart drops.

“We LOST?!” I yell, turning around as he glides by. The man clarifies: “Astros. Astros lost. Hell of a home run.”

My plummeting heart shoots back up. The Astros lost! That means we won! And I have no idea what “hell of a home run” means, but I’ll be damned if I’m not about to find out. Now I run happily through the terminal. I find some Internet. I pay an inordinate amount of yen to use the Internet. I sit and read, gulping up every happy word, every joyous description.

It is the best.

1. October 19, 2006: Oh, you KNOW

Hmm. So it appears that all of my favorite baseball moments happened when I was alone, and the top two happened when I was alone in Asia. I will address this in a minute.

Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS is the best St. Louis Cardinals game I’ve ever seen. I’ve only been watching for 7+ years, of course, but I think that’s a fair statement. For this game, I got up at the crack of dawn, scootered across the city of Taipei, and let myself into my friends’ apartment–their TV got the English broadcast, and mine did not. Watching American baseball with the Taiwanese broadcast is certainly an experience worth having (the announcers, honestly, yell HASTA LA VISTA, BABY! whenever someone hits a home run), but not for the playoffs. And certainly not for Game 7.

My friends were off to work, so it was just me on their couch with my Cardinals cow. Yes, that was my company for the biggest game of my young life as a baseball fan–a stuffed cow that I made at Build-A-Bear and dressed in a Cardinals uniform. (You might say I was lonely, sometimes.)

We all know about this game. How Endy Chavez robbed Scott Rolen (and us!) of hope, and Yadier snatched that hope right back and knocked it out of the park. Given the present closer situation, we’ve all had Wainwright’s stellar rookie stint as a closer in mind.  We all remember holding our breaths and staring as Carlos Beltran, the “Cardinals Killer”, went: strike looking, strike swinging, strike looking, with the bases loaded and all our hearts on the verge of cardiac arrest. This, along with the day I got married, might have been the best moment of my life.

I guess it’s kind of weird that all of these “best moments” are kind of lonely moments, but maybe it’s significant that I don’t think of them in that way. Baseball makes me feel connected to a community, no matter where I am or what stuffed animals are keeping me company. Joining Diamond Diaries and getting more involved in that community is a really exciting step for me, and I look forward to it greatly!

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