Tagged: Cardinals

Dead Arm Syndrome

Dead Arm Syndrome.  The bane of the pitcher.  Particularly, the rookie pitcher, who is not used to a 162 game schedule.  Inexplicably, the arm feels dead.  Fastballs are not so fast.  Curve balls do not curve.  Sliders do not slide.
It strikes in the heat of the summer.  In July and August, the dead arm reports begin surfacing.  Rest is the most effective cure.
Last July, Redbird Chatter developed Dead Arm Syndrome.  I could not type.  I could not write.  I could not crop pictures.  I could not blog.  My arm was dead.
I wondered why.  Did I blog too hard in the off-season?  Was I a rookie that was unprepared for the toll a long season could take?   Was I blogging inefficiently, using too many pitches, I mean, words?  No matter how badly I wanted to chat about the Cardinals acquiring Matt Holliday for my birthday or my trips to Springfield, Houston and St. Louis, I just could not get the ball over the plate.
So, I went on the DL.  I rested throughout the winter.  I did not so much as Tweet.  Suddenly, my arm has feeling again, and the tingle of new ideas.  Spring Training is getting underway, and I am ready to throw off the mound.  
Last summer, my goal was to see as much baseball as possible.  Between college, AA, AAA and MLB, I saw approximately 35 games, and traveled thousands of miles to do so.  It was a blast.  I am not sure what this summer’s agenda will be, but if the Cardinals come through, I will still be writing in October.

Springfield Rolls; St. Louis Rocks a Trade

While the
St. Louis Cardinals and the Memphis Redbirds have their struggles, the
Springfield Cardinals are rolling.  On
Friday, they clinched a playoff appearance with a 10-2 win over the Tulsa
Drillers. On Saturday, I traveled to
Tulsa to check out this hot Springfield team

 

 

“Well,
there’s something you don’t see every day” -Dr. Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters)

 

 

As I
approached the park, I saw something strange in the neighborhood:

 IMG_4338.JPG

 

 

 

 

I’m still
not sure what the Ghostbusters car was all about.  It drove around the field playing the
Ghostbusters theme song.  It stopped
behind homeplate and guys got out armed with proton packs.  I was really hoping for a Stay Puft
Marshmallow Man sighting.  But, there
were no ghosts to bust and no one got slimed. 

 IMG_4343.JPG

 

On a Roll…

 

The
Springfield Cardinals picked up where they left off the night before, although
the Tulsa Drillers were given hope when their starter Keith Weiser struck out
Cardinals lead-off hitter, Antonio DeJesus.

 IMG_4348.JPG

 

 

 

 

Shortstop,
Peter Kozma, came to the plate.  Kozma’s
hometown is a few miles north of
Tulsa, so the local boy always gets a
few cheers.  Kozma singled.

 

 IMG_4349.JPG

 

 

 

The
Drillers were worried about Kozma, a base-stealing threat.

 

 IMG_4352.JPG

 

 

As well they
should be.  Kozma swiped second.

 IMG_4353.JPG

 

Kozma’s
fellow infielder, second baseman Daniel Descalso, who is hitting .329 and
slugging .532, knocked a double to score Kozma. 
He did it so quickly that I did not get a picture until he was on second
base.

 IMG_4361.JPG

 

Steven
Hill, who is listed as a catcher but was playing left field, flew out to right.  Tony Cruz, who is listed as a catcher and was
playing catcher, reached on a error. 
Descalso scored from second as the Drillers first baseman chased down
the missed catch.

 IMG_4365.JPG

 

 

A fan
behind me made the comment that “an error is like a can opener”.  It is probably a common expression, but I had
never heard it.  In this case, it turned
out to be true.

 

 

Centerfielder,
James Rapoport, singled quickly (i.e. no pic). 
That brought to the plate, big first baseman, Matt Arburr.  How big you ask?  6′ 4″, 260 pounds.  Mike Hamilton was called up to
AAA Memphis, so Arburr is getting his
chance.  He did not miss this one:  2 RBI Double. 
In the seventh, he would also have a solo home run.

 IMG_4366.JPG

 

 

 

Third
baseman, Mike Folli, ended the inning with a fly-out to right.

 

 IMG_4371.JPG

 

But, the
damage was done.  Cardinals lead
4-0.  They had another four run inning in
the third, but Kozma’s first run would be all the Cardinals would need, as
starting pitcher, Ryan Kulik, pitched a beaut. 
Eight shut-out innings, five hits, one K, no walks.  Twelve groundouts.  Eleven flyouts.

 

 IMG_4401.JPG

 

 

 

Tyler
Norrick came in to pitch the ninth.  The
Missouri native was un-hittable, but not
necessarily in a good way.  He walked the
bases loaded
AND struck out the side.

 IMG_4412.JPG

 

Cardinals
win 9-0.


 

In most
minor league parks, you will find a between innings food race.  You might think if you have seen one, you
have seen them all.  I must give a tip of
the hat to the folks at
Drillers Park that flirt with heatstroke to
dress up as QuickTrip food items. 

 

Hot dog,
Taquito and Egg Roll are very creative in mixing up the race and coming up with
gimmicks to make it interesting.  In the
latest installment, Egg Roll came from behind with a snow shovel, knocked Hot
Dog down with a sharp blow to the back. 
As Taquito attended to his fallen food item friend, Egg Roll crossed the
finish line.

 

 IMG_4408.JPG

 

 

 

Everything is Coming up
De-Rosas

 

Yep, that
pun was a stretch.  As I drove home from
Tulsa, I tuned into MLB Homeplate on XM Radio.  When they said they had a breaking story on a
Cardinals trade, I held my breath. 
Trades make me very nervous. 
Perhaps, I get too attached to Cardinal players.  I usually hate to see them go. 

 

Then, all
the trade rumors had been about a rental deal for Matt Holliday.  In all the scenarios I heard, the price
seemed too high.  I did not make sense to
me to trade the second best power threat (Ludwick), plus a pitcher, plus a
prospect just to have Holliday for a few months.

 

So, with
breath held, I listened to the news: 
Mark Derosa for Chris Perez and a “player to be named later”.  I exhaled in relief.  I can live with that.  In fact, I am excited about it.

 

My mind
went into high gear, considering all the defensive alignment options.  That was followed by all the offensive
line-up options.  The possibilities are
endless. 

 

Mark
DeRosa is such a good fit.  I have
secretly always liked this player, even when he was a cub.  Not that I liked playing against him, but
next to catching, utility players are my favorite.  DeRosa can play anywhere, and by all accounts
he is a class act, a great guy to have in your clubhouse.

 

 

And,
doesn’t it feel like we stole him from the cubs?  That may be the thing that puts a rather evil
smile on the face of Cardinal Nation. 
The cubs traded him to the
AL, so DeRosa could not hurt them.  They signed our utility player, Aaron Miles, out
from under our nose.  Ironically, Miles has
not played nearly as well as a cub.  That
made payroll room for the cubs to sign Milton Bradley, who has been nothing but
a blight.  Now, DeRosa is back in the NL
Central, in the clubhouse of a division rival and posed to do damage to his
former team.  Score a coup for the
Cardinals.

 

All that
said, I will miss the flame-throwing, Chris Perez.  And, he may come back to haunt us, as traded
players often do.  I wish Perez all the
best.  I hope he has a great career, and
stays in the American League.  Here is
Perez warming up in
San Francisco:

 

 IMG_3091.JPG

 

 

And,
there is a list of potential “players to be named later”.  I do not know who is on this list, and that
makes me nervous.  But, for today, I look
forward to seeing DeRosa wearing the ‘Birds on the Bat’.  He is the type of player that was born for
it.

A Hot, Hot Time in Kansas City

Goin’ to Kansas City. 
Kansas City, here I come.

They’ve got some crazy little
women there,

And you know I’m gonna go be one.

 

Off to See Some Inter-league Play

On my drive to Kansas
City, I listened to MLB Homeplate on XM Radio.  There were endless debates over inter-league play.  It’s bad.  It’s good.  Love it.  Hate it.  Love it, but let’s tweak it. Always use the DH.  Never use the DH.  Switch the use of the DH to the NL parks.  Make the inter-league records determine the home field advantage for the World Series. And, on and on and on.

I could not care less about all of that.  I am a fan of inter-league play for one reason and one
reason alone:  The Cardinals play in Kansas City.  Short of an inter-league game that would take them to Arlington, it is as close as the Cardinals ever get to me. Still, it’s a six-hour drive.

I lived in Kansas
City for a number of years and have friends and family
to visit, which makes the I-70 series weekend very special for me.  I got to meet my brand week week-old nephew.  I love hanging out with my fam.

The home of the Kansas City Royals, Kauffman Stadium or
“The K”, is a special place for me.  I saw my first major league game there.  I was probably nine or ten.  I did not really know baseball back then.  I do not remember who we played.  I do not remember who won.  I did know who George Brett was, and I knew when I walked into The K, that it was the biggest place I had ever been, and I liked being there.

I went with my sister her fiancé and some of his
family.  We sat near right field.  We played a game where each person drew an outfield position.  Each time the Royal playing your position caught a fly ball, everybody else paid you a dollar.  I had right-field and the other team must have been stacked with lefties because I made a killing.

It was poetic and special that I would be back at The K
with my sister on Friday.  She does not understand my attraction to this game, but she is one person in my life that does not look at me like I am crazy when I take off cross-country to go see a game.  And, I love that about her. 

 

Welcome to the New K

 

WelcometothenewK.JPG

























The outside will always look a bit like a place the Jetsons’
would have gone to watch a game.  It is a throwback to the early 70s when we were in love with astronauts, men walked on the moon and I drank Tang for breakfast.

 

TheK.JPG

The field area at The K has always been spectacularly
beautiful, with the signature outfield fountains.  It was a gem in it’s day.  However, as new parks are built, the old girl had been left in the dust.  Little luster remained on the hunk of forty year old concrete.

 

No longer.  Major
renovations were completed over the winter, and the old girl has a whole new look.  The fan experience in this park is excellent.

 

IMG_3851.JPG

 

 

The scoreboard seemed more fabulous that ever.

 IMG_3856.JPG

 

Before the renovations, there were no seats between the
foul poles.  Unless a home run ball took some sort of funny hop, it could not be caught here.  Now the outfield is full of seats and activity.

 

Although there were plenty o’ Cardinals fans in the seats,
I do believe I saw much more Royals blue than last year during the I-70 series.  Good for you, Kansas City!  However, the fans in blue (except for the ones in powder blue retro
Cardinals jerseys) would not have much to cheer about.

 

 

Game 1 Davies vs. Thompson

 

The Cardinals came out hitting the Royals well.  Single, single, two-run single. But, in the
third, they broke out the cannons.

In the first, the Royals pitched to Pujols and were
punished with a 2-RBI single.  This time they walked him.  Enter the slumping Ryan Ludwick.  Although the words “grand slam” were bouncing around in the back of my head, I quieted them and thought how nice it would be if Ludwick just got a nice simple base hit.  And, he did 393 ft. into the brand new outfield seats.

 

IMG_3864.JPG

The Cardinals weren’t finished handing out souvenirs to
that section.  Rick Ankiel and Khalil Greeene went back to back with solo shots.  All sluggers have had their issues at the plate lately.  Nothing like a little long ball to get them going.


I like the move of Khalil Greene to third base.  After seeing the athleticism that Brendan
Ryan and Tyler Greene can bring to the shortstop position, I think one of them should be playing that position.  On a team with the pitching philosophy of “pitch to contact and let your defense do the work”, they need to play their best defenders.

Also, because of the philosophy, that puts extraordinary
pressure on the middle infielders to be practically perfect in every way.  Perhaps, that is part of the pressure that was getting to Khalil Greene.  Perhaps, he can relax a bit at third.  It seemed to work in his rehab starts in Memphis.  And, it seems to be working now. 

 IMG_3876.JPG

I did not want to say this out loud too soon for fear of
jinxing it, but I think it is safe to say that Skip Schumaker has turned into a very fine second baseman.  With Schumaker’s athletic ability and intense work ethic, I really believed the transition would work.  I just did not know it would work so well.  He looks
like he was born to it.

 

Schumakeratn2ndKC.JPG

Davies was pulled in the third and Thompson pitched a
gem.  Cardinals win!

 

ThompsonKCPitch.JPG


Game 2 Bannister vs. Carpenter

With a rain delay of
about an hour and a half, it looked like it might be a long day at the ballpark.  However, Bannister and Carpenter were like to pilots grooving in the jet stream trying to make up time on a cross-country flight.  Length of game:  2:37.


Many might argue that Albert Pujols is the most intimidating
Cardinal.  If I were a National League pitcher, I might agree.  But, the Cardinal I find most intimidating is Chris Carpenter.  

CarpenterStandingKC.JPG

He is big.  He is tall.  His voice
is deep.  He has amazing stuff, and he is all business, all the time. You often see Pujols smile or share a laugh.  Not Carpenter.  I am sure he has a light-hearted side, silly, fun-loving side.  I have just never seen it, and that’s fine by me.  If he scares the bejesus out of me
just sitting in the bleachers, I can only imagine the fear he inspires in those
who must stand in the batter’s box.

 

CarpThrowsKC.JPG

This was really the best game of the series.  Although the Cardinals let the whole game, it
was close until the ninth.  The Royals threatened to get the bats going in the 8th.  Carpenter was pulled after a 2-out double.  The third out was four batters, one walk, one error, one run and two pitchers away. 

 

In the ninth, a string of base hits by Ludwick, Duncan,
and Molina, was topped off by a Khalil Greene home run. The four run inning turned the formerly 3-1 game into a rout. 

 

Game 3 Meche vs. Wainwright

 

I enjoyed the game with family on Friday.  Saturday was spent swapping baseball stories with friends.  Both were great, but Sunday was for me.  I walked up to the ticket booth and purchased
one of the last seats in outfield section 105.  I wanted sit in one of the new seats. I wanted to sit where the home run balls landed.

 

The 1:00 pm start on the first day of summer was as hot as
they come.  Despite application of sunscreen, I would leave with a souvenir sunburn.  But, the weather was no hotter than Albert Pujols’ bat.

 

I have run out of words to describe El Hombre.  Special. 
Amazing.  The best player in baseball.  The words fall short.  While he is capable of anything, he still
finds a way to exceed our expectations.

 

When Albert Pujols came to the plate in the 4th
with bases loaded, I tucked away my pencil and scorecard.  I was ready to catch the ball.  The grand slam ball.  I thought, “Albert, hit it to me.”

 

But, he missed.  The
grand slam ball landed about 15 feet to my left and 10 feet back.  I expected a home run, but I did not expect the 423 feet monster shot.  He’s such an over-achiever. 

 

The game had been close, but the grand slam put the
Cardinals out of reach.  In a continuation of that inning, the Cardinals sent 12 batters to the plate and
scored 8 runs.  I began to feel sorry for the Royals.  Especially, the catcher,
Olivo.  I was drenched in sweat just sitting there.  I could not imagine
working in the heat while wearing catcher’s gear.

 

In other news, Khalil Greene hit his third home run in
three days.  He was rewarded by a plunking.  Maybe, intentional.  Maybe not.  Either way, the Royals paid.  The pinch runner, Thurston, was the first to score on the grand slam.

 

 

Random Images from the I-70 Series


Colby Rasmus at the plate.  How much to we love our little Rookie of the Year Candidate?

ColbyRasmusKCPlate.JPG

 

 On Friday, the Royals catcher, Olivo, hit a long fly ball to deep left field.  I quickly tried to get a picture of Ankiel making a spectacular catch.  Instead, I got a blurred image of his attempt and the very sad shot below of him looking at where the ball landed inside the Cardinals bullpen:

IMG_3947.JPG

Did I mention the scoreboard is fabulous?  Especially, when it lists Ludwick’s grand slam:
IMG_3905.JPG
A night time view of the renovations in the outfield…
IMG_3952.JPG
Here are some shots of the Cardinals outfielders warming up:
Rick Ankiel:
AnkielWarmup.JPG
Colby Rasmus who seems to have staked a claim in centerfield:
RasmusWarmup.JPG
And, Ryan Ludwick.  Sometimes, I find surprises in pictures.  In this one, Ludwick is throwing the ball into the ball boy, and low and behold, I caught the ball!  In the frame that is.
LudwickBall.JPG
Here is some action with Colby Rasmus at the plate:
RasmusatPlateBall.JPG
Oquendo coaches Brendan Ryan at second:
Oquendo.JPG
Ryan makes it to third on an E-2:
IMG_4022.JPG
The “Greenes”, Tyler and Khalil, have a chat during a pitching change:
GreenesChat.JPG
Then, it’s back to work guarding the left side of the infield:
GreenesBacktoWork.JPG
Some call the following picture, the prettiest play in baseball:  bases loaded, 2 outs, full count, the runners going:
Prettiestplay.JPG
However, I am a little partial to the following picture.  It starts with  bases loaded, 1 out, full count and….
IMG_4217.JPG
…ends with Albert Pujols scoring on the grand slam:
PujolsGrandSlam1.JPG
On Sunday, I joked about heading to the ballpark with my broom in the trunk, ready for the sweep.  I was appalled that a couple of Cardinals fans actually brought brooms.  That might be a cool thing to do in your home park, but it was completely rude to do it in someone else’s park.  So, here he is. A representative of the so-called “smartest baseball fans”…acting like an idiot.  Come on, Cardinals fans!  Keep it classy.
Brooms.JPG

Here is Tony LaRussa before his 2500th managerial win:
IMG_4086.JPG
Nice to see Kyle Lohse with a bat in his hand to take a little BP.  Hopefully, he will be back in the rotation soon:
LohseBat.JPG
Under the category of things you do not see every day:  Yadier Molina playing first base in the late innings:
MolinaAtFirst.JPG
On Sunday, my seats were right behind the Cardinals bullpen.  Here are several images from the ‘pen:
Wainwright warming up:
WainwrightBullPen.JPG
And, Molina catching him:
MolinaBullPen.JPG
Warmup complete.  The battery heads to the dugout:
BatteryWainwrightMolinaDuncan.JPG
Here are most of the relievers walking out to the bullpen before the game.  Note that rookie Blake Hawksworth is wearing the rookie “hazing” pink backpack:
Relievers.JPG
I never understood why, but during each game, Ryan Franklin and Dennys Reyes would not go to the bullpen until the 3rd or 4th inning.  Anyone know why?  I thought maybe they were watching the Royals hitters on TV, one time through the lineup, but that is totally a guess.
FranklinReyesJPG
As Waino wears down in the heat, LaRue rushes to the bullpen to ready the relievers.
LaRuetothepen.JPG
Dennys Reyes warms up:
ReyesWarmsUp.JPG
And later, Jason Motte.  I love watching Motte throw.  He gets down to business and works fast.  
MotteWarmsup.JPG
…and you cannot believe how loud LaRue’s glove pops when he catches Motte’s heater.
LaRueWarmingUpRelivers.JPG
The rookie, Blake Hawksworth, pitched the ninth.  Here are two picks of him:
HawkWarms.JPG
HawkRunsin.JPG
Hawk got the ninth.  Franklin got the day off.  Here is a nice shot of the shrubbery that grows from his chinny-chin-chin:
Franklinchinhair.JPG
With Hawksworth leaving the bullpen via the mound, that made Chris Perez low man on the totem pole.  After the game, he got pink backpack duty:
PerezPinkBackpack.JPG

You Never Know Who You Might See at the Ballpark

On
Tuesday, I went to a Oklahoma City Redhawks games with some girlfriends.  It was a very “chilled out” game by my usually
standard of insanity.  I did not go early
for batting practice.  I did not even
make it to my seat before first pitch.  I
did not keep a score sheet.  Sometimes,
it nice to be normal.

 

I also
did not take the time to shoot some photos of the “Dodgers” theme throughout
the stadium.  I did eat a tasty Dodger
Dog.  A Dodger Dog is long and skinny,
much like the people you see in
L.A. 
I also had garlic fries that were just as good as the ones I had in
San Francisco.


However, I did listen to the Cardinals game on my iPhone and enjoyed the play-by-play of the Cardinals disassembling the Tigers’ ace, Verlander.  Nice to see the offense come around.

 

 

Under the
category of “Where are they now?”, I saw three people you might have wondered
about.  It is just amazing who you might
cross paths with on a weeknight in the southern
Midwest. 

 

So
Taguchi

 

I wrote a
blog this Spring about how So Taguchi might possibly be the ultimate good luck
charm, and I was concerned because he was a non-roster invitee to the
Chicago cubs camp.  I knew that he did not make the 25-man
roster, but I did not know what became of him. 

 

I scanned
a borrowed roster for the Iowa Cubs and was tickled to find So Taguchi’s
name.  Actually, I was down right
excited.  I mean, it is not like you see
a former Cardinal with two World Series rings (one from Philly last year)
playing in
Oklahoma City.

 

I spotted
him in the dugout in his usually bench playing role:

 

SoTaguchi.JPG

 

 

He later
came in to play right field and got one at bat:

 SoTaguchiBat.JPG

I missed
getting a picture of his at bat because he was hit by a pitch almost
immediately.

 

When he
came up to bat, I cheered loud.  I was
the only one in an otherwise quiet stadium, so it seemed really loud to
me.  Yes, I cheered for a cub.  Probably, the first and last time that will
ever happen. 

 

However,
I am nervous that he is a lucky charm, and he could still end up playing for
the cubs.  More about my So Taguchi
superstitions can be found here.

 

Jeff Samardzija

 

Jeff
Samardzija is probably better known for his college years where he was a fine
wide-receiver at Notre Dame.  Samardzija
set single-season school records in both receiving yards and touchdown
receptions.

 

He did
spend a little time up with cubs last year, but did not make the team out of
Spring Training.  He has been pitching
with the
AAA Iowa Cubs this year.  He has a
3-3 record with a 4.27 ERA.

 

Samardziji
got the start (and the loss) on Monday night. 
So, on Tuesday he was in the stands with a radar gun logging pitches for
the Tuesday pitchers.

 

IMG_3777.JPG

 

 

El
Duque

 

Orlando
Hernandez, the pitcher born in
Cuba in either 1965 or 1969, recently
signed a minor league contract with the Rangers.  I spotted El Duque in the dugout:


IMG_3770.JPG

Hitting the Minor (League) Notes

If you are a Cardinal Fan living in Oklahoma,
the past couple weeks have been good.  Not
just because the St. Louis Cardinals are climbing out of their offensive
funk.  Not just because
after sweeping us, the tornado that is the Rockies these days, continued raping
and pillaging the NL Central by sweeping the Brewers as well, keeping the
Cardinals within easy striking distance of the leader spot.  But, mostly because both the Memphis
Redbirds and the Springfield Cardinals made road trips to Oklahoma.  Nice of them to come to me.

 

Well, nearly to me.  Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa are at least two hours from my
house. There have been some late nights, followed by going to work early
the next day, so I could leave early to go back to the ballpark.  However, it is not like my favorite
minor league clubs play here everyday, so when they are here, I gotta go! 

 

I always say, “Sleep is what you do when there is nothing better
to do”.  However, there is a
little story that goes along with that:  At
some point, there is nothing better to do than sleep. Friday, I hit that
wall.  Slept 13 hours.  And, now I am ready to go again!

 

Memphis Redbirds

 

The Memphis Redbirds came to Oklahoma City for a four game series against the
Redhawks. This is the last time the Redbirds will be in my state this
year.  If I want to see them
again, I will have to go track them down in Memphis or maybe Round Rock or both. 

 

As I watched the games, I listened to the St. Louis Cardinals
games.  It was easy to get
the games confused in my head because the St. Louis Cardinals seemed to be
having the same problems with the Reds and the Rockies as the Redbirds were having with the
Redhawks.

 

In the first game, the Memphis Redbirds did show the offensive
fire power that they are so capable of, but has often eluded them this
year.  Joe Mather had a fantastic night with two
sacrifice flies, two doubles, one single, two runs and two RBIs.  Mather looks a 100% better than he did
in April.  In April, he
still looked thin and weak, like he had never completely recovered from the
Spring Training bout of flu that had derailed his strong start. 

 

JoeMather.JPG

Infielder, Jarrett
Hoffpauir
, had a Gold Glove night at second base, while going 2-3 with a
walk and an RBI.  Two
fielding plays earned a star on my scoresheet:  1) a leaping catch of a line drive and
2) the pick of a grounder far to his right then the throw fired to first in
time to catch the runner.

 

Hoffpauirat2.JPG

After the first game, the offense would slow to a trickle.  Game two had twelve hits, but only
four runs.  Game three would
have nine hits but no runs.  Game
four would feature only six hits and no runs.

 

In game two and three of the series, it was easy to look at the
score sheet and see that they game was really much closer than the score
indicated.  However, game
four was plain ugly with the Redhawks flamethrower, Naftali Feliz on the mound.

 

And, the lack of offense was complicated by the fact that the
Redbirds’ pitching was not particularly sharp.  All the while, pretty much the same
thing was going on up in St. Louis.

 

There were two call-ups:  Jess
Todd
 and Tyler Greene.

 

With Tyler Greene on third, Joe Mather hits a fly ball…

MatherKnocksinGreene.JPG

…which scores Greene

GreeneScores.JPG


With Tyler Greene gone, Hoffpauir moved to shortstop and
to the delight of the hometown crowd, Oklahoman, Casey Rowlett, got a start at
second base.

 

Jon Jay is an outfielder to
keep an eye on. He plays hard as evidenced by the large tear in his pants:

JonJayTear.JPG

 

I will probably watching him a little more closely for one simple
fact:  I have his bat.  It’s cracked. 
It’s signed.  It’s mine.  It has found a home in my office where it
serves as a memento, conversation piece and potential weapon.  It may be cracked, but I bet it has one good skull
cracker left in it.

 

I have no game, so you can be assured that it is in my possession
through no effort of my own, but through the kindness of fellow baseball fans.  There is a family, who sits near me at Redhawks
games.  The son is adept at snagging
broken bats out of the dugout and getting them signed.

 

They know I am a huge Cardinals fan.  During the series, they acquired bats from
Shane Robinson, Jarrett Hoffpauir and Jon Jay. 
They came to the game early and got the bat signed for me.  They told Jay who it was for.  He asked if I was there. They said that I
would be there later.  He said he would
wave to me.

 

Which he did.  When he
popped out of the dugout, they yelled at him. 
He looked up at me.

 

I said, “Thank you!”

 

He said, “You’re welcome.”

 

And, off he went to abuse another piece of lumber.  Yep, I am oh-so-eloquent in person.  Still, my gratitude was sincere, as was his smiling
response.  Best of luck to you, Jon Jay!

Here is Jon Jay and the bat before it was cracked:

JonJayPrecrackedbat.JPG

And, no minor league coverage would be complete without a mention of last year’s first round draft pick, Brett Wallace They say he has a plus bat, but you could not prove it by the five games I have seen him play this year (one at AA in Tulsa, four at AAA in OKC).  In five games, I have seen him on base one time.  One single.  Lots of strikeouts.  Lots of groundouts.  No walks.  One lone base hit in five games.


IMG_3295.JPG

 

I know he does hit.  I
know he has hit.  I know he
will hit.  But, for all you
Cardinal fans that have been calling for his call-up, back off.  Brett Wallace is not ready yet.

 

In response to my statement, “You’ve got a lot of talent out
there”, Redbirds Manager, Chris Maloney, said that they have been in a slump
all year.  Yes, much to my
surprise, the Redbirds Manager walked over and chatted with me during batting
practice.  I had a nice
conversation with the Mississippi gentleman about baseball and such.

 

Of course, it proved to me once again that while I might be a writer,
I am so not a journalist. There I was with a great opportunity and no good
questions.  I do not think,
“So, who’s pitching today?” qualifies.  Still,
I thoroughly enjoyed the chat.

 

Later, however, I did think of the question I wish I would have asked.  With the call-ups of Greene and Todd,
who had both been playing well, it occurred to me how difficult it is to
“build” a team in the minors.

 

In the major leagues, a manager typically has his cornerstone
players to build on.  For
example, with the Cardinals, you start with Pujols and Molina, who are rarely
missing from the lineup. You have a couple solid starters who always keep
you in the game, like Carpenter and Wainwright.  Perhaps, you have a “go-to” arm or two
in the bullpen, like Franklin.  Then you fill in and mix and match
from there.

 

Now, you might lose a key player to injury.  If you are not in contention, you
might lose someone to a trade.  However,
you do not lose a player because he is “too good.”

 

Not so, in the minors.  Your
best starter is the “sixth man” in the big club’s rotation.  Your closer is one major league injury
away from being plucked from your bullpen.  And,
whoever is swinging a hot bat, could be on a plane tonight to St.
Louis.  With
an ever changing cast of players, how do you build?  I wondered, if that was the hardest
job of a minor league manager.

 

Or, is it herding ‘birds?  I
imagine keeping young men on task and out of trouble can be a challenge.
Normally, I would say “herding cats”, but a small bird somehow ended up in my
house a few weeks ago, and I tried my best to herd it back outside to the great
outdoors.  So, I can say
from experience that it is nearly impossible to herd a bird. 

 

However, I believe the following look from the Redbirds manager might
actually herd ‘birds.  Here
is the Chris Maloney coaching third base and looking like there might be hell
to pay if more Redbirds do not find their way around the bases.

 

MaloneyMadatThird.JPG




The AT&T Bricktown Ballpark continued its “Taste of the Big
Leagues” promotion finally bringing Busch Stadium to me.  I must admit I was a bit disappointed at
first.  I am not sure what I was
expecting.  A replica of the arch?  Clydesdales?

 

There were only three Cardinals banners:  Enos Slaughter, Lou Brock and Dizzy Dean:

 

DizzyDeanBanner.JPG

The photo op included seats from old Busch stadium.  That was kind of cool.

 

IMG_3381.JPG

Of course, a big Stan Musial banner was a must.

Musial.JPG

 

The Busch Stadium food included toasted ravioli.  Although I promise you what they called “toasted
ravioli” was not toasted ravioli.  If
real toasted ravioli is like a piece of homemade pie, then what they were
selling was a pop-tart.  Tasty, but not
special.  However, the “Bratzel”, a brat
wrapped in pretzel dough, pig-in-a-blanket style, did not disappoint.  It was huge.

 

I slathered the Bratzel in mustard and ate contentedly as the crowning
touch to the Busch theme played over the PA: 
The Budweiser Song.  No, the
Clydesdale’s did not appear.  The crowd
did not stand and clap along.  But, I
could see and hear it all in my head.  It
was beautiful.

 

 

 

Springfield Cardinals

 

The Springfield Cardinals returned to Tulsa this week.  Tulsa is a bit farther and unless I leave
work early, I cannot make first pitch.  However,
on Thursday, I left early to watch a double header.  It was a beautiful night and the
Cardinals won both games with Trey Herne and Brandon Dickson on the
mound. 


Trey Herne:

Herne.JPG

 

 

In the shortened seven-inning games,
the Cardinals won 2-1 and 4-1.  In
addition to the two one run outings by the starters, Tyler Norrick and Francisco
Samuel turned in one hitless inning a piece.  Eduardo Sanchez turned in two.

 Francisco Samuel:

FranciscoSamuel.JPG

 

Starter, Lance Lynn, would not be so fortunate on Saturday.  He gave up three runs in six innings, which
would not be bad except the Cardinals scored zero runs.  

Lance Lynn:

LanceLynn.JPG


Samuel Freeman, joining the club from Palm Beach, threw two
perfect innings with two K’s.  His
call-up was so fresh, that he was not listed on the roster. 

Samuel Freeman:

SamFreeman.JPG


As I searched for his number on the roster, I heard a voice behind
me say, “He’s probably not on there.  He
only joined the team today.”  I turned to
the voice, which belonged to the Cardinals’ bus driver.  This information I obtained from his name tag.

 

 I suppose if I had game, I
would have pumped him for all sorts of AA details, but instead I just lamely asked,
“What’s his name?”, wrote “Sam Freeman” on my scoresheet and turned my
attention back to the game.

 

 

Other player notes.

 

I enjoyed watching second baseman, 
Daniel Descalso.  He has a nice
glove and is batting .328.

 

Descalso.JPG

 

 

Pete Kozma is a local boy and a hometown favorite even among the
Drillers fans.  Kozma made his AA debut
when I lasted saw the Cardinals in early May. 
The shortstop is batting .245 and has accumulated 17 RBI’s in that time.

 

PeteKozma.JPG

 

Outfielder, Daryl Jones is hitting over .300, but never seems to
hit when I am watching.

 

DarylJones.JPG

First baseman, Mark Hamilton, is putting together some good
numbers:  batting .294 and slugging .521.  For that, he gets two pictures:

Hamilton1.JPG

 

Hamilton2.JPG

Fine, you are right.  I really posted two pictures because I actually caught the ball in both.  I have not figured out the trick to making pictorial contact with the ball consistently, but there are a lot of guys who have been trying for a lot longer to figure out how to do the same thing with a bat.


When I last visited the Drillers Stadium, I met a fellow Cardinals
fan and had a nice warm baseball chat on an otherwise damp, chilly night.  Later, Scott took the time to find and
comment on my blog and asked me to let him know if I was coming back when the
Springfield Cardinals came to town.

 

So, during the Drillers/Cardinals games I enjoyed the rare treat
of sharing the games with a fellow Cardinals fan.  Although since he usually is there rooting
for the Drillers, he sometimes gets confused about who he should be cheering for.  I
suppose that is understandable.

 

Although I do not mind watching games all by myself, it is a
delight to watch them with a knowledgeable baseball fan, because they notice
things that you miss.  I enjoyed his
stories, insights and company.

 

As I am going through my billions of pictures, I cannot believe
that I did not take one of Scott, who looked so great in his Eckstein
jersey.  So much better than Eckstein
ever did. 

 

Scott, if you are reading.  Next
time in Tulsa,
you bring Eckstein.  I’ll bring
Molina.  We will get a picture.  And, maybe even catch someone stealing
second.

 

Potpourri for $500, Alex

 

Random notes.

 

I accidentally purchased a MILB.tv subscription for $29.95 or
so.  Now, I can watch the Memphis
Redbirds on my PC.  Yes, I know, I have
an addiction problem.  But, as my mom puts
it, it is a very wholesome addiction.

 

But, I have gotten to see Khalil Greene in his rehab starts.  The good news is that he looks good at the
plate.  However, he did have a
multi-error game at shortstop.  Not
good.  The crowd booed.  It was ugly.

 

After a conversation in St. Louis,
he is back in Memphis
at third base, where he looks very, very good tonight.  I read that he was a third baseman in
college.  Perhaps, playing shortstop is
where the pressure gets to him. 
Especially, on a team where the prevailing pitching philosophy is pitch
to contact and let the defense work. 
Maybe, third base is his comfort zone, his happy place.  It sure seems so, he just knocked in two and
scored the go ahead run from second.

 

The Redbird skipper pulled Shane Robinson in the first inning of
Sunday’s game for not running out a ground ball.  Robinson did not start tonight, but he came into the game later.

 

New call-up, Pete Parise, threw two perfect innings in relief.

 

Jarrett Hoffpauir is on fire!


Redbirds win!

 

Up Next?

 

This weekend I will be in Kansas
City for the I-70 series between the Kansas City
Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals.  I am
excited to see the renovations at the K. 
I am excited to see my Royals.  I
am excited to see my family and friends. 
But, I am most excited to meet my brand new nephew who was born last
week.  Yes, I am an addict, but I still
know what is most important.

United Cardinal Bloggers – Progressive Game Blog

Today’s
was the Second Annual United Cardinal Bloggers Progressive Blog Day, where UCB
members write about one inning in today’s installment of the I-70 series as the
St. Louis Cardinals take on the Kansas City Royals at Busch Stadium.

 

I have
the fifth inning, so visit these fine blogs first and then come back here:

Pregame:  United Cardinal Bloggers

First inning: Redbirds
Row

Second inning: Bird Brained
Third inning: Baseball Digest

Fourth inning: Cards on Deck 

 

Back?  Good. 
So, by now, you know that Kyle Lohse has a two hit shutout going.  A two RBI single by Nick Stavinoha, got the
Cardinals out in front in the first.  Skip
Schumaker added on with a lead-off home run in the third.  Cardinals are leading the Royals 3-0 at the
start of the fifth inning.

 

The
Fifth

Unfortunately,
I was watching the game from home today rather than from the sold-out stands in
Busch Stadium.  However, when I am at the
ballpark, there in one thing I hate: having to go to the bathroom during the
game.  Sometimes I can make it a whole
nine innings, but more often than not, the beverages kick in, the bladder
stretches to capacity and I am left with no choice but to make the trek to the
facilities.

 

I hate to
go because I am always afraid I am going to miss something.  Depending on how far away the bathroom is and
whether or not there is a line (actually, I am female, so there is always a
line), the roundtrip can take a whole half an inning or better.  Annoying.

 

However,
had I been in the stands, the fifth inning would have been a good time go.

 

My
anticipation grew as I watched the first through the fourth inning of this
really fine Cardinal outing.  I wondered
what new excitement my inning would bring. 
Another home run?  Lohse striking
out the side?  Another fine catch by
center fielder, Colby Rasmus?

 

Turns out, the most
exciting thing that happened in the inning is that the Royals phone to the
bullpen was on the fritz.  They had to send a runner out to give instructions. 

 

Royals
at the Plate

 

Callaspo
led off for the Royals and hit a routine fly ball to center fielder, Colby
Rasmus.  This was the sixth fly ball of
the day to Rasmus, who was earning his money in center.  He plays a sweet and easy center field.  A real joy to watch.

 

Next up, Olivo
did hit a double down the left field line. 
That might have been new and interesting since it was only the third
Royals hit thus far, but Olivo hit that exact same double in the second inning. 

 

Aviles, with his odd helicopter batting
stance, struck out.  The pitcher,
Hochevar, quickly got behind 0-2, and grounded out to shortstop, Tyler
Greene.  Olivo, once again, found himself
orphaned at second base.  

 

Cardinals
at the Plate

 

The
Cardinal lineup was back to the top as lead-off hitter, Skip Shumaker,
led-off.  Schumaker had a tough at
bat.  Fouled off three pitches.  Worked the count to full.  And, ultimately line out sharply to Royals
third baseman, Teahan.

 

Colby
Rasmus was up next.  He took a curve for
a strike, a curve for a ball and then grounded out sharply to first baseman,
Butler. 
Again.  Very much as he did in his
last at bat in the third.

 

Finally,
Albert Pujols is up.  Nobody on, which is
good because he might get a pitch to hit. 
He did find a pitch to hit, unfortunately he hit it on the ground to the
shortstop who threw to first and got the third out. 

 

Ho-hum?

 

Was it a
ho-hum inning?  For most people it would
be.  No runs.  One extra-base hit.  One strike-out.  No diving plays to make the highlight
reel.  However, a real baseball fan will
appreciate the following:

 

  • A very efficient scoreless
    inning for starting pitcher, Kyle Lohse. 
    Four batters faced.  Twelve
    pitches thrown.  Of which, only two
    were balls.  Very, very sweet.
  • It took twelve pitches to
    retire the Royals.  It took eight
    pitches to retire Skip Schumaker, who took a very good lead-off style at
    bat before lining the ball into a glove.
  • Sometimes less is more.  Especially when it comes to excitement
    in a close 3-0 game.  I have seen
    enough Cardinals pitchers in trouble in close games.  I have seen enough errors on routine
    plays.  I will happily take a quiet
    inning of solid pitching and defense. 
    In particular, when the Cardinals are enjoying the lead.

 

On to
the Sixth

Visit
these UCB sites to continue on with game.  

Sixth inning: Whiteyball
Seventh inning: The Cardinal Virtue
Eighth inning: Fungoes
Ninth inning: Pitchers Hit Eighth
Extras and game wrapup: C70 At The Bat

Going Greene

TGreene.JPGJust under two weeks ago, I saw shortstop Tyler Greene play in Oklahoma City for the Triple-A  Memphis Redbirds. I liked what I saw.

With Cardinals starting shortstop Khalil Greene’s ailing arm and the backup shortstop, Brendan Ryan headed to the DL with a hurt hammy, Tyler Greene got the callup.
In his Major League debut in the Cardinals game against the Nationals on Thursday, he got his first big league start. 
His first big league at bat ended in a strikeout.  He followed that with his first major league ground out, his first major league popup and his second major league ground out.  
It looked like his first start would be rather uneventful, until he came to the plate in the ninth with the bases loaded in a close game.
No, he did not hit a grand slam.  He hit a little dribbler up the third base line.  The Nationals third baseman could not get to it.  Rick Ankiel scored.  Greene reached.  The shortstop came over to get the ball as the Joe Thurston rounded third.  Thurston and the ball reached home plate at simultaneously.  The catcher drop the throw.  Thurston scored.
Tyler Greene stood on first with his first big league single, first big league RBI and a big smile on his face.  His first major league single was probably not the well-struck ball he imagined his whole life, but it was very well placed and very productive.  
Tyler Greene was not done.  He helped induce a balk that got him to second.  He stole his first major league base to get himself in position at third to score his first big league run on a Brian Barden sacrifice fly.  
I love going to watch the Cardinals minor league teams.  It gets me excited about the future.  It is fun to see a player I liked move up to the next level and have success.  I liked Tyler Greene at Triple-A and I like him at the big leagues.  Go Greene!
This weekend I will get a couple peeks at the Double-A Springfield Cardinals when they come to Tulsa to play the Rockies affilate, the Tulsa Drillers.  Last year, I spotted Allen Craig at AA.  I wonder who I will see next?