Tagged: Oklahoma City Redhawks

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

Bedlam, Scoring a Triple Play and Family

Catching up and vowing to
blog more regularly.  Yeah, right.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I have
read that in a blog.

 

Still, nothing wrong with
good intentions.   Actually, I should do better in the next few days.  There will be plenty to write about as I head to San Francisco for the Cardinals-Giants Series.  To say I am excited would be a huge understatement.


In the meantime, in no particular order,
here are some snippets from the past couple of weeks.

 

Bedlam

No matter the sport, when
the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Oklahoma Sooners face off, it is
Bedlam.  The two universities met on the
neutral ground of the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City for the annual Bedlam Baseball
Series.  And, as an OSU alum, you know I
was there.

Bedlam.jpg

 

Let it be said that I hate
the Sooners as only a Cowboy (or Cowgirl) can. 
As only a Yankees fan can hate the Red Sox.  As only a Giants fan can hate the Dodgers.  Or, more appropriately, as only a Cardinals
fan can hate the cubs.

 

Why do we hate our rivals
so?  Are their fans more obnoxious than
ours?  Seems so.  Are their players more arrogant than ours?  Possibly. 
Do they play dirty?  Are they
degenerates?  Do they kick dogs?  Pinch sleeping babies?  Beat their wives?  Sass their mothers?  Have excessive carbon footprints?  Use plastic bags?  Steal cable? 
Are they really a fundamentally evil empire?  Well, obviously.

 

Realistically though, we
hate them because at some time or other, they beat us in a game we needed to
win. 

 

Game one of the Bedlam
Series held all the intensity one would expect from a rivalry.  Very close game.  Often the runs, hits and errors of both teams
were identical.  Lots of controversial
calls.  Both managers got tossed.  With the game in knots at 5-5, the Cowboys
went to their bullpen and brought in the star freshman closer, Randy McCurry,
who ironically graduated from a rival high school just down the highway from my
hometown.

McCurry.jpg

It’s amazing how soon the autographs start.  Freshman in collage and signing balls for little boys.

McCurry throws pretty good
heat…94ish.  He has been outstanding for
the Cowboys this season.  However, this
would not be his day.  He was not
particularly sharp, but he got no help from his catcher, who gave four…count
’em….four passed balls in the inning, which allowed two runs to score.  Sooners win. 
Watching catching that bad, especially from my team, made me want to
puke my peanuts…oops I mean, made my stomach a tad queasy.

Maybe, the catcher’s problem is that he was having some sinus difficulties that prevented him from seeing the ball:

CatcherSinus.jpg


Or, maybe he broke a nail, and oh darn, his manicurist was all the way up in Stillwater:

Picture 1923.jpg

 

It’s funny the pictures you find on your camera. 


In game two, a fine mist
that fell through most of the game seemed to put a damper on the intensity we
had witnessed the previous day.  No calls
argued.  No managers tossed.  The Cowboys strung together some runs while
keeping the Sooners off the bases, but their catching was still shoddy.

 

Early in the game, a pitch
missed by the Cowboy catcher (actually, a different one) dinged the umpire in the leg.  He was in some serious pain.  Later, another pitch narrowly missed him.  The pitcher had come to the plate as the
catcher scampered off to find the ball. 
The umpire put his arm around the pitcher and they had a little
conversation that I could only imagine went something like this:

 

“Son, your catcher
stinks.  I already have a welt.  I don’t need another.  So, I’m going to need you to throw
strikes.  In fact, anything your backstop
can actually catch, I will call a strike. 
But, if you hit me again, I’m going to run you both.”

Whatever was said
worked.  No more passed balls.  Cowboys win!

 

Cardinals Bounce Back

Maybe my being unable to
write for a couple weeks was related to the Cardinal slump that seemed to
coincide with the arrival of May.  With a
sweep of the cubs, taking two of three from the Royals, taking two of three
from the Brewers and the amazing round of performances by the entire pitching
staff, it is hard to remember how we struggled against the Pirates and were
swept by the Brewers.

 

The Cardinals are back on
top of the NL Central and all is well with the world. I like, like, like most
of what I have observed so far from the Cardinals.  I think the offense dry spell will end once
Ryan Ludwick is back in the lineup.  And,
the pitching, both starting and the bullpen, has been such a joy to watch. 

 

Triple Play

I gave up trying to be
cool a long, long time ago because no matter how I might try to package myself,
my natural nerdiness will prevail. 
Baseball, better than any other sport, lends itself to nerdiness.  There are endless numbers to crunch.  Statistics, probabilities, matrices,
algorhythms, physics, lions, tigers and bears…oh my!

 

Then, there is all the
technology that brings baseball to the tech-nerd.  Gameday, Gameday Audio, Gameday mobile, XM
Radio, At Bat for iPhone, MLB.tv and all the great baseball reference
websites.  I am all about the technology.

 

But, even before
technology existed that would instantly calculate the speed, location and break
of a pitch, there was another low-tech tool employed by baseball nerds
everywhere:  the scorecard.

 

Keeping score.  The art and science of using a piece of paper
and a pencil to create an accurate reflection of a game of baseball.  It is a science because there are rules.  It is an art because everyone does it a
little different.

 

I am a score keeper.  It is the essence of my baseball
nerdiness.  I have an Excel template that
I stole borrowed from baseballscorecard.com 
(they said
it was okay) and tweaked to my liking.  I
print them out, attach them to a clipboard and take them to games.  I have a particular Cardinal red pencil that
I like to use.  Although the blue one
just like it will do in a pinch.  I would
like to be superstitious and think I NEED the red one…the Cardinals NEED the
red one, but I just do not have it in me. 
I have enough OCD enough to keep score, but not to keep up
superstitions.

 

I know I can go to Gameday
or At Bat and see a play by play game summary that tells me “Albert Pujols
singles sharply to left fielder David DeJesus”. 
I know that every time a batter comes to the plate either the TV or the
scoreboard will tell me what that batter has done today.  But, it is not the same as being able to see
an entire game at one time.

 

Scorekeeping keeps me
sharp.  Keeps my head in the game.  Although those sitting around me may look at
me like I am crazy when I pull out my scoresheet, before the game is over they
always end up asking me a question that is easily answered by my score
sheet.  Say what you want about nerds but
we are darn useful.

 

In Keith Olbermann’s first
blog
, he talked about how he liked to keep score.  He also described the joy of recording his
first ever triple play in a spring training game.  He described how the triple play is
scored.  The numbers of the positions
touching the ball are surrounded by two circles.  A double play would be one circle.  A triple play is two.  This was not something I knew.  But, now that I knew, I wanted the chance to
use it.  However, I knew might be years,
even decades, before I saw one outside of a highlight reel.

 

So, I am sitting in Oklahoma City on May 15,
2009 watching the Portland Beavers play the Oklahoma City Redhawks.  In the bottom of the third inning, the center
fielder Boggs leads off the inning with a single.  The catcher, Ramirez draws a walk.  I know these facts because my scorecard says
so.  The weather was also cloudy and the
start time was 7:05.

 

With Boggs and Ramirez taking
appropriate leads at first and second, Vallejo,
the second baseman, lines out to his counterpart at second, who throws to the
shortstop covering second, who then throws to first.  Triple play. 
4-6-3 with a double circle.

 

I always thought a triple play
would be this exciting thing where it goes boom-boom-boom and the crowd goes
crazy because they have just witnessed something amazing.  However, mostly everyone sits there stunned
trying to be sure that they saw what they just saw.  Were there really no out before the
play?  Did they get all three?  Even Boggs stood back on second for a while,
not entirely sure that he had been got. 
But, he had.  As had Ramirez and
Vallejo.

 

A fellow scorekeeper from
a few rows back hollers down, “How do you even score that?” 

 

“Two circles”  I yelled back as I took my time printing the
numbers and drawing my two circles.  The
crowd may have missed the thrill, but I didn’t

 

The Parents and a Local Boy Makes Good

As I have said before, my
dad is a football guy.  My mom likes to follow
sports by checking the scores, not actually watching the games.  So, when I asked them if they wanted to go to
an Oklahoma City Redhawks game sometime, I really was not sure I would get a
“Yes”, but I did.  I suggested a Sunday
game might be the best.  4:05 start.  Home before bed time.

 

The Sunday we picked could
not have been a better one.  The weather
was absolutely, positively perfect. 

 

The Parents.jpg

The Redhawks were
scheduled to play the Tacoma Rainers.  If
I get a chance, I like to take a peek at the roster of the opposing team
because you never know who you might find. 
So, Sunday morning, I click on roster. 
Unbelievably, the first game was familiar.  The name could be common, so I thought,
“Coincidence.  Probably not him.” 

 

I click on the name to get
more information.  Hometown:  Holdenville,
Oklahoma.  Well, there might be hundreds of Daren Browns
in the world, but there is only one baseball Daren Brown from Holdenville, Oklahoma.

 

Daren Brown was a star
athlete at a very, very tiny school called Moss.  Moss is a country school.  Although his address might have been
Holdenville, that town was ten miles away. 
My very best girlfriend graduated from Moss High School.  She was Valedictorian of a class of five,
although most classes averaged around twenty.

 

My ex-husband also
graduated from Moss the same year as Brown. 
They played baseball together from little league to seven state
championship tournaments (they play spring and fall ball).  Brown was a pitcher.  The son of a former big leaguer, Paul
Brown.  The nephew of minor leaguer
Jackie Brown.  Baseball was in his blood.

 

After a couple years of
college ball, he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays and fell off my
radar.  Since I had not really seen him
in the Bigs, I assumed he had settled down somewhere in middle
America, selling cars like his dad or coaching high school
baseball.

 

Instead, he has been
working his way up the coaching chain. 
Starting with a player/coach role in an independent league and working
his way up to being the manager of the AAA minor league affiliate of the
Seattle Mariners.  Pretty sweet to see a
hometown boy make good.

 

This made the game much
more interesting for my parents, who had purchased a truck from Brown’s dad
once upon a time.  Although I did not
really know Brown, I knew his sisters, who are very talented in their own
right.  Singers.  Athletes. 
One held the state high school basketball scoring record in her class
and played for Oklahoma
State.  One sang at my wedding to the aforementioned
ex-husband.  He voice is one of the
reasons that I still have my wedding video. 

 

Brown’s family was at the
game.  I caught up with another sister, while
my parents chatted with his dad.  This
hometown connection made the game much more interesting for my parents as
Brown’s Tacoma Rainiers shut out the Redhalks. 

 

 

If Heaven Exists…

While I did not convert my
parents into baseball fanatics, they did enjoy the game. My mom, the daughter
of a great baseball fan, had never been to a professional game.  Although she did not mention it, I know she
was thinking about how much her dad would have enjoyed the day.  I know this because I never enter a ballpark
that I do not think of my grandpa and wish he was in the seat beside me.

 

Oddly enough, my grandpa
only attended one professional game in his life, even though he lived much of
his life within an hour of Kaufman Stadium. 
He followed baseball every night through the TV and Radio and had a head
full of baseball stats, but he was a simple, contented type of man.  A farmer that had provided well for his family
during the Great Depression.  Going to a
game would be an extravagance.

 

In the early 70’s, my dad
and brother were working road construction in the Kansas City area.  The company they worked for had Royals
tickets that they sometimes doled out to employees.  My dad and brother scored tickets.

 

My dad asked my grandpa to
go, knowing he was a baseball fan, but not really knowing if he would say
“Yes.”  But, of course, he said “Yes”.  My dad talks about Grandpa being like a kid
in a candy store.  I can only imagine his
excitement of finally being in the place where the legends played on his radio
every night.  The thing that struck him
the most was how high the pop-ups soared. 
Baseball may be the game you can see on the radio, but that was
something he could not have imagined.

 

Over Memorial weekend, I
visited my grandparents’ grave.  Their
lives were long, both living into their nineties.  A marriage of 70 years.  Kids, grandkids, great-grandkids.  The whole she-bang. 

 

I left some uniquely
colored orange and red roses that I knew my grandma would appreciate.  I told grandpa that I could not stay long
because the Cardinals were playing the Royals in just a few minutes.  I know he understood.

 

I wish.  I wish. 
I wish.  If heaven does exist and
it is a place where we are, in fact, reunited with our loved ones, and we
really can look down upon the earth.  The
thing that will make heaven perfect for me is to be able to sit next to my
grandpa, watch a ballgame, keep score and pepper him with hundreds of
questions.  That’s what would happen in
my “Field of Dreams”


A Week in My Baseball Loving Life

The pursuit of happiness (watching baseball games) has left me little time to write.  So, finally, here is summary of the past week in my baseball loving life.

 

 

Friday, May 1st – Cold Night, Cold Bats

 

I left work at 5:00 in a rush to get Tulsa.  A 2+ hour drive.  A 7:05 start.  The AA Springfield Cardinals against the Tulsa Drillers. 

 

Fortunately, the St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Washington Nationals on the east coast with a 6:05 central start time.  So, for the second half the drive, I had Mike Shannon and John Rooney to keep me company.  Before I reached Drillers Stadium, Wellemeyer was off to a good start and both Albert Pujols and Chris Duncan had homered.

 

If Major League ballparks are cathedrals and Triple-A parks are lovely chapels, then the Drillers Stadium is little more than a place to hold a camp meeting.  The park serves the purpose but is lacking in charm and beauty.  However, the Tulsa Drillers are playing their last season in Drillers Stadium.  A new park is under construction closer to downtown.   

 

But, I know the folks that live close to Drillers will miss them next year.  A friend of mine grew up in the neighborhood and could watch the Friday night fireworks from her backyard.

 

The Drillers threw a gem.  The Cardinals bats did not get going.  The biggest cheer for the Cardinals came when shortstop, Peter Kozma, came to the plate.  Peter Kozma is from Owasso, Oklahoma, which is a few miles north of Tulsa.  This was his first game with the AA Cardinals, as he benefited from the trickle down effect of the Tyler Greene call up to St. Louis.

 

 

 


PeteKozma.JPGSitting near third base, I got a good look at last year’s number one draft pick, Brett Wallace.  He went 0-for on the night, but then again most of the Cardinals combined for only six hits against the good Driller pitching.  Wallace did make some solid plays at third.

 

 


BrettWallace.JPGHere Wallace is playing in, defending the bunt:

 


BuntDefense.JPG 

I thought back to last year when I impressed by another third baseman.  That player came into spring training hitting like crazy, over .500.  He is doing well at Triple-A Memphis this year.  I wonder where they will both be next year.

 

One prospect that did get a hit is outfielder Daryl Jones:

 

 


DarylJones.JPGAnd, no minor league game is complete without a food race.  In this case it is the burrito, hotdog and eggroll from QuickTrip.  Burrito wins!  But, the Cardinals lose 5-3

 

 


FoodRaceJPG 

It was not a nice night for baseball.  Chilly and damp.  Although it never actually rained, a mist hung in the air the whole game.  I began to think I would never be warm again.  By the end of the game, I figure the only people left in the stands were me, another Cardinals fan, the players’ families and two drunk hecklers.

 

I have been single much of my adult life.  I am cool with that.  Probably, too much so.  I am comfortable going most places by myself.  Never is that more true than at the ballpark.  I have a seat that is mine, so I have a place to be.  The people around me also like baseball, so I belong.  And, it seems like no matter where you go, there is always a Cardinals fan to chat with.

 

Sitting in front of me at the Drillers game was Scott, the aforementioned other Cardinal fan who stuck out the game.  We talked throughout the game, sharing Cardinal experiences and thoughts on players.  He was a Cardinals fan by birth, the great-nephew of Oklahoman and Cardinal, Pepper Martin. 

 

 

Saturday, May 2nd – Just Call Me Ball

 

Today was a family day.  A Kentucky Derby themed 21st birthday party.  Fun times with family in friends.  However, all the fun was happening in Kansas City.  So, I spent the night in Tulsa and was on the road again by 7:00 am.

 

Four hours later, I stopped to visit the youngest of our family, my nephew, who is 20 months old.  Before going in the house, I reached into my baseball game bag and dug out a baseball from an OKC AAA game, which I slipped into my pocket.

 


Nephew.JPG 

After greeting the family, I asked my nephew, “What does Auntie have in her pocket?”  He walks over, digs out the ball, gives me a million dollar smile and says, “Ball!”.  Then, in a memory I will treasure forever, we had our first catch.

 

Well, maybe, it was not actually “catch”.  Basically, he fired the ball as hard as he could at me from two to three feet away, while I pulled out my best Molina catching skills.  The kid has an arm, but he does not exactly have pinpoint control, yet.  Check out his form.  Up over his front leg, nice follow through.  Wonder how much Dave Duncan charges to tutor toddlers?

 

 

For the rest of the weekend, he scoured my pockets for balls and anytime someone said, “Where’s Auntie?”  He would point at me and said “Ball?”  I have been called much worse.  He also had a catch with his dad where I captured this shot:

 

 


DadSonBall.JPG 

While we were playing catch, the Cardinals-Nationals game got underway.  I reached my car in the 5th inning to drive to my sisters.  The score was 0-0.  Somewhere along the short drive from the suburbs to the plaza, the score was suddenly 4-0, Nationals.  A single, a force out bunt, another single, a sac fly, a potentially inning ending dropped foul popup, another single (Ryan Zimmerman, a name I am suddenly all too familiar with), all topped off with a big home run from their big guy, Adam Dunn. Brutal.

 

With the Royals’ hot start, the city is buzzing about them.  Later at the birthday party at a local pub, the Royals game was on.  People were actually watching.  I lived through many baseball drought years in this city.  It nice to see the citizens of Kansas City falling back in love with their team.

 

 

Sunday, May 3rd – A Wash Out from Top to Bottom

 

Time to come home.  The plan was to listen to the Cardinals-Nationals game on the road, and to drop back by the Driller Stadium to catch another Springfield Cardinals game.  Mother Nature had other plans.  Both games rained out.  Coincidently, the Memphis Redbirds rained out, too.

 

I had to console myself by listening to the San Francisco Giants game. Good to have a backup team. But, it was not the same.  Bengie Molina had the day off.  The Giants finally beat the Colorado Rockies in the 10th by finally scoring the only run of the game on Rich Aurilla’s walk-off RBI single.

 

Monday, May 4th – Play a Hard Nine

 

The World Champion, Philadelphia Phillies, rolled into St. Louis for a two-game series with big bat and hometown hero, Ryan Howard, in tow.  Howard always plays well in St. Louis.  However, hitting a grand slam in the 5th seemed a bit like over-kill.

 

Cardinals pitcher, Kyle Lohse’s non-throwing arm was drilled by a pitch while batting.  While he refused to use that as an excuse, the fact is he was pitching well before taking the bullet.  He was not sharp afterwards.

 

“Play a hard nine” is the Cardinals mantra.  They all talk about it.  They all do it.  It is the Cardinals way.  For the past couple years, the Cardinals marketing theme has been “Play like a Cardinal”.  It might as well be “Play a Hard Nine” because it means the same thing.

 

As Cardinal fans we sometimes have cause to whine about a lack of execution, but we rarely, if ever, have reason to complain about players not giving 100%.  For example, in today’s game, Joe Thurston ran through third base coach Jose Oquendo’s stop sign and right into an inning ending out.  Again. 

 

While we applaud Thurston’s gumption, we hope he is beginning to understand that Jose Oquendo is one the most aggressive Cardinals to ever play or coach the game.  Nothing good can come of trying to be more aggressive than him.

 

 

 
 

Thumbnail image for AnkielinMemphis.JPG One player that always plays a hard nine is Rick Ankiel.  How many outstanding diving, running or leaping catches has he already made this year with no thought to his own safety?  Tonight, he almost made one too many. 

 

Chasing a line drive, running all out and making the catch, Rick Ankiel ran out of room, stumbled, and had no time to put on the brakes before crashing headfirst into the outfield wall.  Flipped over by the force, he landed on his back.  Arms above his head, the ball rolled out of his left hand.  Even knowing the collision was imminent, he had transferred the ball from the glove, looking to make a throw, even though no runners were on.

 

 

If there was any air left in Busch Stadium after Ryan Howard’s Grand Slam, it was sucked out as Rick Ankiel lay motionless on the warning track.  The TV cameras scanned the worried faces of the crowd.  Not so much worried about losing Ankiel to the DL for a while, but worried that he could be lost forever.  As he left the field on a cart, strapped to a back board, he gave the thumbs up he knew his friends, family and fans needed to see.  Later, we would get the reports that although banged up, he will be fine.

 

He did this in the 8th inning of a 6-1 game that the Cardinals had all but lost.  When asked about it later, he said basically even if the play is not going to change the game, the pitchers still have ERAs to protect.  On a team where “pitch to contact” is preached, never has “I’ve got your back” meant more.

 

Often it seems the pitcher stands all by himself on the mound.  Solitary.  Alone.  His only friend, perhaps the catcher 60 feet 6 inches away.  Not so, the Cardinals pitchers.  They can feel the safety net behind them.  A safety net ready, willing and able to go the distance for as many innings as it takes.  All they have to do is keep it in the park.

 

However, the Cardinals defense has been criticized for the league leading error total racked up thus far this year.  What statistics do not easily show is that for every error, there has been a play that should not have been made, but was.  Rick Ankiel’s catch is just another one of those impossible plays.

 

Tuesday, May 5TH – Home Run Derby

 

I was missing my Oklahoma City Redhawks and hoping to go see them.  However, it rained all day long, and the evening forecast did not look inviting.  So, I stayed home and watched the Home Run Derby.

 

And, by Home Run Derby, I mean the Cardinals-Phillies game.  Five long balls left Busch Stadium.  The Phillies hit two off Adam Wainwright.  Shane Victorino took a solo shot in the first.  Jason Werth hit a three-run jack in the fifth.

 

Ryan Ludwick and Yadier Molina both took solo shots off Brett Myers.  Molina’s career high season home run total is eight.  This was his third, which in theory would put him on pace for 18. In other news, Albert Pujols took Brad Lidge deep.  Again.

 

The Cardinals chipped away, scoring runs in five consecutive innings, but it was not enough.  Phillies win 10-7.

 

Wednesday, May 6th – Oh, What a Relief

 

After dropping two games to the Phillies, the other Pennsylvania team came to town:  The Pittsburgh Pirates.   Albert Pujols homered at his last at bat on Tuesday.  He homered at his first at bat on Wednesday.  He also went 4-4.  It is hard to beat the Cardinals when #5 is hot in the three hole.

 

Chris Duncan was also an offensive force with a two-run triple.  Khalil Greene was back in the lineup after being limited to a pinch hitting role by a sore forearm.  He got a double and a RBI on a sac fly. 

 

Rookie Mitchell Boggs got the start.  He gave up five hits and five walks.  With that many ducks on the pond (runners on the bases), it is amazing he only allowed two runs.  He also had four strikeouts.  All this in 4.1 innings of work.  In the fifth, after walking the leadoff batter, who stole second and scored on a McLouth double, LaRussa took the ball from Boggs hands and handed it to the bullpen.

 

Trevor Miller, Kyle McClellan, Dennys Reyes, Jason Motte and Ryan Franklin were nearly spotless in relief.  Between them, only two walks, one hit, two strikeouts and no runs.  They protected the 2 run game.  McClellan go the win.  Franklin got the save.  His 8th out of eight opportunities,  but who’s counting.  Cardinals win 4-2.

 

 

Thursday, May 7th – Finally, Back to the Ballpark

 

The Cardinals played a matinee against the Pirates.  While I sat at work, a friend was at the game.  He texted me a picture of the arch from Busch Stadium. 

 

Color me green with envy.

 

However, the day was not a total loss.  I left work at 3:00 to head to the Oklahoma City Redhawks game and caught the end of the Cardinals game on the radio.  Yes, Schumaker had already hit his lead off triple and scored on an Albert Pujols sac fly.

 

The Cardinals had already put up a nice fat crooked “four” in the 5th inning.  Jason LaRue’s lead off homer got the party started.  Schumaker singles.  Rasmus bunt singled.  Pujols took a first pitch, 93 mph fast ball in the ribs to load the bases.  Ludwick was hit with same and a run scored.  Duncan sac flied.  Khalil Greene singled, and the Pirates were in a pit they would not recover from.  Cardinals win 5-2

 

Cardinal batters have been plunked seven times in four games.  Intentional or no?  Impossible to say.  But, the scouting report on the Cardinals seems to read “throw inside.”

 

Todd Wellemeyer, who has struggled a bit this spring, was super sharp, going seven innings, giving up two runs and notching the win.  Maybe May is his month.  Last year, Wellemeyer was the National League Pitcher of the Month in May.

 

Rick Ankiel was officially placed on the disabled list, and as I expected, outfielder Shane Robinson got the call from Memphis.  The slight-framed Robinson is a plus defender with plus speed.  He hits singles, turns them into doubles, draws walks, steals bases and will climb the outfield wall to make a catch. 

 

 


ShaneRobinson.JPG 

He only had a failed pinch hit opportunity today, but LaRussa has said he will get some starts soon.  I hate seeing players go down, but I love seeing them come up.

 

“Taste of the Big Leagues” is the theme at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City Redhawks.  They opened with the Yankees. You can check out coverage of that here.

 

They continued with the Cubs and Wrigley field.  So, I was not sure I was going to enjoy this promotion very much. 

 

I was greeted with a poster of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, and his quote, “It’s a beautiful day for a ball game…let’s play two.”

 

 


Ernie Banks.JPG 

It was a nice day.  Finally, warm.  Can’t argue with that logic.

 

The Wrigley sign was cool:

 

 


WrigleySign.JPG 

The replica ivy wall was a nice touch.  I like ivy.  I think the ivy wall at Wrigley is beautiful.  Yet, I can not help but think about Rick Ankiel running into the padded wall at Busch.  Would the outcome have been far more serious had the wall been brick covered with a bit of ivy?

 

 


ivy.JPG 

The best piece of Wrigly to make its way to Oklahoma City had to be the historic scoreboard.  I took a full shot of it:

 

 


Wrigleyscoreboard.JPG 

Then I zoomed in on the only score on the board and was surprised (and delighted) to find the Cardinals winning.  What a strange homage to the Cubs?

 


scoreboardCardswin.JPG 

Finally, I purchased a Chicago Dog at the concession stand.  Chicago may be terrible in the post-season, but they know how to make a championship hot dog.  Good hot dog on a poppy seed bun topped with peppers, bright green relish, diced tomatoes, onions and mustard.  Yum-tastic.

 

Back to the game, the lead singer from Korn threw out the first pitch:

 

 


Korn.JPGBut, the pitcher to talke about was Eric Milton of the Albuquerque Isotopes:

 

 


MiltonDodger.JPG 

Milton had a perfect game going for five innings before giving up an infield single.  The Redhawks were shut out 7-0.

 

It is amazing how the quickly the wheels turn.  The night before Xavier Paul was playing for the Isotopes in Oklahoma City.  Midday, the news broke of Manny Ramirez’s 50 game suspension for a positive drug test.  By the time the rosters were printed in Oklahoma City, Xavier Paul’s was gone to Los Angeles, his name already removed from the AAA roster.

 

I listened to the Dodgers-Nationals game on the way home.  Here in the Midwest, west coast ballgames come in handy.  Dodgers were leading 6-0 when I tuned in.  The Dodgers were off to a great start putting up a six in the first.  Very reflective of their season so far, maybe too much so.

 

This season the Dodgers were setting records for their home winning streak, when suddenly their big bat is taken away for 50 games.  In Thursday’s game, the Dodgers were cruising.  In the six and seventh, the Nationals chipped away at the lead.  In the eighth, the Nats came to bat and stayed putting up six runs and giving former Cardinal, Ron Villone, a win in his first appearance with the Nationals.   The game seemed to be a synopsis of the Dodger season thus far. 

 

While the Nationals try to hit their way of the bottom (Hello, Ryan Zimmerman), the Dodgers are going to find it hard to stay on top with the loss of Manny’s bat.

 

Friday, May 9th – Memorable Bombs

 

The St. Louis Cardinals headed to Cincinnati to face the Reds.  Or, Cincyapolis, as the voice of the Cardinals, Mike Shannon called it the day before.  Joel Pineiro who has pitched like a new man this year, gave us glimpses of last year.  Pineiro struggled in the first two innings, giving up five runs and digging a hole that the Cardinals could not dig out of. 

 

Probably, his biggest mistake was not a pitch, but overthrowing to first on a bunt by opposing pitcher Cueto.  Three runs scored in the at bats that followed.  Pujols put a stopper in the inning by catching a Jay Bruce liner and stepping on first to double off Hairston

 

In Pineiro’s defense, many balls, not well-hit, dropped in for base hits.  Sometimes, that just happens.  Also to his credit, innings three through six were flawless.  Perez came in throwing a little wild and gave up the sixth run.

 

The Cardinal bats never really got going against the Reds’ Cueto, until the seventh when the eked out one run.  In the eighth, they took advantage of Weathers, starting with rookie Tyler Greene.

 

McRae told him to look for a first pitch fast ball.  Tyler Greene found one and smoked it to the bullpen in leftfield.  His first Major League home run.  The smile on his face could not have been bigger. 

 

The Cardinals rallied behind him.  Ludwick walked and stole second.  Duncan brought him in with a double and later scored on a Molina single.  But, that would be all the Cardinals would get.  Oddly enough, Albert Pujols was 0-4 on the night.  I would hate to be the next pitcher to face him.  Good luck, Haraung. 

 

I have been uncharacteristically quiet on all things regarding Alex Rodriguez.  Mostly because the accusations keep on coming and I have know way of really knowing what’s true or not, and really there is a part of me that does not care.  Maybe, if he were a Cardinal.  Maybe, if I had watched him play regularly, I could work up the proper outrage or disillusionment.  But, I got nothing.

 

However, I could not miss the announcement that he was returning to the Yankees lineup.  With the rough start the Yankees have had this year, they could seriously use a lift.  I hear Yankees fans say things like, “A-Rod is not really a Yankee”.  I thought to myself, if Alex Rodriguez comes back, plays well and the Yankees start winning, all will be forgiven. 

 

Inexplicably, I tuned in the Yankees game to see Alex Rodriguez’s first at bat.  I do not know why, maybe I was expecting to see something special.  I was rewarded.   He came to the plate with the table nicely set with two runners on and promptly jacks the ball out of the park.  Yankees beat the Orioles 4-0.

 

I am not condoning or condemning him for anything.  It is just nice to be talking about a baseball player in terms of actual baseball.

 

Next Week?

 

Bedlam baseball comes to Oklahoma City this weekend when OU and OSU take over the Redhawks park in Bricktown.  As a Cardinals fan, I normally where a lot of red, but as an OSU alum, I will be sporting my orange for the next two days.

 

The Redhawks will be home most of next week, so I will have opportunities there.  The Cardinals continue division play with the Reds, Pirates and Brewers. 

 

So much baseball, so little time!

 

 

Taste of the Big Leagues

The great
thing about baseball season is:

a)    
There are lots of baseball games to watch

b)    
There are lots of baseball games to go to

c)    
There are lots of things to write about

 

The only
bad thing about baseball season is:

a)    
Watching and going to baseball games leaves no time to
write lots

 

So, finally…catch up time.

 

Last weekend the Cardinals tried to split a four-game series with the cubs.  Of course, that is impossible to do when the
fourth game is rained out and postponed until July.  Still, game 4 is ours, I just know it. 

 

While the
Cardinals were in
Chicago, I spent a chunk of the weekend
in
Oklahoma
City
.  The Memphis Redbirds were in
town facing the Oklahoma City Redhawks.  So,
you must know that I have much to talk about. 
And, a plethora of pictures.

 

It’s going
to take at least two blogs to get this all in. 
The first (this one) will be about all the cool goings on at the
AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, home to the Oklahoma City Redhawks.  The second will be about those sweet little
Memphis Redbirds.

 

When I
was a high school student in
Oklahoma, I was required to take two
semesters of U.S. History, one semester of World History and one semester of
Oklahoma History.  So, the powers that be
in
Oklahoma believe that our measly 100 years
of history is as important as the thousands of years of history of the entire
rest of the world.  So, yes, we are
pretty proud of ourselves.

 

That Oklahoma pride is evident at the ballpark
in the Bricktown area of downtown
Oklahoma City. 
There are statues of Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench and Warren Spawn
standing watch over each entrance. 
Warren Spahn welcomed me on the night of the home opener.

 

OKCWarrenSpahnPlaza.JPG

You can see pictures of the other statues here.


As an
Oklahoma City Redhawks season ticket holder, I felt a little guilty in my
Redbirds t-shirt and Cardinals jacket. 
But, I have dozens of games to make it up to them.

 

As I
entered the park, I was greeted with organ music playing, “I’ll be seeing you
in all the old familiar places…”  It
somehow seemed appropriate.

 

One of
the season long promotions at the Ballpark is “Taste of the Big Leagues”.  Each homestand will feature a different
iconic Major League ballpark.  They
opened with Yankee Stadium, but will follow with Wrigley, Citizens Bank, Busch,
Dodger and Fenway.

 

ATTBricktownScoreboardTasteoftheBigs.JPG

Starting
with Yankee Stadium is no random decision. 
It is a decision that stems from that
Oklahoma pride.  Oklahomans such as Mickey Mantle, Bobby
Murcer and Allie Reynolds have done the Yankee pinstripes proud.

 

In a very
nice ceremony, the Redhawks retired Bobby Murcer’s #1 in honor of his life and
to mark his recent passing.  Fans
received commemorative t-shirts as they entered the gates.

 

BobbyMurcerCollage.jpg




 

IMG_0993.JPG


Distinctive Yankee touches filled the concourse.  Each entrance to the field boxes was graced with a banner featuring a historic Yankee player.  Lou Gehrig welcomed me to my section.

LouGehrigBanner.JPG

There was a mini-monument park…

MonumentPark.JPG 

And, a faux subway stop…


SubwayStop1.JPG

But,
perhaps the best part of the “Taste of the Big Leagues” is the actual
“Taste”.  Each concession stand featured
a sampling of Yankee Stadium food: 
Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Baked Ziti and Meatball Subs.  All were yummy.

The ballpark must not sell out much because in the upper deck overlooking right field, several sections of seats were covered with large photos of former Redhawks that are now in the big leagues.  Nelson Cruz is the latest.


NelsonCruzSectionCover.JPG

In one game last summer, I saw Nelson Cruz hit three home runs in one game. The Redhawks regulars around me acted like that was a pretty normal day for the kid.  Now, Cruz is up slugging with the Rangers.  Six home runs already, while batting .295.  I do not do fantasy baseball, but if I did, Nelson Cruz would be on my roster.

Of course, no home opener would be complete without a few fireworks…

Fireworks.JPG


I am excited for the season in Oklahoma City.  I only wish it was a little closer than a two-hour drive.  Still, it is as close a professional baseball gets to me.  The least I can do is go meet it.

Next up, all about the Memphis Redbirds….


A Mixed Bag

As my mind
awoke this morning from a good night’s sleep, three thoughts immediately
flashed by:

  1. It doesn’t matter that we
    lost a tough one to the pirates because Chris Carpenter is pitching today.
  2. I get to pick up my Oklahoma
    City Redhawks season tickets at the season kickoff party.
  3. Crap, I’m late.

I hit the
ground running.  It was a throw and go
morning, where you basically throw on clothes and go.  At work, I jumped on my tasks for the day, so
I could leave early to go to the ballpark. 
I was hard at work at
10:23 when I glanced at a Tweet on my
phone:

AJRoxMyWhiteSox: 
Totally in shock.  Last night’s
starter for the Angels, Nick Adenhart, died in a car accident this morning.  RIP Nick.

So wrapped
up in my work, the words did not sink in. 
In fact, I was sure I had misread it. 
Then came the other Tweets:

11:04

Birdbrained:  seeing
more venues report on Adenhart….shocking and sad.  Only 22.

Mlblogs:  http://tinyurl.com/crn6p8

Redsoxgirl46:  our
thoughts and prayers are with the Angels organization and Nick Adenhart’s
family.  I would hope for a moment of
silence before each game.

11:15

Mlblogs: 
Shocked.  Sad.  Angry. 
This was our
MLB.com Top 50 report on Nick
Adenhart, 22, and last night he was clearly on his way – http://is.gd/rCct

11:37

RSBS:Tragedy today. RIP, Nick.  We’ll miss you:  http://tinyurl.com/d5bbmr

Birdbrained:  This
brings back Darryl Kile.  I feel for the
Angels and their fans today.

Mlblogs:  Angels
just now issued press release.

Mlblogs:  Family
statement:  “Thanks to all of Nick’s
loyal supporters and fans throughout his career.  He will always be in everyone’s hearts
forever”

Mlblogs:  Memorial
services are pending.

I think
it was the “family statement” that brought it home.  I broke from the task at hand to go read of
this young pitcher who I had not heard of. 
Sadly, this man, who seemed destined to make himself a household name by his
work on the mound, was suddenly famous in the most tragic way possible. Quickly,
I had to stop reading because I make it a point not to cry at work.

These
tragedies happen every day.  To other people,
of course.  And, this one did, too.  Unless we have lost a child ourselves, we
could never comprehend the depth and breadth of his parent’s loss. 

However,
I can comprehend the loss felt by his team, for over the years I have lost two
co-workers.  Young people in their
twenties.  Bright.  Talented. 
Good.  Both had small
children.  There was raging anger.  There was despair and sadness.  Then, there is the awkwardness in moving on.  Almost expecting to see them.  Strange that someone else is sitting at their
desk. 

I can not
begin to imagine the conflicted emotions in the player called up to take Adenhart’s
roster spot.  The opportunity of a lifetime,
at the cost of the life of a friend.  It
makes whoever said, “life isn’t fair” seem like an optimist. 

So, while
I celebrate Chris Carpenter’s triumphant return to the mound and enjoy the smell
of my freshly printed tickets, the pleasure is dulled by sadness of this life
cut too short.  The lights that shine the
brightest often burn out too soon.

Godspeed,
young Nick, may your heaven be filled with well-groomed ballparks, sunny summer
days, worthy opponents, umpires who give you the corners and a light wind
blowing in.  We will not forget you.