Tagged: Road Trip

Spring Training Trip 2010

This week I made my first pilgrimage to the festival known as Spring Training.  There is no better excuse to get out of town, find some sun and get a taste of things to come.

I had my first ballpark hotdog of the season within minutes of arriving at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida.  It was a little taste of heaven.  Grilled.  Spicy mustard and sweet relish.  Yuuuum!  
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Roger Dean Stadium is a nice place to see a ball game.  It is the size of a minor league park, so all the 6000+ seats are close to the field.  The atmosphere is more relaxed and loose than during regular season games.  Players take more time to sign autographs and interact with the fans.  If you want autographs, spring training is the place to be.
Here is a picture of the Cardinals’ clubhouse:
RogerDeanClubhouse.JPG
The flag in the picture reminds me of a particular gripe I have concerning the Star-Spangled Banner.  There are many rules dictating how we should fly Old Glory.  There should be rules about how the National Anthem is sung.  
First, it should not be drug out like a funeral dirge.  I do not care how lovely your voice is, nobody wants to hear you hold notes for excessively long times because you want your five minutes in the spotlight instead of three.
Second, nor should it be sung like a ditty in a lounge act.  Keep it sharp.  Keep it tight.  If you do that, then you can have your big moment of embellishment at the end.
Third, we all stand for the anthem because it is the rule.  A proper anthem, sung with heart and gusto, should make people jump to their feet and be ready to go and fight!  They should want to cheer with patriotism at the end, and not simply because we are glad it is over.  
I would rather hear someone sing it badly with heart, than a beautiful voice that misses the point.
But, I digress…
You can read the stats, scores and analysis elsewhere.  I will give you what we all really want: pictures!
I suppose we should start with this guy:
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Sure hope he makes the club!
Here is Ryan Ludwick at the plate.  With all the talk about Pujols and Holliday, Ludwick gets left out of the conversation a bit.  He is a Silver Slugger, and I expect in this lineup, he will get some pitches to hit.
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One of the things I was most looking forward to was watching my favorite catcher, Yadier Molina, play.  At his first at bat, he did not disappoint, sending a ball into the left-field corner and sliding into second, safe with a double.
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Sadly, that slide did him in for the time being.  Here he is at second after the slide.  I have looked at this picture trying to decide if I can see the pain. His stance seems uncomfortable.
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Molina left the game after running to third and pulling up when Oquendo was waving him home.  Strained oblique.  I got to see him play less than two innings.  Bummer. The next time I saw him was a couple days later in the dugout, next to Oquendo:
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Due to a bruised knee, I did not see much of Colby Rasmus either.  I will be interesting to see what he does in 2010 with a year of major league experience under his belt.
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Felipe Lopez is back with the club.  I hope he does as much damage for the Cardinals as he did against the Cardinals last year.  Lopez was my only “away from the park sighting” of a player.  I saw him with his family at the pool.  No, I did not talk to him.  I am shy and did not want to intrude.  Here he is at the plate, wearing number 8.  I still think of that number as Troy Glaus.
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Speaking of Glaus, last year due to his injury, the Cardinals had an opening at third base.  This year, they do, too.  David Freese won the job last year, then lost it due to injury.  He seems on track to win the job again this year.
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The contest for the last couple of roster spots is a tight one.  Joe Mather seems to be a strong candidate, particularly since Rasmus is hurt and Mather can play center.  Mather had a 2009 season plagued with injury and illness.  
MatherST.JPG
The other two strong candidates are in the picture below:  Nick Stavinoha and Allen Craig.  Stavinoha has the advantage of some major league experience, but Allen Craig has put together two strong spring trainings in a row, as well as a great Triple-A season in 2009.  Cr
aig first caught my eye playing for AA Springfield two years ago.  I liked him immediately, and I am pulling for him to make the club.
StavinohaCraigST.JPG
What a difference a year makes.  Last year, Brendan Ryan was just trying to make the club.  This year he is the everyday shortstop.  He played acrobatic defense last year and hit around .300.  I love it that he is still wearing the socks!
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Much to my pleasure, there is another Cardinal wearing the socks this year.  Our newest starting pitcher, Brad Penny.  Brad Penny had an excellent outing on Saturday.  Our rotation is really looking tough this year.
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Here is another shot of Penny before the game with backup catcher, Jason LaRue.  I was happy to see LaRue re-signed this year.  It is so nice to have a backup of that quality.

PennyLaRue.JPG

Hmmm…who else did I see?  Oh yeah, this guy.  Chris Carpenter was in excellent form on the day I saw him pitch.  He ready to go.  Opening day, maybe?  Last year, I got so sick of the term “a healthy Chris Carpenter”.  This year, it has been nice to think of him as a lock, rather than a question mark.
CarpenterST.JPG
On the day Carpenter pitched, I sat next to a couple friendly old fellows.  They were testing me.  Asking me questions.  Some I knew.  Some I tanked, but that was okay because then I got to learn something. Here are the two I got right:
The game was low scoring, so one of the guys says, “Only a few runs and hits.  Pretty boring game, huh?”  
I said, “No.  This is great.  I love pitching.”  
I could hear the approval in his voice when he said, “Good for you.”
The other guy asked me a question that I am sure he did not think I would know the answer to.
He says, “Do you know the first two words to ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame.’?”
I immediately guessed the trick.  “You mean the first two words to the verse, right?” I said and began to rack my brain.  I had looked this up once.  I knew I knew it.  Finally, the words flowed.
“Katie Casey was baseball mad.  She had the fever and had it bad.”
I got it!  I liked the verses to the song because they are girl that wants nothing more than to be at the ballpark.  I was pretty sure it was written about me in a former life.
But…back to the players.
In the way of former Cardinal sightings, I offer you Brian Barden.  Brian tagged teamed with Joe Thurston at third last year before a little guy named Mark DeRosa came along.  Why did we not re-sign DeRosa?
BardenST.JPG
And, I enjoyed watching this exchange between the NL MVP and the guy that would likely be the NL MVP, if Pujols went to the AL.  Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez have a friendly chat behind second base before the game:
PujolsRamirez.JPG
Under the category of “players that I remember making a splash at the World Baseball Classic”, I offer you, Frank Catalanotto.  He played very well for the Italians.  I particularly remember his defense.  Although, he had a double off Carpenter, so maybe it was his bat.  The Mets fans around me said he was competing for the last roster spot.  
Catalanotto.JPG
This was a trip I will never forget and intend to repeat!  I was so happy be at the ballpark again.  To see the green grass.   To be in the sun.  And, to be hot.  I was actually hot for the first time since September.  
If you go, I recommend eating at The Food Shack and The Lazy Logger Cafe.  Both were excellent.  I also recommend taking the tour of the Jupiter Lighthouse.  105 steps up, but worth the view.  
JupiterLight.JPG
But, possibly my favorite sight of all was my toes buried in the sand:
sand.JPG

Will I Leave My Heart in San Francisco?

The Cardinals had a welcome off-day today.  Welcome to me anyway.  I’m not sure how I would have gotten packed otherwise.  Packed?, you say.  Yes, packed.  

Thus far, I have been to two exhibition games, seven Triple-A games, one Double-A game and two college games.  This weekend, I break into the majors with a trip to San Francisco to see the Cardinals play the Giants.
I started contemplating this trip last summer as I fell into the habit of tuning in the Giants game at bedtime and falling asleep to the sounds of AT&T Park.  Tomorrow it comes to fruition.  Both teams have great pitching, cold bats and a Molina behind the plate.  In addition there are sailboats practically in the outfield.  I could not ask for more. 
Except for maybe one clear day to see the Golden Gate Bridge.  I guess there is always one more thing.  Or, five.  I can think of five more things I would like to put in my suitcase, but I’m determined to carry-on only.
Love the Cardinals.  Love the Giants.  Love great catchers.  Love Baseball.  Love Sailboats.  Love Waterfronts.  I may not leave my heart there, but it sure is looking forward to the trip.


Livin’ on the Wrong Side of Memphis

I’ve been living on the wrong side of Memphis
Gonna bronze these blue suede shoes
These cowboy boots are gettin’ kinda restless
And I ain’t gotta single thing to lose

–From “Wrong Side of Memphis” by Garry Harrison and Matraca Berg

 

Cowboy Boots


 I live in
Oklahoma.  I know cowgirls.  


boot.jpg
One of my good friends in high school wore Wranglers and Ropers every day.  My life-

long best friend comes from a rodeo family of barrel racers, bulldoggers and bull riders.  My sister, although a city girl in every other way, is a horsewoman who is far happier in her cowboy boots than a pair peep-toe pumps. 

In contrast to my sister who thrives on city life, I do enjoy the simplicity of my small town existence.  But, I am not a cowgirl.  I grew up on a farm.  I went to Oklahoma State, home of the Cowboys (and Cowgirls).  I love a good country tune, and if you want to go two-steppin’, I am so your girl.  Just in case my sister ever lets me near her horse, or I need to go to the rodeo with my friend or two-stepping with you, I own a pair of cowboy boots.

I love my boots however, I am not comfortable in them the way the cowgirls in my life are.  I always feel a bit like I am wearing a costume.  Oddly enough, I am more comfortable in my peep-toe pumps with 4 inch heels.  It is wrong.  No one should feel at home in those shoes.  Maybe my sister’s cowboy boots are her tie that grounds her to her country roots.  Perhaps, my pumps lift me out of my simple life and tie me to the city that I sometimes miss.

That being said, there is no doubt that my “cowboy boots” have been “getting’ kinda restless”.  Winter (meaning the off-season) has been long and tedious.  I decided last year that I would organize my life and finances in such a way that I could see the most baseball possible.  In the dark, cold winter, I have planned, plotted and booked.  As the possibilities unfolded, I became more and more restless, anxious for the day the baseball adventures would commence. 

This Friday, April 3, 2009, it begins.

 

I Ain’t Got a Single Thing to Lose

CardinalsLogo.gifWhen I first started planning, I considered a Spring Training trip.  But, just getting there is expensive, with a plane ticket, rental car and hotel.  Also, when I was looking at it, the World Baseball provisional roster was not out, so I did not know how many Cardinals would be gone. 

 


memphis Redbirds.gifWhile I was still vacillating, I saw that the St. Louis Cardinals would play two exhibition games against their Triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds. 
Memphis is only a seven hour drive.  No plane ticket.  No rental car.  Pre-season problem solved.

With two dugouts full of redbirds, “I ain’t got a single thing to lose”.   Redbird heaven, here I come.  Although if the Memphis Redbirds beat up on the St. Louis Cardinals, that could be construed as a bad thing.  Or, it could mean we have great depth.  It is Spring, a hopeful time, so if that happens, I will be bragging on our depth.

So, today, I am packing and preparing.  The #4 Molina jersey is in the suitcase.  The score cards are printed.  The batteries are in the camera.  Gretta V. Jetta has new shoes(tires), a fresh oil change and a new tag.  We are ready to hit I-40 and go east until we cross the Mississippi and end up on the right side of Memphis.   Let the baseball begin!

’33, not #33

I
was happy to find Redbird Chatter on the mlblog.com leaders list this week.  Number 33. 
I have been here before.  I posted
a dedication to #33 Barney Schultz. 
Oddly enough, Mr. Schultz was mentioned on the broadcast of today’s
Cardinals Spring Training game when the discussion turned to whether or not the
Cardinals have ever had a knuckleball pitcher. 
Al Hrabosky impressively pulled out the name, Barney Schultz. 

So,
since I had already written a #33 dedication, I decided to do 1933 instead.  As I did my research, I realized I could use 1933
facts to unveil my projected 2009 baseball adventures.  You might say I was killing two birds with
one stone, but killing birds (especially red ones) is a touchy subject here.

In
many ways, 1933 was a horrific year.  The
Great Depression devastated the nation. 
Aldolf Hilter became dictator of
Germany and terrorized the Jewish
population.  And, the St. Louis Cardinals
only finished in the middle of the National League pack.

But,
there were good things.  Both my parents
were born in 1933.  Frances Perkins
became the first female member of the United States Cabinet.  The St. Louis Cardinals did not win pennant,
but they laid the foundations for what would be a 1934 championship season for
the Gashouse Gang. 

Dizzy
Dean led the pitching staff with a colossal 293 innings pitched.  He finished with a 20-18 record and an ERA of
3.04.  Third baseman, Pepper Martin had
189 hits and 122 runs with a .316 batting average.  He was being knocked in by outfielder, Joe
Medwick, who had 98 RBI’s and slugged .497.

 

Baseball
Adventure #1

Also,
in 1933, Frank Schutt was the general manager of a downtown
Memphis hotel, The Peabody.  He and a buddy returned from a hunting trip
and thought it would be fun to put their live decoy ducks in the hotel’s
fountain.  The ducks liked it.  The guests liked it, and a tradition
began.  The ducks make a daily pilgrimage
to and from the fountain.  It is one of
those “must see” things in
Memphis.  After Graceland, of course.

What
do the
Peabody ducks have to do with baseball? The
Peabody Hotel is in close proximately to
Auto Zone Park, the home of the
Cardinals Triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds.  On April 3-4, Redbirds will migrate in mass to
the ballpark to watch a couple exhibition games between the St. Louis Cardinals
and the Memphis Redbirds.  And, I will be
among them.

 

Baseball
Adventure #2

On
January
5, 19
33, construction began on
one our nation’s most recognizable landmarks, the
Golden Gate Bridge.  I have only seen pictures.  In May, I will actually touch it, when I
visit
San Francisco to see the Cardinals take
on the Giants.  I am excited to see the
beautiful
AT&T Park on the bay and two
Molinas behind the plate.  Heaven!

 

Baseball
Adventure #3

In
June 1933, the Union Station Massacre took place
Kansas City, where four law enforcement
officers were killed in an attempt to free the prisoner they were
transporting.   Charles “Pretty Boy”
Floyd was thought to be involved, but evidence suggests otherwise.  Hopefully, the only violence I will see on my
June trip to
Kansas City, are the Cardinals seriously
punishing a little leather ball when they take on the Royals in the I-70
series. 

I
am excited to see the newly renovated Kaufman stadium.  But, that is not what’s going to make this
adventure extra special.  I will be
visiting family as well.  Hopefully, if
he or she cooperates, I will be meeting my new niece or nephew that is due to
enter the world in June. 

 

Baseball
Adventure #4

On
September
1, 19
33, Ann Richards, future
governor of
Texas was born.  In July, I will road trip to Houston, Texas to watch the Cardinals
play the Astros.  Last year, I enjoyed my
trip to
Minute Maid Park.  I only hope that the Astros do not sweep the
Cardinals this time. 

I
also plan to get in a visit to
Johnson Space Center, which I have wanted to
visit for a long time.  This trip may
also include a stop off in
Dallas to watch a Rangers game.  It seems wrong to just drive past a ballpark
and not stop in.

 

Baseball
Adventure #5

Also
in 1933, Giuseppe Zangara attempts to assassinate President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt
in
Miami, Florida, but instead fatally
wounds
Chicago Mayor, Anton J.
Cermak. 

Every
fall, my work takes me to
St. Louis for a few days, which is
exactly how this whole Cardinals fan thing got started in the first place.  Luckily, the trip this year coincides with a
Florida Marlins and a Chicago Cubs series. (Yes, I
could not believe that I found a 1933 fact that included both
Florida and Chicago.  Too bizarre.)

 

Baseball
Mini-Adventures

There
will be other baseball mini-adventures. 
Trips to
Oklahoma City to see the Redhawks and
the Memphis Redbirds.  Trips to
Tulsa to see the Drillers and the
Springfield Cardinals.  The Bedlam series
between my Oklahoma State Cowboys and the OU Sooners.  These can all be related to Oklahoman, Wiley
Post, who in 1933 became the first person to fly solo around the world,
traveling 15,596 miles in 7 days, 18 hours and 45 minutes.

My
baseball miles logged will probably fall short of 15,596.   But, I decided last year that I would
organize my life in a way that allows me to see the most baseball possible in
2009.  I saw five Cardinals games last
year.  I hope to see 15 this year.  Not bad, when you live 500+ miles from Busch
Stadium.

I
look forward to taking pictures and chronicling my adventures.  But, mostly, I am looking forward to seeing
some great baseball. 

 

Thanks
to Wikipedia for providing all the great 1933 facts.