The 2012 WWLCB Holiday Gift Guide

I’m sure you’re thinking, “But Diane, it’s only November 29. I’m not ready to do my holiday shopping yet!” However, it’s less than a month until Christmas and Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah starts December 9.  If you’re ordering gifts and having them shipped somewhere, the earlier you can get your shopping done, the better. Whether Cardinals items are on your holiday wish list or you’re shopping for a fellow Cardinals fan, the list of suggestions below will help you find the perfect present.  Let’s look at some unique holiday gifts for the Cardinals fan. Click on the underlined word(s) of each paragraph and the website will open in another tab. (You know I don’t want you to leave this page!  LOL!)

Egraphs.com – If you or your gift recipient’s favorite Cardinals player is  Daniel Descalso, Jason Motte, Matt Carpenter, or Jon Jay, you can purchase an egraph, which is a digital photo with a personalized message and signature from the selected player.  Your recipient can view the photo in a digital gallery and purchase a framed print of the autographed photo.

Burton History Trees – This gift is for the Cardinals history buffs.  This unique gift looks like a family tree, but instead of listing who married who and the names of their kids, it lists all the Cardinals connections.  Full disclosure – the Cardinals’ Burton History Tree is in partnership with the United Cardinals Bloggers network, of which this blog is a member.

Cardinals Authentics – Ever dreamed about owning a batting helmet signed by your favorite Cardinals? Or about owning a base that was actually used in a Cardinals game?  This is the place to purchase these items. You can even buy bottles of the bubbly from several recent playoff locker room celebrations.

We lady Cardinals fans may love Cardinals baseball, but we also like to accessorize. You or your favorite lady Cardinals fan will love to receive Cardinals jewelry and/or accessories.  Most ladies like to carry purses (after all, we need something to hold our cell phones, our wallets, and everything else we need), so why can’t it be a Cardinals purse?

If you or your favorite male Cardinals fan has a man cave, it would look great with Cardinals items.  You can find accessories for the perfect Cardinals man cave here. And if you want to accessorize his car with Cardinals items, you can click here to find some.  All guys need a watch, and you can find a great selection here.  Guys need to carry around their spending money and their gear too, so buy them Cardinals gear to do that with here.

Are there new baby Redbird fans or baby-Redbird-fans-to-be on your list?  You can purchase Cardinals themed items here and here. Bigger kids are Redbird fans too and you can purchase Cardinals items for them here.

Stuck inside while it’s cold and snowy outside?  Make the time go quickly by reading Cardinals books and watching Cardinals DVD’s.  Cardinals Gameday magazine is a great gift and when you purchase a subscription during the holiday season, you get a voucher for 2 ticket for a 2013 home game.  That’s like giving 2 gifts in 1!  Click here to subscribe for yourself or to give a gift subscription.  While you’re inside, accessorize with Cardinals items found here and here.  You can find Cardinals holiday decorations for your home and Christmas tree here.  Winter Warmup tickets are great presents as well, and you can purchase them here.  Later in December, you can purchase autographs tickets for Winter Warmup.

If money is no object, consider buying season tickets.  If you don’t want to purchase a whole season, you can purchase ticket packages.  A trip to spring training would be a great present too.  Several St. Louis area travel agencies offer spring training packages.

If you’re looking to get a lot of shopping done at once, I suggest a trip to the team store at Busch Stadium.  After you’re done shopping, take a short walk east on Clark Street and look through the fence into the stadium to relive memories of games gone by or dream about next season.  The Cardinals Clubhouse stores also have a lot of Cardinals merchandise in one location.  The Clubhouses have a lot of smaller items on display that would make great stocking stuffers.

I hope I’ve given you lots of good ideas to make every Cardinals fan (and yourself as well) happy this holiday season!  Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

UCB Postseason Roundtable Question of the Day – 11/20/12

As you may know, this blog is a member of the United Cardinals Bloggers network, and a couple of times a year, the UCB has a roundtable where each day, a member blog asks a question to the other bloggers in the network and gets answers and/or opinions. November 20 was the day I was assigned to ask my question.  So here it was:

The problem with being one of the last folks in the roundtable discussion is so many good questions have already been asked! Don’t worry, however, I do have a question. 🙂

The ladies at Aaron Miles’ Fastball asked earlier in the rotation which Cardinals player surprised you the most in the 2012 season. I’m going to take the opposite position – which player disappointed you the most in the 2012 season? My answer would be David Freese. I expected him to be as clutch as he was in the 2011 World Series in 2012 and it didn’t happen.

Your thoughts, everyone? Looking forward to your responses!

Daniel Solzman (Redbird Rants)-

Lance Berkman.

Wes Keene (Keene on MLB)-

Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Kyle Lohse, and Jason Motte. Why can’t those guys be troubled to contribute once in a while? Seriously, though, I’d have to say David Freese, as well. I saw Daniel said Berkman. I would echo that except that Lance was already older, it isn’t nearly as surprising to me. Freese, on the other hand, was such a firecracker in 2011. It didn’t carry over to 2012 for the most part, and that’s a real mystery to me.

Bill Ivie (I70 Baseball) –

Now this is a tough room…

The guy with the most votes to this point put up career highs in: Games Played, At Bats, Runs, Hits, Doubles, Home Runs, Runs Batted In, Walks, On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage and OPS.  He was a guy that everyone was worried about staying healthy and did so all season long.  Oh, and he’s 29 years old.  If that’s disappointing, I hope we can clone him into a shortstop and second baseman as well.

Geez….guy grabs some post-season magic in 2011 and is now a disappointment in 2012 because he didn’t replicate his miracle heroics?

I’m going with Scrabble on this one.  He was the cog to the Rasmus deal, a player with some team control left, a lefty in the pen that was also hard on right handers and a guy that may end up as a starter in his career.  By mid-season the Cards were looking for a LOOGY they could have some faith in.

That’s disappointing to me.

Thanks.

Daniel Shoptaw (C70 at the Bat)-

Hopefully everyone has given this a lot of thought, since it is on your Cardinal Blogger Award ballot!  🙂

I think Berkman would be my choice as well.  Not that I expected 2011 all over again, but I did think he could contribute.  I figured nagging injuries, not catastrophic ones.  So while, like Lando says in Empire, “It’s not my fault!”, I’d give it to Berkman.

Though Scrabble rates right up there.  A guy that was sold to us as starter material had trouble enough being a LOOGY.

I’m writing this as Bill’s answer comes in, so I’ll second a lot of what he said, especially the Freese part.  20 HR along with regular production and health? For me, he’d be way down on the disappointing list.

Dathan Brooks (Cards Tied for First) –

*deep sigh*

It happens at least once every time we do a roundtable, and today is it again…I agree with Bill. Talk about a guy whose 2012 wasn’t as good as his 2011, 34 is the left-handed poster-child.  Mo said yesterday or the day before that a bat off the bench and LHP in the pen are two things they NEED to come up with before next year. Pretty big disappointment for ’12, I’d say.

Tara Wellman (Aaron Miles’ Fastball) –

The trouble with a magical run like the 2011 postseason became is that it sets unrealistic expectations for the season that follows.

Of course I would have loved for David Freese to be THE guy, every single at bat, every single “clutch” moment, all season long. But in my mind, I never actually expected that. I think what we saw from Freese is exactly what we thought he could do … only, perhaps, a little more streaky than we would have liked. The guy contributed on a regular basis for an entire season — the first time he’s ever played that many games (or even come close). Yeah, he had his slumps. And they could look pretty ugly. But overall, I can’t say I expected more. Hoped for, maybe, but not expected.

I have a hard time calling out Berkman as a disappointment. I guess his lack of playing time was a disappointment, but like Daniel mentioned, that wasn’t really his fault.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I have to go with Scrabble, too. I winced every time he threw a pitch, it seemed, because he simply lost all confidence. Not good a good thing to lose when you’re supposed to be the lefty solution to all problems.

Um … am I allowed to throw Tyler Greene in for this award? (Someone had to do it, right? Figured I’d get that in, just for you, Matt!)

Tom Knuppel (Cardinals GM)-

Furcal- he had a hot start but cooled quickly and never got it going again.

Mark Tomasik (Retrosimba) –

Diane:

Jaime Garcia. I expected a breakout year from him, an 18-win season. Injury aside, he remained inconsistent and fragile. The potential is there, but something seems to be stopping him from fully utilizing that talent.

Matt Whitener (Cheap.Seats.Please) –

First off all, thank you Tara. Your ability to work in a few more Tyler Greene jabs brings me real joy, even in November.

As for biggest disappointment? It’s tough, because this club somehow simultaneously managed to be so much more and so much less than it was supposed to be so often. It’s tough to pull just one guy out. Freese fought an uphill battle every second of the season, due to the mountain top it ended on. In the end, he was a first time All-Star and a .290 hitter. I’ll take that every season.

It’s always hard for me to be disappointed in injuries, so Berkman and Garcia are off the hook with me too. Furcal ended up being what he was supposed to be, average hitter & a better glove.

Can’t find gripe with Yadi, Beltran, Motte or Waino obviously, so who’s left?

I’m going to go in a bit of a different direction and say Matt Holliday. This is relative disappointment, because obviously the club doesn’t get where it does without him, just like every season. But also, just like every season here thus far, it’s also had to get out of his way by the end of it because he’s caved in the playoffs.

This is the best hitter on the team, the one paid like a franchise hitter. He’s got to be there when nobody else is. But instead, for the second year in a row, he gave it all up during the first 162, and then mailed it in later. And unfortunately, there were no once in a lifetime heroics from Freese, nor another threat like Albert Pujols or Berkman to bail his absence out.

It’s a tough load to not be able to count on the guy that you’ve learned to count on in the moments of the season where that developed chemistry is needed most.

Tara Wellman –

I aim to please, Matt. My work here is done. 🙂

Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth) –

I was hoping for Daniel Descalso to build on his 2011 and really stake a claim to the second base position, yet here we are in another off-season where the club is searching for middle infield help.

I’d say Tyler Greene but when you have no expectations, it’s hard to be disappointed.

As Bill pointed out pretty concisely, it certainly wasn’t David Freese.

Chris Coleman (Aaron Miles’ Fastball)

Sorry for the late response!

My choice is Lance Berkman. Granted, injuries are out of any player’s control, but his 2012 was still so disappointing after the good health and success he had in 2011.

Marc Rzepczynski definitely gets second place, for all the reasons everyone else has already said so I don’t need to repeat them!

Dennis Lawson (Pitchers Hit Eighth)-

I have to admit that the most disappointing part of the season was Tyler Greene showing up.  Then again, that’s about the most disappointing thing about the past few seasons.

Matt Philip (Fungoes.net)-

It’s hard to call David Freese’s .372 OBP and .467 SLG over 144 games — all career highs, as others have noted — anything but excellent!

I was disappointed that Big Puma didn’t play more, but after he kept his body intact for 145 games in 2011, I wasn’t surprised that he was disabled for so long (I was more disappointed for my fantasy-league team!).  As for Rzepczynski, he was certainly frustrating, but given that ZiPS projected him to have a 3.62 ERA and he finished with an xFIP of 3.65, I’m not too disappointed there.

Despite playing more games than expected, Rafael Furcal disappointed me the most. That was partly due to his less-than-projected offense — .he hit 325 OBP/.346 SLG, while ZiPS forecasted him at .331/.389 — but more to his worsening play defensively.

========================================================================

Thanks to everyone for their contributions!  To see links to all the questions/answers blog posts from the previous days, click on the link here:  United Cardinals Bloggers.  Thanks for reading and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Diane

R.I.P. Ernie Hays

There was sad news today – former Busch Stadium organist Ernie Hays had passed away at the age of 77.  When I heard that Ernie had died, it brought back memories of Opening Days at the ballpark when Ernie would play “Here Comes the King” over and over until the Clydesdales had circled the outfield and left the field via the wagon gate.

Ernie was an important part of the ball game experience.  Some friends and I attended a Cards-Reds game in the late 1980’s and there was a long rain delay.  After the players left the field and the tarp was rolled out, Ernie played every song about rain in his repertoire.  It helped keep us entertained while we waited for the game to resume and brought other songs about rain to mind.

Ernie was an exemplary musician.  I’m a musician myself and I don’t think I ever heard him play a wrong note.  Not only was Ernie a great musician, he had a great sense of timing.  Ernie would play the theme from the movie “Jaws” whenever an intimidating player came up to bat.  He knew just what music to play for any given situation.  Ernie not only played the organ for the Cardinals, he also played the organ for the Blues, the old St. Louis Steamers and at St. Louis University.

An era has ended. Almost all of the music you hear now at Busch Stadium is pre-recorded. (And rather loud too, but that may be because I’m old.)  The organist is no longer an important part of the ballpark experience, and that is sad.  To us old-timers, the organist is as much a part of the ballpark experience as hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn scorecards and, oh yeah, the players too.  The video boards have taken over the ballpark experience with the Kiss Cam, etc.

For your listening pleasure, here’s Ernie playing “Here Comes the King”:

So thanks for the memories, Ernie. I’m sure you and Jack Buck are sharing many happy baseball memories right now.  I hope that when I get to heaven someday that you’re the organist at all the baseball games. “Here Comes the King” will have a different meaning up there.

Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane