2014 United Cardinals Bloggers Weekend report

UCB_11UCB Weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year.  I get to visit with old friends and new friends who are also fellow bloggers, watch the Cardinals play and have some great food.  It can’t get too much better than that.

The UCB dinner was held Saturday night at Joe Buck’s restaurant in downtown St. Louis, which was a new venue for this event.  I unfortunately was unable to attend, but I understand the Fox Sports Midwest Girls made an appearance.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to attend this shindig next year.

Sunday was the annual Q&A session/Cardinals baseball game.  My son Phillip was my guest this year. He is finally discovering at the ripe old age of 17 (almost 18, as he reminds me daily) how great Cardinals baseball is.  I wanted to take his photo to put on this post, but he hates having his photo taken, even though I told him how handsome he looked in the promotional giveaway, which was the batting practice cap.  I even tried asking him to let me take his photo so his sister who lives in Connecticut could see him, but that idea went nowhere.  I can see now it’s going to be a struggle getting his senior picture taken this year.

I worked the room, walking around and talking with bloggers that I’d met in years past, and making new friends as well.  The meeting started promptly at 12 noon.  Ron Watermon, the director of public relations for the Cardinals, was the MC.  He welcomed us and introduced his staff to us.  Mr. Watermon also let us know that there were tickets to the Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum in the envelope with our tickets and encouraged us to visit the museum.  Mr. Watermon told us that the team is going to debut a digital version of the media guide and that we bloggers would have the first opportunity to view and give our feedback on it.  The world has migrated to digital and the Cardinals are excited about the first digital version of the media guide.

The first speaker was John Mozeliak, the senior vice president/general manager of the Cardinals.  Mo said that we are always a fun group and he gets to read about what we write about.  Mo said that this is one of those years that you leave yourself open to a little scrutiny and a little bit of questioning.  He said that the season hasn’t gone as planned, but  frankly, never does the season go as planned.  Mo said that he was still pretty excited about what where the team is.  Mo said that the Cards have a lot of exciting things going on in the minor leagues.  He said that from a performance standard, there are people stepping up and exceeding their expectations.  Those players going to be knocking on the major league door in the near future, which is great news.  Mo said that it has been a frustrating year at times because when you think about how this team was put together, the thought was that it was going to be an offensive club and there just hasn’t been a situation where the we’ve broken through and found that right combination.  Mos said that the Skipper was trying another lineup that day. Mo emphasized that the teams was not going to give up the future to win now and he asked us to please be a little more patient with the team.  He said that he’d be back to answer questions.

The next speaker was Peggy Ryan,  who is the vice president of food service and merchandising for both Busch Stadium and Cardinals Nation.  Ms. Ryan spoke about how Busch Stadium is open only 6 months out of the year, but Cardinals Nation is open all year long.  4 components of Cardinals Nation – the restaurant, the buffet, the museum, and the rooftop deck.  She spoke at length about all these components.  She invited us to consider Cardinal Nation and Busch for corporate events.

The next speaker was Bill DeWitt III, the vice president of the Cardinals.  He said tht Ballpark Village is unique in all of baseball.  Ballpark Village was part of the master plan in designing the ballpark.  The field was left open to provide for BPV.  Mr. DeWitt said they were looking forward to Phases II, III, and IV of BPV, although they were still getting their sea legs on the operations of Phase I.  Mr. DeWitt spoke about the purchase of the Memphis club, and mentioned that the Cardinals owned the Memphis club, the Springfield, MO club and the high A Palm Beach club.   He said that no other club owned their top 3 farm league clubs.  He said that the purchases weren’t planned, but it was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.  Mr. DeWitt said that attendance should be over 3 million for the season.  The Cardinals are a bottom market team that acts like a large market team.  His job as president is to not take that great fan support for granted.

After Mr. DeWitt was finished, it was time for questions and answers. The first question was about whether tobacco products should be banned in the clubhouse. Mo said that tobacco is banned at the minor league level.  At the professional league level, the club no longer provides tobacco products, but they can’t stop anyone from bringing it in.

The next question was about the revenues and profits of Ballpark Village and whether they have exceeded the team’s projections, and whether profits from BPV used for baseball operations.  Mr. DeWitt said that BPV has done well against expectation in some areas, but some areas are being fine-tuned.   The mission of BPV was to provide a 365 day operation. There is a $2 million marketing budget for non-game days activities such as concerts.

The next question was about Darryl Kile’s death 12 years ago on Sunday. TLR had to handle the team after DK’s death.  Could Matheny handle it if something like that happened today?  Mo says that Matheny was a leader on the team when DK died.  Mike is a tremendous leader of men and someone who understands people, and Mo said should something like that happen again that Mike is the person he would want in that position.

The next question was asked about all the pitchers drafted in this year’s draft and whether that was in response to all the pitchers that have had to have been called up, or was it because the talent was available.  Mo discussed the draft strategy.

The next question was about the trade deadline coming up and whether if someone that could help offensively was available, would you trade out of the minor league surplus or would that be against what you’ve done.  Mo said that there may be opportunities that may make sense.  If it’s a fair deal, they’d do it, but they don’t want to trade away the future.

The next question was about player development. What are the characteristics that allow the team to develop minor league players so well that they succeed at the major league level?  Mo said there is a more dramatic curriculum for each player on and off the field to help prepare them for the big leagues.

Mo said he was waiting for hard questions, since he reads all our tweets.  Nervous laughter ensued.  Someone asked about Oscar Tavaras.  Mo said that Adams’ injury was a great chance to bring Oscar up to see what he could do, but he didn’t play well enough.  Mike was left with the decision about playing time for Oscar.  “If he’s here, he’s gotta play,” Mo said.  Mike was concerned.  If Oscar wasn’t going to play 5 times a week here, he should go back to Memphis.

The next question was about Scott Rolen.  If the situation was during Mo’s tenure, would he have made the trade?  It was during Mo’s tenure.  He didn’t want to trade Scott, he liked Scott, but Scott needed to get traded for obvious reasons.  Scott said he wants out.  So Mo made a deal. He then called Scott and his agent.  Good news, you’re traded.  Bad news – it’s to Toronto.  Dead pause.  His agent said he’d call back. Everyone laughed. Scott had a $4 million signing bonus after 10 years, which was deferred.  Scott demanded it be accelerated.  Internal dynamics is sometimes not always what they appear.  The Cards try to be as transparent as they can be but sometimes you can’t.  Scott and Mo are still friends.

The last question was about Mark Ellis. How do you view a guy like Mark Ellis in the 2nd half, when he hasn’t had much of an opportunity to prove himself?  Mo said he didn’t think Ellis really got going, and now that Kolton is on the DL, Ellis has a chance to prove himself.  Mo said that this is a hard league to learn at or to get back to what you once were.

Norman Taylor, the chef from SportsService, then went to the podium and told us about all the scrumptious food that would be waiting for us in the party suites.  There would be food from the concession stands, the party suites and Cardinals Nation for us to try.  There is new food being developed for Ballpark Village all the time.  Fried Oreos were mentioned, but they were unfortunately unavailable. Sad sighs were heard all over the room.

Since there were lots of bloggers and guests, we had 2 adjoining party rooms to hang out in for the game. The food available in Suite 208 from the stadium concessions/suites was poached pear salad, fruit platter, hot dogs, B&W bratwurst, pulled pork, BBQ beef brisket, Home Run nacho bar, Giaoa’s Hot Salami subs, and chocolate chip cookies and brownies. The Action Station table had Ultimate Stadium Tots, which were tater tots with your choice of pulled pork, chicken, or taco meat with mozzarella cheese and/or sour cream. I had the pulled pork, and the tater tots and they were delicious. The food available in Suite 209 was from Cardinals Nation and there was Asian chicken salad, deviled eggs, pretzel bites with beer cheese, Home Team pork steaks, chicken Mondega, Home Run Mac & Cheese with pulled pork and fried cheesecake bites (the substitute for the fried Oreos). The Action Table was cheese tortellini. I tried the pork steak, the pretzel bites and fried cheesecake. And of course, there were beverages, beer and soda.

The party suites are nicely air conditioned, and there are TV’s to watch the game on if you don’t want to go outdoors. Thankfully, there was an outlet for me to plug my cell phone in to charge it. The outdoor seats have padded seats, which are very comfortable. I parked myself near the door so whenever someone went in or out of the room, I got a nice blast of air conditioned air. There are TV’s above the outdoor seats in each party suite.  This was nice, because from where we were sitting, we couldn’t see the scoreboard very well.

The Cardinals won 5-3, which was good, since the Cards lost on Blogger Day last year.  We had a nice turnout, as evidenced by the photo below (taken by my son Phillip):

2014 UCB weekend 015

I apologize if Phil cut anyone’s body off.  It’s hard when you have so many people to photograph.  I had a great time and I can’t wait until next year!  Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

 

 

 

Firing on all cylinders

Auto_Basics_four stroke cycle piston engineThe title of this post is an automotive term.  For my readers who don’t understand automotive jargon, it means that all the pistons in an engine are working correctly. The pistons are the parts of the engine that move up and down to power the engine. A 4 cylinder engine has 4 pistons, a 6 cylinder engine has 6 pistons, etc.  The more pistons in an engine, the more power it has, so it uses more fuel. So what happens when the cylinders in the engine are not firing properly?  The engine does not run correctly.  The engine sputters,  jerks, and the car may not even be drivable.

You could compare the Cardinals as a team to an engine.  As each piston needs to fire correctly to help the engine run, each division of a team needs to play well so that the team can win games.  Let’s divide the team into pistons and review how each piston is doing.

Piston 1 – Pitching

The Cards’ starting rotation is doing very well this season. If not for them, the Cardinals would have lost a lot more games. The starting rotation picks up the slack for the lack of offense.  The relief corps, however, needs a little fine tuning.

Piston 2 – Hitting

This piston needs a lot of fine tuning, even a grease job.  The hitting is great during some games, but some games, well, the hitting is not so great.  No hitting equals no runs.

Piston 3 – Fielding

The defense has been pretty good this season.  There is a glut of good players in the outfield, which is good and bad simultaneously. As always, Yadi is stellar behind the plate.

Piston 4 – Managing and coaching

Some feel that Mike Matheny is a little too laid back.  Please show some emotion, Mike. Smile and cheer when your players do something good.  Don’t be afraid to argue with the umpire about a call.  Show some passion.

Once all four pistons are moving together the way they’re supposed to, the engine runs smoothly.  Once the Cardinals get every part of their engine working together correctly, the team will starting winning consistently.

I know my way around a car engine.  I can change a tire (I hate these new scissors jacks, by the way), jump a battery, fill up the radiator/overflow and the windshield wiper fluid, and check the oil.   But if you’re one of my women readers who don’t know much about their car, it wouldn’t hurt to learn about the parts of your vehicle and to learn how to do some minor repairs, such as how to change a tire or jump the battery.  It’s also good to know where to fill the antifreeze and the windshield wiper fluid, and how to check your oil and brake fluid levels.  You never know when you’re going to break down somewhere and there won’t be a man around to help out.  You can find car repair and maintenance courses for women at your local community college, or your local car dealer may offer one.

My next post will be next week about United Cardinals Bloggers weekend, which is this weekend.  It’s always great to see my fellow bloggers and to be able to ask Bill DeWitt and John Mozeliak questions.  Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

Cardinals announce 3 new theme nights

For you city folks with country and/or farming in your souls, the Cardinals are offering 2 new theme nights to make you happy, along with a Career Day theme game.  Here’s all the details:

CARDINALS ADD THREE DATES TO THEME TICKET CALENDAR
Tickets On Sale Now For 92.3 WIL Get Your Country On! Night, Monsanto Farmer Appreciation Night and Career Day 

ST. LOUIS, MO (June 19, 2014) – Today the St. Louis Cardinals announced the addition of Monsanto Farmer Appreciation Night, 92.3 WIL Get Your Country On! Night and Career Day to the robust 2014 Theme Ticket schedule.

 Thursday, July 10th is 92.3 Get Your Country On! Night at the Ballpark. Fans can join WIL personalities in Ford Plaza pre-game, and then party on the Left Field Porch with WIL’s Bo Matthews and Derrick Keith as the St. Louis Cardinals take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at 6:05 p.m. Fans who purchase this special themed ticket will receive a limited edition Get Your Country On! Cardinals t-shirt.

On Tuesday, July 22nd, Monsanto invites fans to celebrate local farmers and agriculture at Busch Stadium as the Cardinals take on the Tampa Bay Rays at 7:15 p.m. Fans who purchase the special themed ticket will receive a limited edition Cardinals and Monsanto themed t-shirt.

 On Wednesday, September 3rd, the Cardinals, Fox 2 and KPLR Channel 11 invite fans to the annual Busch Stadium Career Day. Students and educators can enjoy a special pre-game Q&A panel discussion with executives from both companies, focusing on careers in sports and media. Following the special presentation, students can attend an exclusive College Fair with representatives from many colleges and universities from around the Midwest. The $15 Career Day Theme Ticket includes access to all of the pre-game activities, a ticket to the 12:45 p.m. afternoon game with the Pittsburgh Pirates, plus a voucher for a free hot dog, soda and chips. Career Day themed tickets must be ordered by Friday, August 29th.  

Tickets for Monsanto Farmer Appreciation Night, 92.3 WIL Get Your Country On! Night and Career Day are on sale now at cardinals.com/theme.

Monsanto Farmer Appreciation Night, 92.3 WIL Get Your Country On! Night and Career Day are just some of the many unique personalized Theme Ticket promotions planned for the 2014 season. Theme Tickets are customized promotions that allow a select number of fans to celebrate a common interest while enjoying access to a unique promotional item and/or exclusive pre-game event. Targeted around different occupations, organizations, communities, celebrities and more, Theme Tickets let fans enjoy the game in a whole new way. Fans can learn more about Cardinals Theme Tickets at cardinals.com/theme.

That’s all for now!  See you next time!

Diane

Passing the love of baseball on to the next generation

Most of us who love baseball inherited our love of the game from someone close to us.  It was my mother who introduced me to Cardinals baseball.  We listened to the games on KMOX, then later watched them on KSD-TV (now KSDK), with Joe Garagiola announcing the games.  Who introduced  you to the game of baseball? Have you thanked them lately?  It’s too late for me – my mom passed away in  1997.  Who introduced my mom to baseball?  I don’t know because I never asked  her about it and I’m sorry I didn’t.

Many of us marry spouses who love baseball.  A love of baseball is a great common interest.  Going to a ball game is a great first date.   The pace of the game is slow enough that you can converse between innings.  There’s lots of good ballpark food to snack on too.  You might even be chosen to appear on the Kiss Cam!  Some couples even get married at Busch Stadium.   My first husband was not a baseball fan.  I didn’t make that mistake the second time I got married.

I hopefully have passed my love of baseball to my children.  I used to take my daughter to Cards games when she was little.  At Busch Stadium II, she was admitted free to the bleachers if she could walk under the turnstile.  We used to get there early enough to watch batting practice and have a hot dog and a soda.  Scorecards were $1.00. There was a home game on her 18th birthday so we went to the game, of course.  She now lives in Connecticut, but she came home for her birthday last year and of course there was a Cards game on her birthday, so we went.  She sure planned that well!  My 17 year old son is just now getting interested in baseball – better late than never, I guess.  I took him to a game a couple weeks ago, but he doesn’t like it when I cheer with the rest of the fans. That’s part of the fun of going to a game – cheering on the players.  I guess he thinks I’m embarrassing him, since he’s a teenager.

My in-laws also love baseball.  We go to their house every other Sunday afternoon for supper and we watch the ball game on their large screen TV. We talk about how the team is playing and what we like and don’t like about how the team is playing. It’s nice to be married into a family that loves baseball.

Baseball is accessible to fans in many ways.  You can attend baseball games at various levels – at major league parks, spring training games, minor league games, or school games.  You can play baseball in Little League, high school and college – well, if you’re a girl, only in Little League.  Perhaps someday women will play major league baseball.  Even children enjoy playing a game of catch or hitting the ball.  It’s an experience that can be shared between parents/grandparents and kids.  Taking your kids/grandkids to their first baseball game will likely never be forgotten.  It’s a great way to make memories.

If we don’t want the love of baseball to die out n these days of cell phones, social media and video games,  we need to pass along the love of baseball to the next generation.  If you have children or grandchildren, have them watch a ball game with you, on TV or at the ball park. Explain the game to them and tell them why you love it.   Play a game of catch with them in the backyard.   Take them to or rent movies about baseball.  Share the history of baseball with them.  So you don’t have any kids or grandkids?  Share your love of baseball with a neighbor’s kid or a niece or a nephew.  Kids love it when people spend time with them and give them undivided attention and baseball is a great way to do this. So share the love of baseball with someone you love today.  You’ll never regret it.

Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

The photo above is posted with the permission of Tyann Marcink of Marcink Designs.  You can order your own copy of the photo by clicking here.

A love letter to the St. Louis Cardinals players – Part Deux

Dear boys,

Greetings once again from one of your loyal, loving fans.  You all may remember my letter to you last fall when the Cards were on the brink of winning the National League pennant.  You must have taken my loving criticism to heart, for you indeed won the NL pennant, but you lost the World Series once again to the Red Sox (this pattern of losing to the Red Sox in the WS is really getting old, though).

However, I am writing to you much earlier this season because I am alarmed at what I am seeing, both at bat and on the field.  It appears the team is imploding and I, along with many other fans,  are very worried.  Granted, the Cards are only 4 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central and there is still a lot of season yet to play.  But if you guys can’t right the sinking ship S.S. Cardinals, however,  everything will be going south quickly, and I’m not talking about the Braves.

Let’s talk first about the few bright spots on the team.  Our 1-2 starting pitchers (Waino and Wacha) are the best in the NL.  With the exception of the game in Chicago and the game against the Giants, we can always count on Waino for a win. Yadi is simply the best catcher in the NL.  There’s no use trying to steal off of Yadi – you will lose every time.  Yadi’s defense is stellar. And he is great at handling pitchers.

Now let’s talk about hitting.  I’m going to review what I said last time with some minor changes.  Please be patient at the plate and take some balls.  Wait for a good pitch or a mistake pitch to hit.  Make the pitcher work for the out.  The higher the pitch count, the earlier the pitcher will be taken out of the game.  And just get a hit.  Enough hits in a row will equal runs.  There’s no need to be swinging for the fences every time you’re up at bat.  This is all fundamental stuff you should have learned a long time ago and shouldn’t have to be reminded about. And don’t be afraid to bunt to move a runner over into scoring position. To summarize, you boys need to hit more to score more!

If and when you do get on base, be an alert base runner.  Watch for passed balls or wild pitches so you can advance on the base paths.  Watch and see where hit balls land to determine whether it’s safe to advance or not.  Listen to your base coaches; they will tell you whether to run or not.   And when it’s time to run, run like the wind. Also, don’t get hung up between third and home.

As for the pitching – where do I begin?  After Waino and Wacha, the rotation is the Twilight Zone.  Lynn has at least one bad inning every game, known on the Internet as the “Lynning,”  which is not a good thing.  Jaime Garcia is beginning to show promise, but he’s only had 3 starts since coming off of the DL.  Kelly has been out for over a month with a hamstring strain. Does it really take that long to heal a hamstring strain, or is there something else going on?

As for the bullpen, Martinez needs to be sent back down to Memphis to get his head straightened out.  You can’t have a pitcher that can’t get lefties out.  Choate and Maness are a mess.  Jason Motte has just gotten off the DL  Neshek and Rosenthal have been the bright spots in the bullpen.

You guys are professional baseball players and you’ve spoiled us.  We expect the Cards to be in the playoffs every year.  So get it together, boys, and play and act like a team.  Until next time (and hopefully, there won’t be a next time this year) –

Love always,

Diane