Resilience despite adversity

ResilienceI wrote a blog post earlier this season about how the infirmary was getting full of Cardinals players.   Maybe that was bad luck –  who knows?  The Cardinals have endured more than their share of injuries this season.  I’ll list them so we can see the magnitude of the injuries:

Jordan Walden – shoulder
Adam Wainwright – torn Achilles tendon
Matt Adams – torn right quadriceps muscle, Grade 4
Matt Holliday – torn right quadriceps muscle, Grade 2
Matt Belisle –forearm tenderness
Jason Heyward – hamstring strain
Randal Grichuk – muscle strain lifting weight, elbow strain
Jon Jay – recovery from off-season wrist surgery
Yadier Molina – slight tear of left thumb ligament
Carlos Martinez – strained shoulder
Stephen Piscotty – outfield collision with Peter Bourjos

(If there is anyone I missed, or if I goofed up on the injuries, please let me know in the comments section below.)

Yet despite all these injuries (and with some great pickups and call ups by Mo), the Cardinals are in first place in the NL Central with the best record in baseball.  The magic number to clinch the NL Central is 2, and if the Cards win tomorrow at Pittsburgh, it will be zero.  This will be the Cardinals’ first 100 win season since 2005.

The Cardinals have shown amazing resilience this season. A lesser team would crumble under the weight of all these injuries. But the Cardinals have not crumbled, thanks to the managing of Mike Matheny.  Mike is the glue that has held this team together through all the injuries and all the other craziness this season (hacking? What hacking?).

Now we Cards fans and bloggers may not agree with every move Mike makes, but you can’t argue with results. This is Mike’s fourth year managing the Cardinals (heck, managing a major league team, period) and the team has gone to the postseason every year for the last four years.  How many managers can claim that honor during their first four years of managing?  If you want to get some insight as to how Mike manages a team, I highly suggest you pick up and read his book The Matheny Manifesto (click on the title to find it on Amazon).

Mike deserves the NL Manager of the Year award for the way he has handled the Cardinals during this season of adversity.  However, we Cards fans all know that the NL MOY award will go to Joe Maddon, since he turned those loveable losers the Cubs into playoff contenders, and Chicago is a larger market than St. Louis too.

The Cards’ game tonight was postponed until tomorrow due to rain.  It will be made up tomorrow with a day-night doubleheader.  Game time for the first game is 12:35 PM CST.  I will be listening to the game on KMOX at my desk. I will be hoping and praying for no more injuries, and that the Cards will clinch the division.  Last night’s game made my stomach upset; I’m hoping for an uneventful win tomorrow.

Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane

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Homestand highlights for September 21-27, 2015

It’s the final homestand of the season already?!? Where did the season go?  My son and I will be at tonight’s game in Section 233, so if you’re at the game, come by and say hi.  Here’s all the details about the final homestand of 2015:

HOMESTAND HIGHLIGHTS (Monday, September 21 – Sunday, September 27, 2015)St. Louis Blues Night and a Lance Berkman Bobblehead Giveaway highlight the final homestand of 2015

ST. LOUIS, September 21, 2015– The Cardinals are back at Busch for their final regular season games of 2015; a three-game set with the Cincinnati Reds and four with the Milwaukee Brewers. St. Louis Blues Night and a Lance Berkman Bobblehead Giveaway highlight the final regular-season homestand of 2015.

Monday, September 21, 2015 — Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds (7:15 p.m.)

Gates open at 5:45 p.m.

#TeamSTL

  • St. Louis Blues Night: The Cardinals are teaming up with the St. Louis Blues to help kick off their season during the first-ever St. Louis Blues Theme Night at Busch Stadium. All fans who purchase the special theme night ticket (SOLD OUT) receive a limited edition Blues themed Cardinals cap. From 5:45- 6:45 p.m., fans can get autographs from Blues and Cardinals alumni during a pregame pep rally in Riverview Corner complete with Louie and the Blue Crew. Members of the 2015-2016 Blues including David Backes, Vladimir Tarasenko,Kevin Shattenkirk, Troy Brouwer, Paul Stastny, Alex Pietrangelo and Alexander Steen will be introduced on field during a special pregame ceremony, and the Cardinals will have additional Blues prizes and surprises throughout the game. Cardinals players will also wear a St. Louis Blues themed jersey during batting practice and the National Anthem. Following the game, the batting practice-worn jerseys will be available for auction with proceeds benefitting Cardinals Care – the team’s charitable arm. Fans will also be able to purchase Blues themed Cardinals t-shirts, available exclusively at the ballpark. For more info, visit cardinals.com/theme (#CardsTheme). Fans must present the special Theme Night voucher in order to receive this promotional item.

  • Pregame Pom, Cheer and Dance Performance: Prior to the game, Powerhaus Cheerleading, Mt. Olive High School Cheer, Dancers on Tour, Kaskaskia College Cheerleading, Maryville University, Hillsboro High School Cheer, and Trimpe Middle School Dance Team will perform in Ford Plaza.
  •  Coach Jim White Ceremonial Pitch: Coach Jim White will throw a ceremonial first pitch prior to the game. His remarkable story was recently shared in the Disney film McFarland USA starring Kevin Costner. After moving to McFarland, California with his family in 1964, Coach White took over the cross country team in town and won an unprecedented nine state championships, transforming the small town and the young men on his team.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 — Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds (7:15 p.m.)

Gates open at 5:45 p.m.

  •  Cardinals Care Grant Ceremony: During a 3 p.m. ceremony, Cardinals Care will distribute more than $147,000 to 70 area nonprofit groups that support local kids. A Cardinals player, executives and Fredbird will all take part in the afternoon event (#CardsCare).
  • Willie McGee Budweiser Bash Theme Night (#BudBash): Fans who purchase this special Bud Bash Theme Ticket receive a limited edition Willie McGee mini bobblehead as the Cardinals celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1985 Nationals League Champion Cardinals. VIP ticket-holders will also have access to a pregame autograph session with McGee. For more info, or to purchase tickets, visitcardinals.com/theme (#CardsTheme). VIP tickets are sold out. Fans must present the special theme night voucher in order to receive this promotional item. McGee will also throw a ceremonial pitch prior to the game.

  • College Theme Night: College students can purchase a ticket for $15 which includes an exclusive 80’s themed Cardinals long-sleeved t-shirt designed by STL Style. For more info, or to purchase tickets, visit cardinals.com/theme (#CardsTheme). Fans must present the special theme night voucher in order to receive this promotional item.

 

  • Deborah Norville Ceremonial Pitch: Television journalist and anchor of Inside Edition, Deborah Norville, will throw a ceremonial pitch prior to the game.
  • Cardinals Care Stadium Auction: Fans have the unique opportunity to bid on exclusive autographed Cardinals memorabilia at the game. The auction is a great way for fans and collectors alike to obtain specialty Cardinals items while helping support the programs that Cardinals Care provides to youth in the community. Auction tables are located at Gate 1, Gate 3, inside the Cardinals Club and Redbird Club.
  • Battle at Busch: 105.7 The Point and the Cardinals present the Battle at Busch concert series. The 2015 schedule features 18 local bands over the course of six nights, at six different Cardinals home games in Ford Plaza. The final battle features Unifyah, Cardboard Room, Chad Randall Band and Destination Z playing for the grand prize. Bands begin performing 20 minutes after the gates open with each act given 20 minutes to perform. Each band will be judged on a point system by Mozingo Music and 105.7 The Point. Tickets are available for $10.57 to each Battle at Busch game by going to cardinals.com/battleatbusch.

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 Wednesday, September 23, 2015 — Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds (7:15 p.m.)

Gates open at 5:45 p.m.

  •  Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day: All fans who purchase a special Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day theme ticket receive a limited edition Cardinals themed Paddy Cap. All fans can enjoy Irish music and dancers in Riverview Corner from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. For more info, or to purchase tickets, visit cardinals.com/theme (#CardsTheme). Fans must present the special Theme Night voucher in order to receive this promotional item.

  • Pregame Pom, Cheer and Dance Performance: Prior to the game, Triad Cheer, Triad Middle School Cheer, Natural Impact All Star Cheer, Festus High School Varsity Cheer, Adrenaline Explosion Cheer, HHP Dellwood Rec Center, and Seckman High School Dance will perform in Ford Plaza.

Thursday, September 24, 2015 — Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers (6:15 p.m.)

Gates open at 4:45 p.m.

  • Billikens Night: All fans who purchase a special Billikens Theme Night ticket will receive a Billikens themed Cardinals cap. Athletes and members from the Billiken Band will be in Riverview Corner from 4:45 to 6:15 p.m. For more info, or to purchase tickets, visitcardinals.com/theme (#CardsTheme). Fans must present the special Theme Night voucher in order to receive this promotional item.

  • Tyron Woodley Ceremonial Pitch: UFC Welterweight Contender, Tyron Woodley will throw a ceremonial pitch prior to the game. The Ferguson native and University of Missouri graduate will be taking on rival Johny Hendricks at UFC 192 on Saturday, October 3 in Houston, Texas. Woodley is currently ranked 3rd in the world.

Friday, September 25, 2015 — Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers (7:15 p.m.)

Gates open at 5:15 p.m.

  • Fireworks Night: Immediately following the game, there will be a free fireworks and laser light show courtesy of Cooper Tires.
  • Dueling Pianos: From 5:15 – 6:45 p.m. there will be a dueling piano performance in Ford Plaza, courtesy of Spanky Entertainment.
  • Cardinals Care Stadium Auction: Fans have the unique opportunity to bid on exclusive autographed Cardinals memorabilia at the game. The auction is a great way for fans and collectors alike to obtain specialty Cardinals items while helping support the programs that Cardinals Care provides to youth in the community. Auction tables are located at Gate 1, Gate 3, inside the Cardinals Club and Redbird Club.
  •  Cardinals Museum Artifact Spotlight: Every Friday home game, the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum will highlight artifacts in the collection not currently on display during a pregame presentation inside the Museum at 3:30, 4:15 and 5:00. Today’s featured items include Bob Gibson’s game-used helmet liner and batting helmet, and Chris Carpenter’s game-used batting helmet. These programs are free with paid admission to the museum. For more information or to purchase tickets to the museum, visitcardinals.com/museum (#CardsMuseum).

 

  • MLBPAA Auction: The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association will conduct a baseball-themed silent auction inside Gate 1, Gate 3, UMB Champions Club and the Cardinals Club from the time gates open through the fifth inning. All proceeds will benefit Cardinals Care and the Players Alumni Association, a non-profit group that strives to preserve the game of baseball while supporting a variety of charities.
  • Live Music at Cardinals Nation: There will be free live music in the Hall of Fame Club (2nd floor of the Cardinals Nation Restaurant) following the game. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015 — Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers (6:15 p.m.)

Gates open at 4:15 p.m.

  • 2016 Cardinals Magnet Schedule: All ticketed-fans receive a 2016 Cardinals Magnet Schedule courtesy of Shelter Insurance (#CardsPromo).
  • Lance Berkman Bobblehead: 25,000 ticketed-fans receive a Lance Berkman Bobblehead courtesy of Coca-Cola and Dierbergs (#CardsPromo). This bobblehead was the result of a season ticket-holder vote which asked fans to pick a favorite player from the past 10 seasons in Busch III. Thanks to the help of his 2011 postseason heroics, Berkman won the vote and will be honored with the bobblehead. Lance Berkman will throw a ceremonial pitch prior to the game.

  •  MLBPAA Auction: The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association will conduct a baseball-themed silent auction inside Gate 1, Gate 3, UMB Champions Club and the Cardinals Club from the time gates open through the fifth inning. All proceeds will benefit Cardinals Care and the Players Alumni Association, a non-profit group that strives to preserve the game of baseball while supporting a variety of charities.
  • Live Music at Cardinals Nation: There will be free live music from in the Hall of Fame Club (2nd floor of the Cardinals Nation Restaurant) following the game. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015 — Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers (1:15 p.m.)

Gates open at 11:15 a.m.

  • 2016 Cardinals Magnet Schedule: All ticketed-fans receive a 2016 Cardinals Magnet Schedule courtesy of Shelter Insurance (#CardsPromo).
  • 2016 Free Ticket Voucher: All ticketed-fans receive a free ticket voucher to a 2016 Cardinals regular-season home game (#CardsPromo).
  • Six Flags Day: All kids 48 inches and under receive a free ticket to Six Flags, valid any Sunday until November 1 (#CardsPromo).
  • Prairie Farms Ice Cream Sunday: Starting two hours prior to the game, bring the entire family to Ford Plaza for games, prizes and free North Star ice cream (while supplies last).
  • Cardinals Care Stadium Auction: Fans have the unique opportunity to bid on exclusive autographed Cardinals memorabilia at the game. The auction is a great way for fans and collectors alike to obtain specialty Cardinals items while helping support the programs that Cardinals Care provides to youth in the community. Auction tables are located at Gate 1, Gate 3, inside the Cardinals Club and Redbird Club.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading!

Diane

Sweet home Chicago (not)

Home Sweet HomeThe Cardinals finished a three game series with the Chicago Cubs today, and I’m sure they’re glad that they will be back at Busch Stadium tomorrow.  The Cards only won one game of the three game series, which was today’s game.  The once-friendly rivalry between the Cards and the Cubs (the history of which I’ve written about here) has turned rather nasty this season, and it came to a head this weekend.

Joe Maddon, the Cubs’ manager, said the Cards were a  “vigilante group.” To borrow a quote from the movie The Princess Bride, “I do not think that word means what you think it means.”  Per Dictionary.com, the word “vigilante” (as a noun) means “any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime.”  I hardly think Matt Belisle’s brushing the back of Anthony Rizzo’s knee with a pitch could be considered a vigilante action.  Rizzo crowds the plate anyway, which naturally results in being hit by pitches.  

Maddon should take a look at his own team.  Chris Coghlan took out Pittsburgh’s talented second baseman Jung Ho Kang by sliding into him spikes up, fracturing Jung’s leg and tearing his meniscus, ending his season. Anthony Rizzo slid into home in the 8th inning of today’s game and hit Yadier Molina’s thumb with his foot.  Yadi made the tag, but immediately dropped his glove, obviously in pain.  Yadi has a sprained thumb and will have a MRI tomorrow.  Hopefully, he won’t miss any time – we need him for the playoffs. (Although Tony Cruz did throw out a runner at second in the bottom of the 9th.)

Perhaps Maddon is trying very hard to have the storyline in Back to the Future II of the Cubs winning the World Series in 2015 come true.  (Derrick Gould of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote a very good story of how that storyline came to be, and you can read it here.) Of course, that movie also has the ALCS winner as Miami, which we know is in the National League.  Personally, I’m still waiting on the hoverboard and the shoes with the self-tying laces.

There was some good news this weekend – the Cards qualified for the playoffs on Saturday, thanks to the Giants’ loss. Should the Cards play the Cubs in the wild card play-in game, it would thankfully happen in Busch Stadium, because of the Cards’ records. If I were a Cards player, I would not want to have to play that wild card play-in game in Chicago. Unless that game happens, the Cards are thankfully done playing the Cubs this season.

The last homestand of the season starts tomorrow night, and my son and I will be at the game tomorrow night, thanks to the $5 McDonald’s tickets.  If you’re at the game tomorrow night, come by section 233 and say hi.

That’s all for now. Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane

RIP Joaquín Andújar

JoaquinCardinal Nation is in mourning today at the sad news of the passing of Joaquín Andújar.  Those of us who followed Cardinals baseball in the 1980s know Joaquín well.  He was a fiery, passionate pitcher, who loved the game and loved pitching.  Joaquín called himself One Tough Dominican. The St. Louis radio DJ’s called him Walking Underwear due to Joaquín’s thick accent.  It was fun watching him on and off the mound. Here’s one of my favorite stories about Joaquín from Whitey Herzog’s book You’re Missin’ a Great Game:

Ozzie still tells the damnedest stories.  Like the day in Montreal I came out to the mound to talk to talk to Goombah about pitching to Al Oliver. Ozzie’s on the mound as usual, with his arms folded, looking annoyed.  Joaquin wants to stay in there, of course, even though Oliver’s a good left-handed hitter. So I just say, “Look, I’ll leave you in, but be careful.” Joaquin looks at me like I’ve insulted his manhood.  He frowns and points at his chest. “He one tough hitter,” he says.  “Me one tough pitcher!”

Before I can even put my foot in the dugout, the ball’s going over the left centerfield fence.  And Ozzie comes back to the mound laughing, slaps Goombah on the back and says, “Hey Jack! You one tough pitcher, he one better batter!”

Joaquín started his career in 1969 after signing with the Mets, just a month shy of his 17th birthday.  He played in the Reds’ farm system for 6 years until he was traded to the Astros after the 1975 season. Joaquín made his major league debut against, ironically, the Reds in 1976. In 1977, Joaquín was named to the All-Star Game as the Astros’ representative, but could not play due to an injury he sustained in his last start before the All-Star Game.

Joaquín pitched out of the Astros’ bullpen in 1978.  He began the 1979 season in the bullpen, but was put in the starting rotation.  His work in the rotation earned him another start in the All-Star Game, but Joaquín could not attend.

In 1980, Joaquín split his pitching between the bullpen and the starting rotation.  Joaquín made his first post-season appearance in 1980 because of a one-game playoff between the Astros and the Dodgers. Joaquín got a save in game 2 of the NLCS against the Phillies. Joaquín was traded to the Cardinals for Tony Scott in 1981 just before the players’ strike.

Joaquín’s best career years were with the Cardinals.  Joaquín was put in the starting rotation after the 1981 players’ strike and had a 6-1 record.  1982 was a great year for Joaquín – he had a 15-10 record, and he pitched 265.2 innings.  Joaquín started and won game 3 of the NLCS against the Braves.  In the World Series, he started and won games 3 and 7.

Joaquín  had a career year in 1984, with a 20-14 record and a 3.34 ERA.  He also led the league in wins, innings pitched (261.1), and shutouts (4).  Joaquín was also selected to the All-Star Game for the fourth time.  He also won the Gold Glove.  Andújar was also arguably the ace of the Cardinals’ staff – in 1982 and 1984, he led the team in ERA, wins, games started, complete games, innings pitched, shutouts and strikeouts.

In 1985, Andújar was selected to the All-Star Game for the fourth time after starting with a 12-1 record.  1985 was the year of the bitter rivalry between the Cards and the Mets. The radio DJ’s back in the 1980 (namely, J.C. Corcoran and his crew) really stirred the rivalry pot, calling the Mets “pond scum.” The Cards ended up winning the NL East over the Mets and beat the Dodgers in the NLCS to get to the World Series.

Sadly, the 1985 World Series didn’t go well for Joaquín.  He started but lost game 3.  Whitey decided to go with John Tudor for game 7 due to John’s low postseason ERA.  Tudor had a rare bad start and Joaquín was called in for mop up duty. Joaquín disagreed with Don Denkinger’s bad call of a ball.  After the next call, Joaquín had to be restrained and he was ejected from the game.  Joaquín was so angry about getting ejected that he assaulted a toilet in the men’s room at Kaufmann Stadium with a bat.

In 1986, the Cards traded Joaquín to the A’s for Tim Conroy and Mike Heath,  At the beginning of the season, Joaquín served a 5 game suspension for the World Series incident. Commissioner Peter Uberroth handed out year long suspensions to those who had admitted cocaine use during the Pittsburgh drug trials, including Joaquín, who had also dealt drugs to Lonnie Smith in 1982. The suspensions were downgraded to anti-drug donations and community service.

Joaquín only pitched for the A’s in 1986 and 1987.  He came home to the Astros in 1988 and pitched in the bullpen, but made some starts due to injuries.  Joaquín signed a one year contract with the Expos in 1989, but didn’t make the team.

After retiring from baseball, Joaquín started a trucking company in his native Dominican Republic and was involved in youth baseball activities.  He passed away today at the age of 62 from complications from diabetes.  One Tough Dominican should be too tough to die, at the young age of 62 or any other age. Joaquín, my sympathies and condolences are with your family.  Thanks for the memories and thanks for the great baseball.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Diane

Bibliography:

“Joaquín Andújar,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joaqu%C3%ADn_And%C3%BAjar

You’re Missin’ a Great Game by Whitey Herzog and Jonathan Pitts, Berkley Books, 1999.