Spring training is over – hallelujah!

BalloonsThe Cards’ last spring training game today was a doozy and to make things even better, it was against the Yankees.  There were home runs a-plenty – 2 by Stephen Piscotty, 1 by Tommy Pham, 1 by Jeremy Hazelbaker and 1 by Brandon Moss.  Hopefully, the hitting slump is over and the team meetings the other day did the trick in getting the guys motivated.

Let’s hope the Birds will have some of today’s firepower in Pittsburgh on Sunday, despite the fact that the high temperature this Sunday in Pittsburgh is supposed to only be 39 degrees – and that’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius. I’ve attended games in early October in St. Louis in those kinds of temperatures and I feel sorry for those poor fans who will be shivering in the stands.  When MLB assembles the schedule for next season, they should ensure that no games are played in the Northeast, the upper Midwest and Toronto in the first part of April, since there is still the possibility of cold weather and even snow. Unless, of course, the games are scheduled in Milwaukee and Toronto, since those stadiums have roofs.  In contrast, the high temperature in St. Louis this Sunday will be 68 degrees.  That’s a perfect temperature for a ball game – not too hot and not too cold.

I was so hoping that the Cards would leave spring training without a major injury.  Unfortunately, Jhonny Peralta tore the same ligament on his thumb that Yadier Molina did during the playoffs last year. Jhonny will be out at least until June.  Peralta’s injury led to the signing of Ruben Tejada.  However, Ruben left today’s game with a left quad strain. Jeremy Hazelbaker, who has been hot during spring training, is going north with the team due to Tejada’s injury. Mitch Harris will start the season on the disabled list with compression syndrome.  And Jordan Walden, who looked like he would be good to go up until Wednesday, is now on the DL with shoulder issues.  Walden’s injury led to an opening on the roster for Rule 5 player Matt Bowman, who pitched in today’s game.

But the most devastating injury out of spring training was not to a player. Third base coach Jose “Secret Weapon” Oquendo is out for the season due to a knee replacement surgery that went awry and had to be repeated.  The Cardinals offered to let Oquendo do some coaching from the bench, but he said if he couldn’t do the job he was hired to do that he didn’t want to be there at all.  Jose’s absence will be a great loss for the team, since not only does Jose work with the Spanish-speaking players, he works with the other players on base running.   First base coach Chris Maloney has moved over to third base to replace Jose and Bill Mueller has moved to first base.  Time will tell how much Jose’s absence will affect the team.

The Cards have two days off before Opening Day on Sunday.  I’m ready for regular season baseball, aren’t you?  I’m ready to come home from work and know I’m going to be seeing my favorite team playing ball on TV.  This Sunday is going to be awesome – church in the morning and then coming home in time to watch the Cards’ opener on TV.  Are you ready for some baseball? I know I am!

As always, thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane

The good and bad of spring training 2016

ST2016I looked at the calendar today and was amazed to discover that the regular season starts in less than two weeks!  I’ve been really busy at work the last few weeks, so the time has flown.  I’ve had a little time to reflect on what has happened to the Cardinals during spring training this year.  Here are my thoughts:

The good:

Seung Hwan Oh. This has been one of Mo’s better off-season pickups.  Not only does Oh have a surname worthy of many catchy tweets, but he is a wicked pitcher as well.  He has only given up 1 hit and 1 run in spring training.  He is well deserving of the nickname The Final Boss.  Oh has asked Cards fans to think up a new nickname for him.  I can only think of one – O-o-o-o-o-h Baby! I am looking forward to seeing him pitch in the regular season.

Brayan Peña.  Peña is another one of Mo’s great off-season pickups.  He will be a better than average back up for Yadi when he needs a day off, or if Yadi can’t start the regular season.  Peña’s lively personality is contagious and will be a great addition to the team. He’s a fan favorite no matter what team he’s playing for, as you can see if you follow Peña on Twitter.  If you  haven’t yet read Peña’s story about how he defected from Cuba, check it out here.

Jedd Gyorko.  The Cards needed a good backup infield player after Pete Kozma was released.  Jon Jay was traded to the Padres for Gyorko, and this was a really good deal. The Cards had an overload of outfielders, so Jay was expendable.  Gyorko can play a variety of infield positions, which came in handy after Jhonny Peralta got hurt (see below).

Matt Holliday at first base.  I admit to being skeptical about this at first (pun intended).  Holliday has been patrolling left field for years now.  But it’s not like it hasn’t been done before.  As Mark Tomasik wrote about last week on his Retrosimba blog, none other than Stan the Man himself was converted from an outfielder to a first baseman.  And don’t forget about Albert Pujols’ conversion from left field to first base.  Brandon Moss and Matt Adams are still battling for the first base position, so any time that Holliday would be playing at first would probably be minimal. However, playing first would be a great way for Holliday to extend his career – that is, unless and until the DH finally comes to the National League.

The bad:

The spring training standings.  The Cards have lost the last 8 spring training games in a row.  There are three ways to look at spring training standings:  1.  These games don’t count anyway, so I’m not worried about it; 2.  The team is not playing well during spring training, and that will carry over to the regular season; or 3.  The team is playing really well and that bodes well for the regular season.  I am starting to get a little concerned about the spring training standings.  It’s pretty sad that a bracket-type contest to determine the best Cardinals blogger Twitter account is getting more attention than the Cards’ spring training season itself.

The offense.  Second verse, same as the first.  The Cards appear to be in the same offensive funk that ended their playoff run last season. One wonders how long it will take before someone figures out that John Mabry is the reason for the team’s offense problems.  This is Baseball 101 – you can’t win games unless you score runs.  Mike Matheny has stated that he wants to see more stolen bases this year and more aggressiveness on the base paths.  Gee, that sounds familiar – oh wait, that’s Whiteyball.  Home runs are nice, but I enjoy watching small ball as well.

Jhonny Peralta.  It always seems like the Cards have at least one player get injured during spring training, and this year is no exception.  On March 5  in a game against the Marlins, Peralta injured his thumb while fielding a ball. It’s the same injury that Yadi had with his thumb. Hopefully, Jhonny won’t have to have 2 surgeries like Yadi had.  Jhonny’s injury led to Mo signing Ruben Tejada, recently released by the Mets, to compete for the shortstop position.

The Cards didn’t have a game scheduled for today, and they have no more days off for the rest of spring training.  Hopefully, the team will start winning and get the momentum they need to start the regular season on a good note.

Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane

A passion for politics and for baseball

R-D baseballSorry I haven’t posted in a while.  It’s been a really busy last couple of weeks.  I’ve been calling and canvassing for my favorite presidential candidate, which has taken up a lot of my time.  In addition, I’m the back-up assistant for another legal assistant at work.  Her husband passed away, so she was off work for a week and a half.  Doing her work and mine really wore me out. I didn’t mind helping her, but I was too tired to think, let alone write a blog post.  Thankfully, there was a survey and a script to follow for calling and canvassing for my candidate, so I didn’t have to do too much thinking, just talking and walking.  The other legal assistant is back to work now and things are slowly getting back to normal here at work.  Yesterday was the presidential primary in the state where I live.  Now that all that is done, I can now start turning my focus back to baseball.

While reflecting on the primary results last night, however, it occurred to me that there are a lot of similarities between being a baseball fan and the presidential race.  People who are passionate about baseball follow their team no matter if they win or lose, although they may be disappointed when their team loses.  When a person has a favorite presidential candidate, they follow their candidate by watching the polls and the primary results, and are disappointed if their candidate loses a primary or he or she suspends their campaign.  If a person’s favorite candidate is making an appearance somewhere near where they live or work, they will go and see the candidate, like a baseball fan going to a baseball game.

The primaries can be compared to regular season games.  Each primary has a winner and several losers, depending on how many candidates have thrown their hats in the ring.  Various websites show the standings as to how many delegates each candidate has, much like the baseball standings showing what team is in first place.

Then the nominating conventions take place and that can be compared to the playoffs.  If there are not enough delegates voting for a candidate in the first round of voting, then there is a second round, and so on, until one candidate gets the required number of votes to be the party candidate. The first round of voting could be compared to the LDS, and if there is a second round of voting, it could be compared to the LCS.  The presidential nominees in both political parties could be compared to the National League Champion and the American League Champion.

The presidential election can be compared to the World Series. The candidate with 270 votes from the Electoral College wins the election.  Here’s where the comparison ends, however: the World Series is best of seven; but if there is no president elected in the first round of Electoral College voting, then the House of Representative elects the president.

Don’t worry, I’ll be posting about Cardinals baseball again in my next post.  Until then, thanks for reading and see you next time!

Diane

Bibliography:  “Electoral College (United States),” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States)