Pitchers and catchers report – hooray?

crying-heartToday is the first official day of baseball for the year, the day when pitchers and catchers report to spring training.  Some of the players, like Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams, Seung Hwan Oh, and others have reported early to Jupiter to get in more work.  I waxed more poetic about pitchers and catchers report day in a blog post last year, and you can read it here.  Today is also Valentine’s Day, and what a nice Valentine’s Day gift for the Cardinals to give their fans than to have spring training start on Valentine’s Day.  I’m not sure there is a more appropriate day for spring training to begin for lovers of baseball than Valentine’s Day.

But the unbridled joy I would normally feel on pitchers and catchers report day is tempered by the loss I feel at the passing of my mother-in-law Patricia Schultz, who died yesterday (Feb. 13).  Pat was an incredible woman – she raised seven children (of which my husband is the oldest), five boys and two girls, and also took care of her husband and her mother as well (she was an only child, like me).  At one time, she had 4 boys under the age of 7.  That would be enough to drive most folks crazy, but she soldiered on.

Two of her sons, a grandchild, and her husband preceded her in death, and those losses brought special sorrows. She loved flowers so we would give her a hanging plant every year for Mother’s Day.   This year, we’ll be bringing them to her grave.  😦

But my most special memories with Mom was watching Cardinals baseball games with her. On Sunday afternoons, we would go to Mom’s house for Sunday dinner.  We would watch the Sunday afternoon Cards games on her 52″ TV and discuss the players, the managers, and the game.  Even during the offseason, we would discuss trades and how we thought the Cardinals would play next season.  She liked to have a glass of water or Pepsi at hand to drink, and I noticed once that she would put a napkin on the top of the glass to keep the flies away.  So that year for Christmas, we bought her a Cardinals Tervis tumbler with a lid, a handle and straws to keep her drinks cold and fly-free.  She really liked that Tervis tumbler.  Maybe it should go in her casket with her.

Baseball, in every aspect, is a family affair.  The love of baseball is passed down from generation to generation, and I wrote about that in more detail here. Players work out together, play together, room together.  They develop a camaraderie and become a family.  Baseball fans grow attached to players and their teams by watching and rooting for them.  That’s why it hurts so bad when players die in an untimely manner.  It’s like losing a member of your family.

It won’t be the same watching Sunday afternoon Cardinals games without Mom, but eventually, it will get better.  Mom’s in a better place now, where she doesn’t have any more pain and she is reunited with her loved ones.  Time will soften and ease the pain we feel and someday, we will be happy when we think of Mom and not sad.

So Cardinals – please win a World Series for Mom this year.  Thanks!

Thanks as always for reading. See you next time!

Diane

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The good, the very good and the ugly

eastwoodThis has been a busy week for the Cardinals.  A good thing that happened this week is that Billy Joel will be performing at Busch Stadium on Thursday, September 21 at 8:00 PM.  Tickets will go on sale at cardinals.com/billyjoel on Friday, February 10 at 10 AM. This will be Billy’s first solo stadium appearance in St. Louis.  The announcement of Billy’s concert prompted a Twitter hashtag, #BillyJoelatBusch, with Cardinals bloggers and sportswriters taking titles and lyrics of Billy Joel songs and giving them a Cardinals twist.  My contributions were “Outfield of Dreams” and “Clark Avenue State of Mind.” I know, they’re lame, but I do work for a living and  I don’t have time to do much creative stuff. Do a search on Twitter for the #BillyJoelatBusch hashtag to see all the tweets, or look at my Twitter tweets in the column on the right and click on the #BillyJoelatBusch hashtag.  You will enjoy reading them.

The very good is that the Cardinals and Carlos Martinez have avoided arbitration.  Carlos signed a new five-year contract today for $51 million dollars with a buyout option for 2022 and 2023.  Here’s to another five years of great pitching, dugout antics and sartorial splendor from Carlos.  I’m also hoping that Carlos stays out of trouble, Mike Matheny doesn’t burn out Carlos’ pitching arm, and he doesn’t get injured.  Carlos is one of the most colorful (literally and figuratively) Cardinals players. I’m looking forward to a very good season for Carlos.

And now for the ugly.  On Monday, the Cardinals finally received their punishment for the Chris Correa Hackgate scandal.  The Cardinals are to pay the Astros $2 million dollars, give the Astros their top 2 draft picks in 2017, and lose the $1.8 million dollar slot bonus pools associated with the draft picks.  This is a slap on the wrist considering the punishment that could have occurred.  The Cardinals lost their first round draft pick when they signed Dexter Fowler, so the draft picks they are giving to Houston are the 56th and the 75th  slots.  Good luck to Randy Flores trying to get draft picks signed with the leftover $2.1 million dollars.

There was an even more bizarre twist on the Hackgate affair. On Tuesday morning, Chris Correa’s Twitter account posted a photo of a narrative from Chris discussing that he had asked MLB to look into the Astros possibly hacking into the Cardinals’ database.  What I found to be really creepy is that I do not follow Chris Correa on Twitter, but his tweet was on my Twitter feed.  It was later revealed that his family posted the tweet.  Did Correa tell them to find Cardinal bloggers and sportswriters and put the tweet on their timelines so it could be written about?  MLB replied to Correa’s tweet and said that Correa would not talk to MLB nor release any documents to them.  Hopefully, the Hackgate mess will be over soon.

Let’s move on to a happier topic – spring training starts in less than two weeks!  It will sure be good to see our boys on a lush green field in the warm Florida sun. Pitchers and catchers report on Valentine’s Day, appropriately enough for us baseball lovers.  I would love to go to spring training someday.  Where’s my winning Powerball ticket?  That’s the only way I’ll ever be able to afford to go to spring training.  😦

Thanks as always for reading!  See you next time!

Diane