The 2016 Cardinals Blogger Awards – my votes

voteI’ve had a while to get over the fact that the Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs, and that those pesky Cubs won the World Series instead of Cleveland.  However, I walk across the street from Busch Stadium on my way to the Metrolink station every day, and seeing all the flags at the stadium put away for the winter makes me sad.  But life goes on, and on this Election Eve, it’s now time for the 2016 Cardinals Blogger Awards.  You are invited to vote for the 2016 Blogger Awards until November 18, 2016 (that’s my birthday, BTW), and here’s the link for you to cast your ballot:  2016 Cardinals Blogger Award Ballot. My selections in each of these categories are listed below, but don’t let that affect your vote. 🙂

1) Player of the Year
–Matt Carpenter
X Aledmys Diaz
–Yadier Molina
–Brandon Moss
–Write-in: _______________

Jhonny Peralta got hurt (what’s new?).  Aledmys took over and took off like a rocket. If Aledmys hadn’t gotten hit by an Andrew Cashner pitch, he may have been one of the candidates for the NL Rookie of the Year. I’m looking forward to seeing what Aledmys can do in seasons to come.

2) Pitcher of the Year
X Carlos Martinez
–Seung-hwan Oh
–Alex Reyes
–Write-in: _______________

As Adam Wainwright faltered early in the season and had a rough stretch in August, Carlos took over the position of ace on the staff.  He had a 16-9 record, the best record of the staff.  His pitches and the speed of his pitches were wicked.  I can’t wait to see how he pitches next season.

3) Game of the Year
April 8 at Braves (three PH HR)
April 14 at Brewers (Garcia 1 hit, 13 K)
 X  July 16 vs. Marlins (Adam Wainwright shutout)
July 22 vs. Dodgers (Matt Adams home run in 16th)
July 27 at Mets (snapping Famila’s save streak)
August 5 vs. Braves (Jaime Garcia 8 scoreless, 11 K)
August 8 vs. Reds (5 run 9th)
August 14 at Cubs (Piscotty tiebreaking homer)
September 9 at Pittsburgh (three HR in 9th)
October 1 vs. Pittsburgh (rally plus Gyorko winning homer)
–Write-in: ____________

The July 16 game was a magical game in a season that was less than magical. Adam Wainwright pitched one of the games of his career in front of his teammates from the 2006 World Series who had come to town to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Cards’ World Series win.  Waino showed he could still pitch like a master.

4) Surprise Player of the Year
–Matt Bowman
_ Aledmys Diaz
X  Jedd Gyorko
–Brandon Moss
–Write-in: ______________

I’m sure we all thought “Jedd who?” when we heard that Mo had traded Jon Jay to the Padres.  Jedd showed his grit and his moxie as he hit home runs when it counted.  The Cards got the best end of that deal, especially when Jay got injured and was out most of the season.

5) Disappointing Player of the Year
–Trevor Rosenthal
–Adam Wainwright
_ Michael Wacha
–Kolten Wong
 X Write-in: Mike Leake

I was going to select Kolten Wong, but he didn’t play enough to give a good sample size.  Mike Leake got my only write in vote instead.  There was a great deal of hoopla when he was signed, and it was hoped he would help with the team since Lance Lynn was out after Tommy John surgery, but he only had a 9-12 record and a 4.69 ERA.  Hopefully, Leake will pitch better next year.

6) Rookie of the Year
–Aledmys Diaz
–Seung-hwan Oh
X Alex Reyes
–Luke Weaver
–Write-in: ______________

Brought up mid-season, Reyes quickly impressed and ended up with a 1.54 ERA, which was the best ERA on the pitching staff.  I’m looking forward to seeing how Reyes will pitch during a full season.

7) Acquisition of the Year
–Zach Duke
–Jedd Gyorko
–Mike Leake
X Seung-hwan Oh
–Write-in: ______________

Oh was the best player that Mo picked up last winter.  Oh was originally signed for eighth inning relief, but he flourished in the closer role when Trevor Rosenthal got hurt.  “Stone Buddha” is one of Oh’s nicknames and if you watch him pitch, you see why.  There is no emotion on Oh’s face when he pitches.

8) Most Anticipated Cardinal
–Harrison Bader
–Austin Gomber
–Delvin Perez
–Rowan Wick
–Write-in: _______________

I don’t follow the minors all that much, so I don’t feel qualified to answer this question.

9) Best Individual Cardinal Blog
–Write-in: _____________

I love all the UCB blogs equally, so I don’t want to play favorites.  I respectfully decline to vote in this category.

10) Best Team Cardinal Blog
X Write-in: Cards Conclave

CC was founded by UCB head honcho Daniel Shoptaw, and he and several other writers share their thoughts about the Cardinals there.  Many different voices in one location – you can’t beat it.

11) Best Media Coverage
X Derrick Goold

–Benjamin Hochman
–Jenifer Langosch
–Bernie Miklasz
–Jose de Jesus Ortiz
X Rob Rains
–Write-in: ______________

A tie here, but I selected them for different reasons.  Derrick is great on Twitter and very responsive to followers who tweet at him.  His columns are informative and well written. Rob does a great job covering the Cardinals on his (and wife Sally’s) website STLSportsPage.com.  Rob has great analysis.

12) Post of the Year
–”Cardinals Find Perfect Timing as Playoff Hopes Crash”–Bill, I70 Baseball
XThe Kolten Wong Situation”–Daniel, C70 At The Bat
–”Lou Brock, the Lucrative Acquisition Fleet Footed All-Star Societal Difference Maker”–Josey, The Redbird Retreat
–”Not Our Year”–Diane, Women Who Love Cardinal Baseball
X Worrying What the Flash Means: How We Talk About Race in Baseball”–Chase, Double Birds
–Write-in: _______________

I will take Proverbs 27:2 to heart (Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth, A stranger, and not your own lips.), and not vote for my own post.  I found myself liking two of the other posts equally well.  Daniel’s post took Rob Rains’ interview with Kolten Wong and expanded upon it.  Chase’s post covers the race problems in today’s game and is very well written.

13) Best UCB Podcast
X Bird Seeds (video)

–Conversations With C70
–The Double Birds Podcast
–Gateway To Baseball Heaven
–Meet Me At Musial
–STL CardGals
–Talking About Birds
–UCB Radio Hour
–Write-in: _________________

Okay, I admit, I don’t listen to many podcasts, but I have watched Bird Seeds and it’s very enjoyable.  Video podcasts are the future of podcasts and Tara does a very good job with Bird Seeds.

14) Best Non-UCB Podcast
–Best Podcast in Baseball
–Cards on Cards
–Cubs Cards Cast
–St. Louis Cardinals Extras (MLB.com)
–Two Birds on a Bat
–Viva El Birdos
–Write-in: _________________

As mentioned above, I don’t have much time to listen to podcasts, so I have no vote for this category.  Sorry about that.

15) Best Podcaster
–Write-in: _________________

Another category in which I don’t feel qualified to vote.

16) Best UCB Twitterer
X Write-in: @CardinalsTales

Bob Netherton (a/k/a Big Green Bob) is my favorite UCB Twitter guy.  He doesn’t write many blog posts, but that’s okay because short-form writing is his best game.  He tells it like it is and doesn’t mince words or characters when it comes to the Cards.  If he’s in the mood, he will post what he calls Twitter Tales, where he takes a classic Cards game and posts it on Twitter, 140 characters/letters at a time.  When he’s not expounding on the Cards, he posts Twitter posts with photos of yummy food cooked on his Big Green Egg barbecue grill.

Don’t forget, tomorrow is Election Day, so go out there and do your civic duty.  And don’t forget to vote for the 2016 UCB Blogger Awards!  Here’s the link again for that, so you don’t have to scroll back up to the top – 2016 Cardinals Blogger Award Ballot.  Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane

The perfect lineup (with 1 subtraction)

My fellow Cardinals bloggers and I complain on Twitter night after night Scan0004about manager Mike Matheny’s constant lineup changes.  The lineup is never the same from one night to the next.  Even the casual fan can see the lack of results that this constant changing produces.  But last night, it appeared that Mike spun the wheels on the lineup machine and finally hit the right jackpot.  Here was the lineup for last night’s game:

Carpenter 1B

Gyorko 2B

Moss LF

Piscotty RF

Molina C

Peralta 3B

Grichuk CF

G. Garcia SS

Martinez P

And lo and behold, Mike is using this same lineup in tonight’s game as well, with Waino pitching.  See how easy that was?   Carpenter celebrated being back in the leadoff spot last night by hitting a home run.  Stephen Piscotty and Randall Grichuk hit home runs too, and the Cardinals beat the Mets 8-1.  It was a fun game and even though I was at Bible study, I stealthily looked at my AtBat app to see how the game was going.  Yadi getting caught trying to steal third, however – no, Yadi, don’t do that anymore, or I will have to tweet at your brother Bengie to get on you about that.

I think this lineup should be on the field every night for the rest of the season, and even into the playoffs, if these Cards should get that far.  The only subtraction that I would make is when Aledmys Diaz returns from the disabled list, he would go in Garcia’s spot, and of course, the pitcher varies every game.

Garcia, Matt Adams, and Kolten Wong could come off the bench to pinch hit or spell one of the regular infielders if they need a night off or get hurt (God forbid – the disabled list has been overcrowded this season).  Matt Holliday and Jeremy Hazelbaker could do the same for the outfielders.  Tommy Pham – the jury’s still out on him.

A couple of random thoughts: Could Jaime Garcia just be released now instead of the end of the season when his option is up?  It’s bad enough that you don’t know whether you’re going to get Good Jaime or Bad Jaime when it’s his turn in the rotation.  Lately, however, only Bad Jaime has shown up to pitch.  Alex Reyes has shown that he’s more than ready to be a starter in the show.  Maybe I’m being selfish, but since my son and I will be going to the game on Sunday (which is Jaime’s next start), it would be really great to see Alex’s debut as a starter.

And why, with the exception of Martinez, are our pitchers not ready to pitch in the first inning?  It never fails that the other team starts scoring in the first inning.  The Cards have to start playing catch up already in the bottom of the first.  Are the pitchers not getting enough throwing time before the games?  Or are they getting too much throwing time?  Could the pitchers not be mentally ready to go in the first inning? That appears to be something that Derek Lilliquist needs to work on with them. This problem needs to be solved ASAP.

On Saturday, August 27,  Chris Carpenter, Joe Torre, Sam Breadon and Terry Moore will be inducted in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  The ceremony starts at 2 PM at Fox Sports Midwest Live in Ballpark Village.  The doors open at 11 AM, so get there early to wait in line. Last year, my son and I didn’t get there until 12 noon and we had to share a table with some other folks. I told him we needed to get there earlier.  One of these days, he’ll learn to listen to me.  However, if you can’t make it, Fox Sports Midwest will show the ceremony on Sunday, August 28 at 11:30 a.m.  If you’re at the ceremony, find me and say hi – I always love to meet folks who read my blog.

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

Diane

Diane’s excellent dugout box seat adventure (and other notes)

13321711_1165327370172374_6324672859891808381_nI have a baseball hangover today, which is a good thing. A baseball hangover is what happens when you stay until the last out of an evening baseball game and don’t get to bed until later than you normally do.  Then when you do get to bed, you can’t sleep because you’re still thinking about the game.  You are then very drowsy the next day at work, and no amount of caffeine or sugar will help. You can’t take a nap because you’re at work, unless, of course, you’re self-employed.   It’s like that Diana Ross song, Love Hangover – “Sweetest hangover, I don’t want to get over.”

The cause of my baseball hangover is last night’s Cardinals-Giants game, which the Cardinals won 6-3.  An attorney at the law firm I work at gifted me his sweet Dugout Box seats three rows off the field, on the first base side. (Our view was actually better than seen in the photo.)  He had originally given me his tickets for May 1, but that turned out to be the game for the United Cardinals Bloggers blogger event.  He very graciously switched out the tickets for last night’s game.

The gates opened at 5:05 last night, so hubby and I got to the ballpark early in hopes of obtaining some autographs.  Unfortunately, by the time we got through the gate, received our promotional giveaway (a very nice beach tote), bought a scorecard, ran into hubby’s second cousin Amy and her family and then got down to the field, batting practice was already over.  I and several other folks waited by the padded infield wall in hopes that maybe a player would wander over our way and give us an autograph, but it was not to be.

Last night’s game was on ESPN and that’s why it was a Sunday evening game.  It was originally scheduled as a 1:15 PM game.  I’m glad it was changed so I wouldn’t have to miss church.  My daughter lives in Connecticut and I wanted to bring a sign that would have read, “Hi Rachel! Love, Mom,” but hubby wouldn’t let me.

We watched several people throw first pitches, including a 102 year-old woman who not only threw very well but appeared to have all her faculties, which is incredible.  Later on in the game, Fredbird and Papa John’s brought her a pizza and several other goodies to help her celebrate her birthday.

The game finally started.  Carlos Martinez looked very good for the first few innings, until he gave up a 2 run home run.  The Cardinals’ hitting started to break out in the 6th  inning.  It seemed like Bruce Bochy switched pitchers after every batter. I couldn’t keep up, so I stopped updating my scorecard.

Did you see the diving play that the Giants’ right fielder made in the 5th  inning?  It happened on the warning track on the first base side right in front of us.  He didn’t make the catch, but as he got up, we applauded his effort, as good, sportsmanlike Cardinals fans always do.  The poor guy probably had rug burns on his stomach.

There were a couple of foul balls hit in our direction, but neither of the foul balls came close enough to our seats to attempt to catch them.  I used to have a glove, but I donated it to Carlos Martinez’ Tsunami Waves charity last year.  I’m too old to play slow-pitch softball ever again.

I really enjoyed sitting in the box seats. The sight lines were great, and the people sitting around me were civilized, unlike those I’ve encountered in other areas of the stadium.  It was sometimes hard to see around the beer vendors, however.  I hope that nice attorney will think of me again in case he has no one for his tickets.  If there is a next time, I will take my son Phillip to the game. He wanted to go this time, but I told him his father had better dibs because I’ve known him longer.

In other news, the Cardinals optioned Kolten Wong to AAA today so that Jhonny Peralta can be activated. Peralta will join the team tomorrow in Cincinnati.  Matt Carpenter will move to  second base and Peralta will move to third.  Hopefully, Kolten will make the most of his time at AAA and get his head together so that when he comes back, he will play better.  Kolten was sent down to AAA in 2014 and he played a lot better when he came back.  Brayan Pena is due for a rehab assignment soon.  Yadi look rather tired last night.  He needs more than just tonight off.  Hopefully, when Brayan comes back, he can give Yadi some regular days off.

The Cards are playing a little better but as I write this, they are 10 games out of first.  At this point, I think the Cards are playing for a wild card spot rather than a division title.  Set your sights higher, guys!

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

Diane

 

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

Decisions, decisions

Some decisions are hard.  What do I want to do for a living?  What college should I attend?  Who should I marry?  Should we have kids?  Those are life-changing decisions.

Mike Matheny’s decision as to which Cardinals pitcher will be fifth in the rotation this season, while not as hard as the above-listed decisions, is still a difficult one to make.  There are three pitchers who are equally deserving of the fifth slot, and all three have pitched well in spring training.  Let’s take a look at each pitcher.

Jaime Garcia has been a Cardinal for a few seasons now, although he was on the disabled list last year and the year before. When he was able to pitch in seasons past, during one start, he would be lights out, and in his next start, he would just be goofy. Inconsistency, thy name is Jaime Garcia.  However, Jaime came to camp this year with a gutsy determination to earn the fifth spot in the rotation.  He said he could pitch and so far, he’s proven that he was right. In today’s game, he struck out 7 over 4 innings.  In his last 2 starts, he struck out 12 batters.  He has a 3.86 ERA.

Carlos Martinez pitched for the Cardinals in a variety of roles last season – starter, short relief and long relief.  He desperately wants to be a starting pitcher.  The death of Oscar Martinez, Carlos’ best friend, has given Carlos a determination to pitch well to honor his friend’s memory.  Carlos will just have to look at his uniform number to find the inspiration he needs.  So far this spring, Carlos has a 1-0 record with a .6.75 ERA.  Like Jaime, Carlos has experience pitching at the major league level.

Marco Gonzales is the hot-shot rookie who wants to prove he belongs with the big club.  Last year in the minors, Marco had a 9-5 record with a 2.43 ERA. Gonzalez has a 3-0 record in spring training, with a miniscule .084 ERA..  During Tuesday’s game, Gonzales went 4 innings and threw 41 strikes. He is the only Cardinals pitcher to go 4 innings in a start so far this spring.

I don’t envy Mike the decision he has to make.  However, if it were me, this is what I would do.  I would tell Garcia that the rotation spot is his to lose.  The Cards have too much money tied up in him to release him without giving him a shot at the fifth spot.  However, I would tell him that should he get injured or falter, there are two other pitchers waiting in the wings (pardon the pun) to take the spot.  I would keep Martinez on the roster to use as a reliever and for a spot start if necessary.  I would send Gonzales back down to AAA for one more season.   He would be the first pitcher that I would call up if there were injuries to any pitchers. This is just my opinion, however, and it will probably not coincide with what Mike decides.

Spring training will be over in 2 weeks and regular season baseball  will be back in a little over two weeks! I can’t wait – can you?  That’s all for now – thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!

Diane

2015 Cardinals Caravan schedule

Love the Cardinals but don’t live close to St. Louis?  If you live in Missouri or Illinois outside of the St. Louis area, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas or Tennessee, some of the Cardinals (past and present) are coming to visit you this month!  Here’s all the details:

2015 CARDINALS CARAVAN SET TO COVER SIX STATES IN FOUR DAYS

2015 Caravan, presented by Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance, headlined by current stars Wong, Adams, Wacha and Rosenthal 

ST. LOUIS, January 06, 2015 – Today the St. Louis Cardinals announced the schedule for the team’s 2015 Cardinals Caravan, presented by Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance.

In addition to annual stops in Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, and Tennessee, the 2015 Caravan will add a sixth route with additional stops in Kentucky and Indiana. Altogether, more than 30 current and former players will embark on the journey making 22 stops in 21 cities throughout Cardinals Nation from January 16 – 19th.

 A combination of current players, future stars and former Cardinals will travel on each caravan emceed by a current team broadcaster. Some of the current players include 2014 Rookie of the Year finalist Kolten Wong, Michael Wacha, Matt Adams, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, 2014 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Marco Gonzales, and Randal Grichuk. Minor-league prospects include Stephen Piscotty, Greg Garcia, Tim Cooney, Xavier Scruggs and more. Brad Thompson, Danny Cox, Kerry Robinson, Alan and Andy Benes, and Al Hrabosky, among others, will represent Cardinals Alumni, while broadcasters John Rooney, Rick Horton, Mike Claiborne, Tom Ackerman, Chris Hrabe, and Dan McLaughlin will serve as emcees. Team mascot Fredbird will also make an appearance at several Caravan stops.

As in previous years, the Cardinals will be implementing an Autograph Ticket system at each stop. The first 400 kids (15 and under) through the door on the day of the event will receive a free Autograph Ticket which guarantees one autograph from each current and former player. Due to high demand, autographs will only be available for fans 15 and under.

Below is a schedule of the six Caravans, their destinations and participating players. The full schedule can also be found at cardinals.com/caravan.

 

Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane