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