2020 Winter Warm-Up Report Day 3

As Geoffrey Chaucer once wrote, “All good things must come to an end,” and so must Winter Warm-Up.  My son and I got to Winter Warm-Up on day 3 around 9:00 AM.  We stopped by Starbucks again for hot beverages and a snack.

We then went to drop off our coats at the coat check booth.  When I ran into my friend Linda the day before, she offered me an autograph ticket for Cliff Politte since she wouldn’t be there until later and he was signing at 9 AM.  I have to admit, I remembered that he played for the Cards but I couldn’t remember when he played.  I Googled Cliff the night before and discovered from BaseballReference.com that Cliff was drafted by the Cards but only pitched for them for one season in 1998. No wonder I didn’t remember when Cliff played for the Cards. My son was a toddler then and he kept me quite busy.

The number on my autograph ticket was 151.  I thought that I would be stuck at the end of the line, but the friendly Cardinals Care volunteers waved me on through, maybe because it was the last day and there were not many people in Cliff’s line.  I had Cliff autograph a baseball that I bought last year to collect autographs.  Miles Mikolas was sitting right next to him, so I got a great photo of Miles.

Our next stop was the Q&A with Jenifer Langosch, the former Cardinals beat writer who is now the MLB.com Senior Content Manager.  Jenifer gave us details on her life and how she started beat writing.  When she began a family, she decided it was time to move on to another baseball position, since beat writing can be grueling.  She is telecommuting in her new position.  Jenifer showed us the MLB.com website and discussed her job duties.  She showed us a website sponsored by MLB that I had never seen before, BaseballSavant.com. Stat geeks will love this website.  Jenifer then answered everyone’s questions and she would have answered more questions, but the Cardinals Care volunteer said it was time for the next presentation and everyone had to leave.

We had an hour to kill before the next presentation, so we went back to the food area on the second floor and grabbed a sandwich.  We then went to the Team Store again to see if there was any new merchandise and if anything had been marked down further.

The presentation at 12:00 PM is one of our favorite presentations and we go to it every year.  It was titled “2019 – A Year in Photos” and the presenter was Taka Yangimoto, the manager of photography for the Cardinals. Mr. Yangimoto talked about the photography staff and how many photos they take every year (in the thousands).  Photographs are used for ticket stubs, promotions, social media, and many other things.  Mr. Yangimoto then showed a slide show of some of the best photos taken last season.  Sadly, however, Jack Flaherty did not make an appearance like he did last year.

After this presentation, we went back to the Main Stage area.  I wanted to see Yadi and Waino.  Scott Warmann and Brad Thompson were the MC’s on the Main Stage.  Kolten Wong was onstage with Scott and Brad, answering their questions.  Kolten brought his Gold Glove with him for all to see.  He had just received it the night before at the Baseball Writers’ Dinner.  Kolten wore a gold bomber jacket to match his Gold Glove, and he also was wearing glasses, which he explained later were just a fashion statement.  Whew! Kolten was signing at 1 PM, so he went to his appointed seat.

Yadi came out from behind the curtain and everyone applauded, but where was Waino?  It turned out that Waino was still in the media room, and Yadi had to FaceTime Waino to get him to show up for duty.  The son insisted we needed to head over to Busch Stadium for the 2:00 PM stadium tour.  So we went over and got our coats, then we left.  I told the son that it wouldn’t take us that long to walk over to Busch Stadium from the Hyatt, but of course, he insisted it would.

We got to Ballpark Village around 1:30 PM. Since we had time to kill, we visited the Fanatics store and looked around.  After we were done there, we still had time to kill, so we walked through FOX Sports Midwest and went to the Team Store to look around.  I was looking for a Cardinals PopSocket for my cell phone case, but they didn’t sell them there.  We finally left and went to Gate 3, where the tour was to start.

My friend Linda and her friends were on the tour with us.  There were about fifteen people in the tour group.  There were two older gentlemen who were our tour guides (and gentlemen, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry, but I’ve forgotten your names).  Our first stop was the Cardinals Club, where we could see all of the World Series trophies. Joe Medwick’s Triple Crown trophy was in a glass case behind the bar.

After that, we then walked over to the Redbird Club.  The law firm that I work at has season tickets in the Redbird Club, so I’ve been in there before.  The walls of the Redbird Club have paintings of old baseball cards, and the guide explained that the cards pictured on the walls are from Bill DeWitt, Jr.’s personal baseball card collection.

After we were done at the Redbird Club, we proceeded to the KMOX press box.  The guide explained that the press box is one of the biggest in all of Major League Baseball.  The windows in the press box are vertically cantilevered so they can be opened wide.  Mike Shannon likes the windows open no matter what the weather so radio listeners can hear the roar of the crowd and the crack of the bat.  Mike doesn’t sit on a regular desk chair during broadcasts – he balances on a large red yoga ball.

After we were done viewing the press box, it was time to go down to the first floor.  Our first stop was the Cardinals Club, for season ticket holders that sit behind home base.  Our tour guide told us the price for a season ticket in this section, that you had to buy a minimum of two season tickets, and that you had to sign a contract to purchase them for 7 years.  I would definitely have to win a big Powerball lottery in order to afford those tickets.

Our next stop was the main attraction, the Cardinals locker room. Winter Warm-Up weekend is the only time during the year where the tour includes the Cardinals locker room and that’s why we decided to take the tour.  I felt like I was walking on hallowed ground when we walked in. The tour guide gave us some information about the locker room and then we had our photos taken by a Cardinals photographer in front of Yadier Molina’s locker.  I’ll post the photo at the end of the post underneath my name.  There’s a copyright on the photo, but I hope the Cardinals don’t mind that I post the photo – it’s free publicity for them to get more people to take the tour next year.

After we were done in the locker room, we went into the dugout.  Here are some photos:

The view of the field from the dugout stairs.

The dugout.

Diane in the dugout

The finish on the dugout bench was very worn, probably from all of the players and coaches sitting on it and spilling liquid on it all season.  I would think that it would be refinished in the spring before the season started.

It was then time to go back inside.  We actually got to walk on the warning track and we went back inside via the steps next to the visiting team’s dugout.

We saw some other things and then it was time for the tour to be over. The photos that were taken in the locker room were available for purchase and of course, we purchased them.  It was a nice souvenir of our tour.  Even though it was a cold day, we really enjoyed our tour.

Now that Winter Warm-Up is over, it’s only a few weeks until pitchers and catchers report. Baseball is just around the corner! Some of the players are already working out at the spring training complex.  They can’t wait for spring training and neither can I.

I’m sorry it took me so long to post this post.  Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane

Division winner celebration and playoffs preview!

It took all 162 games, but the Cardinals are the 2019 National League Central Division Champions! Sunday’s game against the Cubs (which was also Joe Maddon’s last game as the Cubs manager and that was expected) was a rout.  Many thanks to the Colorado Rockies for beating the Milwaukee Brewers so that they couldn’t win the division. If the Brewers had won the division, the Cards would have had to play against the Nationals in the wild card game, with St. Louisan Max Scherzer on the mound. 

The celebration in the locker room was epic.  My favorite part was manager Mike Shildt’s speech.  “We don’t have team meetings, but we have three meetings left – when we pop the champagne when we win the NLDS, when we pop the champagne when we win the NLCS, and when we pop the champagne when we win the World Series.” Or something very close to that, because I don’t remember the exact words. Anyway, from your lips to God’s ears, Mike. We would all love to see the Cardinals win their twelfth World Series in 2019. As I mentioned back in May, it would be awesome if the Blues won the Stanley Cup and the Cardinals win the World Series in the same year.  They haven’t done that in Chicago – ever. What I and lots of old-time fans would really like to see is a Cardinals-Yankees World Series. The last time that happened was 1964 and the Cards won that World Series. An excellent book about the 1964 World Series is “October 1964” by the late David Halberstam.  

It has been a long regular season, with many ups and downs.  If you’re a regular reader of my blog (thank you), you know I’ve written about most of them.  May was a particularly bad month for the Cardinals. But what matters the most is where a team finishes at the end of the season.  One of my only complaints is that if the Cardinals had won a few more games during the season, it wouldn’t have to come down to the wire for them to win the division and the Cards could have breathed a little easier. But we’ve also seen what happens when there’s too much of a lull between a division win and the playoffs.  Perhaps winning the division on the last day was for the best after all. 

Jack Flaherty, he of the minuscule ERA and WHIP, won NL Pitcher of the Month yesterday for the second month in a row.  Since he had to pitch on Sunday, Jack will start Friday’s game in Atlanta. Miles Mikolas will start Thursday’s game and Dallas Keuchel will be the starter for the Braves.  The Friday game will start at 3:30 PM CST, but the time of Thursday’s game won’t be determined until the winner of the wild card game is decided. Sunday and Monday’s games will be at Busch Stadium.  I do hope the fans in Atlanta are better behaved this year than during the Cards-Braves wild card game there in 2012 when they threw beer bottles at the Cards players.  

Tickets for the National League Championship Series go on sale tomorrow at 12:00 noon CST.  If you’re so inclined and have the money, you can purchase tickets at this link: cardinals.com/postseason.  You must have an MLB account since the tickets will be delivered to the Ballpark app on your smartphone.  

I follow the Grammarly app on Twitter, and they posted a poll on Twitter today asking what our favorite thing was in October (there were four choices).  I replied as follows:

I hope you are excited about this postseason as I am!  Thursday afternoon (or night) is so far away! Thanks for reading!

Diane

2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame voting now open

While we’re waiting for the regular season to begin, it’s time once again for us fans to vote 2 new members into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  It’s great to reminisce about these players and how they contributed to the Cardinals during their tenure with the team.  All of the candidates are great and it’s hard to pick just two.  Here are all the details you need to know about the balloting and this year’s candidates for your consideration:

The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame fan balloting process is now open at cardinals.com/HOF.  Fans can select two players for election from a ballot that includes Cardinals greats Keith Hernandez, Jason Isringhausen, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria, Scott Rolen, and John Tudor.

The six modern ballot nominees were selected by a Red Ribbon committee of Cardinals baseball experts through a secret ballot process in January.  The Cardinals Hall of Fame Fan Vote, presented by Edward Jones, will run through Friday, April 12.  The two players with the most votes will be announced on Friday, April 26, at 6:00 p.m. during a televised 30-minute Hall of Fame announcement special on FOX Sports Midwest, and also in a pregame ceremony at Busch Stadium before the Cardinals face the Cincinnati Reds.

The formal enshrinement ceremony for the sixth Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Class is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 24, at FOX Sports Midwest Live! in Ballpark Village as part of the 2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame Weekend.  The induction ceremony is free to attend.

The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame was established as a way to recognize the exceptional careers and significant achievements of the greatest players in Cardinals history.  To be eligible, players must have played for the Cardinals for at least three seasons and must be retired as a player from Major League Baseball for at least three years.  The eligible pool of players is divided into two categories of “modern players” and “veteran players”.  If a player retired more than 40 years prior to the induction year, he is classified as a veteran player.

In addition to nominating modern players for fan balloting, the Red Ribbon committee also elected a veteran player for induction using a secret ballot process.  Independent of this process, the Cardinals organization may also opt to induct an individual who was an important figure in Cardinals history, such as a coach, broadcaster or member of the front office.

Each member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame will be permanently enshrined in the Cardinals Hall of Fame Gallery presented by Edward Jones located on the second floor of Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village, just outside the entrance to the team’s museum.  The Hall of Fame Gallery is free and open to the public.  The plaques that adorn the gallery are produced by Matthews International, the company that also produces the plaques for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Fans can check cardinals.com/HOF for more details about the 2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame Weekend and also find information about other events at the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum that weekend.

The following is a description of each Hall of Fame nominee’s career as a Cardinal:

Keith Hernandez

Years: 1974 – 1983                       .299/.385/.448, 1217 H, 265 2B, 81 HR, 595 RBI, 662 R (1165 Games)

Keith Hernandez played 10 seasons with the Cardinals, winning six straight Gold Gloves from 1978-1983 at first base.  He was a National League co-MVP in 1979, batting a league-leading .344 with 48 doubles, 11 home runs, and 105 RBI.  The two-time All-Star was a member of the 1982 World Championship team and batted .299 that season with 94 RBI.  Hernandez’s .385 on-base percentage ranks fifth all-time among Cardinals hitters to have played at least 10 seasons with the club.

Jason Isringhausen

Years: 2002 – 2008                       217 Saves, 2.98 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 408.0 IP (401 Games)

Jason Isringhausen spent seven seasons as the Cardinals closer. During his tenure, the Cardinals won the Central Division four times, capturing the pennant in 2004 and 2006 and winning the World Series in 2006.  He registered a National League-best 47 saves in 2004, tying Lee Smith’s franchise record until Trevor Rosenthal saved 48 in 2015.  An All-Star in 2005, “Izzy” holds the franchise record for saves with 217 and ranks third among Cardinals relief pitchers with 373 strikeouts.  His 401 appearances, all in relief, are the sixth most in club history.

Matt Morris

Years: 1997 – 2005                        101-62, 3.61 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 18 CG, 8 SHO, 1377.1 IP (206 Games Started)

A first-round draft pick, Matt Morris made his Major League debut less than two years after being taken 12th overall in the 1995 amateur draft.  In his 1997 rookie season, Morris made 33 starts and finished with a 12-9 record and a 3.19 ERA, tying him for second among Rookie of the Year balloting.  A National League All-Star in 2001 and 2002, Morris finished third in Cy Young voting in 2001 after winning a Major League-best 22 games.  In his eight seasons with the club, Morris recorded at least 11 wins six times, won four division titles and started 11 postseason games.  Matt’s 986 strikeouts rank sixth on the team’s all-time list and his .620 winning percentage is seventh-best in club history.

Edgar Renteria

Years: 1999 – 2004                       .290/.347/.420, 451 RBI, 207 2B, 148 SB (903 Games)

Edgar Renteria played six seasons with the Cardinals and was named a National League All-Star three times (2000, 2003, 2004).  The Colombian shortstop won two Gold Gloves while with St. Louis in 2002 and 2003, and three Silver Slugger Awards in 2000, 2002 and 2003.  Renteria batted .330 in 2003, a franchise single-season record for a shortstop, as are the 47 doubles he hit that season.  His career high 100 RBI in 2003 ranks second among all St. Louis shortstops for a single season. Renteria’s 37 stolen bases his first season with the Cardinals are the most in a single-season since that time and his 148 steals while with St. Louis ranks second in franchise history among shortstops.

Scott Rolen

Years: 2002 – 2007                       .286/.370/.510, 678 H, 421 R, 173 2Bs, 111 HR, 453 RBI (661 Games)

In his five-plus seasons with the Cardinals, Scott Rolen dominated the hot corner winning Gold Gloves in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006.  He was named a National League All-Star in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and captured a Silver Slugger award in 2002.  In 2004, Rolen slashed .314/.409/.598 with 34 home runs and 124 RBI.  His stellar 2004 campaign continued during the postseason with his pennant-clinching, two-run homer off Roger Clemens in the 6th inning of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series vs. Houston.  During Busch Stadium II’s final season in 2005, Rolen was voted by Cardinals fans as the third baseman to the All-Busch Stadium team.  In 2006, Rolen helped the club to its 10th World Championship, closing out the postseason with a 10-game hitting streak.

John Tudor

Years: 1985 – 1988, 1990            62-26, 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 22 CG, 12 SHO, 881.2 IP (125 Games Started)

During his five seasons in a Cardinals uniform, John Tudor accumulated a .705 winning percentage and 2.52 ERA over 125 starts, both of which still stand as all-time Cardinals records (minimum 750.0 IP).  The left-hander’s finest season came in 1985 when he won 21 games (went 20-1 after June 1) with a minuscule 1.93 ERA, including 10 complete game shutouts, and finished second in National League Cy Young voting.  A member of two National League pennant-winning teams in 1985 and 1987, Tudor won at least 10 games in each of the four full seasons he pitched for the Redbirds.

Cardinals Hall of Fame Members

Jim Bottomley, Ken Boyer, Sam Breadon, Harry Brecheen, Lou Brock, Jack Buck, August A. “Gussie” Busch Jr., Chris Carpenter, Vince Coleman, Dizzy Dean, Jim Edmonds, Curt Flood, Bob Forsch, Frank Frisch, Bob Gibson, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, Whitey Herzog, Rogers Hornsby, George Kissell, Tony La Russa, Ray Lankford, Marty Marion, Pepper Martin, Tim McCarver, Willie McGee, Mark McGwire, Joe Medwick, Johnny Mize, Terry Moore, Stan Musial, Branch Rickey, Red Schoendienst, Mike Shannon, Ted Simmons, Enos Slaughter, Ozzie Smith, Billy Southworth, Bruce Sutter and Joe Torre.

2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame Red Ribbon Selection Committee

Tom Ackerman,  Frank Cusumano,  Derrick Goold, Whitey Herzog, Benjamin Hochman, Rick Hummel, Randy Karraker,  Martin Kilcoyne, Jenifer Langosch,  Tony La Russa, Bernie Miklasz, Joe Ostermeier, Rob Rains and Brian Walton.

My regular readers know I’m a John Tudor fangirl, so of course, I will be voting for him.  If he is elected, I will be attending the induction ceremony.  I wouldn’t miss that for the world.  My other vote?  Scott Rolen.  Who will you be voting for?  Leave a comment below.

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As you know, Bryce Harper signed with Philadelphia for 13 years with no opt-outs for stupid money.  How crazy is that? I think if I were a player, I would want at least one opt-out. I am glad that the Cards didn’t sign him.  That frees up money to sign Paul Goldschmidt to an extension, which I hope the Cardinals do soon.  I was happy that the Cards extended Miles Mikolas and signed Jose Martinez to a two-year contract.

Spring training is underway, and the Cards pitchers (with the exception of Carlos Martinez, who is injured again – surprise, surprise!) are on fire.  Today, Jack Flaherty had 9 K’s, with 7 K’s in a row.  The Cards haven’t won many games in spring training, although it’s okay to lose them now, just not during the regular season.  My man Harrison Bader needs to work with hitting coach Jeff Albert on his hitting and with Jose Oquendo on his baserunning.

That’s all for tonight.  Thanks for reading as always and see you next time!

Diane

Preseason ponderings and burning questions for the regular season

The last game of the preseason is tonight. The reason I called it a preseason game is because last night’s and tonight’s game are not in Florida, so they can’t be spring training games. You can watch tonight’s game for free on MLB.TV – just go to mlb.com, select the Cardinals-Blue Jays game in the scoreboard section and click on the TV icon. The game starts at 6:07 PM CST, so hopefully you’re not reading this too late to watch it.

It was a little disconcerting following last night’s game on Gameday only.  The game wasn’t broadcast on KMOX or on FOX Sports or any other cable network. It felt like the 1960’s and 1970’s when very few games were televised and you could only follow the game on KMOX. But the regular season starts in only 2 days and I’ll be able to watch and/or listen to all the baseball I want! Are you excited? I am. Here’s some of my thoughts on spring training and the season to come.

Spring training notes:

Amazingly, the Cardinals escaped spring training without a major injury, such as a pitcher needing Tommy John surgery. However, Adam Wainwright and Luke Gregerson suffered hamstring strains. Both Adam and Luke injured their hamstrings in a sprint drill. Why the heck are pitchers doing sprint drills? Pitchers do not do that much running, unless they manage to get on base. A pitcher would not need to sprint to cover first base. Gregerson also suffered an oblique injury earlier in spring training. Both Adam and Luke are on the disabled list to start the season. At least those are minor injuries.

Carson Kelly, Yadi’s backup last year, was sent down to Memphis. Yadi’s stamina has improved with age to the point that he hardly ever takes a day off. Carson’s offense has suffered as a result of not getting enough playing time, and that carried over to spring training. Carson needs to be playing every day in order to improve, and not ride the bench while Yadi plays. Be patient, young padawan; your time will come. Francisco Pena, the son of former Cardinals catcher Tony Pena, will be the backup catcher.

Jack Flaherty was lights out in spring training. He is definitely one of the starters in the rotation of the future. The future is now, however, as Jack will be taking Wainwright’s place in the rotation until Waino’s hamstring heals.

Yairo Munoz, one of the prospects obtained in the Stephen Piscotty trade, was very good in spring training. His great offense helped him make the team as an infield backup. It was reported that his mother cried when he told her the news. I would have cried too if one of my kids had played baseball and I was told that he/she had been added to the major league squad.

Burning questions:

Since no closer has been chosen, will the 9th inning be closer by committee? Dominic Leone and Tyler Lyons appear to be the top candidates for the closer position.

Carlos Martinez has shown flashes of greatness. Will he get it together and be the dominant pitcher we know he can be? Although some fans like Carlos’ funky hair colors, I think it’s a distraction. Save the funky colors for the off-season, Carlos.

Will Mike Matheny micromanage the team and keep Mike Maddux, Willie McGee and Jose Oquendo from doing their jobs effectively?

Will Tommy Pham have another season like he did last season? Or will his vision problems give him more trouble?

Will Jose Martinez get enough playing time? If Pham gets hurt, Fowler could be moved back to center field and Jose could play right field.

Will Michael Wacha’s shoulder stay healed? He has pitched very well in spring training. Here’s hoping he’s regained his 2013 form and will be the dominant pitcher he was then.

I have a great deal for you.  Is T-Mobile your cell phone provider? If not, you should hurry up and switch to T-Mobile – they are offering a great perk:  a free season of MLB.TV,  through their T-Mobile Tuesdays app. That means you can watch all out-of- market baseball games on your cellphone, tablet, etc. All you need is an MLB.com account. This deal is only good through April 7. I discovered this great perk in the app last Tuesday and it made me really glad that I had switched to T-Mobile from AT&T.

Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane