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

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Free admission to the Cardinals Museum for veterans and active military

Memorial DayFrom Saturday, May 23, 2015 through Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2015, the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum is offering free admission to the museum for veterans and also for active military members.  My heartfelt thanks go out to those who have served our country and my prayers go out to those who lost their lives during their service.  Here are all the details on the free admission, as well as other special offers for military personnel from the Cardinals:

My thoughts on the trade deadline deal

I was out of town last week on vacation, but thanks to Twitter, I could follow the trade deadline deal that GM John Mozeliak made for the Cardinals and all the reactions made by others. (Note to self: Never go on vacation out of town during trade deadline week again. If by chance I am on vacation, stay home.) Now that I’ve had a few days to think about the trades that were made, here are my thoughts.

I think that it was good that Mo traded for John Lackey and Justin Masterson without giving up any good prospects. You don’t want to give up your future to get rental players. Lackey is signed for the rest of this season and he has indicated that he will pitch for the Cards next year as well. Mo was doing James Ramsey a favor by trading him to the Indians. The Cardinals have a logjam of outfield prospects.

Allen Craig was not having a good season before the trade. His RBI production was way off. I think he wasn’t fully healed from the ankle injury last year. In fact, Craig went on the DL today for a foot injury. Mo knew what he was doing here.

Joe Kelly’s pitching performance last Tuesday night was brutal. It was like he was throwing batting practice. I think it was either Kelly or Shelby Miller that was going to be traded and Kelly’s performance sealed the deal.

For those who are sad about Craig and Kelly’s departure, remember that baseball is a business. In the business world, if you don’t perform up to your employer’s standards, you are fired. In baseball, if a player doesn’t meet the team’s needs or he performs poorly, he is traded, released or sent down to the minors. If a player has made it to the major league level, he is a professional and needs to play like one. A player is judged on his performance, but he is cut some slack for a while if he is injured.

Trades like these are why I don’t get attached to too many players. I learned my lesson with Albert Pujols. I am more a fan of the team as a whole rather than any particular players, although I am fond of Yadi. If I ever had the funds to purchase a Cardinals jersey, I would only buy a Cardinals jersey with either my name and favorite number on the back or a retired player’s name and number on the back, like Stan Musial. That’s a big investment to make for a player who may not stay with the team.

Lackey’s and Masterson’s starts this weekend went pretty well, since the Cardinals won both of them. In an interesting turn of events, Miller and Kelly will start against each other Wednesday night. They were the best man in each other’s weddings, and ESPN will run with that drama.

So goodbye Allen and Joe, and thanks for the memories. Good luck with your new team. Welcome AJ, John and Justin. I’m already enjoying watching you play for the Cards and wish you well.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane

Happy 91st birthday, No. 2!

The United Cardinals Bloggers’ project for the month of January is to write a blog post about Red Schoendienst. Our deadline was today, because today is Red’s 91st birthday. Red is now the longest living Cardinal.  Amazingly, Red is still quite active in the Cardinals’ organization.   Baseball obviously keeps Red young. Let’s take a look at Red’s life and career.

Albert Fred “Red” Schoendienst was born on February 2, 1923 in the small town of Germantown, Illinois, 40 miles from St. Louis.  I know that Germantown is a small town because we’ve driven through there on our way to Carlyle Lake to go camping.  His dad was a catcher in the Clinton County league and later became an umpire.  Red’s mother stitched up baseballs for Red and his friends to play ball with.  Red grew up during the Great Depression and times were tough.  Red didn’t care for school very much; he liked baseball more.

Back when Red was growing up, ballgames weren’t broadcast on the radio.  They had to wait to read about who won when the St. Louis newspaper was delivered the next day. That’s kind of hard to imagine now when we can now follow games play by play on the Internet.  Red and his brothers played on teams in Germantown and learned the fundamentals of the game.

When Red turned 16, he dropped out of school and got a job in the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Each CCC camp had a baseball team and Red played on his camp’s team.  The accident that almost ended Red’s career before it started happened while Red was working at the CCC camp.  Red and his good friend Joe Linneman were building fences. Joe was attempting to hammer a nail to a post, but it flew off of the post and into Red’s eye.  Red was rushed to the Marine hospital in St. Louis, where he remained for 5 weeks while the doctors figured out what to do about his eye.  Finally, one doctor decided that Red’s eye could be saved but he had to do treatments to get rid of the double vision and spots he was experiencing.

Red and his friend Joe heard about the Cardinals holding a tryout camp in St. Louis and decided to go.  They hitched a ride to St. Louis on a Pevely Dairy truck.  After the tryouts, which included Red, Joe Garagiola and Yogi Berra riding with Branch Rickey to Forest Park for a workout, Red headed back to Germantown.  When Joe Mathes, the Cardinals’ head scout, got back into town, he asked why Red hadn’t been signed.  Since Red was only 16, his father had to sign his contract.  Red then headed to Bowling Green, Kentucky to play with the Union City, Tennessee farm team in the Kitty League.

The Kitty League eventually disbanded, so Red went to play with the Albany Cardinals in Georgia.  Red stayed with Albany until 1943, when he was promoted to the Rochester Red Wings.  In 1943, Red enlisted in the Army.  However, Red injured his shoulder playing ball in the Army and the shoulder and eye injuries were enough for Red to be discharged.

Red joined the major league club in 1945.  Red was unsure what position he would be playing, until one day when he had Mike Gonzalez, the team’s pitching coach, hit some fungoes to him in left field.  Gonzales excitedly told Billy Southworth, the Cards’ manager, about how good Red was at fielding the ball in left field, so that’s where Red played, unless an infielder needed a day off.  The problems with Red’s bad eye got worse, so he went to an doctor and he was given exercises to do.  Red also met Mary, his future wife, on a streetcar in 1945.  (Single girls, stay alert – you never know where you’re going to meet the man of your dreams!)

In the winter of 1945, Billy Southworth left the club to manage the Boston Braves and Eddie Dyer became the manager.  Since the war was over, all the stars were coming back.  Dyer told Red in spring training in 1946 that he would be a reserve rather than a starter.  When Whitey Kurowski didn’t show up on time to spring training because of a contract dispute, Red started at third.  When Whitey finally showed up, Red moved over to shortstop, then ended up at second base when Lou Klein defected to the Mexican League.  In 1946, Red played in the All-Star Game for the first time and the Cardinals went to the World Series and defeated the Red Sox.

Red ended up being roommates with Stan Musial, which started a life long friendship.  Red also married his girlrfriend Mary in 1951.  Red played for the Cardinals until 1956, when he was traded to the New York Giants. In 1957.  the Giants traded Red to the Milwaukee Braves, where he led the team to their first pennant in 9 years.

During the 1958-59 off season, Red was diagnosed with tuberculosis.  He had to stay in a sanitorium away from his family and eventually had surgery to remove the diseased part of his lung.  Red wasn’t well enough to join the Braves until September 1959.  Red returned to the Braves in 1960, but Red was 37 by then and the Braves were wanting to use younger players. Red then signed a contract to bring him back to the Cardinals in 1961.  Red started as a pinch hitter, but became a coach after Solly Hemus left the team and Johnny Keane took over.  Keane left the team after the Cards won the 1964 World Series and Red became the manager.

Red was the Cardinals manager from 1965 to 1976 and again as an interim manager in1980 and 1990.  He was a coach for the Oakland A’s in 1977-1988, after which he returned to the Cardinals as a coach and a special assistant to the general manager.  Red’s title is now Special Assistant Coach.

Red was a part of 5 winning World Series teams:  as a player in 1947 and 1957; as a manager in 1967; and as a coach in 1964 and 1982.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1989 by the Veterans Committee.  In 2014, Red was elected to the inaugural class of the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

So happy 91st birthday, Red!  May you live many more years!

Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

Bibliography:

Red:  A Baseball Life by Red Schoendienst with Rob Rains, Sagamore Publishing (January 7, 1998)

Wikipedia entry for Red Schoendienst:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Schoendienst

 

 

 

The top 5 Cardinals stories of 2013

imageThe United Cardinals Bloggers’ December project is the top 5 stories are for the year. Here are my nominations:

1.  The death of Stan Musial. Stan was baseball’s perfect knight and an era ended with his death. It’s rare that a player spends his entire career with a team like Stan did. Much is made of the “face of the franchise” tag these days, but Stan was the epitome of the Cardinal Way. You can read my blog posts about Stan’s passing here and here.

2.  Chris Carpenter’s retirement.  Chris’ pitching led the Cards to two World Series championships.  He not only contributed with his arm, he worked with other pitchers and his larger than life personality lit up the bench.  He will hopefully accept  a position with the Cardinals’ front office.  You can read my blog post about Chris’ retirement here.

3.  Winning the National League pennant.  It was a grueling road to the pennant. It took all 5 games for the Cardinals to knock off Pittsburgh.  The Cards then took 6 out of 7 games to finish off the Dodgers.  The momentum, however, wasn’t enough to beat the Red Sox in the World Series.  But we Cards fans can still be proud of the NL pennant.

4.  Mo’s wheeling and dealing during the off season.  During the last couple of years, Cards GM John Mozeliak didn’t make many moves during the off season.  This year was an exception, however.  David Freese and Fernando Salas were traded for Angels CF’s Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.  Free agent SS Jhonny Peralta was signed to a  four year contract.  Mo finished up by picking up veteran Mark Ellis from the Dodgers to mentor and back up Kolten Wong at 2B.  And Mo did all this without having to give up any of our rookie pitchers.  Mo is a genius.

5.  The rise of Michael Wacha.  What a season it was for young Michael Wacha, one of the best of the Cards’ rookie pitchers.  After being called up, Wacha had a 4-1 record during the regular season, but he had 4 wins in the playoffs, and won the MVP award in the NLCS.  Only the loss in Game 6 of the World Series dimmed his bright rising.  It will be interesting to see how Wacha pitches next season.

The UCB mourned the loss of one of its writers last week.  Jerome “J.D.” Norton, who wrote the Bleed Cardinal Red With Me blog and later on Cards Conclave,  sadly took his own life on December 22 at the young age of 38.  Our prayers and condolences are with his wife and family.  His online obituary is here, should you wish to express your condolences. Folks, if you or anyone you know is suffering from depression or any other kind of mental illness, please get help!  The life you save may be your own.

Thanks for reading!  Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014!

Diane

 

The 2013 WWLCB Holiday Gift Guide

Today is December 1, 2013 and the Christmas shopping season is well underway.  (Did you go Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving? No, me neither).  If you have Cardinals fans on your Christmas list or if you need something to put on your wish list, below are some gifts that you or your gift recipients will enjoy.  Click on the links to get to the page where you can view and order the merchandise.  The page will open in a separate window/tab.

Books

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a new book called St. Louis Cardinals:  The Championship Seasons – Covering the 11 World Series Wins.  This book should have some wonderful photos and great articles from the P-D sportswriters.

In my post on Stan Musial’s passing, I recommended the book Stan Musial:  An American Life by George Vecsey.  It would make a great gift for the Stan Musial fan or a Cardinals fan in general.

100 Things a Cardinals Fan Should Know and Do Before They Die, written by St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Derrick Goold, is an entertaining book filled with information and trivia all Cardinals fans should know about.  It features a foreword written by Stan Musial.

Apparel

If you liked the jersey that the Cardinals wore on Memorial Day with the birds on the bat in the USMC digital camo pattern, you can purchase one here.  If you know a Marine who’s a Cards fan, this would be the perfect present.  This jersey is also available in youth sizes.  If T-shirts are more the gift recipient’s style, the camo birds on the bat is also available on a T-shirt, and you can purchase one here.  The T-shirts are available in youth sizes as well.

The Stan Musial fan (well, aren’t we all?) would love the commemorative T-shirt available here.  This shirt is not available in youth sizes, unfortunately.  A combination of this T-shirt and the Stan Musial biography referenced above would make a great gift set.

If you or anyone else on your gift list still doesn’t have their 2013 National League Champions apparel, you can go here to purchase them.  I have also had good luck purchasing playoff apparel at JC Penneys, and the closer it gets to Christmas, the bigger the discount.

For those who have an unlimited gift budget, you can purchase 2013 World Series Cardinals and regular seasons jerseys here.  If you want to purchase a jersey with a certain player’s name and number on the back, it costs more.

Bling

Cardinals watches in casual or dressy styles make a great present.  I found a dressy ladies’ Cardinals watch here.  A more casual Cardinals watch for ladies can be found here.  There are all kinds of men’s watches at the link here.  Even the kids can have Cardinals watches, and you can purchase them here and here.

Is there a lady gift recipient on your list that has a Pandora charm bracelet?  You can purchase Cardinals Pandora charms here, and if she doesn’t have a Pandora bracelet, you can buy her one there too.  If you click here and go through the pages, you can also find necklaces, earrings and other Cardinals jewelry for your favorite lady Cardinals fan.

Home and Office

Everyone needs a calendar, and a Cardinals calendar will help the year pass faster.  You can find a box desk calendar (one square page per day) with facts and trivia on each page here.  A wall calendar with full color photos can be found here.  And if you’re looking for an assortment of Cardinals office gear, click here.  For those attached to their smart phones, you can find Cardinals cell phone covers here.

Did you or a gift recipient attend a NLCS or World Series game this year?  You can purchase a really nice photo frame with a place for a photo and your ticket stub.  The NLCS frame is available here and the World Series frame is available here.  Was there a special game, like for a birthday or anniversary, that you attended this year?  You can find a stand up frame for your ticket stub here.  If you have a whole bunch of ticket stubs you’d like to keep in one place, you can get a ticket holder here.

Every house needs a clock so you can see whether it’s time for the Cardinals game.  You can find nice clocks herehere and here.  If these ideas aren’t enough, you can go here and click through all the pages for gift ideas.

Miscellaneous

As mentioned in my last blog post here, tickets for the 2014 Winter Warm-Up are now on sale.  You can purchase those here.  Autographs tickets, unfortunately, will not be available until next month.

The Cardinals’ print magazine has all kinds of gorgeous photos and great articles on the team.  You can order a gift subscription in either print or digital format here. On that same page, you can also purchase the 2013 Cardinals Yearbook, with a tribute to Stan Musial, in either digital or print format.

For those with an unlimited budget, season tickets would be a gift that would be very much appreciated by a Cardinals fan.  You can put a deposit on 2014 season tickets here.

Notes on web ordering:  Most of the links above are from MLB.com.  MLB.com is offering a 30% discount on all orders from $50.00 – $99.00, 25% discount for all orders from $25.00-$50.00. and 20% on all orders less than $50. 00.  This offer, however, is only good until 11:59 PM EST (that’s 10:59 PM St. Louis time) tonight (12/1/13).  For the links to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Store, the P-D is offering free shipping on any order of $20.00 or more with USPS standard shipping.  This deal is only good until December 3, 2013, however.

If you want to get a lot of shopping done at one time, the Cardinals Team Store at Busch Stadium or the Cardinals Clubhouse stores are the places to do this.  If you’re looking for Cardinals stocking stuffers, these would be the places to go.

I hope my list has given you some good ideas for holiday shopping for your favorite Cardinals fan(s).  Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

So long, Stan

Stan Musial funeral 044Since I couldn’t go to Stan’s wake, I decided to go to the ceremony at Busch Stadium today.  I rode the Metrolink train over from Illinois.  In the same car with me was a young man wearing a white hooded jacket and a Cardinals knit hat.  I knew where he was going.  He had a rose in his hand.  I wish I had thought of that.  But then I thought, flowers die, but blog posts live forever. 

I arrived at  Busch Stadium around 10:40 AM.  I found a good spot to stand across the street from Stan’s statue. I was lucky enough to stand next to a man with a pocket size TV.  He told me he was at the double header that Stan had hit 5 home runs at.  What a lucky guy!  We watched some of the funeral on the TV.

There were so many flowers, tributes, etc. at the statue that it was hard to get a good photo of all of them, but I tried.  Stan Musial funeral 001

More and more people showed up as time went on.  A guy came along handing out buttons, but by the time he got to me, he still had buttons left but he said he was going to give them to kids.  So I had to settle for taking a photo of one, which you will see above.

The St. Louis Fire Department hung a big U.S. Flag between two hook and ladder trucks.  It was a beautiful sight.

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All of the Busch Stadium ushers filed in.  They stood in front on gate 3 and on the bridges above gate 3.  There was a Clydesdale horse brought in.  The handler brought him up behind the statue.  He was a well behaved and very photogenic horse.

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We knew the procession was getting close when the St. Louis Fire Department guys and the St. Louis County Police Pipes and Drums band got into place at the statue.

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The funeral procession arrived around 1:45 PM (or thereabouts – I was too cold to check my watch and my phone was dead).

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The family got out of the limousines to applause by the fans and proceeded to the statue.  Each family member was given a rose to put into a vase at the statue.

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The band played “Amazing Grace” as the family put their roses in the vases.  As the family went back to the limousines, a couple of the family members patted the hearse.

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The crowd spontaneously started singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and applauded the family.  Several of the family members thanked the fans for being there.

As the hearse drove off, we all started saying, “Goodbye, Stan!”  I cried.  But I’m a woman, so I cry at funerals, weddings, sappy movies – oh, never mind.   Here’s a photo of the casket in the hearse:

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If you would like to see a video of the ceremony, you can go here.  It was cold and a long wait, but I’m so glad I went today.  As a longtime Cardinals fan, I felt it my duty and an honor to say farewell to one of the greatest Cardinals baseball players ever.  So so long, Stan.  Thanks for sharing your life and your career with us.  You will never be forgotten.

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