Homestand Highlights 9/25-10/1/17

It’s hard to believe, but it’s the last homestand of the 2017 season.  This season has had its ups and downs, which will be reviewed in a future post.  The Cards have a very slim chance of making the playoffs.  The most we can hope for is that the Cards sweep the Cubs and the Cubs don’t clinch the division in our house.  That would add insult to injury.  Until then, however, there are still a few games to be played and I have all the details below.  Please note that the start time for Wednesday night’s game has been moved up because of it being broadcast on ESPN.

Be careful should you be going to the games – there are barricades around the stadium in preparation for visits by protestors. I saw the barricades as I was going to the Metrolink station on my way home from work this evening.  Stay aware of your surroundings, travel light and stay with those you’re attending the game with. Don’t engage the protestors.  Stay safe!

HOMESTAND HIGHLIGHTS (Monday, September 25—Sunday, October 1)

Cards-Cubs Series, Billikens and Blues Theme Nights Highlight Thirteenth & Final Homestand at Busch

 ST. LOUIS, Mo., September 25, 2017 – The Cardinals are back at Busch Stadium for their final games of the 2017 regular season.  The seven-game homestand begins with four games against the Chicago Cubs (September 25-28) and concludes with a three-game weekend series versus the Milwaukee Brewers (September 29-October 1).  The final homestand of the year is highlighted by St. Louis Blues Night and the culmination of the #CardsRatPack campaign.

Monday, September 25, 2017 — Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs (7:15 p.m.)

MLB Network Showcase National Broadcast

Gates open at 5:45 p.m.

Spanish Radio Broadcast: The St. Louis Cardinals, in cooperation with KFNS 590 “The Fan” and La Ke Buena Spanish, will broadcast tonight’s game over the radio in Spanish.  Game play-by-play will be provided by announcer Polo Ascencio with color commentary from former Cardinals Assistant Hitting Coach, Bengie Molina.  Tonight’s Spanish radio broadcast will air on KFNS 590 AM, 105.7 KPNT HD2 and be streamed via cardinals.com and the MLB.com At Bat mobile app.

Purina Pet Adoption: Join us for Purina’s Better Together Pet Adoption Days at the Ballpark.  Head to Ford Plaza prior to the game to meet adoptable furry friends from the Animal Protective Association (APA) and the Belleville Area Humane Society.

 Pregame Poms/Cheer/Dance Performances: Prior to the game, groups from Edwardsville High School Cheer, Eureka Junior Wildcat Cheerleading, Highland High School Cheer, O’Fallon High School Cheer, Oakville High School Cheerleading, Studio III Dance Academy, Tri-City Junior High School Cheer and Wentzville Holt Dance will perform in the Ford Plaza beginning around 5:15 p.m.  Gate 6 will open at 5:15 p.m. for the event.

MLBPAA Auction: The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association will conduct a baseball-themed silent auction by Gate 1 (Section 137) and Gate 3 from the time gates open through the fifth inning.  All proceeds will benefit Cardinals Care and the Players Alumni Association, a non-profit group that strives to preserve the game of baseball while supporting a variety of charities.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 — Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs (7:15 p.m.)

ESPN Tuesday Night Baseball National Broadcast

Gates open at 5:45 p.m.

Joe Magrane & Greg Mathews Budweiser Bash Theme Night: Fans who purchase this special Bud Bash theme ticket receive a voucher for a limited edition Joe Magrane & Greg Mathews dual mini bobblehead as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1987 National League Championship team.  VIP ticket-holders will also have access to a pregame autograph session with Joe & Greg.  Fans must present the voucher in order to receive this promotional item.  Tickets for this Bud Bash event are sold out.  For more info, visit cardinals.com/theme.  (#BudBash) (#CardsTheme)

College Theme Night III:  The St. Louis Cardinals invite students, faculty and staff of local colleges and universities to the third and final College Night of the season.  Fans who purchase the $20 theme night ticket receive a Cardinals College Night t-shirt, designed by STL Style.  Fans must present the special theme night voucher in order to receive this promotional item.  For more info, or to purchase tickets, visit cardinals.com/theme.  (#CardsTheme)

Battle at Busch Finals: 105.7 The Point and the Cardinals welcome back the Battle at Busch concert series.  The 2017 schedule features 18 local bands over the course of six nights, at six different Cardinals home games in Ford Plaza.  Tonight’s final battle features the top four scoring bands returning to compete for the grand prize package: AwayfromreasonDirt Road AddictionOf Wolves and Whiskey and The Volunteers.  Gate 6 will open at 5:00 p.m. for the event.  Performances begin at 5:15 p.m. with each act given 20 minutes to perform.  Each band will be judged on a point system by Mozingo Music and 105.7 The Point.  Tickets for the Battle at Busch finals are currently sold out.

Spanish Radio Broadcast: The St. Louis Cardinals, in cooperation with KFNS 590 “The Fan” and La Ke Buena Spanish, will broadcast tonight’s game over the radio in Spanish.  Game play-by-play will be provided by announcer Polo Ascencio with color commentary from former Cardinals Assistant Hitting Coach, Bengie Molina.  Tonight’s Spanish radio broadcast will air on KFNS 590 AM, 105.7 KPNT HD2 and be streamed via cardinals.com and the MLB.com At Bat mobile app.

Cardinals Care Stadium Auction: Fans have the unique opportunity to bid on exclusive autographed Cardinals memorabilia at the game.  The auction is a great way for fans and collectors to obtain specialty Cardinals items while helping support the programs that Cardinals Care provides to youth in the community.  Auction tables will be located by Gate 1 (Section 137), Gate 3, inside the Cardinals Club, UMB Champions Club and Redbird Club.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 — Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs (6:08 p.m.)

ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball National Broadcast

Gates open at 4:38 p.m.

Boots at Busch: 93.7 The Bull and the Cardinals are teaming up to present the first season of Boots at Busch—a series of home games featuring live country music in a “battle of the bands” format.  The 2017 schedule features 9 local country acts/bands over the course of three different Cardinals home games in Ford Plaza.  Tonight’s battle features Collin NashJohn Spicer & The Fightin Side and Joshua Stanley.  Gate 6 will open at 4:08 p.m. for the event.  Performances begin at 4:20 p.m. with each act given 20 minutes to perform.  A winning act will be selected each night and will receive a prize package from 93.7 The Bull and the Cardinals.  Special discount tickets for Boots at Busch are currently sold out

Spanish Radio Broadcast: The St. Louis Cardinals, in cooperation with KFNS 590 “The Fan” and La Ke Buena Spanish, will broadcast tonight’s game over the radio in Spanish.  Game play-by-play will be provided by announcer Polo Ascencio with color commentary from former Cardinals Assistant Hitting Coach, Bengie Molina.  Tonight’s Spanish radio broadcast will air on KFNS 590 AM, 105.7 KPNT HD2 and be streamed via cardinals.com and the MLB.com At Bat mobile app.

Pregame Poms/Cheer/Dance Performances: Prior to the game, groups from Maryville University, Power Haus Cheer & Dance of Columbia and SIUE Cheer & Dance will perform in the Ford Plaza beginning around 5:00 p.m.

MLBPAA Auction: The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association will conduct a baseball-themed silent auction by Gate 1 (Section 137) and Gate 3 from the time gates open through the fifth inning.  All proceeds will benefit Cardinals Care and the Players Alumni Association, a non-profit group that strives to preserve the game of baseball while supporting a variety of charities.

Thursday, September 28, 2017 — Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs (6:15 p.m.)

Gates open at 4:45 p.m.

Billikens Theme Night: The St. Louis Cardinals invite all St. Louis Billikens fans and their families to enjoy Billikens Night at the ballpark.  Fans who purchase the special theme night ticket receive a specially designed SLU-themed Cardinals hat.  Come early and enjoy a pregame Pep Rally in Riverview Corner before the game as well.  For more info, or to purchase tickets, visit cardinals.com/billikens. (#CardsTheme)

Minor League Champions:  Coaches and staff from the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate Memphis Redbirds and Class-A Advanced Palm Beach Cardinals will be recognized during a pregame ceremony on the field.  Memphis captured their third Pacific Coast League Championship in franchise history (2000, 2009) while setting a franchise record for victories in a single season with a 91-50 record.  Palm Beach was named Co-Florida State League Champions after the championship games were cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.  It was the first FSL Championship for Palm Beach since 2005.

Spanish Radio Broadcast: The St. Louis Cardinals, in cooperation with KFNS 590 “The Fan” and La Ke Buena Spanish, will broadcast tonight’s game over the radio in Spanish.  Game play-by-play will be provided by announcer Polo Ascencio with color commentary from former Cardinals Assistant Hitting Coach, Bengie Molina.  Tonight’s Spanish radio broadcast will air on KFNS 590 AM, 105.7 KPNT HD2 and be streamed via cardinals.com and the MLB.com At Bat mobile app.

MLBPAA Auction: The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association will conduct a baseball-themed silent auction by Gate 1 (Section 137) and Gate 3 from the time gates open through the fifth inning.  All proceeds will benefit Cardinals Care and the Players Alumni Association, a non-profit group that strives to preserve the game of baseball while supporting a variety of charities.

Friday, September 29, 2017 — Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers (7:15 p.m.)

Fan Appreciation Weekend 

Gates open at 5:15 p.m.

Adult Replica Blues Batting Practice Jersey Promotional Giveaway: 30,000 ticketed fans, ages 16 and older, will take home a replica Blues batting practice jersey, just like the ones worn by the players during batting practice.  Courtesy of FOX Sports Midwest.  (#CardsPromo)

St. Louis Blues Theme Night: For the third consecutive year, the Cardinals are teaming up with the St. Louis Blues to help kick off hockey season in St. Louis during Blues Night at Busch Stadium.  Fans who purchase the special theme ticket will receive an exclusive Blues/Cardinals-themed stocking cap.  Fans must present the special theme night voucher in order to receive this promotional item.  From 5:45-6:45 p.m., fans can enjoy a pregame concert from the Charles Glenn Group in Riverview Corner.  Members of the 2017-2018 Blues will be introduced on the field during a special pregame ceremony.  Cardinals players will also wear a St. Louis Blues themed jersey during batting practice.  The batting practice-worn jerseys will be auctioned off next spring with proceeds benefitting Cardinals Care.  For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit cardinals.com/blues. (#CardsTheme) (#TeamSTL)

#CardsRatPack Ceremony: In June, the St. Louis Cardinals launched the #CardsRatPack campaign to honor Hall of Fame Manager Whitey Herzog and raise money for the Whitey Herzog Youth Foundation.  The campaign centered on a pack of 24 illustrated baseball cards that came to life as part of a weekly cartoon series on the team’s digital and social media platforms designed to convey an important part of Whitey’s life, career and the pack of players he managed.  The Cardinals will conclude the campaign with a pregame ceremony featuring the “White Rat” that will include a check presentation.

Spanish Radio Broadcast: The St. Louis Cardinals, in cooperation with KFNS 590 “The Fan” and La Ke Buena Spanish, will broadcast tonight’s game over the radio in Spanish.  Game play-by-play will be provided by announcer Polo Ascencio with color commentary from former Cardinals Assistant Hitting Coach, Bengie Molina.  Tonight’s Spanish radio broadcast will be streamed via cardinals.com and the MLB.com At Bat mobile app.

Cardinals Museum Artifact Spotlight: Every Friday home game, the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum highlight artifacts in the collection not currently on display during a pregame presentation inside the Museum.  Today’s featured items are related to the St. Louis Blues.  For more information or to purchase tickets to the museum, visit cardinals.com/museum. (#CardsMuseum)

Cardinals Care 50/50 Raffle: Fans 18 and older may play the Cardinals Care 50/50 Raffle by going to any of the seven ticket kiosk locations throughout the stadium from the time gates open until the middle of the 7th inning.  One lucky fan will receive 50 percent of the gross proceeds from the game’s raffle ticket donations and the other half will benefit Cardinals Care.  For past winning raffle numbers and kiosk locations, visit cardinals.com/5050.  (#CardsCare5050)

Cardinals Care Stadium Auction: Fans have the unique opportunity to bid on exclusive autographed Cardinals memorabilia at the game.  The auction is a great way for fans and collectors to obtain specialty Cardinals items while helping support the programs that Cardinals Care provides to youth in the community.  Auction tables will be located inside the Cardinals Club, UMB Champions Club and Redbird Club.

MLBPAA Auction: The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association will conduct a baseball-themed silent auction by Gate 1 (Section 137) and Gate 3 from the time gates open through the fifth inning.  All proceeds will benefit Cardinals Care and the Players Alumni Association, a non-profit group that strives to preserve the game of baseball while supporting a variety of charities.

Saturday, September 30, 2017 — Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers (3:15 p.m.)

Fan Appreciation Weekend

FOX Sports 1 National Broadcast
Gates open at 1:15 p.m.

Scott Rolen Bobblehead Promotional Giveaway: 30,000 ticketed fans, ages 16 and older, will go home with a bobblehead of former Cardinals All-Star third baseman, Scott Rolen.  Compliments of Coca-Cola & Dierbergs.  (#CardsPromo)

2018 Cardinals Magnet Schedule Promotional Giveaway: Shelter Insurance will give all fans entering with a ticket a magnet featuring the Cardinals 2018 regular season schedule.  (#CardsPromo)

Saturday Signings at the Museum: Former Cardinals All-Star outfielder Ryan Ludwick will sign autographs at the Cardinals Museum from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  In addition to having a valid admission to the museum, fans must have an autograph line ticket, which are free and will be distributed beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Busch II Infield outside Cardinals Nation.  Visit cardinals.com/museum for more information.  Presented by Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company.  (#CardsMuseum)

Spanish Radio Broadcast: The St. Louis Cardinals, in cooperation with KFNS 590 “The Fan” and La Ke Buena Spanish, will broadcast tonight’s game over the radio in Spanish.  Game play-by-play will be provided by announcer Polo Ascencio with color commentary from former Cardinals Assistant Hitting Coach, Bengie Molina.  Tonight’s Spanish radio broadcast will air on KFNS 590 AM, 105.7 KPNT HD2 and be streamed via cardinals.com and the MLB.com At Bat mobile app.

Cardinals Care 50/50 Raffle: Fans 18 and older may play the Cardinals Care 50/50 Raffle by going to any of the seven ticket kiosk locations throughout the stadium from the time gates open until the middle of the 7th inning.  One lucky fan will receive 50 percent of the gross proceeds from the game’s raffle ticket donations and the other half will benefit Cardinals Care.  For past winning raffle numbers and kiosk locations, visit cardinals.com/5050.  (#CardsCare5050)

MLBPAA Auction: The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association will conduct a baseball-themed silent auction by Gate 1 (Section 137), Gate 3 and inside the Cardinals Club from the time gates open through the fifth inning.  All proceeds will benefit Cardinals Care and the Players Alumni Association, a non-profit group that strives to preserve the game of baseball while supporting a variety of charities.

Sunday, October 1, 2017 — Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers (2:15 p.m.)

Fan Appreciation Weekend

Gates open at 12:15 p.m.

2018 Cardinals Magnet Schedule Promotional Giveaway: Shelter Insurance will give all fans entering with a ticket a magnet featuring the Cardinals 2018 regular season schedule.  (#CardsPromo)

2018 Free Ticket Voucher: All fans entering with a ticket will receive a voucher good for a free ticket to a 2018 Cardinals regular season home game.

Six Flags Day: Children under 48 inches will receive a free ticket to Six Flags, valid any Sunday until October 29.

Prairie Farms Ice Cream Sunday: Starting two hours prior to the game, bring the entire family to Ford Plaza for games, prizes and free North Star frozen treats (while supplies last).

Spanish Radio Broadcast: The St. Louis Cardinals, in cooperation with KFNS 590 “The Fan” and La Ke Buena Spanish, will broadcast tonight’s game over the radio in Spanish.  Game play-by-play will be provided by announcer Polo Ascencio with color commentary from former Cardinals Assistant Hitting Coach, Bengie Molina.  Tonight’s Spanish radio broadcast will air on KFNS 590 AM, 105.7 KPNT HD2 and be streamed via cardinals.com and the MLB.com At Bat mobile app.

Cardinals Care 50/50 Raffle: Fans 18 and older may play the Cardinals Care 50/50 Raffle by going to any of the seven ticket kiosk locations throughout the stadium from the time gates open until the middle of the 7th inning.  One lucky fan will receive 50 percent of the gross proceeds from the game’s raffle ticket donations and the other half will benefit Cardinals Care.  For past winning raffle numbers and kiosk locations, visit cardinals.com/5050. (#CardsCare5050)

Cardinals Care Stadium Auction: Fans have the unique opportunity to bid on exclusive autographed Cardinals memorabilia at the game.  The auction is a great way for fans and collectors to obtain specialty Cardinals items while helping support the programs that Cardinals Care provides to youth in the community.  Auction tables will be located inside the Cardinals Club, UMB Champions Club and Redbird Club.

MLBPAA Auction: The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association will conduct a baseball-themed silent auction by Gate 1 (Section 137) and Gate 3 from the time gates open through the fifth inning.  All proceeds will benefit Cardinals Care and the Players Alumni Association, a non-profit group that strives to preserve the game of baseball while supporting a variety of charities.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed, pray. and hope that the Cardinals make the playoffs!  Thanks as always for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

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RIP Joaquín Andújar

JoaquinCardinal Nation is in mourning today at the sad news of the passing of Joaquín Andújar.  Those of us who followed Cardinals baseball in the 1980s know Joaquín well.  He was a fiery, passionate pitcher, who loved the game and loved pitching.  Joaquín called himself One Tough Dominican. The St. Louis radio DJ’s called him Walking Underwear due to Joaquín’s thick accent.  It was fun watching him on and off the mound. Here’s one of my favorite stories about Joaquín from Whitey Herzog’s book You’re Missin’ a Great Game:

Ozzie still tells the damnedest stories.  Like the day in Montreal I came out to the mound to talk to talk to Goombah about pitching to Al Oliver. Ozzie’s on the mound as usual, with his arms folded, looking annoyed.  Joaquin wants to stay in there, of course, even though Oliver’s a good left-handed hitter. So I just say, “Look, I’ll leave you in, but be careful.” Joaquin looks at me like I’ve insulted his manhood.  He frowns and points at his chest. “He one tough hitter,” he says.  “Me one tough pitcher!”

Before I can even put my foot in the dugout, the ball’s going over the left centerfield fence.  And Ozzie comes back to the mound laughing, slaps Goombah on the back and says, “Hey Jack! You one tough pitcher, he one better batter!”

Joaquín started his career in 1969 after signing with the Mets, just a month shy of his 17th birthday.  He played in the Reds’ farm system for 6 years until he was traded to the Astros after the 1975 season. Joaquín made his major league debut against, ironically, the Reds in 1976. In 1977, Joaquín was named to the All-Star Game as the Astros’ representative, but could not play due to an injury he sustained in his last start before the All-Star Game.

Joaquín pitched out of the Astros’ bullpen in 1978.  He began the 1979 season in the bullpen, but was put in the starting rotation.  His work in the rotation earned him another start in the All-Star Game, but Joaquín could not attend.

In 1980, Joaquín split his pitching between the bullpen and the starting rotation.  Joaquín made his first post-season appearance in 1980 because of a one-game playoff between the Astros and the Dodgers. Joaquín got a save in game 2 of the NLCS against the Phillies. Joaquín was traded to the Cardinals for Tony Scott in 1981 just before the players’ strike.

Joaquín’s best career years were with the Cardinals.  Joaquín was put in the starting rotation after the 1981 players’ strike and had a 6-1 record.  1982 was a great year for Joaquín – he had a 15-10 record, and he pitched 265.2 innings.  Joaquín started and won game 3 of the NLCS against the Braves.  In the World Series, he started and won games 3 and 7.

Joaquín  had a career year in 1984, with a 20-14 record and a 3.34 ERA.  He also led the league in wins, innings pitched (261.1), and shutouts (4).  Joaquín was also selected to the All-Star Game for the fourth time.  He also won the Gold Glove.  Andújar was also arguably the ace of the Cardinals’ staff – in 1982 and 1984, he led the team in ERA, wins, games started, complete games, innings pitched, shutouts and strikeouts.

In 1985, Andújar was selected to the All-Star Game for the fourth time after starting with a 12-1 record.  1985 was the year of the bitter rivalry between the Cards and the Mets. The radio DJ’s back in the 1980 (namely, J.C. Corcoran and his crew) really stirred the rivalry pot, calling the Mets “pond scum.” The Cards ended up winning the NL East over the Mets and beat the Dodgers in the NLCS to get to the World Series.

Sadly, the 1985 World Series didn’t go well for Joaquín.  He started but lost game 3.  Whitey decided to go with John Tudor for game 7 due to John’s low postseason ERA.  Tudor had a rare bad start and Joaquín was called in for mop up duty. Joaquín disagreed with Don Denkinger’s bad call of a ball.  After the next call, Joaquín had to be restrained and he was ejected from the game.  Joaquín was so angry about getting ejected that he assaulted a toilet in the men’s room at Kaufmann Stadium with a bat.

In 1986, the Cards traded Joaquín to the A’s for Tim Conroy and Mike Heath,  At the beginning of the season, Joaquín served a 5 game suspension for the World Series incident. Commissioner Peter Uberroth handed out year long suspensions to those who had admitted cocaine use during the Pittsburgh drug trials, including Joaquín, who had also dealt drugs to Lonnie Smith in 1982. The suspensions were downgraded to anti-drug donations and community service.

Joaquín only pitched for the A’s in 1986 and 1987.  He came home to the Astros in 1988 and pitched in the bullpen, but made some starts due to injuries.  Joaquín signed a one year contract with the Expos in 1989, but didn’t make the team.

After retiring from baseball, Joaquín started a trucking company in his native Dominican Republic and was involved in youth baseball activities.  He passed away today at the age of 62 from complications from diabetes.  One Tough Dominican should be too tough to die, at the young age of 62 or any other age. Joaquín, my sympathies and condolences are with your family.  Thanks for the memories and thanks for the great baseball.

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

Diane

Bibliography:

“Joaquín Andújar,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joaqu%C3%ADn_And%C3%BAjar

You’re Missin’ a Great Game by Whitey Herzog and Jonathan Pitts, Berkley Books, 1999.

Pomp but no circumstance

Opening Day 2015Yesterday was the Cardinals’ home opener, and as always, expectations ran high.  It poured down rain Monday morning, but by 10 AM, the rain had stopped.  The sun did its best to break through the clouds, but it unfortunately didn’t succeed.  The overcast weather, however, didn’t keep the citizens of Cardinals Nation from flooding into downtown St. Louis to all the pep rally locations, even if they didn’t have tickets to the game (like me).  Opening Day is an unofficial St. Louis civic holiday.  The boys are back in town and all is well with the world.

There were long lines to get into Busch Stadium yesterday due to the new metal detectors that were installed in the off-season. There was plenty of advance notice about the new metal detectors – maybe folks should have gotten moving to the stadium sooner. The on-field pre-game festivities began promptly at 2:30, whether you were in your seat or not. Various civic personalities were introduced.  The beloved Clydesdales made their annual trip around the warning track.  Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Tony LaRussa, Lou Brock, Whitey Herzog, and Red Schoendiest were introduced.  Then the St. Louis Cardinals Museum and Hall of Famers Willie McGee, Mike Shannon, and Jim Edmonds that were there were introduced.  Why do I always tear up during the introduction of the Hall of Famers?  Is it just me? Or am I just a sentimental female?  I tear up as well during the Cooperstown Hall of Fame ceremonies when they introduce the players. I can’t blame it on the hormones anymore – I’m too old.  😦

All the current players then made their way around the warning track to home plate.  They all greeted the Hall of Famers (except for Jason Heyward, who forgot) and took their place along the first base line.  Lance Lynn showed a lot of class and respect for the Hall of Famers by removing his cap when he shook their hands.  That man’s mama raised him right.

An American bald eagle was released and he flew around the stadium for a good 5 minutes. I didn’t think he would ever go back to his handler.  The poor bird probably enjoyed his temporary freedom.  I understand he got a mouse for a treat.  He was probably hungry after all that flying around.

Then came the beautiful video tribute for Oscar Tavares, and a moment of silence for Oscar, his girlfriend Edila and Post-Dispatch sports writer Bryan Burwell, who passed away last winter.  The Cardinals did a classy thing and left a spot and a press pass in the press box for Bryan.  Lynn was seen putting his arm around Carlos Martinez’ shoulders during the Oscar tribute, a gesture of support and empathy.

The National Anthem was performed awesomely by Retired U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Generald Wilson.  What a voice! It gave me goosebumps.

The Opening Day ceremonies went off without a hitch (with the exception of Heyward’s faux pas), but the game itself was not without its problems.  The Brewers scored a run in the first inning without the benefit of a hit.  Wainwright’s pitching was inconsistent, and it could be that there was too long of a time between starts for him, due to the days off on Tuesday and Thursday last week.  Wainwright had to pitch a longer game yesterday, because Matheny used 5 bullpen pitchers in Sunday’s game.  Kolten Wong’s defense was sloppy – he made two errors, and brave Kolten tried to take the brunt of the loss upon himself but there were other factors that led to yesterday’s loss.

The Cardinals got within one run, but they lost the game, 5-4. Tradition met today, but today was sadly lacking. I know we’re only 6 games into the season, but the lack of offense, continuing over from last season, is concerning.  Lance Lynn pitches tomorrow evening and I will be attending my first game of the season.  I hope to bring home a win.

My next post will be after the annual blogger event next Sunday evening. See you then! Thanks for reading!

Diane

When the pitcher isn’t a pitcher

The gray sky over downtown St. Louis today matches their fans’ mood after last night’s game – a 17-5 loss, against the Cubs, which makes it completely embarrassing. Cubs fans will never let us live down last night’s game. The Cardinals are definitely not playing like a team who won the National League pennant last year. There’s an old saying that goes, “You have to hit bottom before you can get back up.” Hopefully, last night’s game was the bottom and the Cardinals will regroup and figure out what’s going wrong. It’s still early in the season, but the problems need to get fixed now before they get even worse. The Cards did make some roster moves today, putting last night’s starter, LHP Tyler Lyons, on the DL with a left shoulder strain (hmm, could this be why 7 runs were scored off him?), optioned RHP Eric Fortunato to Memphis, and recalled LHP Sam Freeman and RFP Jorge Rondon from Memphis.

There are many reasons for the Cardinals’ implosion, and they are being covered very well by my fellow Cardinals bloggers. But this post isn’t about that. Daniel Descalso was brought into the game to pitch last night, and it reminded me of a time when another utility player was brought in to pitch.

On May 14, 1988, the Cards played the Braves at Busch Stadium II. The game was tied 5-5 when manager Whitey Herzog brought in utility player Jose Oquendo (a/k/a “The Secret Weapon”) to pitch in the 16th inning after running out of pitchers. Amazingly, Jose pitched 3 scoreless innings before being tagged for a 2 run double by Ken Griffey, Jr. in the 19th inning, and he took the loss. Jose was the first non-pitcher in 20 years to get a decision. His pitching line was 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 1 SO. This was also one of Whitey’s many games where he pulled a double switch and had a pitcher play in the outfield, who in this case was Jose DeLeon. You can read more about this game in greater detail at the link here.

I remember this game well.  It was a Saturday night, and I was at a bar called Gilligan’s (which was not named after the TV show) shooting darts with my then-boyfriend Andrew and our buddy Gene. I looked up at the game on the bar’s TV to see how the game was going and was shocked to see Jose on the mound. I turned to Andrew and said, “Have I drunk too many beers or is that Jose Oquendo pitching?” My eyesight had not failed me, nor had I had too much to drink; it was indeed Jose on the mound.

My hubby (who was just a friend then; we didn’t start dating until 1990) was at the game that night with another friend of ours and her boyfriend. He made the mistake of mentioning before the game that he had never been to an extra inning game before. Bad move there, Mike!

Tomorrow is the 26th anniversary of the game in which Jose was called on to pitch. Will fans be saying 26 years from now, “Remember that horrible 17-5 loss to the Cubs when Daniel Descalso was brought in to pitch?” Probably not. Adam Wainwright is the starter tonight, and hopefully he will be able to turn the floundering S.S. Cardinals around and keep it from sinking.

Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane

Bibliography:

“Jose Oquendo,” Wikipedia,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Oquendo

Los Angeles Times, “St. Louis’ Oquendo Pitches 4 Innings, Loses in 19th,” http://articles.latimes.com/1988-05-15/sports/sp-4246_1_st-louis-cardinals

The Hardball Times, “25th Anniversary:  The Jose Oquendo Game,” http://www.hardballtimes.com/tht-live/25th-anniversary-the-jose-oquendo-game/

A call from the Hall for the White Rat

Congratulations to Whitey Herzog on his call from the Hall!  It was long overdue.  As a fellow southern Illinoisan (Whitey is from New Athens, and I’m from Belleville), I’m pleased as punch that a homestate boy is being inducted in the Hall of Fame.

Whitey Herzog was Cardinal baseball in the 1980’s.  Before Whitey came to St. Louis, the Cards were a sub-par team.  Whitey came in and cleaned house.  As a GM, he wheeled and dealed to get the players he wanted.  He had a great working relationship with Gussie Busch, then the Cards’ owner. 

Whitey created his own brand of baseball, better known as “Whiteyball.”  Whiteyball consisted of stealing bases and manufacturing runs, among other things.  Whiteyball put fans in the stands, excited the baseball faithful, and led to a World Series win for the first time in 15 years.  The Cards also won 2 NL pennants under Whitey’s management, one in 1985 and 1987.  After Whitey left the Cards, he went to the Angels where he helped build that team too. 

I have lots of great memories of Whiteyball.  Thanks to my BFF who bought a lot of Cards tickets on her credit cards, we went to lots of Cards games in the 1980’s.  I used to take my daughter to the Cardinals game.  Bleacher seats were $4.00, and if she could walk under the turnstile, she got in free. Can’t do that anymore!  But she went to the dark side and became a Cubs fan.  That’s one of the ultimate acts of rebellion! 

As Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch puts it so eloquently here, it’s long past time to retire Whitey’s uniform number 24. In my opinion, it should have been on the wall of the new Busch Stadium when it opened.  I look forward to seeing Whitey inducted into the Hall on MLB TV, and if only I could win the lottery, I could be there in person.  I know, I know, I have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than winning the lottery.

In other news, it appears that the Cardinals are giving us another early Christmas present by signing pitcher Brad Penny, once he passes his physical.  Penny will be another reclamation project for Dave Duncan.  The winter meetings are not over yet, so maybe Cardinals fans will receive more Christmas presents in the days ahead.

Time for me to fly!  See you all soon!

Diane