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

My Cardinals Hall of Fame nominees

I work in a building that is located two blocks from Busch Stadium, and I see amazing progress on Ballpark Village every day.  The rooftop seats have been put in and the floors have been added to the building framework.  Asphalt for the parking lots has been laid.   One of the new buildings at Ballpark Village will be called Cardinals Nation, and inside the Cardinals Nation building will be the new Cardinals Hall of Fame.  The United Cardinals Bloggers project for July is to make a list of the top 5 Cardinals (players, managers, front office folks, etc.) that we believe should be included in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  Now there was some qualifiers – the nominee(s) can’t have had their numbers retired, they can’t be still playing/managing/etc. and they can’t already be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Okay, that’s a bit of a challenge, but I think I can find 5 folks to nominate.  Here’s my list, in no particular order:

1.  Ted Simmons – Simba was one of my favorite players in the late ’70’s to mid-1980’s.  He was overshadowed by his contemporary Johnny Bench, but Ted’s batting average was actually higher than Johnny’s.  I remember his long black hair that came down to his shoulders, blowing behind him as he ran to first base.  Ted had some great stats – he was an 8 time All Star, he won the Silver Slugger, he caught 2 no hitters, and he hit over .300 for 7 years.  I was so sad when he was traded to the Brewers in 1980.  Darryl Porter had to win me over because my heart was still with Simba.  Hopefully one of these years, Ted will be voted in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The honor is long overdue.

2.  Willie McGee – Willie has been a fan favorite for a long time.  There are periodic calls for his number 53 to be retired.  I loved watching Willie in the 1982 World Series (despite my then-husband ragging me about the team).  Willie was one of the best Cardinals players in the 1980’s, with excellent  defense and a bat that came through when necessary.  Willie, with Ozzie, Tommy Herr and Vince Coleman were the prime examples of Whiteyball, which was Whitey Herzog’s style of baseball.  Willie played with the Cardinals twice and now serves the Cardinals as a special assistant to GM John Mozeliak.

3.  Jim Edmonds – I know, I know, another outfielder, but Jimmy Ballgame is special.  His defense earned him 8 Gold Glove awards and his bat was just as awesome.  Jimmy won 8 Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger, and was a 4 time All Star.  Jim, Albert Pujols, and Scott Rolen were part of the MV3 triumvirate in 2004.  He is such a big part of so many championship series and World Series memories for me.  Jimmy looks like a blue collar guy – if he hadn’t played baseball, he would be working in a factory somewhere.  Edmonds signed a minor league contract in 2011 so that he could retire as a Cardinal. Hopefully, Jim will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

4.  John Tudor – And now for my favorite pitcher from the 1980’s. Tudor was known as a junk pitcher – he threw off speed pitches, where batters didn’t expect them.  I liked John because he wasn’t a fastball pitcher.  He had to rely on his brains to get batters out.   In 1985, his first year with the Cardinals, he started with a 1-7 record.  But after May, he had a 20-1 record and ended up with a 1.93 ERA and a 21-8 record that year.  John had 10 complete game shutouts in 1985, and he was the last major league pitcher with this accomplishment.  Sadly, John never regained his 1985 form, although he had seasons with 13 victories.  I was at the Cards-Mets game in 1987 (on Easter Sunday, no less) when Mets catcher Barry Lyons crashed into the Cardinals’ bullpen and collided with Tudor, breaking his leg.   I found out that John had been traded to the Dodgers in 1988 by seeing it on the front page of the Post-Dispatch in a newspaper machine near my bus stop in downtown St. Louis.  John had been traded for Pedro Guerrero.  What?  It broke my heart, although John won a World Series ring with the Dodgers in 1988.  I rejoiced when John returned to the Cardinals in 1990, but despite a comeback season, he retired.  I got his autograph at FanFest in 2009.  He still looked the same, but his hair was a little grayer.  (Can you tell I had a crush on him?  LOL!)

5.   Helene Hathaway Robison Britton – Helene was the first woman owner of a major league baseball team.  She inherited the Cardinals from her uncle.  She wasn’t an owner in name only – she attended owners’ meetings and had major input as to what went on at the ballpark.  Her ownership of the Cardinals coincided with the women’s suffrage movement.  If a woman could run a baseball team, she sure knew enough to vote.  If you click on her name, you will be able to read my original blog post about Helene.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my list of Cardinals Hall of Fame candidates.  Who would you pick?  Leave me a comment below.  Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane