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Friday, April 15, 2011

Moving Day

When Erika and I got this crazy idea to start a blog at the beginning of last season, we had no idea what kind of crazy journey we were setting out on. Since then we have been interviewed, been on the radio, joined UCB, were able to meet with many other UCB members during Opening Weekend of this year, and much more. 

We've been through the ups and downs, both with the team and with writing. Our own team here on CDD has gone through a few changes as well. But we're ready to take a new, fresh step:

We're moving.

For those of you that have gotten used to typing in our ridiculously long IP address, sorry, it's changing. For those of you that saved us in your bookmarks, sorry, time to update. For those of you that want something short and sweet to remember us by, check out DiamondDiaries.net! We've put a lot of work into the new site already, despite the fact that we're still going to be tweaking little things here and there with our older posts over the next few days/weeks, but we're also ready to start over.

For those of you that have been here with us since day one and those of you that have found our site just recently, we thank you for your support. We hope to see you over at the new, shiny place soon!

Okay, we're done. From now on, go to DiamondDiaries.net!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Enter Eduardo...

The Cardinals stomped all over the Diamondbacks yesterday in a 15-5 blow-out that included a Grand Slam from Lovable Lance (Berkman) and a 3-run blast by Skip "SkipperDoodle" Schumaker.  Last night was game 6 of a 10-game West coast road trip (late night games make for sleepy mornings) and the trouncing came as a welcome relief to tired Cardinal fans.  Truth be told, sleep won the fight in the 6th inning for me; but with a hefty15-5 Cardinal lead, I easily drifted off to happy dreams.  

This morning I fired up the DVR to watch the rest of the game unfold.  After 6 innings of heavy hitting, a scoreless 3 innings piqued my curiosity.  Sure enough, there was a diamond hidden in those zeros...

Enter baby bird, Eduardo Sanchez!  This rookie, called up from Memphis when injuries during Tuesday's game sent Cardinal relief pitchers Bryan Augenstein and Brian Tallet to the disabled list, had a night to remember in his Major League debut!

Sanchez Debut
Sanchez took the mound at the start of the 8th and stayed through the 9th to shut it down.  Facing a mere 7 batters to get the job done, Sanchez struck out 5 with ease. Total pitches: 18,13 for strikes. Confidence, delivery and strength from a 155 pound, 5'11" rookie in his big league debut - that was MUST SEE baseball!!  

Welcome to the club, Eduardo Sanchez!  We'll be looking forward to seeing you again soon!

The Cardinals head to LA to face the Dodgers tonight, in the first of a 4-game series. Here's to the theory that hitting is contagious and the Cardinal confidence continues to build... ;)

Go Cards!!


Monday, April 11, 2011

An Epiphany Of Sorts

So early in tonight's game, as I stared in disbelief at Albert Pujols hitting into his seventh double play of the season, I had an epiphany, courtesy of friend of the site Bob Netherton (@throatwarbler). He threw out this thought...
To put this in perspective, Jack Clark hit into 179 double plays in his 18 year career. 6 of those were partial years. Albert 209 in 10. In 2 1/2 years in St. Louis, Clark only hit into 19 double plays. That shows you what the running game can do.
Hmm... the running game. Of course, seeing a hit and run executed by Kyle McClellan and Yadier Molina of all people makes me chuckle even more, but also makes me think. Obviously, the Cardinals are not a strong running team. Not. At. All. Why should they be? Enough of the players have pop in their bats (Pujols, Holliday, Rasmus, Berkman) and are capable of putting one over the wall, so why put runners on the move and risk easy double plays or chances to double guys off?

Umm, because the entire team is hitting into way too many double plays?

Why not try it Tony? Guys are getting on base in front of Pujols. Let them run. Let them dance on the basepaths. Get the pitchers distracted, because distraction = mistakes and mistakes = long, beautiful home runs leaving the park.

Just a thought. Don't mind me... ;)

Signs of Life

Nine games in the early 2011 season have left our Cardinals floundering.  Some fans have already thrown in the towel in disgust, heading off in search of less painful entertainment options.  But yesterday, others who donned their “true fan” label as a badge of courage were rewarded to what we can only hope will be more typical (winning) Cardinal baseball.

The record is not pretty at 3 wins and 6 losses, but the Cards have had some strikes against them.  The most obvious has been lack of run support coupled with costly fielding errors.  Leading the league in double plays (not the defensive kind) hasn’t helped much either.  And then there’s Albert…. With a string of unAlbertlike games and a batting average of  .143,  is it any wonder that Cardinal fans are wondering if we all fell down the rabbit hole?

There are, however, signs of life.  Slugger Matt Holliday returned yesterday, 9 days after his emergency appendectomy, showing he was back and ready for action.  David Freese belted his first homerun and collected his first 3 rbi of the season, helping the Cardinals score their inaugural “6 serious runs.”  Kyle Lohse, showing strength and command, went 8 full innings with no walks, 5 strikeouts and only 5 hits.  He threw 96 pitches, 65 for strikes.  Couple that with previous stellar early outings by Jaime Garcia and Chris Carpenter (whose records are unfortunately tarnished by lack of run support) and a strong showing from Kyle McClellan - and we have reason to hope this is just an unlucky/slow start.

Two of my favorite bloggers have taken the high road from all the grumblings and cussing about the comedy of errors we have witnessed lately from our hobbling redbirds.  If you need to be nudged away from the ledge, I highly recommend stopping by their sites for a positive reality check.

Bob at On the Outside Corner posts “There Must Be A Pony In There Somewhere”

And Mark at Retrosimba reminds us of the many, many years that our “Cards Turned Bad Starts Into Great Seasons.” 

Sure, one good game does not a rally make.  But the Cardinals are not dead and buried.  So chin up, Cardinal Nation.  There are signs of life!  ;)

The boys continue their western road trip tonight against the Diamondbacks with Kyle McClellan on the mound at 8:40 CT.  You never know what baseball magic you may see.  So tune in with us and watch the rally continue!

Go Cards!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

More Fun at Busch Stadium

I finally had some time to sit down and write about the first-class Cardinal Bloggers Event hosted last weekend by the St. Louis Cardinals.  The experience was so much fun that I had to split it up into two posts! Yesterday I touched on our meeting with John Mozeliak and the thrill of walking into the administrative offices as well as the wonderful time we had mingling with other Cardinal bloggers/writers in Cardinal Hospitality.  Today I want to share some other stories that made the event even more memorable for me.

Visiting the Busch stadium press-box during a game has topped my list of curious places behind the scenes of Cardinal baseball. (Okay, visiting the clubhouse right after the game would be numero uno.  A gal can dream, can’t she?!)  In my mind, I’ve had a picture of what the press-box scene might look like.    So the chance to discover if the scribes bicker out loud (instead of just across twitter) or if there are piles of pizza boxes or taco trash in the corner was a whole bucket of exciting!  

One of my favorite highlights from Sunday’s Blogger Event at Busch was an impromptu tour of the press-box!  As luck would have it, I caught up with Matthew “Pip” Philip, editor and principal writer for Fungoes.com, when he stopped by the party suite for some food.  When I asked where he was off to next, Pip replied that he was heading back to the press box, and I (of course) jumped at the chance to ask him for a tour (not at all shy when it comes to opportunities like that!)  Pip was awesome and happy to oblige.  So I grabbed Hubby and we wandered back through the stadium with Pip, past the guard at the door to the press box.  (Guarded to keep potentially overexcited fans like me from interrupting a broadcast by cheering “AttaBoy Hunky!!!” too loud from the booth?... I’m just guessing.)

Anyway… Hubby and I quietly behaved ourselves in the press-box corridor while Pip took care of some MLB.com datacasting.  He was training a woman on the process for entering data for MLB Game Day/ MLB At Bat.  (I’d always wondered how that happened…. now I know!) 

One of the funny things about the press box was the seating chart posted on the wall as you enter the corridor.  It reminded me of elementary school.  “Everyone find your chair!”

Hubby and I wandered up to the 2nd level of chairs (with permission, of course) and sat to watch some of the game from that glorious birds-eye view.  Among the dozen or so men in the seats below us I recognized Bernie Miklasz (sorting his itunes library), Derrick Goold, Rick Hummel and BJ Rains with his dad, Rob Rains, one row behind.   They were all quietly watching the games or casually typing on their computers.  What I assumed would be a glorified man cave was actually pristinely clean and orderly.  No piles of stadium food littered the desks or corners.  And honestly the box felt like a library, very quiet with only occasional hushed talking as crowd noise drifted in through an open window.  Another curiosity was seeing Matthew Leach (MLB.com reporter) sitting alone in a darker room full of desk cubbies across the hall from the elevated press-box seats.  I had the chance to ask him about this later in the afternoon…

Pip returned to give us a fabulous quick tour of the press-box (honestly, there’s not all that much to tour, but he did it up right!) He even let me snag a few of the game notes and information pages provided for the press who use that area. Score one for random baseball souvenirs!  ;)  Whether he knew it or not, Pip made a dream come true.  It was wonderful and the staff in the press box were warm and welcoming.   

We managed to find our way back to the UCB suites to enjoy more of Jaime Garcia’s unbelievable complete game shutout (wow!) with the other bloggers.  Towards the end of the game, Matthew Leach made an appearance in the suites and hung out to meet everyone and talk about the Cardinals. 

 When the game ended and the employees politely tried to move our chattering UCB group on our way, Matthew Leach kindly hung out with several of us in the concourse.  I grabbed my chance to ask him pretty much any and every question I’d wanted to ask him over the past few years… about his job and the Cardinals.  He was great about it and I learned a lot.

For instance…. 

·        The reason he was alone in a dark room in the press box?  Leach wasn’t reporting on the Cardinals game that day and was instead working on a different article for MLB.com….while watching a tennis match.)
·        He explained his process of taking notes during a game in order to quickly put the details together into an entertaining and informative game recap.
·        Matthew has been working in baseball for 10 years now, and yes, it does get tiring, especially when traveling.
·        He has authored one book (I didn’t know this) titled “The Game of My Life, St. Louis Cardinals,” but it is out of print and costs anywhere from $86 to $297 online now.  So, it must be a REALLY good book!  ;)
·        He gets a lot of questions for his Mailbag, but current/timely questions are sometimes hard to come by. So when he sends out a request for questions, he really does need them!  

I also “peppered” Mr. Leach (Dustin McClure’s words, not mine) with questions about some of my favorite Baby Birds such as Daniel Descalso including how long Matthew expects him to stick with the big club.  I verified that no, Matthew Leach is not a Cardinal fan and asked how he can spend so much time covering the Cardinals with such excitement and interest, yet not be a fan. Then I finally couldn’t help myself and brought up the topic of one of my favorites, former Cardinal shortstop Brendan Ryan.  Matthew agreed that it was hard to understand how Brendan would be surprised that his former teammates were frustrated by his antics when it was quite obvious to many around the clubhouse.  I wish I’d had a tape recorder so that I could remember everything we discussed, but it was the most fun to talk to someone with that much experience and such a close connection to our team.   Matthew Leach was great to meet and kindly stayed for all of our questions and discussions, joking about how hard he is to reach otherwise.  (He is,in fact, extremely easy to reach and is quick to respond on Twitter as well as answer reader questions in his MLB/Cardinals blog, Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer.) 

Christine, Chris, Justin, Dustin, Dathan and me
After the doors were shut and the stadium was quieting down, a small group of us leftover UCBers made the hike out of the stadium, past the players’ parking lot… where we paused to try and identify some vehicles in true fan fashion.  We continued on to Paddy O’s where we soaked up some postgame excitement along with our refreshments.  Being from Oklahoma, I rarely get to celebrate a win, in St. Louis, surrounded by a crowd of Cardinal fans.  It was wonderfully fun and the perfect ending to a fabulous gathering.

Thanks again to the St. Louis Cardinals for hosting the event; Molly and Kathy for their hard work in setting it all up and their hospitality; Melody Yount, Derek Throneburg and especially John Mozeliak for giving the UCB a memorable event at Busch Stadium.  Thanks also to the staff in the suites who made us all comfortable and provided us with great food, drinks and service.  And my special thanks to the two Matthews, Philip and Leach, for adding so much to my experience. 

It was especially wonderful to meet everyone that I associate with my Cardinals, from twitter and blogs to the guys behind the MLB tools I use daily. 

The Cardinals begin the first of their 10 games on the road today as they face the San Francisco Giants.  Game time is early today at 3:35pm. 

Go Cards!!  =)  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cardinal Hospitality

Last Sunday I was pretty hyped to be in a party suite at Busch Stadium, watching the game with 25-30 other Cardinal bloggers/writers as guests of the St. Louis Cardinals!  My adventure started back in March when an email invitation to the 2011 Blogger Event arrived in my inbox, R.S.V.P. required.  Needless to say, that decision was a no-brainer. 

On Sunday morning a group of us congregated outside of Busch Stadium, excited to soon be entering the stadium through the doors of the Cardinals Administrative Offices, located at 700 Clark Street.  We were greeted by Molly Radcliffe and Kathy Langenfield who gave us welcome packets full of information about ticket packages, special promotions, a “Tweet Me In St. Louis” t-shirt and our own copies of the beautiful 2011 Cardinals Media guide. Next we were escorted to a large conference room where Melody Yount (manager of media relations and new media) spoke briefly and then introduced John Mozeliak, the Cardinals General Manager.

Mr. Mozeliak gave us a quick state-of-the-team review and talked about the offseason moves and roster changes, then patiently took questions from the group for almost 30 minutes.  I must admit it was highly entertaining listening to a group of us “less experienced” new media types ask questions of the GM.  Everyone was well-behaved and respectful, but the nervous energy was palpable.  Mozeliak answered all questions.  None of it was “breaking news,” mostly statements we had heard before from him or the team.  But to give Mo some credit, he did inject some humor which lightened the mood.  For example, those in attendance now have a new frame of reference regarding our shortstop’s batting average (as it relates to the weight of Mo’s daughter).  Also, Mozeliak gave us a status report on Matt Holliday’s recovery from his appendectomy, using the word “bloated,” after which I promptly tuned out in order to clear that less-than-flattering visual from my head.  (Get well soon, Matt!) 

Mo made his exit in order to attend to pressing Cardinals business, (why else wouldn’t he hang with us for lunch?) and Derek Throneburg filled us in on the new dynamic ticket pricing.  Honestly, after listening to Mr. Throneburg and perusing the glossy info sheets in our goodie bag, I am impressed by the effort of the Cardinals to provide tickets and packages at great bargains.  No more excuses….  You gotta get to a ballgame at Busch! 

After all that official stuff (many thanks to Mr. Mozeliak for taking the time for the UCB Q&A!), we headed to the suites where the Cardinals provided a buffet of yummy food and drinks.  (Ask Angela about those brownies…) Jim Hayes of FoxSports Midwest stopped by to chat, but Fredbird stole the show when he flew in and posed for pictures. 

Sunday’s Cardinals game was a must-see with Jaime Garcia throwing a complete game shut-out against the Padres, earning the Cardinals their first win of the season.  And even though I didn’t actually watch much of the game – my own fault: I was having too much fun chatting with other bloggers/writers that I had never actually met in person before – I will always remember that game experience.

By far, the best part of the event (for me) was the chance to finally meet all the great people of the UCB (United Cardinal Bloggers.)  Take it from me, even if you absolutely love how they write, they are even better in person!

Daniel Shoptaw (UCB founder and voice of C70 At The Bat) helped me come up with a list of the fine UCB folk who were present on Sunday.  Somehow I didn't manage to meet them all, so I'll be looking forward to next time!  Check out links to their great sites at the UCB Website

Part of the UCB crew in attendance on Sunday
Photo courtsey of Daniel Shoptaw
Matt and Josh--Joe Sports Fan
Nick, Josh, Dennis--Pitchers Hit Eighth
Angela (and me)--Cardinal Diamond Diaries
Christine--Aaron Miles' Fastball
Chris--Bird Brained
Daniel--C70 At The Bat
Bob--On The Outside Corner
Dustin--Welcome to Baseball Heaven
Kevin--Cards 'N Stuff
John--STL: Fear The Red
Aaron--Cards Diaspora
Bill--I70 Baseball
Matt--Baseball Digest
Eugene--85% Sports
Steve--Gas House Graphs
Mike and Joe--Cards Droppings
Joe--The McBrayer-Baseball Blog
Tom and Ryan--Cardinals GM
Dathan--Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Goodnight

But wait… there’s more!  (Way too much for one post.)

Tomorrow I’ll fill you in on how I ended up in the Busch Stadium press-box and what happened when Matthew Leach got stuck answering some of my questions. Plus, some of us wandered over to Paddy-O’s after the game….  

No Cardinal baseball today, but the Memphis Redbirds take on the OKC Redhawks in Memphis tonight for Opening Day in the minor leagues!

Go Redbirds!!  =)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Berkman Bandwagon

Mark your calendars:  the date was April 4th.  Lance Berkman made it into my inner circle of Cardinal love. 

Lance Berkman had a clean slate with me.  I knew he was a former Houston Astro, but that was about it.  (The “new baseball fan” status still gives me an excuse for my unfamiliarity with everything not Cardinal-related.)  The Cardinals picked him up in the off-season and the first things I hear about him are 1) Big Puma 2) Fat Elvis and 3) bad knees….. not exactly a glowing report to hang your cap on, Lance.  ;)

Being a fan of our up-and-coming babybirds and pulling for those young guys to get their due chance with the big club, I am not a huge fan of Tony LaRussa’s propensity to favor new-to-me veteran additions to the roster.  Sure, those veterans have experience…. but I don’t remember any of it (new baseball fan excuse.)  So those guys have to give me a reason to love them.  They have to show me some heart, hustle like their job depends on it or at least have a personality that makes me forget that they’re blocking the babybird pipeline to the Majors.
Last night, Lance Berkman had all three.  I was shocked to see him tear around the bases in a hit and run, ending up at 3rd!  Bad knees?  They sure looked to be working well to me.  Then the Fox Sports camera (and microphone) caught Berkman as he headed to the dugout, smiling ear to ear, stop at the steps to shout a heads-up to Skip Schumaker, warning that the pitcher was throwing inside.  Big points to FSMW for showing that exchange.  Personality and teamwork on display makes me happy.

Add to that the (boring) stats from last night that Berkman drew two walks in his first two at bats and hit a rbi single to help spark hope in the almost-rally of the 8th inning and Lance has earned himself a spot in my heart.  Fellow United Cardinals Blogger Christine Coleman was quicker to the Berkman bandwagon than I was.  She pointed out to me at the game on Sunday how quirkily entertaining it is to watch Lance nervously walk in little circles in the outfield after every pitch.  (Quirky works for me…. See: Brendan Ryan.)   

So, while I was warned that I would love Berkman this season because he had a “great personality,” I stubbornly held out for proof… and spunk.  Welcome to the club, Lance Berkman.  You’ve earned a new fan.  (Mr. Theriot, I am still waiting.)

The Cardinals did end up with another loss last night.  They are now 1-3 in 2011. (Note: the Cardinal win came on Sunday while the United Cardinal Bloggers were in attendance at the game – not that that matters, but I think it might?)  David Freese wasn’t feeling the love yesterday.  He went 0-4 and has a batting average of .154 which is still better than Pujols’ batting average (now at .125.)  Aren’t early season statistics fun?  They don’t mean much, but yet we all want to make something out of them.  Brendan Ryan is batting .083 for the Mariners right now if you were curious  ;)

And of course I have to mention Hunky Holliday: On March 31st, Matt had a power explosion with 3 hits, a homerun and 2 RBIs.  The very next day Holliday was in the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.  Then, 3 days later reports come out (yesterday) that Matt asked to be kept off the 15 day disabled list because he believes he would be able to return before then.  Superman?  Possibly.  Stud?  Definitely!  ;)

late edit:  link to FSMW video with Hunky talking about his surgery and recovery:  click HERE.

The Cardinals take on the Pirates again tonight at 7:15 CT with Kyle McClellan on the mound.  I feel a win.  Go Cards!!  ;)

P.S.  Hey Angela, I am working on that post about all the fun from the United Cardinal Bloggers (UCB) event at Busch on Sunday---with pictures… promise! ;) 

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