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Friday, December 31, 2010

Stories of the Year - UCB Style!

*brushes away the cobwebs again* Hey... remember me? I work here, sometimes.*

Sometimes the holidays take up a truckload of time and you have to scramble at the last minute to finish getting something together so Daniel** doesn't come after you for not putting something together when you said you would for a UCB party. Well, better late than never. Actually, I don't think we're late since this will be posted before the new year. Win for us!

So here's our top five Cardinal stories of the year, but instead of waxing nostalgic, we're going to give you some older posts to bring back the warm fuzzy memories of baseball season. Okay, some of these are a little less than warm and fuzzy, but it's baseball, so why are you complaining?

Our Top Five:
1) Stan the Man winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom - The Cardinals made a big push for the President to award Stan Musial the highest honor a civilian can earn, and Cardinal fans embraced it whole-heartedly. Jacqueline once met Stan, and Cadence got to be there when Stan was honored at the end of the season at "Stand for Stan Day."
2) The Brawl in Cincy - Like this wasn't going to make our list? It was a crazy three game set with the Reds, which we were worked up about for weeks! The gut check reaction was probably my favorite, so look back with this piece called: Words? Meet Actions.

3) Great pitching - The Cardinals could not have gone as far as they did without stellar pitching this year. The two we're choosing to highlight are Adam Wainwright’s 20 wins and Jamie Garcia’s excellent rookie season.
4) Whitey elected to Hall of Fame - Okay, I'll be honest. We did not cover this very well at all. However, watching the Hall of Fame ceremony and seeing his acceptance speech was phenomenal. My favorite line? "Being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame... is like going to heaven before you die." We apologize for glazing over it with this picture of the day. Are we forgiven?

5) Uninspiring play-uninspiring season - Well this is a downer to end with. We're going to point you back to our first "Girl Talk" piece, where we answer the question, "What was the most frustrating part about this year's team?"

2010 is over. Years from now, we might not really remember much about this season, but we here at the CDD have enjoyed our first year blogging and getting to know so many of you. Here's to a new year and a new season to look forward to. Go Cards!!!!!

*Apparently I work too much over at i70 Baseball. If you haven't been reading my off-season history stuff you can check out the archive here. Okay, end shameless plug.
**Daniel will not come after us. I went on the radio with him Wednesday night. I bought time with that one... I think. ;)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

REINDEER DROPPINGS

by Elance
Happy Holidaze! That's what I feel like I've been in lately. A complete daze! Lots of good stuff happening in real life has kept me away from baseball, twitter and obviously blogging. But wanted to get in a few thoughts before the holidays.


Joe Strauss at Winter Meetings? (by MMWCAmazon)
Reindeer Games Also known as Baseball’s Winter Meetings. A time where everyone from baseball execs, team management, agents, gurus and the working press gather together to meet, eat, drink and schmooze. Not a damn thing happens except for Scott Boras claiming his newest client deserves a Mark Teixeira like contract. Total waste of time. Would somebody send me next year….please! I’ll even pay for my own food and beverages. Unlike those per diem scribes at the Post Dispatch. 


No Elfing Allowed My beloved Cards are quickly becoming the absolutely no fun allowed on our team, ever, yo! Our own in house elf, Brendan Ryan, was told to take his talents up north to that city of coffee, techies, rain and indie music. TLR just doesn’t play well with others. Even though my intricate research has shown that loose teams with a couple of characters that play with joy and passion tend to win championships, there will be no thongs, bongs or Amish beards found on the Birds on the Bat. I could totally see Waino in a Brazilian Rio tanga, though. 


Ebenezer De Witt Has the Ghost of Albert in a Cubbie uniform Future not visited you yet? This dragging it out concept has worked out really well for you, eh? Does the Ghost of Contracts already signed by Ryan Howard, Joe (well-played) Mauer, Jayson Werth?!?, Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee need to pay you another visit? PAY THE MAN! BY THE EVE OF CHRISTMAS! Cause ya never know if the Ghost of Gussie may drop in after midnight.


D Goold at Winter Meetings? (by Atticus)
Rudolph WTW? Who ARE we? Rudolph? Cause all the other people in the press and the league are laughing and calling us names regarding our signing of Lance Berkman to play somewhere out there in the outfield and Ryan Theriot to play SS. Cause we all know they both have shown so much recent success playing at those positions. Uh…..oooookaaay… 


by Epicbrofist.com
Die Harder Yep…The NL Pennant seems destined to have to go through the Phillies pitching lineup from hell. Not to mention our own NL Central just got tougher with the Brewers adding Greinke, the NL Central Division winning Reds returning with an outstanding lineup, and the Astros showing improvement. Yippee ki yea!!! 


Roast some Chestnuts and have a couple of Eggnogs on me And guys, I’m not talkin about what you think you might be doing during a hot humid Sunday afternoon game in July sitting inside Busch. Seriously, a huge Happy Holidays to my great girlfriends at Cardinal Diamond Diaries who invited me onboard and put up with my shenanigans. And a very special Holiday wish to all who take the time out of your busy day to read and comment on my attempt at being a professional amateur Cardinal lovin blogger. To you and yours...may you find peace, love, joy and a Cardinal for life Albert Pujols during this joyous wonderful season.  

Jacqueline 











Monday, December 13, 2010

What I Have Learned- Saying Goodbye to the Boog.

 Yesterday my favorite spinning shortstop was dumped.  The Cardinals sent Brendan Ryan to the Mariners for an A level pitcher with a questionable future - which pretty well shows how much they wanted to rid themselves of Brendan

Sure, we knew this day was coming.  The Cardinals had been trying to give ol’ Brendo away for at least a month now.  But that doesn’t make it any easier to lose a favorite player to a team on the other side of the baseball universe.


What probably surprised me the most in my stunned state of the blues yesterday was the internet response from Cardinal Nation.  Reading the comments of the many Brendan fans who were just as disappointed was comforting.  That sense of community and commiseration helped ease the sting.   But seeing the numerous criticisms of Brendan from those who were relieved to see him go was also therapeutic – in a tough love sort of way.

Being a real baseball fan isn’t all popcorn, peanuts and World Series wins.  As I am forced to realize more and more by living through these trades and baseball business decisions, getting too attached carries obvious emotional risks.  Rosters change, hot corner rookies get injured and rumors of baseball politics may rob us of the romance of the game. And not everyone loves and appreciates the same players - well, other than Mr. Pujols, of course. ;)

In the short time that I have followed the Redbirds I have survived other (some would say “bigger”) heart-breaking baseball separations: David Eckstein, Scott Rolen, Jimmy Edmonds, and Ryan Ludwick - just to scratch the surface.  In fact, I was reminded yesterday by my oh-so-patient Hubby that I have had similar (albeit less tearful) reactions to the departures of Joe Mather, Blake Hawksworth, Joel Piniero, Brad Thompson, Brett Wallace and a pocketful of other AAA Memphis boys. 

So, my dear Brendan Ryan is the newest roster casualty and here I am being all grown-up about it!  Maybe I am getting better at this process.   Okay, okay… if we don’t look back at last week’s blog posts, that is.  ;)

Does it hurt? Absolutely.

Will I boycott the Cardinals?  Nah….

I will wish Brendan luck in Seattle and probably watch some Mariners baseball in 2011. I will pick some new favorites and find more reasons to love my team. However,  I will also inwardly enjoy the thought of rubbing the Cardinals’ collective nose in it when Brendan’s defensive wizardry ends up in the web gem video highlights or when he wins the Gold Glove. But dreaming of revenge is just a natural part of the healing process, right? 

Baseball may be a game of hitting and catching, winning and losing, but it certainly is not just a game of numbers. The drama of player personalities and the passion of the fans are just as important to the vitality of the game.  I certainly love the boys. I love the stories.  And though it brings the occasional heartbreak, I know that -for me- baseball is worth the occasional heartache. 

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training camp in 2 short months.  That should give me time to get over it.  ;)

Go Cards!  

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Major League Distraction

As a disclaimer, please remember that I am a rather new devotee to the glorious pastime of baseball.  So while the rest of you have had years to soak up all the extras, I am still playing catch up.  Last evening when I was fairly certain that the day’s news from baseball’s Winter Meetings had dried up for the day, I settled in to watch Major League, a movie that some of you (okay, okay… probably every last one of you) may have seen in the theaters 21 years ago, or at least by the time you turned 12.

Of course, I loved it.  But I also must say that timing is everything.  If I had been dragged to watch a (groan) baseball movie when I had little interest or appreciation for the game, Major League would have been a major disappointment.  However, right now, in the middle of December with the trade flurries, free agent frenzy and rumor mills spinning at high speed, Major League was the perfect escape for an overly loyal and passionate Cardinal fan worrying about the makeup of the 2011 lineup.

Hollywood’s version of the luckless losers who were destined to fail involved a team whose GM was crafting an evil plan to insure a last place finish.  The idea was to round up some old veteran players with bad knees, a bunch of young kids nobody else had heard of and a prima donna superstar who is more concerned with his future contract than playing a hard nine. (True, that last one has no relevance… but the word “contract” did ring in my ear a little louder than usual.) It was entertaining – in an odd but familiar way.

Yes, the spectacled bad boy hurler Rick Vaughn with his Wild Thing theme song, triangled haircut and California Penal League baseball quote were a hoot. The hilarity of Bob Ueker’s creative play-by-play broadcast ramblings to a relatively nonexistent listening audience of a last-place team was beyond funny.  The voodoo cures for the curveball made mustaches and high socks seem…. well, boring.  And as in all contrived theater for the masses, the underdog team rallied, the fair weather fans returned, the guy got the girl and everyone lived happily ever after.

I hope I didn’t ruin the ending for you?  ;)

photo from Jeff Pearlman.com
The Cardinals now have ex-Astro (and temporary Yankee) Lance Berkman penciled into the 2011 outfield.  Yesterday I received word from my dear brother-n-law, a native Houstonian and long-suffering (but loyal) Astros fan. He reassured me that Berkman’s on-base percentage in the 2-spot of the lineup (ahead of Pujols) is a very, very big plus.  I know it hurt him deeply to admit that the Cardinals offense would be dangerous, so that opinion means more to me than any statistical model or official Cardinal spin on the topic. If my Astro fan bro-in-law is correct about the predicted OBP value of our new Cardinal /old veteran with bad knees - and  our buddy Bob’s (@throatwarbler’s) most recent Cardinal history lesson is any indication of the potential, than I am ready to watch this Major League type Hollywood magic come true. 

If you prefer to get a shot of positivity from history rather than Hollywood, you really should check out what our friend Bob has to say.  His ability to weave historical similarities into the frame of current events is not only amazing, but also reassuring.  Link here


And as far as the hot stove chatter this morning:

Apparently our old buddy Ryan Ludwick is generating a lot of interest from everyone except us.  Boohoo  L  Link here:  

And now the Cardinals are rumored to be talking to Yadier Molina’s big brother Bengie for the back-up catcher spot.  That idea just warms my baseball heart!  ;)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, Cards fans!   =)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Making Peace with the Hot Stove

When my own mother called last week, legitimately worried that I might be burning all my Cardinal gear in a big bonfire out back, I realized that my previous blog post may have been a tad…. ummm, overly dramatic. 

I do continue to randomly spout off (to anyone within earshot) that Mr. Mozeliak and the Cardinal ownership are dumber than a box of rocks if they dump ol’ Brendan and his magic glove, but I have adopted a few mental strategies that (so far) are helping me survive each day with that big stupid boulder hanging over my head.


Happy Thought #1: 
Maybe this is all just a clever Cardinal experiment created to motivate Brendan to step up his effort. You know, push him harder to fix whatever is broken and get him to apply himself. Let the Boog think he has to fight for his job and watch the magic return.  After all, a little friendly competition (disguised as brutal rejection) is good for everyone, right? 

Happy Thought #2:
As hard as it is for me to spit this out, maybe it is best for Brendan if he gets the heck out of TLR territory. Perhaps the pressure of the Albert thunder grumbles, the Carp death-stare and the LaRussa doghouse are the reason for Ryan’s performance issues at the plate.  That’s a lot of pressure for a quirky young ballplayer from California, regardless of his defensive wizardry.

Aside:  Blame this thought process on a sappy little poster from my childhood bedroom wall. It was of a stunning black horse running majestically through a field of yellow wildflowers. “If you love something set it free” was printed in the corner.  (Looking back on it now, the horse was a poor choice.  Who is going to set a horse free? It should have been a chipmunk or a squirrel or something…)  

Anyway, if we truly love our Brendan - and hope to continue to enjoy his acrobatic athleticism on the field - we may indeed need to set him free. Let him go play with a team who will appreciate him in all his mustached goofiness.  

A California team would be best. With an outfield full of yellow wildflowers.

Happy Thought #3:
That Ryan Theriot guy is kinda cute. ;)


More Happy Thoughts...
And of course there are amazingly awesome Hot Stove contributions from wonderful Cardinal bloggers that make me smile and forget my Brendan worries.  

Today Daniel over at Cardinal70.com composed "A Cardinal Christmas Carol".  It is *amazing* incredibly funny stuff... and yes, Brendan's got a part in it.  So, if you suffered through this dribbly post here, consider yourself rewarded - here's the link to a future Cardinal Holliday classic (yeah... I meant to spell it like that.)  ;) 


psssst... Mom (if you are reading this): See? I am doing just fine.
I am making peace with the Hot Stove, and Hubby has hidden the matches.  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

End of an Era

It has been a while since I've felt like putting together a post on baseball.  Life's been crazy and there has not been a whole lot to talk about.  Yesterday however, the Cardinals made some moves.  Blake Hawksworth was sent to the Dodgers for Ryan Theriot (be expecting a Hawk-dedicated post from Ang any second now...) and in another move the Cardinals picked up a left-handed reliever, Brian Tallet.

Where does this lead me... to my Hot Stove hot button, Brendan Ryan.  If this is the first time you're reading Cardinal Diamond Diaries, you should know.... Brendo's a favorite.  If you don't like BRyan, don't bother reading the rest.  Fair warning?  

Ok.... here goes... Girl rant ahead:

If you missed this article in stloday.com, let me hit the highlights – or rather, the absolute lowest of low points.  The scribes see the writing on the wall and are reporting that Brendan Ryan’s era with the Cardinals is nearing an end. Mr. Mozeliak and the front office are making it clear that Brendan is on his way out. 

Ahem…. Excuse me while I find the words to express my frustration with Mr. Mozeliak and the Cardinals organization…

Okay, first let me get this out….
WHAT IN THE WORLD DO YOU MEAN: BRENDAN’S PERSONALITY ISN’T A FIT???!!!”

If Brendan’s loveable, quirky, heart-on-his-sleeve, boy-you-grew-up-with, hilarious, camera-hound, fun-loving and friendly personality is not a fit for the Cardinals then I am seriously wondering how I fell in love with this team.  Maybe I’m not a good match as a Cardinal fan?  Maybe I’m a bad judge of character.  But I loved the team with the goofy shortstop who made us laugh and cry and cheer through the season’s struggles.  

Is the true nature of the organization starting to show up – like after dating someone long enough to finally see the true person behind the charade and you discover Mr.(or Mrs.) Right is really a jerk who is actually a slob when you aren't around? Well, I fell in love with the Cardinals, and my heart is breaking to think it was all a figment of my imagination.  Give me heart and fire and honesty.  If that doesn’t “fit”the team, well….

Brendan has always been one of the main reasons I am glued to the television for every single Cardinal game. I know I’m not alone in that as I meet more and more Brendan Ryan fans.

Brendan isn’t a “fit” for the team??  
Brendan’s Gold-Glove caliber defense, his amazing range, his spinning, jumping, and diving plays that put him at the top of all MLB shortstops defensively are something that the Cardinals don’t value?  

One last time...The Cardinals are a ground ball pitching staff.  I know this because everyone says so.  Defense behind that type of hurler? It absolutely matters. Remember what it was like in those games when Brendan's glove wasn’t in the game? It was ugly.

Why does it seem obvious to me that the hole in the middle infield defense was at second base?  Was Mo watching a different team than I was?    The Cardinals decide to fix the middle infield problem by replacing the best defensive shortstop?  Does that make sense?  Really??

I have no problem with this Ryan Theriot guy. In fact I am quite sure that I would love him – at second base.  I’ve read the various opinions, and yesterday Bernie Miklasz had some great info on the comparison of Brendan Ryan and Ryan Theriot.  Link here.


  
I wish Mo would let me in on the grand scheme.  Beginning with the Ryan Ludwick trade and continuing to this shortstop dump idea, I have absolutely NO CLUE what the Cardinal brass are thinking. In this Brendan situation - IF there had been an available player whose defense was great and whose bat was strong, then I may have understood and accepted the decision to upgrade. Instead I'm left wondering how this Theriot fella fixes the problem.

I am new at this baseball circus and I do know a lot more than I did just two years ago.  However I catch myself wondering how a gal who has followed baseball for only 4 or 5 years can feel so betrayed and frustrated by a series of moves made by baseball professionals and executives who are in this to make money and win?  Have I missed the big picture?  We are trying to win, right? If the Cardinal blueprint continues with this type of shuffling without major improvement, getting ‘veteran’ players past their prime and neglecting the potential of young, talented players in the process then I worry this team has bigger issues than just locking up the historical golden contract of Mr. Pujols. 

Maybe I have blinders and cannot see the wisdom behind the madness.  Oh, I certainly hope that's it.

But for now...
I am a Brendan Ryan fan.  I look forward to seeing him on the highlight reels in 2011 and winning his many future Gold Gloves.  The Cardinals would be crazy to give up on him now.  And I may be crazy for being a Cardinal fan.  Time will tell. ;)

Now, excuse me while I go kick the crud out of the Hot Stove…..

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

From all of us to all of you...

When Erika came to me during spring training this year with the idea of starting a blog, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Every new opportunity that has presented itself to us over this season was new and exciting, and constantly reminded us why we had jumped into this crazy writing world. We've enjoyed everything, from our work with Baseball Digest and i70 Baseball to all of the fun projects that Daniel and the guys over at United Cardinal Bloggers throw our way.

We posted the UCB's November project last week, which was the Blogger Awards. Our ballot can be found here. The results were posted over the weekend, and imagine our surprise to have picked up two different awards! We are both honored and blessed to have been recognized by the other bloggers as both the most optimistic blog and the rookie blog of the year. You can check out the entire results list here, and if you are not reading all of the other blogs that won various awards, make sure to get them in your readers asap!

It is safe to say that we are thankful for all of you. Whether you are reading our work for the first time or the hundredth, talking about the Cardinals with all of you and hearing your thoughts and responses about various posts and topics is what makes all this hard work worth it. There is no better baseball community than Cardinal Nation, and sharing that love for defensive gems, long home runs and biting curveballs is a joy.

Thank you.

Stay safe this holiday weekend, and keep watching that countdown clock!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thank You, Mr. Musial

I have no idea how old I was. Old enough to have vivid memories enhanced over the years by photographs and family stories. We were in St. Louis for a business meeting of my fathers. We were going to dinner at Stan and Biggies. Stan had long ago retired from playing, but still showed up at his restaurant to meet and greet the patrons and his fans. 

Stan was always a product of his small town PA upbringing. He was quiet, humble, but unfailingly polite and genuine."I was a poor boy who struck it rich in many ways through the wonders of baseball," he said in his autobiography. He never forgot how lucky he was to play the game we all love. 

My grandmother told me to make sure and be very polite if Stan the Man came round to our table. She might have told me this more than once. Of course my grandmother and my father had told me many times about the greatest Cardinal ever, so I knew a lot about The Man. 

Stan and Biggies was a coat and tie restaurant. The gentleman in front of us did not have a jacket, so one was provided for him from some special closet close by. That really impressed me. 

When we were seated I remember scanning the room trying to figure out which of the men was Stan. My mom told me not to worry because he usually walked around and greeted people at their table.

I was also taken care of by the very nice waiter. He brought me a "Kiddie Cocktail". That was the most magnificent drink I had ever had. That really really impressed me. 

It wasn't long before I saw a very distinguished looking man walking around from table to table. I knew from the moment I saw him it was Stan the Man. He was stopping and greeting people and handing out cards that had his picture and signature on them. He had at least 5000 tables to go before he got to us. At least that's what I thought at the time. I wouldn't go to the bathroom for fear I would miss him. I might have had a couple of those Kiddie Cocktails.

The table next to us seated a large party. I did not think he would ever get away from those people. Did I mention the Kiddie Cocktails? I might have really had to go to the bathroom by this time.

Only one "Stan the Man" (photo MLBLOGS)
Finally he made it to our table. He greeted my parents.
He turned to me and said "Hello, I'm Stan Musial." I remember that so clearly. He actually didn't think I would know who he was. Well I would rectify that real quick. I jumped out of my chair, grabbed him to hug him, which happened to be around his legs, and said something like, I know who you are Mr. Musial. You're the greatest Cardinal ever. I had to go to the bathroom so badly and was so excited that I was jumping up and down. There I was in the middle of Stan and Biggies in my pink dress and black patent shoes jumping up and down and hugging Stan Musial. Around his legs. Thank the good lord my bladder withstood the excitement. 


Color my parents mortified. He was a true gentleman and so nice. He bent down and said something about how nice it was that a little girl like me knew about baseball. I don't recall anything else of that conversation. I was just totally entranced that Stan Musial had talked to me. He handed me his photo card and laughed with my parents. He then went on to the next table.That experience impressed me more than I can ever put into words.

I finally went to the bathroom. I don't think I walked, I floated. My mother might have mentioned something about being "surprised" I grabbed Mr. Musial.

My photo looks like this one. (PhotoFile)
When I got back to the table there was an 8x10 picture at my place setting. It was a picture of Stan Musial in his Cardinal uniform standing in that famous batting stance of his. It said, "To a sweet girl. Best wishes, Stan Musial." I was over the moon. By this time he was no longer in the room for me to thank him. Can't imagine why.

That photo, along with my grandmother's Wrigley and Busch programs and some other memorabilia are tucked away safely in storage. I am thankful for them.

But what is really important is one small memory of "baseball's perfect knight" that I treasure, will never forget, and for which I am forever truly grateful. 

Thank you, Mr. Musial. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2010 Cardinal Blogger Awards Ballot

Each year the United Cardinal Bloggers put out postseason awards. Since there were four of us voting, of course we had to make it into a little roundtable back and forth between the four of us, if for no other reason than because it gave us an excuse to chatter about the boys together for a couple days over email!

So without further ado, here is our ballot for this year...

Cardinal Bloggers Awards
2010 Ballot

1. Player of the Year
–Matt Holliday - Erika surprised no one with this vote, saying, "Holliday, because I love to watch him.  More reasons? Because he rallied back after a dry spell and played like every out mattered to the bitter end.  Everyone is going to say Albert because he is Albert.  But I think Matt gets a nod here too."
Albert Pujols - Erika was outvoted. Jacqueline said it best, "Best player in the game from Opening Day to Oct. We are blessed to watch him play. Doesn’t take him half a season to 'warm up'."
–Colby Rasmus
–Write-in: _______________

2. Pitcher of the Year
–Chris Carpenter
–Jaime Garcia
Adam Wainwright - Did you even have to ask? Now that he has officially taken home 2nd place in the Cy Young voting, it's a no brainer who the best pitcher was for the Cards this year... and no, I'm not saying that just because he's my favorite. This one was unanimous! The announcement yesterday also tripped a clause in his contract that will most likely (provided he does not end 2011 on the DL - please no!!) keep Adam in the birds on the bat through 2013. Consider this our CDD happy dance of the day!
–Write-in: _______________

3. Game of the Year
–April 5 at Cincinnati–Opening Day, 2 HR from Pujols, slam from Molina
–May 30 at Chicago–Pujols three home runs
–July 18 vs. Los Angeles–Five runs in eight and ninth to win
–July 19 vs. Philadelphia–Four home runs
–August 10 at Cincinnati–Brawl, home run from Molina - Well now you know what gets our blood boiling! Erika chimed in with, "Finally we played with real passion and it finally looked like it would propel us into first and keep us there…..Not exactly." I think all of us in Cardinal Nation had our blood boiling during that series, and to fall flat and not ride that adrenaline high or whatever you want to call it right through to October was a definite letdown after the smackdown the Cards laid on Cincy that weekend.
–Write-in: _________________

4. Surprise Player of the Year - One of the bummers with having 4 votes is that we completely split. While I tried to be the deciding vote in most of these, I couldn't make it happen here. So here's our tie!
David Freese - Erika and Jacqueline sat firmly in this camp, with Jacqueline saying, "Complete player. Hot bat, good glove, bad ankles."
Jaime Garcia - Cadence echoed my thoughts with this one, "Although I knew he would be good, I wasn’t expecting Jaime to come out like this.  Awesome to watch." I absolutely felt the same way. Every time I saw Jaime pitch this year was awesome! I'm looking forward to see him and Waino taking turns shutting down the opposition for many years to come.
–Jon Jay
–Write-in: ________________

5. Disappointing Player of the Year
–Kyle Lohse - Jacqueline
–Dennys Reyes
–Brendan Ryan
–Write-in: Brad Penny - Cadence says, "I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from Penny, but not seeing him again after the Grand Slam was a surprise to me.  Did anyone know the injury would be that bad?  Even Kyle Lohse had surgery and came back (while not necessarily good, he came back).  Even better, we hear in the offseason that Penny spent his “hard earned” Cardinal cash on an engagement ring."  Disappointing. Ang agrees, and that became the deciding vote.
Erika did not vote in this one, hysterically (predictably?) saying, "I can’t even answer this one!  Calling any of them disappointing would be too mean!  Haha  Help!!" Don't worry - we got your back on this one!

6. Rookie of the Year
Jaime Garcia - Another unanimous vote for us. I was pulling for Jaime in spring training to snag that fifth spot in the rotation. I wasn't exactly expecting him to hold down the third spot for most of the year! It would have been unfair to have such lofty expectations for the 24 year old who was rolling out of Tommy John surgery rehab, so we've chalked him up as a "pleasant surprise"... one that we hope to see again in 2011!
–Jon Jay
–Fernando Salas
–Write-in: _________________

7. Acquisition of the Year
–Aaron Miles
–Brad Penny
Jake Westbrook - Jacqueline took the words right out of my mouth when she responded with, "Is this question for real? Brad Penny won four games and spent the rest of the season Dancin with a Star. Miles really didn’t do too badly, just wasn’t a huge game changer. Westbrook could be a good acquisition if he stays a Card." Guess what? We win!
–Write-in: ________________

8. Biggest Off-Field Story
Jaime Garcia’s shutdown without him knowing - I'm pretty sure that I knew Garcia had been shut down before he did. That's pretty impressive. Erika's got a point here, "Hard to pick between this and the Colby story.  But the Garcia shutdown was fascinating because it involved how social media and twitter can directly affect  the communication (or lack of) within a professional sports team.  The fans knew before Jaime?  That still amazes me.  Do the players like or loathe twitter?  A curious question."
–Mark McGwire’s return to baseball
–Colby Rasmus’s trade request
–Write-in: _____________

9. Most Anticipated Cardinal - Shoot, another split vote. Daniel's going to be maaaaaad...
Zack Cox - Cadence and Jacqueline went for this year's number one draft pick, saying, "Supposed to have a major league ready bat. 3rd baseman who might be moved to 2nd. Bring it on!"
–Lance Lynn
Shelby Miller - Last year's number 1 draft pick spent the year at high A Quad Cities, and Erika and I are waiting to see if he lives up to the hype, but I know we both realllllly want him to.
–Write-in: ________________

10. Best Individual Cardinal Blog
–Write-in: C70 - The first blog that comes to mind, and Jacqueline was just kidding when she added, "Very informative-great writing. I could be sucking up."

11. Best Team Cardinal Blog
–Write-in: PH8 - Each one of the guys over at Pitcher's Hit Eighth gives a different point of view. Sounds kind of like us!

12. Best Media Blog
–Bird Land - Derrick Goold is probably our collective favorite scribe for the Cardinals, and his depth of research makes every piece worth the read.
–Cardinal Beat
–Obviously, You’re Not A Golfer
–Write-in: _______________

13. Best UCB Project
–Cardinal All-Decade Team
–Progressive Game Blog
Roundtables - Far and away the winner here. Cadence said it best, "While I couldn’t participate every time, I really enjoyed the banter.  Cool way to get a lot of bloggers in one place."
–Write-in: ______________

14. Most Optimistic Cardinal Blog
–Write-in: C70 - We were basically unanimous here, although Jacqueline chipped in with, "We’re Card fans. Even when we’re discouraged or angry, we know it’ll get better. We ain’t the Mets or God help us…the Cubbies." In that case, we all win this award!

15. Funniest Cardinal Blog
–Write-in: Joe Sports Fan - Is there something amusing going on in the sporting world? Do you need amusing photoshop pictures to brighten a strange situation (the Colby/Tony spat comes to mind)? Are you entertained by people obsessed with mustaches? Matt and Josh have you covered. Trust us - you'll laugh daily!

16. Rookie Cardinal Blog of the Year
–Cardinal Diamond Diaries
i70baseball - We've obviously got a lot of respect for all the hard work that goes into i70 on a daily basis, from the writers to the editors to the *cough* photo gal *cough*. Those of you that read us but not i70... umm... where have you been???
–RetroSimba
–Welcome To Baseball Heaven
–Write-in: _______________

Friday, November 12, 2010

Feeling Silver And Gold

Pardon me for a minute as I wipe away the cobwebs that I've unintentionally allowed to pile up around my little section of this site lately. Real life and such, you know.

Gold Gloves came out two days ago and Silver Sluggers yesterday, and I was borderline giddy to see so many Cardinal boys rolling through the lists. I mean, do you realize that it's already been over a month since we last saw the boys of Busch? I'm sad just thinking about it! Suddenly though some of the favorites are in the news, and people have more to talk about besides the non-news of Pujols' contract negotiations or which players might or might not get traded in all the Hot Stove chatter (Erika can't take any more talk like this!!!).

First up, the Gold Gloves (Derrick Goold has all the numbers-y stuff here):
For Albert, he takes home his second GG, after picking up his first four years ago in that distant memory known as the 2006 championship year. Watching Albert play first is like watching a coiled spring that is about to *boing* and fly across the room (I teach middle school - this is a daily occurrence). He literally snaps at the ball sometimes, diving to get a ball that he had no business getting to, making crazy picks out of the dirt when the defense is just hurling junk at him (No offense boys, but did you look at what happened at third after Freese went down? I saw a lot of 'YIKES' throws this year). My absolute favorite play though is when he and Yadi have that crazy ESP thing going that allows them to pick guys off of first with no real signal that I've been able to discern.

Speaking of our GG catcher, Yadi never fails to impress. His cannon of an arm gunned down half the runners that even attempted to go off of him, but most teams are too smart to even try. His numbers don't even look that gaudy when compared to the league leaders in terms of number of runners gunned down, but that's also because those catchers had probably twice the chances and allowed three times as many runners to advance safely. Not quite fair to match up the counting numbers then. The fact is that you could rotate most of the lineup (minus Albert and Holliday) in and out and not notice just too terribly much when you combine defense and offense. No Yadi? Yikes. People noticed that. To be fair, Jason LaRue, Matt Pagnozzi and Bryan Anderson didn't get a chance to log a lot of innings, but when they were out there, people took note.

The question that was posed to me (beyond the one I thought myself that had something to do with Brendan of course) was this: "What did your boy (Adam Wainwright) do to not be deserving of the award this year that he picked up for the first time last year?"

*shrug* I dunno. Guess I hadn't really thought about it. The Gold Glove awards are kind of a 'win one and keep winning until you retire or spend the year on the DL' type thing. Non-New York loving AL fans are probably still seeing smoke come out of their ears trying to comprehend how Derek Jeter picked up the GG this year. He's not the top defensive shortstop in the league anymore. He is the star power, and he is the incumbent. Case closed. But in Adam's defense (get it? defense? never mind), if there was one award he was going to pick up this offseason, that would not be the one I would have chosen. Still waiting on the Cy to be announced of course, but I'm not going to be surprised at all if/when he loses to Roy Halladay. Dude's a beast.

Nope. Not talking about Brendan. This isn't the same day and age where you can hit for peanuts and glove like Ozzie and win stuff, especially when you don't play on a coast. If he was going to lose, I've made peace with losing to Tulo. It's a defense award, but you just can't win it when you hit that badly.

On to the Silver Slugger. You know, I've never been one to get riled up about Silver Sluggers. I don't even get how these awards are chosen. Some are voted on by peers, some by writers, some by managers and coaches. What a mess. The BCS doesn't make any sense, but at least it uses a common algorithm every week.

*ahem* I digress.

King Albert picked up his sixth (third in a row) Silver Slugger, and people almost sound surprised about it. I mean, yes, obviously Joey Votto had a really really great year this year. People are still talking about him winning the MVP award. I'm not entirely sure myself if I could have written down Albert's name over Votto's for MVP this year, and that's saying something. The word 'impartial' is not in my vocabulary when it comes to having to not pick sides and one side is my favorite team. I want my boy to win. I'm glad Albert won. It means he has the offense and defensive awards, now wouldn't it be a trip if he loses the MVP?

Holliday picked up his fourth Silver Slugger. In all honesty, talks of his 'clutch' performance are beyond old. The Cardinals opened up their wallets and brought in a great player. The great player played like he was supposed to. Some people howled every time he couldn't bring Albert home after an IBB, but there were a lot of them! You can't expect anyone to be able to get a hit every time the guy on front of you gets on base. It just does not work that way. Matt Holliday earned this one.

These three guys aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Just writing about them again I'm ready to see them all out there every day playing.

Winter is going to be cruel. Even all this silver and gold, while making me smile more than a little, cannot help the days tick off fast enough! Maybe I'll post again soon... or at least make sure a month doesn't zip on by again!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Hot Stove Wishlist

Last season I was introduced to the concept of baseball’s Hot Stove. Baseball talk all winter?  Yes, please!  ;)

So, I spent my first winter cozied up to that stove longing for any and every bit of news about Matt Holliday. Would he return?  Would Mr. Boras, his evil agent, force him to wear pinstripes instead?  Well, I got my Holliday wish last year and decided that offseason baseball dealings were not only very entertaining, but could make me very happy. 

Happy is good. 

This offseason has not started off with such warm fuzzies.  Joe Mather, gone.  Matt Pagnozzi, gone.  Personally, I’ll take a nice campfire and a warm Cardinals snuggie instead, thank you.

Maybe that’s what I get for not respecting the Stove?  Maybe I took it for granted that the Cardinals would always make decisions in my best interest?  I guess I still have a lot to learn about baseball.  (thankfully)

So, just in case, the Hot Stove is like Santa and needs a little help in knowing just the right gifts this winter…


My Hot Stove WishList

1.      Save our Shortstop. Yep, I know there is a different player’s contract topping everyone else’s wishlist. But since you all have that one covered, I am going to make sure ol’ Boog doesn’t get forgotten. 

Brendan Ryan is irreplaceable.  The fans love him. Brendan’s attitude and personality bring the Cardinals to life and brighten team energy.  Brendan’s got the D.  Plus I have a serious need to be able to watch him leap and jump and dive and be the ballhog that he is in order to fully appreciate Cardinals baseball.  Brendan will be a better hitter than he was last year.  I promise.  Surgery and fiddling with his batting stance messed him up.  With another year of experience, maturity combined with the right ADD meds, we are bound to see a better batter. 

Trust me on this.  Brendan stays.  Got it?  Good.

2.      Now, I am no expert on salary figures and balancing budgets, so I am going to head over to my happy place and pretend that I can wish for absolutely anything here. 
Two free agents the Cardinals must snag?  Cliff Lee and Mariano Rivera. 

Don’t burst my bubble here… I’m dreaming of a 2011 rotation with Wainwright, Lee, Garcia and Carpenter for a moment.  It’s glorious. 
      You can see it too, right?  Yeah, I thought so.  ;)

3.      As long as I am not being restrained by common sense, I’ll take Ryan Ludwick back too please.  Power outfield bat?  Restored.  Luddy back in the Birds on the Bat?  Priceless.

4.      Now this is where I need a little help because I’ve read all sorts of chatter about Orlando Hudson, Dan Uggla, Edgar Renteria and other guys who might be able to step in and give us some relief in the middle infield (hands off the shortstop position though, remember?!) 

This is where I sit back, let the ol' stove heat up and listen and learn as all you smart baseball folk tell me why one ballplayer is better than the other. Just keep in mind that I’m one of those fans who gets attached to the players we already have - and I LOVE to see the Memphis boys finally get their shot.  Sentimental?  Yes.  Loyal?  Absolutely. 

I am ok with bringing in someone new IF that means we keep Skippy (probably platooning) and Daniel Descalso gets a good shot at proving himself in the big club.  Can we keep Jon Jay and Allen Craig too while we’re at it? 

I haven’t done the math, but I’ve probably got about 12 players on the field already.  So, I’ll stop here.


Similar to writing a letter to Santa, it is best to keep it short.  I wouldn’t want to be too greedy.  The Hot Stove may not like that.  ;)

Friday, November 5, 2010

America's Pastime...Taking a backseat?

I missed game 5 of the World Series, the Giants clinching and becoming world champs. I can’t say that I am all that disappointed I missed it, but I didn’t do it on purpose. As a baseball fan, I wouldn’t do that. I was in class on Monday night until approximately 8 PM, and then I went to dinner with friends. It was by complete momentary brain-dysfunction that I forgot I needed to go home and check it out. (I even had people saying to me “YOU missed the game?!?”). By the time I did get home the game was over, and all I had to do was pull up the twitter homepage to see that the World Series was in fact over as “World Champions” and “Edgar Renteria MVP” trending topics scroll across my screen. Surprising that I heard no reaction in the bar/restaurant that I was in indicating that the game was over; I guess most people in Edwardsville, Illinois felt the same way I did – they either didn’t really care who won or they didn’t want the Giants to win. My other guess as to why there was no reaction from the crowd in the bar; there was a Monday Night Football game on, and they weren’t watching baseball.

As much as it breaks my heart every time I see stats that a Sunday Night or Monday Night football game ratings beat LDS, LCS or World Series TV ratings, it doesn’t surprise me in the least bit. Baseball is lasting too long; people begin to move on to other sports – heck, we are halfway through the NFL season at this point. This year, the World Series wrapped up and the NFL, NHL and even the NBA are all underway. So, is it surprising that America’s Pastime is taking a backseat in late October-early November? No, not really. I don’t have to go explaining to you all how much I love baseball, but I have gotten myself fully lodged into the football and hockey seasons. And even though the postseason games were still being at least partly watched on my TV, I lost interest. Baseball is having to compete with the other 3 major sports after a 7 month long season…going into that eighth month (while it was only one day, and could have only potentially been 4 days) is where a lot of casual baseball fans get lost. (Side Note: this year's WS ratings equaled the lowest ever...see here).

Let’s face it, there is a lot going on around here (St. Louis and otherwise) other than baseball. If you are like me, you are very interested in what the St. Louis Rams are doing; 4 wins at home, a first-round draft pick quarterback, and Stephen Jackson breaking the all-time rushing record for the organization. Not to mention, the St. Louis Blues are undefeated at home and have been recently ranked number one in the ESPN power rankings poll (even if it doesn’t mean much now). On top of that, Mizzou beat Oklahoma! WOW. Yeah, they got roughed up by Nebraska, but if you are a Missouri fan, you can’t deny that it was exciting. I know not everyone that is a Cardinals fan is a Rams, Blues and Mizzou fan as well – most are not or don’t even like/pay attention to other sports besides baseball. Even if you don’t like all St. Louis sports, you might have other teams to root for. But, I am an avid sports enthusiast, and I love watching all sports whenever I can. Because the last few winters in St. Louis have been pretty painful because of under-achieving or competitive teams besides the Cardinals, this comes as quite the warm welcome.   Not to mention, since the Cardinals had a dismal season, it has been exciting to look forward to and enjoy other St. Louis sports again!  And because of that, I, like many others, might have lost an interest in baseball.

This is my beg and plea to Bud Selig; we have got to end the baseball season earlier. I hate the offseason; it is a long 4-5 months without my boys of summer, but the MLB is taking a backseat to the other major sports in late October-early November, and it just devastates me. I want the World Series to be the most watched sporting event, not a middle-of-the-season Monday Night Football game. I understand that the ratings may have had something to do with the teams playing (God forbid there are other teams besides the Yankees in the World Series), but the World Series – the Championship for Major League Baseball for goodness sakes – should be getting more attention. I mean, on Monday, the last game of the series, EVERY SINGLE intro for EVERY SINGLE sports program was about Randy Moss being waived from the Vikings, not about Lincecum vs. Lee – probably one of the greatest pitching matchups to end a World Series in a long time. As much as I don’t like him, Lincecum (before the night began) had a chance to be a back-to-back-to-back Cy Young, Cy Young, World Series Champ. How incredible? But yet everything was about Randy Moss.

This is unacceptable for baseball. They have to figure out a way to get back into the spotlight during their designated time. All eyes are on Football during the Super Bowl – no hockey game or basketball game out-rates that championship game. I know that every season is like this; football starts in early September, Hockey starts in early October, Basketball starts in late October, but why is it that all of a sudden, baseball seems to be losing its steam? I don’t think it would have even mattered if the Yankees were in the WS this year – I mean, I wouldn’t have watched, but that’s just me. I hope that with an earlier start to the baseball season in 2011, there will be an earlier end to the season and the World Series will get all the attention it deserves. Thankfully, with Hot Stove season now in full swing, there will be more baseball stories. However, I have a gut feeling it might all be about the Yankees again. Egh.

End Rant. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. As a sport management grad student, I pay a lot of attention to these details, less about players and games, more about the behind the scenes stuff and what drives discussion topics amongst TV programs and even fans of the game. Do you see it that way too? Are you angry that the World Series had low ratings? When will baseball be able to get back to having its time in the spotlight – or has the long season turned into too long of a season for that to ever happen again? I might be a tad dramatic, but I am curious to hear what others think.  

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