Results tagged ‘ Memphis Redbirds ’
If you are a Cardinal Fan living in Oklahoma,
the past couple weeks have been good. Not
just because the St. Louis Cardinals are climbing out of their offensive
funk. Not just because
after sweeping us, the tornado that is the Rockies these days, continued raping
and pillaging the NL Central by sweeping the Brewers as well, keeping the
Cardinals within easy striking distance of the leader spot. But, mostly because both the Memphis
Redbirds and the Springfield Cardinals made road trips to Oklahoma. Nice of them to come to me.
Well, nearly to me. Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa are at least two hours from my
house. There have been some late nights, followed by going to work early
the next day, so I could leave early to go back to the ballpark. However, it is not like my favorite
minor league clubs play here everyday, so when they are here, I gotta go!
I always say, “Sleep is what you do when there is nothing better
to do”. However, there is a
little story that goes along with that: At
some point, there is nothing better to do than sleep. Friday, I hit that
wall. Slept 13 hours. And, now I am ready to go again!
The Memphis Redbirds came to Oklahoma City for a four game series against the
Redhawks. This is the last time the Redbirds will be in my state this
year. If I want to see them
again, I will have to go track them down in Memphis or maybe Round Rock or both.
As I watched the games, I listened to the St. Louis Cardinals
games. It was easy to get
the games confused in my head because the St. Louis Cardinals seemed to be
having the same problems with the Reds and the Rockies as the Redbirds were having with the
In the first game, the Memphis Redbirds did show the offensive
fire power that they are so capable of, but has often eluded them this
year. Joe Mather had a fantastic night with two
sacrifice flies, two doubles, one single, two runs and two RBIs. Mather looks a 100% better than he did
in April. In April, he
still looked thin and weak, like he had never completely recovered from the
Spring Training bout of flu that had derailed his strong start.
Hoffpauir, had a Gold Glove night at second base, while going 2-3 with a
walk and an RBI. Two
fielding plays earned a star on my scoresheet: 1) a leaping catch of a line drive and
2) the pick of a grounder far to his right then the throw fired to first in
time to catch the runner.
After the first game, the offense would slow to a trickle. Game two had twelve hits, but only
four runs. Game three would
have nine hits but no runs. Game
four would feature only six hits and no runs.
In game two and three of the series, it was easy to look at the
score sheet and see that they game was really much closer than the score
indicated. However, game
four was plain ugly with the Redhawks flamethrower, Naftali Feliz on the mound.
And, the lack of offense was complicated by the fact that the
Redbirds’ pitching was not particularly sharp. All the while, pretty much the same
thing was going on up in St. Louis.
There were two call-ups: Jess
Todd and Tyler Greene.
With Tyler Greene on third, Joe Mather hits a fly ball…
…which scores Greene
With Tyler Greene gone, Hoffpauir moved to shortstop and
to the delight of the hometown crowd, Oklahoman, Casey Rowlett, got a start at
Jon Jay is an outfielder to
keep an eye on. He plays hard as evidenced by the large tear in his pants:
I will probably watching him a little more closely for one simple
fact: I have his bat. It’s cracked.
It’s signed. It’s mine. It has found a home in my office where it
serves as a memento, conversation piece and potential weapon. It may be cracked, but I bet it has one good skull
cracker left in it.
I have no game, so you can be assured that it is in my possession
through no effort of my own, but through the kindness of fellow baseball fans. There is a family, who sits near me at Redhawks
games. The son is adept at snagging
broken bats out of the dugout and getting them signed.
They know I am a huge Cardinals fan. During the series, they acquired bats from
Shane Robinson, Jarrett Hoffpauir and Jon Jay.
They came to the game early and got the bat signed for me. They told Jay who it was for. He asked if I was there. They said that I
would be there later. He said he would
wave to me.
Which he did. When he
popped out of the dugout, they yelled at him.
He looked up at me.
I said, “Thank you!”
He said, “You’re welcome.”
And, off he went to abuse another piece of lumber. Yep, I am oh-so-eloquent in person. Still, my gratitude was sincere, as was his smiling
response. Best of luck to you, Jon Jay!
Here is Jon Jay and the bat before it was cracked:
I know he does hit. I
know he has hit. I know he
will hit. But, for all you
Cardinal fans that have been calling for his call-up, back off. Brett Wallace is not ready yet.
In response to my statement, “You’ve got a lot of talent out
there”, Redbirds Manager, Chris Maloney, said that they have been in a slump
all year. Yes, much to my
surprise, the Redbirds Manager walked over and chatted with me during batting
practice. I had a nice
conversation with the Mississippi gentleman about baseball and such.
Of course, it proved to me once again that while I might be a writer,
I am so not a journalist. There I was with a great opportunity and no good
questions. I do not think,
“So, who’s pitching today?” qualifies. Still,
I thoroughly enjoyed the chat.
Later, however, I did think of the question I wish I would have asked. With the call-ups of Greene and Todd,
who had both been playing well, it occurred to me how difficult it is to
“build” a team in the minors.
In the major leagues, a manager typically has his cornerstone
players to build on. For
example, with the Cardinals, you start with Pujols and Molina, who are rarely
missing from the lineup. You have a couple solid starters who always keep
you in the game, like Carpenter and Wainwright. Perhaps, you have a “go-to” arm or two
in the bullpen, like Franklin. Then you fill in and mix and match
Now, you might lose a key player to injury. If you are not in contention, you
might lose someone to a trade. However,
you do not lose a player because he is “too good.”
Not so, in the minors. Your
best starter is the “sixth man” in the big club’s rotation. Your closer is one major league injury
away from being plucked from your bullpen. And,
whoever is swinging a hot bat, could be on a plane tonight to St.
an ever changing cast of players, how do you build? I wondered, if that was the hardest
job of a minor league manager.
Or, is it herding ‘birds? I
imagine keeping young men on task and out of trouble can be a challenge.
Normally, I would say “herding cats”, but a small bird somehow ended up in my
house a few weeks ago, and I tried my best to herd it back outside to the great
outdoors. So, I can say
from experience that it is nearly impossible to herd a bird.
However, I believe the following look from the Redbirds manager might
actually herd ‘birds. Here
is the Chris Maloney coaching third base and looking like there might be hell
to pay if more Redbirds do not find their way around the bases.
The AT&T Bricktown Ballpark continued its “Taste of the Big
Leagues” promotion finally bringing Busch Stadium to me. I must admit I was a bit disappointed at
first. I am not sure what I was
expecting. A replica of the arch? Clydesdales?
There were only three Cardinals banners: Enos Slaughter, Lou Brock and Dizzy Dean:
The photo op included seats from old Busch stadium. That was kind of cool.
Of course, a big Stan Musial banner was a must.
The Busch Stadium food included toasted ravioli. Although I promise you what they called “toasted
ravioli” was not toasted ravioli. If
real toasted ravioli is like a piece of homemade pie, then what they were
selling was a pop-tart. Tasty, but not
special. However, the “Bratzel”, a brat
wrapped in pretzel dough, pig-in-a-blanket style, did not disappoint. It was huge.
I slathered the Bratzel in mustard and ate contentedly as the crowning
touch to the Busch theme played over the PA:
The Budweiser Song. No, the
Clydesdale’s did not appear. The crowd
did not stand and clap along. But, I
could see and hear it all in my head. It
The Springfield Cardinals returned to Tulsa this week. Tulsa is a bit farther and unless I leave
work early, I cannot make first pitch. However,
on Thursday, I left early to watch a double header. It was a beautiful night and the
Cardinals won both games with Trey Herne and Brandon Dickson on the
In the shortened seven-inning games,
the Cardinals won 2-1 and 4-1. In
addition to the two one run outings by the starters, Tyler Norrick and Francisco
Samuel turned in one hitless inning a piece. Eduardo Sanchez turned in two.
Starter, Lance Lynn, would not be so fortunate on Saturday. He gave up three runs in six innings, which
would not be bad except the Cardinals scored zero runs.
Samuel Freeman, joining the club from Palm Beach, threw two
perfect innings with two K’s. His
call-up was so fresh, that he was not listed on the roster.
As I searched for his number on the roster, I heard a voice behind
me say, “He’s probably not on there. He
only joined the team today.” I turned to
the voice, which belonged to the Cardinals’ bus driver. This information I obtained from his name tag.
I suppose if I had game, I
would have pumped him for all sorts of AA details, but instead I just lamely asked,
“What’s his name?”, wrote “Sam Freeman” on my scoresheet and turned my
attention back to the game.
Other player notes.
I enjoyed watching second baseman,
Daniel Descalso. He has a nice
glove and is batting .328.
Pete Kozma is a local boy and a hometown favorite even among the
Drillers fans. Kozma made his AA debut
when I lasted saw the Cardinals in early May.
The shortstop is batting .245 and has accumulated 17 RBI’s in that time.
Outfielder, Daryl Jones is hitting over .300, but never seems to
hit when I am watching.
First baseman, Mark Hamilton, is putting together some good
numbers: batting .294 and slugging .521. For that, he gets two pictures:
Fine, you are right. I really posted two pictures because I actually caught the ball in both. I have not figured out the trick to making pictorial contact with the ball consistently, but there are a lot of guys who have been trying for a lot longer to figure out how to do the same thing with a bat.
When I last visited the Drillers Stadium, I met a fellow Cardinals
fan and had a nice warm baseball chat on an otherwise damp, chilly night. Later, Scott took the time to find and
comment on my blog and asked me to let him know if I was coming back when the
Springfield Cardinals came to town.
So, during the Drillers/Cardinals games I enjoyed the rare treat
of sharing the games with a fellow Cardinals fan. Although since he usually is there rooting
for the Drillers, he sometimes gets confused about who he should be cheering for. I
suppose that is understandable.
Although I do not mind watching games all by myself, it is a
delight to watch them with a knowledgeable baseball fan, because they notice
things that you miss. I enjoyed his
stories, insights and company.
As I am going through my billions of pictures, I cannot believe
that I did not take one of Scott, who looked so great in his Eckstein
jersey. So much better than Eckstein
Scott, if you are reading. Next
time in Tulsa,
you bring Eckstein. I’ll bring
Molina. We will get a picture. And, maybe even catch someone stealing
Potpourri for $500, Alex
I accidentally purchased a MILB.tv subscription for $29.95 or
so. Now, I can watch the Memphis
Redbirds on my PC. Yes, I know, I have
an addiction problem. But, as my mom puts
it, it is a very wholesome addiction.
But, I have gotten to see Khalil Greene in his rehab starts. The good news is that he looks good at the
plate. However, he did have a
multi-error game at shortstop. Not
good. The crowd booed. It was ugly.
After a conversation in St. Louis,
he is back in Memphis
at third base, where he looks very, very good tonight. I read that he was a third baseman in
college. Perhaps, playing shortstop is
where the pressure gets to him.
Especially, on a team where the prevailing pitching philosophy is pitch
to contact and let the defense work.
Maybe, third base is his comfort zone, his happy place. It sure seems so, he just knocked in two and
scored the go ahead run from second.
The Redbird skipper pulled Shane Robinson in the first inning of
Sunday’s game for not running out a ground ball. Robinson did not start tonight, but he came into the game later.
New call-up, Pete Parise, threw two perfect innings in relief.
Jarrett Hoffpauir is on fire!
This weekend I will be in Kansas
City for the I-70 series between the Kansas City
Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals. I am
excited to see the renovations at the K.
I am excited to see my Royals. I
am excited to see my family and friends.
But, I am most excited to meet my brand new nephew who was born last
week. Yes, I am an addict, but I still
know what is most important.
remember last year. There were two teams
that happily chugged along, leading their divisions, leading their
leagues. They finished over .600 looking
like the best teams in baseball.
However, the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Angels quickly bounced out
of the playoffs with only one win between them.
remember last year. There were two teams
that won their divisions, but really had to fight for it. There were streaks and slumps, but in the end
the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies went the distance.
remember 2006. That year the St. Louis
Cardinals scratched out only 83 wins.
And, by scratched out, I mean, the difference between the season total
for runs scored and runs allowed was only 19.
Yet, it was enough to win the N.L. Central and land a playoff
berth. And, that berth–that chance–was
all they needed to win it all.
remember that a season is 162 games long. We have only played 58. Barely a third of the way through.
remember that it is the struggle that makes us strong. That in losing, we learn how to win. And, that which does not eliminate you from
contention, only makes you stronger. That life is often a process of
elimination. Sometimes, you have to
figure out what does not work before you can know what does work.
remember that panic accomplishes nothing.
The team that was hot in April is the same team that is swooning in
June. There is every reason to believe
that success will be theirs again.
remember that June is a fine time to have a slump. Even an entire team slump. September is not.
…I watch. I wait. I build character. I persevere. I earn the right to call myself a true fan,
rather than the bandwagon fan I started out as.
St. Louis Cardinals were swept at home by the Rockies, losing seven of the last ten
games. …when I watched the Memphis
Redbirds loose three out of four games to the Oklahoma City Redhawks, getting
shutout twice. …when it seems like the
entire Cardinals organization is in collapse.
I know that this too shall pass.
the Memphis Redbirds have already turned it around. They returned home to Memphis and handily took the first two
games from the New Orleans Zephyrs. I
know the Cardinals are right behind them.
even in times like these…
the Cardinals are talented and determined.
I know the manager is crafty.
And, come September, we will still be in the fight. Go Cardinals!!!!
miss Brian Barton: hitter, rocket scientist and world traveler.
thing about baseball season is:
There are lots of baseball games to watch
There are lots of baseball games to go to
There are lots of things to write about
bad thing about baseball season is:
Watching and going to baseball games leaves no time to
So, finally…catch up time.
Last weekend the Cardinals tried to split a four-game series with the cubs. Of course, that is impossible to do when the
fourth game is rained out and postponed until July. Still, game 4 is ours, I just know it.
Cardinals were in Chicago, I spent a chunk of the weekend
City. The Memphis Redbirds were in
town facing the Oklahoma City Redhawks. So,
you must know that I have much to talk about.
And, a plethora of pictures.
to take at least two blogs to get this all in.
The first (this one) will be about all the cool goings on at the
AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, home to the Oklahoma City Redhawks. The second will be about those sweet little
was a high school student in Oklahoma, I was required to take two
semesters of U.S. History, one semester of World History and one semester of
Oklahoma History. So, the powers that be
in Oklahoma believe that our measly 100 years
of history is as important as the thousands of years of history of the entire
rest of the world. So, yes, we are
pretty proud of ourselves.
That Oklahoma pride is evident at the ballpark
in the Bricktown area of downtown Oklahoma City.
There are statues of Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench and Warren Spawn
standing watch over each entrance.
Warren Spahn welcomed me on the night of the home opener.
You can see pictures of the other statues here.
Oklahoma City Redhawks season ticket holder, I felt a little guilty in my
Redbirds t-shirt and Cardinals jacket.
But, I have dozens of games to make it up to them.
entered the park, I was greeted with organ music playing, “I’ll be seeing you
in all the old familiar places…” It
somehow seemed appropriate.
the season long promotions at the Ballpark is “Taste of the Big Leagues”. Each homestand will feature a different
iconic Major League ballpark. They
opened with Yankee Stadium, but will follow with Wrigley, Citizens Bank, Busch,
Dodger and Fenway.
with Yankee Stadium is no random decision.
It is a decision that stems from that Oklahoma pride. Oklahomans such as Mickey Mantle, Bobby
Murcer and Allie Reynolds have done the Yankee pinstripes proud.
In a very
nice ceremony, the Redhawks retired Bobby Murcer’s #1 in honor of his life and
to mark his recent passing. Fans
received commemorative t-shirts as they entered the gates.
perhaps the best part of the “Taste of the Big Leagues” is the actual
“Taste”. Each concession stand featured
a sampling of Yankee Stadium food:
Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Baked Ziti and Meatball Subs. All were yummy.
The ballpark must not sell out much because in the upper deck overlooking right field, several sections of seats were covered with large photos of former Redhawks that are now in the big leagues. Nelson Cruz is the latest.
In one game last summer, I saw Nelson Cruz hit three home runs in one game. The Redhawks regulars around me acted like that was a pretty normal day for the kid. Now, Cruz is up slugging with the Rangers. Six home runs already, while batting .295. I do not do fantasy baseball, but if I did, Nelson Cruz would be on my roster.
Of course, no home opener would be complete without a few fireworks…
I am excited for the season in Oklahoma City. I only wish it was a little closer than a two-hour drive. Still, it is as close a professional baseball gets to me. The least I can do is go meet it.
Next up, all about the Memphis Redbirds….
Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was southern summer nights
Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right
Since I will see both minor and major league games this year, it
did feel right to start off my season seeing both the St. Louis Cardinals and the Memphis Redbirds play two exhibition games over the weekend. The match-up took place at Auto Zone Park on historic Union Avenue in Memphis Tennessee.
Walking into the ballpark, I felt I had died and gone to redbird
heaven. The entire field was covered
with St. Louis Cardinals and future St. Louis Cardinals, such a beautiful
I had heard that Auto Zone Park was even
nicer than AT&T Ballpark, the home of the Oklahoma City Redhawks. And, the ten-year-old park is nice, but I do
not think it has anything on the ballpark in Oklahoma
Ballpark managed to add historic value to a new park, by making monuments to Oklahoma born players,
such as Johnny Bench, Mickey Mantle and others.
The park in Memphis is missing
the historic element.
However, you know you are in Memphis when you are
greeted by a live band playing in the courtyard, just inside the front
gates. In the city that gave birth to
the Memphis sound, music is everywhere. Also, the courtyard is graced with the lovely Memphis Redbird Red Hots.
I knew I took a bunch of pictures, but even I was surprised when I uploaded them to my computer that there were 600+ taken over the course of two days. Unbelievable. I swear, I did not have my finger on the button the whole time. I actually kept a scorecard, too. But, evidently I was very busy. So, when I say here are “just a few” pictures, you will know I mean it.
Everybody stops to watch Albert Pujols take batting practice. I think he could sell tickets to his batting practice to raise money for the Pujols Family Foundation.
The Cardinals 25-man roster includes a number of rookies. Here are just a few getting ready to take batting practice: Infielders, Joe Thurston and David Freese, and outfielder, Colby Rasmus. I believe fellow rookie, infielder, Brian Barden was in the cage.
New Shortstop, Khalil Greene, looks happy to be a Cardinal. He had a great spring training, and hit a bomb in Memphis, so we are so happy to have him.
Yadier Molina heads to work.
One of my favorite game sights is the catcher, starting pitcher and pitching coach walking in from the bullpen, all warmed up and ready to go. The walk means it is almost game time. In the first picture are Yadier Molina, P. J. Walters and Dave Duncan. P. J. Walters, who will start in Triple-A Memphis, made a spot start for the Cardinals in Friday’s game in place of Chris Carpenter. Walters had a very fine outing, as the Cardinals won 13-1.
The second picture is Yadier Molina, Joel Pineiro and Dave Duncan. Joel Pineiro had a great spring training, and he pitched well on Saturday. He got into a couple jams, but did not loose his cool. He pitched better the longer he went. The Cardinals won 7-3.
Another beautiful sight:
I took the following two pictures, because I wondered if the kid in the #12 Aaron Miles jersey was asking John Mozeliak, “Hey, Mo. Why didn’t you pick up Miles? Now, I need a new jersey. Forget the autograph. I want a new jersey.”
Amazingly enough, another kid walked up with a #12 T-shirt. I imagined him asking the same question.
This is a nice shot of Khalil Greene , but the guy on second base got my attention over the weekend. Memphis center fielder, Shane Robinson, has a nice bat. He made a great diving catch in center, and literally climbed the wall to try to get to a Rick Ankiel home run that was long gone.
But, I found the following shot of him hilarious. From left to right (field), we have Jon Jay (5’9″), Shane Robinson (5’7″) and Joe Mather (6’4″). Mather looks like a Giant.
Chris Carpenter was scratched from the Friday start, which is fine with me. There is always a worry that he has X number of pitches left. No need to waste them on an exhibition game. He was reported to have a calf injury, but if he can cop a catcher’s squat to catch Adam Wainwright, the calf must be healed.
Before Saturday’s day game, I was at the park before it was open. So, I decided to take a little walk all the way around it. When I got to the back of the park, the gate was open. I resisted the urge to trespass. However, I could see through to the field. I was not surprised by what I saw: Third Base/Infield Coach, Jose Oquendo was hitting early morning ground balls to Skip Schumaker. Here is a picture of Schumaker warming up later.
Speaking of Jose Oquendo, late in the game on Saturday, he was sent in to pinch hit. The crowd went wild. He fouled off a couple and then drew a walk. When he took his lead at first, the crowd wanted him to steal. He got moved around to third base. He had an opportunity to tag and score on a fly ball, but evidently, he did not send himself. Ironically, he was stranded at the base he will be coaching all year.
The-closer-who-must-not-be-named, Jason Motte, pitched in the ninth inning Saturday.
Not to be outdone by the Cardinals coaching staff, Memphis Redbirds Manager, Chris Maloney, sent himself in to pinch hit. He made nice contact, but grounded out to finish the game.
Ballpark Food Note
I give the ballpark hot dog a grade of “B”. Good quality hot dog, toasted bun. Good, but not fantastic. The unique food to have are the barbecued pork nachos. Very good, but very pricy at $8.50. The hotdogs were $4.00
in Memphis – Marc Cohn
on my blue suede shoes
And I boarded the plane
Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain
Actually, the shoes are brown suede.
There is no plane.
And, it better not rain.
Walking with my feet ten feet off of the Beale
Walking in Memphis
Do I really feel the way I feel
There is no doubt I feel the way I feel.
And, what I feel is excited.
So, excited that I could not go to sleep last
Something I will be paying for later.
got catfish on the table
They’ve got gospel in the air
And Reverend Green be glad to see you
When you haven’t got a prayer
But you got a prayer in Memphis
Love me some catfish. Love me some gospel.
If I have a prayer, it’s for Joe Mather and Chris
The final cuts, sent to Memphis.
I don’t disagree with the decision. An injury interrupted Perez’s preparation, so
he is not ready. Mather has been inconsistent
at the plate. The only way to fix that
is to get at bats every day. He can do
that in Memphis.
But, I would love to see Mather go 4-4 and Perez have a three up, three
down 9th inning. Just ’cause.
Muriel plays piano
Every Friday at the Hollywood
And they brought me down to see her
And they asked me if I would –
Do a little number
And I sang with all my might
And she said –
“Tell me are you a Christian child?”
And I said “Ma’am I am tonight”
I doubt Muriel is going to ask me to sing at the Hollywood. But, at the Auto Zone Park, I will be cheering with
all my might. There is something about being
at the ballpark that feeds my soul. So,
yes, tonight, I am definitely a Christian child.
on my brown suede shoes
And put the car in drive
Road into the land of the Delta Blues
I have never felt more alive.
I’ve been living on the wrong side of Memphis
Gonna bronze these blue suede shoes
These cowboy boots are gettin’ kinda restless
And I ain’t gotta single thing to lose
–From “Wrong Side of Memphis” by Garry Harrison and Matraca Berg
I live in Oklahoma. I know cowgirls.
long best friend comes from a rodeo family of barrel racers, bulldoggers and bull riders. My sister, although a city girl in every other way, is a horsewoman who is far happier in her cowboy boots than a pair peep-toe pumps.
One of my good friends in high school wore Wranglers and Ropers every day. My life-
long best friend comes from a rodeo family of barrel racers, bulldoggers and bull riders. My sister, although a city girl in every other way, is a horsewoman who is far happier in her cowboy boots than a pair peep-toe pumps.
In contrast to my sister who thrives on city life, I do enjoy the simplicity of my small town existence. But, I am not a cowgirl. I grew up on a farm. I went to Oklahoma State, home of the Cowboys (and Cowgirls). I love a good country tune, and if you want to go two-steppin’, I am so your girl. Just in case my sister ever lets me near her horse, or I need to go to the rodeo with my friend or two-stepping with you, I own a pair of cowboy boots.
I love my boots however, I am not comfortable in them the way the cowgirls in my life are. I always feel a bit like I am wearing a costume. Oddly enough, I am more comfortable in my peep-toe pumps with 4 inch heels. It is wrong. No one should feel at home in those shoes. Maybe my sister’s cowboy boots are her tie that grounds her to her country roots. Perhaps, my pumps lift me out of my simple life and tie me to the city that I sometimes miss.
That being said, there is no doubt that my “cowboy boots” have been “getting’ kinda restless”. Winter (meaning the off-season) has been long and tedious. I decided last year that I would organize my life and finances in such a way that I could see the most baseball possible. In the dark, cold winter, I have planned, plotted and booked. As the possibilities unfolded, I became more and more restless, anxious for the day the baseball adventures would commence.
This Friday, April 3, 2009, it begins.
I Ain’t Got a Single Thing to Lose
When I first started planning, I considered a Spring Training trip. But, just getting there is expensive, with a plane ticket, rental car and hotel. Also, when I was looking at it, the World Baseball provisional roster was not out, so I did not know how many Cardinals would be gone.
While I was still vacillating, I saw that the St. Louis Cardinals would play two exhibition games against their Triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds. Memphis is only a seven hour drive. No plane ticket. No rental car. Pre-season problem solved.
With two dugouts full of redbirds, “I ain’t got a single thing to lose”. Redbird heaven, here I come. Although if the Memphis Redbirds beat up on the St. Louis Cardinals, that could be construed as a bad thing. Or, it could mean we have great depth. It is Spring, a hopeful time, so if that happens, I will be bragging on our depth.
So, today, I am packing and preparing. The #4 Molina jersey is in the suitcase. The score cards are printed. The batteries are in the camera. Gretta V. Jetta has new shoes(tires), a fresh oil change and a new tag. We are ready to hit I-40 and go east until we cross the Mississippi and end up on the right side of Memphis. Let the baseball begin!
was happy to find Redbird Chatter on the mlblog.com leaders list this week. Number 33.
I have been here before. I posted
a dedication to #33 Barney Schultz.
Oddly enough, Mr. Schultz was mentioned on the broadcast of today’s
Cardinals Spring Training game when the discussion turned to whether or not the
Cardinals have ever had a knuckleball pitcher.
Al Hrabosky impressively pulled out the name, Barney Schultz.
since I had already written a #33 dedication, I decided to do 1933 instead. As I did my research, I realized I could use 1933
facts to unveil my projected 2009 baseball adventures. You might say I was killing two birds with
one stone, but killing birds (especially red ones) is a touchy subject here.
many ways, 1933 was a horrific year. The
Great Depression devastated the nation.
Aldolf Hilter became dictator of Germany and terrorized the Jewish
population. And, the St. Louis Cardinals
only finished in the middle of the National League pack.
there were good things. Both my parents
were born in 1933. Frances Perkins
became the first female member of the United States Cabinet. The St. Louis Cardinals did not win pennant,
but they laid the foundations for what would be a 1934 championship season for
the Gashouse Gang.
Dean led the pitching staff with a colossal 293 innings pitched. He finished with a 20-18 record and an ERA of
3.04. Third baseman, Pepper Martin had
189 hits and 122 runs with a .316 batting average. He was being knocked in by outfielder, Joe
Medwick, who had 98 RBI’s and slugged .497.
in 1933, Frank Schutt was the general manager of a downtown Memphis hotel, The Peabody. He and a buddy returned from a hunting trip
and thought it would be fun to put their live decoy ducks in the hotel’s
fountain. The ducks liked it. The guests liked it, and a tradition
began. The ducks make a daily pilgrimage
to and from the fountain. It is one of
those “must see” things in Memphis. After Graceland, of course.
do the Peabody ducks have to do with baseball? The
Peabody Hotel is in close proximately to Auto Zone Park, the home of the
Cardinals Triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds. On April 3-4, Redbirds will migrate in mass to
the ballpark to watch a couple exhibition games between the St. Louis Cardinals
and the Memphis Redbirds. And, I will be
5, 1933, construction began on
one our nation’s most recognizable landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge. I have only seen pictures. In May, I will actually touch it, when I
visit San Francisco to see the Cardinals take
on the Giants. I am excited to see the
beautiful AT&T Park on the bay and two
Molinas behind the plate. Heaven!
June 1933, the Union Station Massacre took place Kansas City, where four law enforcement
officers were killed in an attempt to free the prisoner they were
transporting. Charles “Pretty Boy”
Floyd was thought to be involved, but evidence suggests otherwise. Hopefully, the only violence I will see on my
June trip to Kansas City, are the Cardinals seriously
punishing a little leather ball when they take on the Royals in the I-70
am excited to see the newly renovated Kaufman stadium. But, that is not what’s going to make this
adventure extra special. I will be
visiting family as well. Hopefully, if
he or she cooperates, I will be meeting my new niece or nephew that is due to
enter the world in June.
1, 1933, Ann Richards, future
governor of Texas was born. In July, I will road trip to Houston, Texas to watch the Cardinals
play the Astros. Last year, I enjoyed my
trip to Minute Maid Park. I only hope that the Astros do not sweep the
Cardinals this time.
also plan to get in a visit to Johnson Space Center, which I have wanted to
visit for a long time. This trip may
also include a stop off in Dallas to watch a Rangers game. It seems wrong to just drive past a ballpark
and not stop in.
in 1933, Giuseppe Zangara attempts to assassinate President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt
in Miami, Florida, but instead fatally
wounds Chicago Mayor, Anton J.
fall, my work takes me to St. Louis for a few days, which is
exactly how this whole Cardinals fan thing got started in the first place. Luckily, the trip this year coincides with a Florida Marlins and a Chicago Cubs series. (Yes, I
could not believe that I found a 1933 fact that included both Florida and Chicago. Too bizarre.)
will be other baseball mini-adventures.
Trips to Oklahoma City to see the Redhawks and
the Memphis Redbirds. Trips to Tulsa to see the Drillers and the
Springfield Cardinals. The Bedlam series
between my Oklahoma State Cowboys and the OU Sooners. These can all be related to Oklahoman, Wiley
Post, who in 1933 became the first person to fly solo around the world,
traveling 15,596 miles in 7 days, 18 hours and 45 minutes.
baseball miles logged will probably fall short of 15,596. But, I decided last year that I would
organize my life in a way that allows me to see the most baseball possible in
2009. I saw five Cardinals games last
year. I hope to see 15 this year. Not bad, when you live 500+ miles from Busch
look forward to taking pictures and chronicling my adventures. But, mostly, I am looking forward to seeing
some great baseball.
to Wikipedia for providing all the great 1933 facts.
I spent the weekend checking on the boys down in Memphis. Fortunately, I didn’t have to drive to Memphis to do it. The Memphis Redbirds were in my state taking on the Oklahoma City Redhawks.
It was great to see all the guys that have been up to St. Louis this year: Parisi, Perez, Worrell, Stavinoha and Mather. They are playing hard, getting better and waiting for their next shot.
I must admit my heart went out to Joe Mather when I heard the announcer call his name in the lineup on Friday. On Thursday, Mather hit a home run that ended up being the winning run. Heck, he was the KTRS Star of the Game, and then the next night he’s back in Triple-A ball, sacrificed for lefty reliever, Flores. But, that’s baseball.
Joe Mather at the plate for Memphis in OKC
Seeing all those Redbirds that, at one time or another this year, had put on a St. Louis uniform made me think that sometimes blessings come in disguise. One of the most frustrating parts of the 2008 Cardinals has been the plague of injuries. The upside of that is so many guys have made their major league debut and had the chance to work out the butterflies and get it over with. It’s so much better for them to get that out of their system in June, than in September when we’ll be securing our playoff spot.
I got to see USA Olympic team members, Colby Rasmus (CF) and Brian Barden (SS). There’s been a lot of talk about Rasmus and when he’ll get called up. However, I didn’t see anything that would put him in the league of Rick Ankiel, but I’m no expert.
Over the course of the weekend, Joe Mather (RF) connected with Catcher Bryan Anderson to make two spectacular outs at the plate. Spectacular by both the strength of the throw and the ability of the catcher to hang on. The first of which stalled a Redhawk rally and ended the game on Friday. On the second play, a Redhawk fan turned to me and said “Never test a Cardinals outfielder.” I added, “Or, their catchers.”
I love good catching, so I always give catchers a good look. Bryan Anderson is doing a good job of blocking balls and plays at the plate. He is an odd combination of a player who bats left and throws right. However, if he’s missing anything, it’s the throw to second. Although pretty accurate, the velocity is just not there. Of course, my expectations are pretty high in that regard–I’m used to watching Yadier Molina.
The Redbirds put in a solid performance splitting the four game series. Just a note on one of the OKC Redhawks–a 28-year-old from the Dominican that’s hitting about .350 with a stack of RBI’s and home runs. Sound like anyone we know? He hit 3 homers on Saturday’s game including one shot that left the park and a 3-run blast. Look for Nelson Cruz someday soon at a Texas Rangers game near you.
The OKC Redhawks have a great home in the AT&T Bricktown ballpark. I enjoyed the monuments erected in homage to great Oklahoma born players: Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, Wilber Rogan, the Waner brothers (Lloyd and Paul), Carl Hubbell, Bobby Mercer (his was decorated with flowers in honor of his passing), Allie Reynolds and Gashouse Gang Cardinal–Pepper Martin.
Everyone I know thought I was a little crazy to make the 3 hour plus round-trip to OKC three times this weekend. But, I can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend than at the ballpark.