Results tagged ‘ Cardinals ’
What can I say? The Cardinals were World Series champions with one of the best runs for a team. Ever.
Offseason Grade: D
Carlos Beltran, and J.C. Romero.
Albert Pujols, Octavio Dotel, Ryan Franklin, Gerald Laird, Cory Patterson, and Nick Punto.
Why?: The most exciting things to pay attention to this offseason concerning the Cardinals were the loss of Pujols and the addition of Beltran. Looking at just these two, the Cardinals didn’t do that poorly this offseason. However, if you look at all of the names on the list, the Cardinals actually have had some bullpen trouble. I personally don’t think that either Dotel or Franklin can be compensated for by J.C. Romero, much less the loss of both of them. Also, Arthur Rhodes is on the market and common wisdom dictates that he will probably not be coming back
As far as the other “notable subtractions”, it really just takes away from the depth of the team. Now, if a Catcher, Outfielder, or Infielder goes down, the player called upon to replace his spot will be a lesser quality replacement than it otherwise would have been. Also, there are less possible pinch-hitters to be called upon to hit for the Pitcher. Of course, the depth of the team matters less this year than it would have last year as Mike Matheny is the manager and not Tony LaRussa.
There really weren’t that many moves made on the part of the Cardinals. That’s why there isn’t that much to talk about. So this is it, I guess.
Predicted Record Range: 80-85 wins.
First off, here, is the link to the initial entry.
Predicted Record: 80-85 wins
Actual Record: 90-72
I actually wrote this entry a little after Adam Wainwright went down to Tommy John Surgery. So, had I written the entry in early March, I probably would have been almost right on. Even though I made a small deal about him going down in the entry, I was slightly doubting my decision to do so. Just the previous season, Wainwright was one of the top 5 pitchers in the National League, if not all of baseball. I think the reason is that I didn’t react as much as I should have, is that the Cardinals had what I perceived to be a really good rotation other than Wainwright.
I think the obvious answer, for those who pay closer attention to Baseball, as to why the Cardinals did succeed like they did was Lance Berkman. They got a player they thought to be on a downward slope and ended up with a near MVP candidate. He wasn’t the NL Comeback Player of the Year for nothing. Personally, the Cardinals were one of the two top road teams I saw in 2011, if not the top road teams I saw, and Lance Berkman was the guy to hit a ball to me in Right Field of whatever stadium I was in.
All this said, the Cardinals were very lucky to make it into the playoffs. They were a below average team in the first half of the season, and had the Braves won two of their last 5, they wouldn’t have had the chance to make it into the playoffs. Also, although I congratulate them for winning and appreciate what a World Series they gave us, the Cardinals winning the World Series yet again with the lowest win total in the NL just goes to show why it is meaningless to win as many games as possible during the season when even the worst team can win the playoffs (World Series). Basically, that’s it.
First game at what they call the Trop:
No there is no typo in the title. I did not go to the game the day before because my step-brother’s USF tour among other things caused me to miss what would have been all but 20 minutes of batting practice.
I knew this game was going to be chock full o’ Cardinals fans as I saw this on my plane in:
Yes that is a Cardinal head. A visor with plumage on top. He was one of at least five Cardinals fans but the only one that could be spotted from his seat. Anyway, not good considering the Cardinals would be on the field far longer than the Rays.
But to the game…
Actually no let me first express my love of domed stadiums.
I was the first one into the stadium and it was truly magical. My NEW photographer (it was my mom this time as I fired Pipe promptly after I saw the pictures from last game) was pretty close to a heat stroke from standing out in the Tampa heat for half an hour so she took the local route to the seats stopping at the water fountain. So, I didn’t have any pictures from this time but let me tell you that (at least for me) was great. I like domed stadiums to begin with because they are like their own little world of baseball but then to be the first fan to arrive in the seats is something surreal that I would highly recommend doing sometime. Though, I have only gone to Tropicana and the Metrodome (i have gone to miller Park but the roof was open every game) so it might just be the white roof and all the light that it reflected but for me it was great.
Okay, this time I mean it back to the game…
I was the first one to arrive in the Left Field Bleachers for a good five minutes. Within the first two I got Jeremy Hellickson to toss me a ball. Yeah, Number 100,WOO/phew!:
I celebrate in this way because half of batting practice at Nationals Park, I expected to get it in San Francisco after all the praise I had heard, didn’t go to any games in New York in the week between, and didn’t go to the game yesterday.
I could have just stopped there and called it a day and I would have been a clam as the stadium was filling up but it was still pretty empty at the time, there were still balls to be snagged, and the Cardinal pitchers were starting to warm-up.
Quickly after that picture was taken, I ran into the tunnel to my right went into foul ground through the concourse and emerged a Cardinals fan (no picture). I then slid behind the pitchers warming up as I was going to ask them for a ball after they finished. Turned out I didn’t need to wait as whoever Mitchell Boggs was throwing with air mailed their ball into the beach bar along the left field foul line. A security guard picked up the ball and was about to throw it back to Boggs but he had picked up a different ball. Here is the path of the ball:
The path is the white streak. The ball actually bounced off of the foul pole a bit but the security guard was in the actual beach bar.
I then moved back further to straight away left field. Before I could make it all the way Kelly Shoppach pulled a ball pretty well down the left field line and this is not a picture of the exact tunnel but for purpose of demonstration it should do:
The arrow is the spot where I caught ball. I was walking to the right, saw the ball coming, ran to the back of the tunnel, and jumped to make the catch. Pretty simple and I got some applause for saving a couple sitting a few rows behind me that were enjoying some nachos.
As we neared the end of Rays bp several lefties were coming up, the left field seats were really crowding up. So I went over to right field. I probably should have tried to get get another ball from the Cardinals pitchers but I live with my decision because I got the Shoppach homer in the process . I didn’t get anything for the rest of Rays bp but was sooo glad I didn’t stay in left field:
That may not seem like it is that crowded but if you look carefully the tunnels that I mentioned before are actually in the seats so they impede lateral movement in rows say 3-10 ad since the first few rows are usually crowded in any stadium that means that the best way to catch a Home Run is to stay back behind the tunnels which means that you have to be on your toes in case a ball is hit into the outfield that could possibly could be a toss-up because one must maneuver the fans on either side of the tunnel to get within ear shot. In the picture above it shows that the seat were even crowded behind the tunnels making the conditions miserable.
After the Rays stopped hitting, the Cardinals took a good 5-7 minutes to get hitting. In that time, Jason Motte was throwing a ball against a wall about twenty feet and I was really tempted to ask him to play catch but didn’t because he had Mitchell Boggs right next to him. Oh well, I got him to throw me a ball a few minutes later.
As for the seats, no that crowded as this was a picture of the first three rows:
The two bona fide stars of bp were Matt Holiday and Lance Berkman. There was one round where Holiday did not hit one ball below the top of the tunnels hitting one as far as this:
The people up there I am sure were not expecting anything to come close and as a result were taken by surprise. Thankfully no one was hurt but that ball must have gone 500 feet or close to it because although it is not dead center it is also 30+ ft above the field. I was in left field while this power show was going on but sadly didn’t get anything because of the crowded seats. Berkman, on the other hand, was a little less impressive but hit them to the less crowded right field seats. He was routinely pulling bombs to straight away right but the on I caught was in right center right about where the red arrow is:
It might have been on the other side of the aisle but it definitely was once again a jumping catch that saved this time another couple that were in the process of finding their seats for the game. (I am not trying to get people to ballhawk but for safety reasons. I f you are going to bp actually pay attention and/or BRING A GLOVE.)
That was it for bp. I took another picture of myself with #100 with the tiny Tropicana sign in the background:
During the game, I first tried to stand in a tunnel that led to the cross aisle that spans the length of the distance between the foul poles (not in the outfield). I was then told by an usher he had to keep those tunnels clear and I had to leave. Fair enough. I left and found an unguarded section further down the line:
My family (see previous entry) was once again in attendance and I sat with them while moaning in disbelief at the lack of foul balls in our area despite the surplus of lefties in the line-ups. As for the 50s themed promotion:
I guess it is inexpensive because the team already plays music and so all that costs money is buying the new uniforms for the team (the Rays wore the uniform of the Tampa Smokers, which were the team in the area in the 1950s), mascot, and mascot assistants but i would still say it wasn’t worth the effort because I saw maybe 10 people dressed up for the occasion and as you can tell I was all over the place.
Anyway, the Rays won 5-1 with all of their runs coming in the 6th inning as they chased Kyle McClellan out of the game but on a more historical note, Johnny Damon passed Ted Williams on the all-time hits list in the first inning at 2,655:
For those at home who have heard the legend of Ted Williams and think that number is low it is because in addition to hitting well Williams had great eyes and walked a lot. He also took five years off from baseball to join the army in WWII because he was still in his prime when he left we can safely assume he would be in the 3,500 range had he stayed.
Good day for #100.
- 5 Balls at this game
(#100-104) on the career
- 43 Balls in 15 games= 2.87 balls per game (yeah remember when it was 2.2)
- 40 games straight with at least 1 ball (woohoo)
- 10 straight games outside of New York
- 5 balls* 23,897 fans (20,00 of which were Cardinals fans)= 119,485
- Time at game 4:23-10:17=5 hours 54 minutes
Yeah I know I said I was going to write an entry about my game on the third of June but I was away from home so unless you wanted to see pictures like this…
Yes that is the whole image. I was in a rush to upload them to the internet for whatever reason and forgot they needed more time to upload
Anyway, I did indeed go to Washington DC on one of these:
Overpaid for a “Giant” ice cream sandwich:
Arrived two hours late and had to carry my suitcase backpack to the game:
But as Bono would say, “it(was) a beautiful day” and I was excited because this was actually my first time going to a stadium for batting practice knowing what I was doing outside of New York…why are you laughing?
I will now give you a moment to stand in awe of the majesty that is Nationals Park:
Well the sign at least but you have to admit it is a pretty nice sight to see. Or am I just brainwashed from hearing the Mets’ annoying repetitiive music an hour prior to the gates opening every day. It was also nostalgic to have the gates open two and a half hours before game time.
At the gate I had met up with Rick Gold a ballhawk that in his younger days was native to Oakland. This comes into play because he immediately as the gates opened he went to right field. That meant that after getting my bag checked for the bomb that was obviously hiding beneath my clothes I would head to left field.
Just as I headed over there I saw this going on in right field:
If you can’t see, it is the Nationals pitchers warming up on the right field foul line. I have accustomed myself so much to 2 hour opening times that I forgot the home team did this 2 1/2 hours before game time.Anyway, I stayed in left field because of my uber-packed backpack.
Best no decision of the year. A matter of seconds after I decided this a ball flew to my left. It was quite a bit back from my row and there were already people converging at the point it would drop so my hope was the it would land and trickle down the seats.
This picture shows what happened:
The (very light, very small) red arrow is my path to the ball. The ball was clearly going behind where I was going to be able to run to. When it bounced up in the air after hitting a seat I was a foot from it and snatched it out of the air ala Rickey Henderson.
The next ball was a cleaner catch:
This next one was also over my head so I ran up the stairs, turned my shoulder and caught the ball over it. Demonstrated by the much more visible but at the same time poorly done red arrow. That one felt more like a Wide Receiver in football. But wait… it was only 6:39. Batting Practice hadn’t actually started until 6:35 so that meant I had already almost matched my season average in four minutes. Oooh I had a good feeling about this. So good I gave that ball to this young(er) Cardinals fan:
In the picture there is no reaction because he hadn’t actually presented it to his dad yet but you can see his sister looking at it in his hands (don’t worry they were extremely nice about it).
Then a ball flew into the bullpen which put a damper on my spirits. Why? Because this is how many had gone in there:
Four baseballs had already made their way in there which was exactly four more than the number of devices I had ready because of my late bus. Here was my script for the next portion of bp:
Cue: Lefty batters start hitting
For: Exit stage right
So that’s what I did when Roger Bernadina & Co. came up and was there ever room to run:
At Citi field if the seats are ever that empty in bp you are a) on the second deck or b) 400 feet from home plate. I just had three problems all in this picture:
1) Alex Kopp- a ballhawk that lives in New Jersey and caught nine baseballs that day.
2) Rick Gold- Mentioned previously that typically puts up double digits at Nationals Park
3) Cardinals Fans galore- For some reason (and I’ve only gone here for two series) the opposing teams fans out-number the Nationals’ fans and so it is almost easier to get balls from the Nationals than it is from the opposing team.
But when a ball went into foul ground I was further back as you can see from that last picture and since the right field bullpen blocked off the first 5-10 rows and so I had Alex beat and he gave up on getting the ball. In case you were wondering, there were people to my left that could have beaten me had it been a straight up race but no fans were allowed past the foul pole on either side. Now I knew the usher guarding the pole would get the ball but did they go over and wait for him to get the ball. I think not!
Here is a picture of the usher mid-sentence:
It is always nice to see ushers that are actually nice by nature as you can see by this gentleman’s smile but that wasn’t the only thing that was better about Nationals Park. Let me compare it to Citi Field for the moment:
The red line on top is where the overhang would be for Citi Field (left field) and the yellowish line is where Home Run balls would be completely out of the question. For those wondering, the line here at Nationals Park (right field was so far back the picture couldn’t even contain it.
As I returned to my spot, I saw that Jason Motte was having some fun at the fans’ expense by throwing a ball up just where a fan could not reach it so I naturally took this as a challenge to catch the ball but as I leaned out to attempt to catch the ball I noticed Jaime Garcia running to the wall after a ball. I asked him nicely in Spanish and he responded by joining Motte in tossing the ball up and trying to get me to catch it. Fortunately, he was way worse than Motte and tossed it at such an angle so that it was far from me on its way up but the backspin on the ball carried it towards me on the descent.
Let me take this time to show the reason (besides my awesome Spanish skills), that this particular ball found its way into my glove:
First of all, sorry for not looking in the camera. I was distracted by a ball, this was the only shot with both the hat and shirt in it, and my camera screen was broken so I didn’t know either of the first two reasons.
I do not have any cardinals gear. The hat is actually on loan from the Greg Barasch baseball museum. Greg is a very talented and experienced ballhawk from New York that can be found at almost every Mets weekday home game (unfortunately for me) and also happens to be my next door neighbor of about 18 years. Y’all older readers may remember he also lent me a Rangers hat and towel that I used in my playoff game last year. So yeah, it is always nice to have that security blanket and I mean what are the odds that people in the same building much less floor get into the same hobby independently of each other. Oh and the shirt if you can see if actually turned inside out. That is because it is actually a Phillies shirt and I wanted to color coordinate.
Anyway from the start of my ballhawking career, I have not had much luck adjusting to the group of Pujols and Holliday but I figured that I would have a better chance taking on ten people just at batting practice in left than two ballhawks in right. My plan was to lay back here:
Catch anything that came back that far as I had lateral room to run and run up, hope the ball deflected off of someone’s hands and scramble for the ball. The later did happen… sort of.
About five minutes after I got to the section, Pujols hit a Home Run of decent height and length that I realized was going to be one rail gap short of where I was standing. I ran up but a barehanded man was camped under it. Yeah I could have reached in front of him as there was no way he was going to catch a ball going over 100 mph off the bat of Albert Pujols but ballhawks are already seen in enough of a negative light. So I stayed back right behind him, waited for the ricochet, and missed out on the ball as he deflected it to the side of him.
“Look at the mark Albert Pujols left on my hand!” This just goes to show why you bring your glove to the ball game. That group stopped hitting about ten minutes after that and so I went back to right field. However, how could I pass up an opportunity to take a picture of myself on the Stadium big screen.
Here it is:
If you can see I am actually holding the camera to my ear. This is because of two reasons: 1. My screen was/is broken and I had to hear the click to make sure I took the picture and 2. I had my glove on at this moment and needed my head for stability.
Thank goodness I didn’t stay for that long, though because as I was walking down the stairs of the right field stands, an infielder on the cardinals, Daniel Descalso hit a ball to either my right or my left (ok, I know that sounds vague but I know where the ball landed I just don’t remember what staircase I was coming down) fell into the seats and I beat the fan sitting down in the picture demonstrating how empty right field was. That was now five ball on the day and three of them had been hit balls. Last time I checked I was averaging 1.67 thrown balls per game (.67 hit which is a bit amazing to see the stark difference but irrelevant at the point I am trying to make). Discounting the security guard toss-up because that would have never been possible at Citi Field because of their useless railing blocking off foul territory from the outfield I only really had one toss-up for this game. There was a reason for that.
Normally, I have time to go home and print out my rosters for both teams but because of the whole bus situation I had to go on memory. This led to me either making anonymous requests “Excuse me but can you throw me the ball please?” which are far less effective than if they have a name behind them or getting their names wrong altogether. For example, I have since realized that I called Michell Boggs Kyle as I thought he was Kyle McClellan and I called some other person who I could not find Jaime Garcia who obviously came out later and threw me my other toss-up. Well, I wouldn’t get another toss-up for the rest of the day.
It was almost the end of batting practice and I was fine ignoring that it had been a pretty slow bp Home Runs wise because I had just matched my season high. Then came Lance Berkman. At least I think it was him but someone on the Cardinals hit five straight Home Runs to finish off bp all of which landed in this section outlined in red:
Alex was in the perfect spot to catch all of them but because there were five straight and he chased some to his left I had the chance to step into his spot and catch one on the fly. Nothing fancy I just moved a few feet to my left camped under it and caught the ball. That was now my fourth hit ball of the game. Now I don’t think i have gotten extremely better at tracking batted balls but I think that the margin for error is just so low in New York whereas here you can drift more like a real outfielder would do.
In the game I was planning to sit in right field because there were two righty pitchers but when the usher asked me to leave my first idea was to go here:
abut then I thought to myself that there would be Holliday and Pujols (yeah I did find out Holliday was still out from his appendectomy) would be hitting more Home Runs than any lefties that would be put in to face the righty pitchers. So I moved over here:
There were plenty of Home Runs, five if I recall correctly but the closest one was a Jayson Werth Home Run three sections over:
Now the bullpen coach in the bottom right corner picked up three balls and tossed them into the crowd. Not knowing his first name (Derek) because I didn’t have my roster handy I relied on purely having a Cardinals hat (it didn’t work).
I then got to have my first experience of post-Nats game metro crowding:
- 6 Balls at this game (5 in this picture because I gave one away)
numbers 87-92 on the career:
- 31 Balls in 12 games=2.58 balls per game
- 37 games straight with at least 1 ball
- 2 games straight at Nationals Park
- 6 balls*27,130 fans= 162,780 competition factor
- Time at Game 3:55-9:35= 5 hours 40 minutes
I did go the next day so that will be up soon but if you are wondering when I will get up the game before this it will be after I get back home from San Francisco. So June 28th-ish.
They thought they were the champs. They fought the Reds strongly:
They took the competition late into the season. Then this happened:
Jim Edmonds, Ryan Theriot, Lance Berkman, Gerald Laird, Miguel Bautista, Ian Snell, and Nick Punto.
Brad Penny, Randy Winn, Pedro Feliz, Brendan Ryan, Aaron Miles, and Jeff Suppan.
Why?: Initially I was going to give them a C- but then I typed in all the notable additions and they are all solid players. I then looked and saw they didn’t have many subtractions worth crying about. They boosted each of the four Cardinal (pun intended) categories of Relief Pitching, Stating Pitching, Infield, and Outfield.
The losses are also solid players but everywhere they replaced the players and then added some more. This entry was supposed to be before Wainwright went out so I won’t count him as a subtraction but looking at these players they did decently in the offseason.
Predicted Record Range: 80-85 wins. The Wainwright isn’t enough alone to lower the wins THAT much so I say with his actual stats gone and the emotional blow it adds, 3-5 wins should be expected off of last year’s win total.
Up Next: Milwaukee Brewers