Posted by JE Powell
The January (yes, I know, I am a little late putting this up) United Cardinal Bloggers monthly project is for bloggers to list their top five iconic moments in Cardinals history. So, here are my Top Five:
5. The Ozzie Smith Backflip
My first taste of Cardinals fever started in the early ’80s when my dad and grandpa took me to my first game. Growing up in the ’80s I do not have a more clear or fond memory of Cardinals baseball than seeing Ozzie Smith do his backflip. As a youngster of five or six years, I was enthralled watching him do that and when I think of Cardinals baseball in the ’80s I think Ozzie Smith and his backflip.
4. McGwire’s 62nd Home Run
I realize that this feat has been tainted with Mark McGwire’s admission of taking steriods, but the home run race in 1998 between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa helped bring baseball back into the mainstream. The strike in 1994 had hurt the sport, but the home run duel between Big Mac and Sosa aided in bringing it back and the first one to 62 homers was Big Mac. I remember seeing him run the bases (nearly missing 1st in the process) and was extremely excited that the home run record now belonged to a Cardinal. I may take some slack for this pick, but at the time it was monumental. Read More…
Posted by JE Powell
The A&E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions Official 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals 2 Disc-DVD Set (from here on out, I will just refer to it as the “DVD Set” because it’s just easier that way) is basically set up in three parts: The Official Film, the Bonus Material, and the entirety of NLDS Game 5 (Carpenter vs. Halladay). So, I have decided to review it that way. I now present to you, Part I: The Official Film.
I think that best review of the movie I can give is that my mother-in-law loved it. She is not a sports fan at all (except for her New Orleans Saints and even that is just a “check the team’s record every few weeks” sort of thing) and while I know she watch parts of a few World Series games, she really didn’t care who won or lost. So, I had just started watching the Official Film on Thanksgiving Day when my mother-in-law came into the room, sat down, and asked what I was watching. I said, “It’s about the Cardinals winning the World Series.” She replied with a simple, “Oh.”
Posted by JE Powell
It’s finally here, the official A & E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions 2 DVD Box Set of the 2011 World Series Champion ST. LOUIS CARDINALS!!!
Now, the DVD set comes out on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 with the World Premier at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis and if you are in the area and want to buy tickets, just click the link and buy away. It looks like it’s going to be a blast. But perhaps you would prefer to stay home, since the weather is getting colder, and watch the DVD set from the comforts of your couch. The good news is that you can purchase the DVD set from A & E Home Entertainment and the MLB Shop! It’s a very good price for hours of enjoyment and cheaper than taking a loved one to the movies with you, not to mention (though I am going to anyway) the fact that you can watch it over and over again and relive some of the best moments from one of World Series in many years. There is also a trailer that you can check out.
Posted by Steve Griffith
So, It’s now November 1st, and baseball season is over. Your St. Louis Cardinals are once again the World Champions, and if you are anything like me, you are still dreaming of baseball, and the season that was. In the next couple of days, you are going to start noticing some changes in yourself. You will begin to feel lonely around 7pm, maybe even a little depressed. Although your family may be sitting right next to you at the dinner table, or begging you to read a bed time story, you are going to feel as though something is missing. Like when you lose your car keys, and search the house top to bottom, even looking in the refrigerator just in case. Soon you will realize, what you are missing is the adrenaline rush you get every evening as your Redbirds step out on the field. You miss the way you could almost feel the grass under your feet while chasing down a flyball with Jon Jay, Lance Berkman, or Matt Holliday. You miss the excitement of stealing 2nd base, or turning a double play with Furcal, Schumaker, and Pujols. You miss the thrill of having a perfect game through 7 innings. You miss giving a standing ovation to Carpenter from your living room as he makes way for Salas, Sanchez, or Motte. If you’re lucky enough to go to several games every season, you miss the $8.00 beers, and the chicken nachos from El Birdos cafe. You miss the call of the folks peddling everything from cotton candy, to peanuts, to lemonade and water. You miss how one side of your face is sunburned after sitting in the lower bowl sections during a June day game. But most of all, you miss the thrill of always being in the penant race, and bragging about YOUR team, or playfully cracking jokes about the Cubs, Brewers, or Reds.
So how do we survive November to February?
There are plenty of baseball related activities that occur during this time. Not the least of which will be the on going Pujols contract talks, and the search for the next Tony La Russa. There will be plenty of this type of news to keep our feable baseball minds churning for the foreseeable months, but there are other things you can do.
1. Re-watch the postseason (if you were awesome enough to DVR the games, or buy the DVD’s that will inevitably be available soon.)
2. Get your fantasy baseball league ready for next seasons draft.
3. The first time the sun melts just a little bit of snow, grab your glove and play catch. Even if it means throwing the ball against the wall.
4. Attend a Cardinals Caravan event. I recommend getting there a few hours early, as our caravans are always well attended. Also, if you want an autograph, bring a small child with you, as they are often the only ones that get the autographs.
5. Read this blog often, as we will be posting the latest Cardinals information, rumors, etc… as often as we can.
6. Go visit your mom. While you are there, say hi to her and ask her how she is, but don’t forget the real reason you are there: To creep down to her basement and look through all of your old baseball cards.
7. Most importantly, take a breath and relax. Spend some time with your other die hard Cardinals friends, and just talk baseball. Talk about the glory that was 2011, and speculate about 2012. We all do it… It’s ok. Pretend you are Mo: What moves are you going to make this offseason? Who stays? Who goes?
Keep your mind in the game! It’s only 3 and a 1/2 months til pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
“People ask me what I do in the winter when there is no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers Hornsby
Hello everyone. My name is Steve Griffith. I am a new contributor this blog. I would first like to thank JE Powell for allowing me the opportunity to write about the Cardinals on his blog. Most of the time, my rants and raves about the Cardinals have taken place over an ice cold Bud Light while sitting on a barstool or recliner while watching a game, so to have this forum as a place to talk about the Cardinals excites me. JE approached me about contributing to his blog three or four days ago, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. In fact, I’ve already written a few short posts that I am yet to publish.
So where did I come from? How did I become a Cards fan, and what makes what I have to say important?
Growing up in central Illinois, a boy has two options. They can be a Cubs fan or a Cardinals fan. That’s about it. My father, whose namesake I bear, tried his best to raise me as a Cubs fan. I remember how my Dad and I would watch Cubs games on tv. I always wondered why we rooted for a team that always did so bad. Growing up, the only thing I really yearned for, was to know my dad and I had something in common, and I thought cheering for his team would help us bond, but I also knew something just didn’t feel right about rooting for the Cubs, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what exactly it was. Looking back now, I remember falling asleep while watching Cubs games (even in the middle of the day). Cubs baseball was just so boring to me.
So what happened? When did my baseball life turn around? The year was 1997. I was 15, and a close friend of mine asked me if my cousin and I wanted to take a trip down to St. Louis to catch a Cardinals game. I accepted his invitation, under the condition that I wouldn’t wear a Cardinals shirt, hat, or any other paraphanallia. We embarked on our 2 and a half hour journey to the Lou (as I affectionately call it now) in a little red Chevy S-10. The truck wasn’t very comfortable for the rider in the extended cab portion, so we took turns riding in the bed of the truck. A little over half way down to the Lou, we were pulled over by an unmarked police Mustang for speeding. When we told the officer we were heading to the game, he wished us well, let my friend off with a warning, and informed us that the person in the bed of the truck could legally drink as long as the driver could not touch the alcohol. We reminded the officer that we were only teenagers, and we all had a good laugh at his expense for basically giving his blessing to minors to consume alcohol.
When we finally arrived at Busch Stadium II, I remember gazing in wonder at the beautiful arches that adorned the top of the stadium. I immediately fell in love with this place. There was something almost magical about it. This may sound cliche, but I remember feeling like this place, this game, this team, completed me. It seemed to fill a void that had been missing in my life. Many religions tell us that our relationship with God makes us feel whole, and completes us. In my case, I already had my relationship with God, but it wasn’t until this game, that I knew Heaven was a real place; and it was only about 170 miles from my house. By the 3rd inning, I forgot about my past allegiance to the “Lovable Losers”, and was fully entrenched in the glory that is Cardinals baseball. I now gleefully anticipate every February when pitchers and catchers report, every Opening Day, every home game, every away game (even the west coast games that start at 9 or later). I own dozens of pieces of Cardinals memorabilia, several jerseys and hats, three pets named after Cardinals players or the city itself, and two Cardinals tattoos (pictures to follow).
Thinking back on how my love for the Cardinals began, I realize that I am a believer in the Nature side of the Nature vs. Nurture debate. My dad tried everything he could to nurture me to be a Cubs fan, but nature had another plan, and thank God it did. My heart always belonged in St. Louis, it just took me a while to understand it. Thanks again, Mr. Powell, for the opportunity to contribute to this page. I’ve got some great ideas for future posts, so if you are reading this now, check back often. There are some real exciting things I will be posting on here.
12 in ’12
Poste by JE Powell
Wow. One, little, simple word, but it sums up what is, in this writer’s opinion, one of the greatest endings to a baseball season ever. woW. There, I wrote the word backwards and it still has the same impact, even if it looks a little weird.
I must confess, back in late August I had wrote the Cardinals off. Now, to be absolutely clear, I did not (nor would I ever, even in the worst of times) stop watching and paying attention to my beloved Cardinals. But conventional wisdom (which I admittedly stole from a M*A*S*H episode) is that a team can pick up a game a week. The Cards were 10 1/2 with about six weeks to play. I even commented to a co-worker in late August that the Cards would have to go 23-8 in September (which only has 30 days in that month, so how the Cards would play one more game than there are days in that calender month, I do not know) and at that time Atlanta was playing pretty well. Stictly from anecdotal evidence, I think most Cardinals fans felt that the Cards were not playing like a playoff team and were more than like NOT going to make the playoffs. I am often wrong, but I cannot remember a time when I have been so happy to have been wrong.
In 2006 I had a mantra all season long that continued down to the last day of the season. “The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs.”
“But the Cardinals have had two eight game losing streaks and a seven game losing streak and even got beat by nearly 20 runs by the Chicgo White Sox,” I had someone say to me.
“The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs,” I replied. Over and over again I said it. Every Cubs fan was rubbing it in, even though the Cubs finsihed 30 games under .500 that season. “The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs.” And in 2006, they did. By 1 1/2 games over the Houston Astros and the Cards ended the sesaon with a nearly pitiful 83-78 record. I think that was the 2nd worst record of a playoff team ever (the 2005 Padres finished 82-80 and won their division). I kept the faith, as it were. But 2011 was different.
This season, it didn’t look like the Cards would make the playoffs. They were not playing very well and they had seemingly too far back to make the playoffs. But then something happened. I don’t know what happened, but something obviously did. They started winning and Atlanta started losing. All through September the Cardinals kept winning and the Braves kept losing. The Cards swept the Braves in a three games series and picked up three games towards the Wild Card. In fact, I think the 2011 Cardinals need a nickname like the 1934 Cardinals “Gas House Gang” and I present to you, my faithful reader, the 2011 Cardinals “The Wild Cards”. It just fits. It’s nearly perfect, if a bit on the nose, I guess. But it sums up everything nicely. On the last day of the regular season, the Cards beat Houston 8-0 and the Braves lost to the Phillies 4-3 in 13 innings. The Cards were in.
But really, what were they going to do? They had to face a Phillies team that won 102 games and had what many predicted would be one of the best starting pitching rotations ever. No way the Cards are going to beat Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, or Roy Oswalt three times. “The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs.” The 2006 and 2011 Cardinals proved that that mantra is one that every Cardinals fan should keep in mind. Because once the playoffs start anything can happen. Case in point, the 2011 Cardinals. In the NLDS (National League Division Series) the Cards were down 2-1 in the series and had to face Roy Oswalt and then Roy Halladay. The Cards won game 4 to tie the series and then Chris Carpenter beat Roy Halladay 1-0 in one of the best pitching duels I have ever seen. NLDS Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals moved on, beating a team that many prediccted would win the World Series, to face the Milwaukee Brewers, a teamt he Cardinals haven’t faced in the playoffs since 1982 (when I was merely a year old). Nyjer Morgan, or Tony Plush, or whatever silly name he wants to give himself, made some silly comments (back in September) towards the Cardinals about them watching the Milwaukee Brewers on TV while Cards players sat at home. I love it when opposing players get cocky against the elder statesmen Cardinals. The Cardianls team, much to their credit, shrugged it off and did not retaliate. At least not with words. They did it with their bats and their bullpen. The Cards split in Milwaukee the first two games and then won on the road in Milwaukee (the toughest home team in all of baseball this year) to clinch a spot in the World Sereis. I certainly hope Nyjer Morgan enjoyed watching the Cardinals play in the world series. I am sure he has a very large, nice TV with high-def and could see everything nice and clear.
The World Series this year wasn’t the best played World Series, but damn was it entertaining. And Historic (with a capital “H”). The Cards won game one, then dropped game two in the top of the ninth inning when Texas scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the game. They headed to Texas for game 3. An Historic game because of one man, the true Prince of Baseball, Mr. Albert Pujols. Game 3 of the world series was a Wild (Cards) game, to say the least, but Albert Pujols put on, quite possibly the greatest offensive show you will ever see in the World Series. Sure, players have hit 3 home runs in a WS game (Ruth, twice, and Reggie Jackson), had 5 hits (Paul Molitor) and 6 RBI (Hideki Matsui) and 4 runs scored. But from what the experts said no one has ever had 3 HR, 4 Runs, 5 Hits, and 6 RBI…IN THE SAME GAME! Historic. When I saw Albert hit his first homerun, as soon as he made contact I said out loud, “It’s gone.” Just matter of factly. The sound of the ball off of a Cardinals bat in the WS is beautiful. Just Beautiful.
The Cards then dropped games 4 and 5 went to the Texas Rangers and the Series headed back to St. Louis with the Cards down 3 games to 2. I felt that whoever won game five would win the series. In game 6, when Texas went up 7-4 I thought, well, the Cards put in a hell of a season and the Rangers were definately a worthy adversary, my hats off to them. I kept watching, hoping for a miracle. I need to pause for just a moment to explain something. When the Cards fall behind or it looks like they are going to lose, I just assume they will. My reason is that if something great happens, it all the more great becasue I didn’t expect it, but if they do lose, at least I am not as dejected as I would have otherwise been. It’s a sort of defense mechanism. I didn’t give up, but I was kind of protecting myself, I guess.
So, the Cards are down 7-4 in game 6 when Allen Craig hit a solo shot to pull the Cardinals within two. Flashforward to the bottom of the ninth. 7-5, Cards sill behind. Pujols on 2nd, Lance Berkman on 1st. David Fresse up to bat. Has there ever been a more appropriate surname for a player in the history of baseball? David Freese had ice running through his veins. He gets ahead in the count 3-2, the Cards have two outs and are down to their last strike and that beautiful sound again, the ball of a Cardinal bat. A two run triple. Game tied.
Top of the 10th, one on and Josh Hamilton is up to bat. He swings at a ball a little low and outside and sends the ball over the fence for a two run home run. I texted my friend and fellow Cardinals fan (he is also the “official” STL: Fear the Red photographer, though I don’t post many pics) and said, “What was the point of the Cardinals tying the game up just to give the lead right back?” The Cardinals go to bat in the bottom of the 10th behind by two. Back to back hits, a bunt, and a ground out make it 9-8 Texas with two outs and the Cardinals have a player in scoring position. Lance Berkman gets up to bat and falls behind 1-2 in the count. Once again, the Cardinals are down to their last strike. If Berkman swings and misses the Rangers are champs. Oh, look at that, a single THE GAME IS FREAKING TIED AGAIN!!!! At this point I am curled up in a fetal position unable to take the drama any longer. OK, not really, but I was in my head, at any rate.
In the top of the 11th the Tony La Russa sends out Jake Westbrook to pitch, who hasn’t pitch in like a month. I’m thinking, oh no. But, oh yes, he holds them and keeps the game tied. Bottom of the 11th and up to bat is David “Absolute Zero” Freese. I say “Absolute Zero” because his veins are so ice cold that all molecular activity has stopped and he is no longer human. With one swing of the bat, a walk off home run, Absolute Zero has transcended baseball and become a Cardinals legend. I know with metaphysical certitude that one day when my baby daughter is older I will relive that moment over and over and over again as a bed time story. It was the greatest moment in my Cardinals lifetime, beating out Wainwrights curve to Carlos Beltran.The Cards made history for the 2nd time in the WS becoming the first team to come back from a two run deficit TWICE in the 9th inning or later. The also became the first WS team to score in the 8th, 9th, 10, and 11th innings of a World Series game. In my opinion, and I am sure the opinion of nearly all Cardinals fans, this was the Greatest World Series Game of Our Generation. Perhaps ever. Only time will tell, I suppose.
There was only one thing that would make this game better. A victory in game 7. A loss would diminish the heroics and the drama of game 6 in my mind. Game 7 was a good game, but couldn’t possibly rival game 6 and it didn’t. What it did do, though was, three fold: 1) Gave David “Absolute Zero” two more RBI (to tie the game again, so less) making him the current record holder for most RBI in the post season with 21, 2) Made Game 6 a perhaps legendary status, and 3) Made the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals World Series CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!!!
This season was one of the most memorable seasons I have ever seen, not just as a Cardinals fan but in general. All the Cardinals have done since last August is come back. They came back from 10 1/2 down to win the Wild Card; they came back from a 2-1 series deficit to win the NLDS; they came back FIVE times in game 6 of the WS to win; and they came back from a 3-2 series deficit in the WS.
Because when all is said and done, “All they have to do is make the playoffs.”
JE is a life long Cardinals fan and is still pinching himself. He can be seen very infrequently tweeting on Twitter at @stlfear_the_red and has a Facebook Fan page, though he has no idea what the address is. The Cardinals, at this time, have won the world series every year that he has had a blog.
* JE apolgizes for the lenght of the post and any grammatical and spelling errors. He will attempt to correct any mistakes that are pointed out and will eventually re-read through the long, long post to try and correct any he sees. That might not be for awhile, however, because he has alot of other UCB blogs to read through. Please forgitve him any mistakes that he has made.
The United Cardinal Bloggers (of which this little blog is a part) has a monthly project for August where we interview a fellow blogger and I had the pleasure of interviewing Tara from Aaron Miles’ Fastball. She interviewed me for her site, so, if you want to read responses filled with non-sequiturs, trains of thought that go nowhere, and several blatant threats towards blogs written by space aliens, please go read my silly answers to her perfectly cromulent questions. And, while you’re at it, check out other blog posts by the other contributors over at AMF. It’s a truly wonderful site for those who enjoy reading about the Cardinals.
What follows is, in my biased opinion, a shining example of how an interviewee should respond to questions, even if the interviewer fell asleep several times during questioning and once started crying for no apparent reason.
So, what’s your story? How/why are you a fan?
Tara: I tell people I’m a Cardinals fan by birth, despite not ever living in St. Louis! My dad — who is a die hard sports fan anyway — was born and raised in St. Louis and, thus, a Cardinals fan! As I’m sure you’ll do with your daughter, my dad introduced me to baseball early and often. In some of my earliest pictures I’m sporting a Cards cap (albeit several sizes too big!) to match his. For me, it was always something I did and followed with my dad. We didn’t get to see many Cardinals games when I was growing up in Utah, but any time we got to sit and watch a game together was priceless. It’s just one of those things, as you know, that you grow up with. It just sticks. And it’s a part of you, win, lose or draw!
Do you have a specific game that has always stuck out in your mind? Have you been to any other stadiums besides Busch to watch a Cardinals game?
Tara: My greatest Cardinals memory may seem a bit cliche, as it’s all about that 2006 World Series run. But it still is the clearest memory … it could have been yesterday! Again, because of my dad’s part in my baseball fandom, he’s a big part of it. First was that Adam Wainwright curve ball that froze Carlos Beltran in the NLCS. My dad and I were literally on the edge of the couch, but only until that strike was called. I’ve never jumped up faster in my life! And for the World Series, once again my dad and I watched together. Only this time we were inches from the television! That emotion is just unreal. And to share it with my dad was even better!
I’ve been to other ballparks … but not to see the Cardinals, unfortunately. I’d love to go to Kansas City or Milwaukee. Or, of course, Wrigley for that rivalry!
How did you get started blogging? So, tell me your top five Cardinals moments. They do not have to be in your lifetime, though. And they do not necessarily have to be actual “in game” moments.
Tara: My involvement with blogging — and especially the UCB — came about in a very fast and unexpected way (but I wouldn’t trade a second!). When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to start a blog as a way to get my name out there as well as to continue honing my journalistic skills. So I did, but not about baseball. Then I came across a new online sports network looking for female sports writers. In my digging, I found Christine Coleman’s site, Aaron Miles’ Fastball, and realized we live in the same area. I sent her an email, just saying I really appreciated her blog. Since she certainly had the St. Louis Cardinals site under control for the new Aerys Sports Network, I didn’t expect anything else. But she offered to let me guest write occasionally. And occasionally it turned into weekly. And that progressed quickly to co-hosting a UCB Radio Hour, and ta da! Here we are. It’s been great getting to know so many skilled writers and baseball minds!
Top five Cardinals moments, huh? Let’s see. In no particular order:
David Eckstein being awarded the 2006 World Series MVP. Always loved him, and it was awesome to see him rewarded!
Any time Yadi throws a guy out from his knees. Ridiculous!
That October 17, 2005 Albert Pujols homer off brad Lidge. My dad’s birthday, the NLCS, and the destruction of Brad Lidge (at least for a few years!) … it was perfect.
In 2007 (or 2008? Can’t remember) the Single A Cardinals affiliate that happens to be in my town had a special night with the World Series trophy. Again, my dad and I were there and had our pictures taken with it. Being that close to so much history was priceless!
And for one outside my lifetime, how about Stan the Man’s 1955 All-Star Game walk-off that was just named the greatest moment in All-Star history! I would have loved to watch him play.
(These are, of course, in addition to that wicked Wainwright knee-buckler mentioned earlier!).
If you could get any player from any team to play for the Cardinals who would you want and why? Who is your favorite mid-season acquisition the Cards have ever had?
Tara: You know, I sit and watch games on a regular basis and thing, “Man, I wish he played for us.” But trying to pick just one is tough! I think Craig Kimbrel would be great to have. We’ve needed a dominant closer for so long!
As for my favorite mid-season trade, all-time I’d, of course, have to say Lou Brock in ’64. Not that I saw it happen, but the result when it did was pretty spectacular! If I were to pick more recently, I’d go with Matt Holliday. Not quite Lou’s caliber, but I really like him and what he’s brought to this team, especially right after that trade happened.
How do you feel about the trades the Cardinals made this season? And how realistic of a shot do you think the Cards have at making the playoffs this season?
Tara: The trades this season. Well, so far I’ve been under whelmed with the exception of Rafael Furcal. I love the defensive prowess he brings to the short stop position! Rzepczynski has been strong, but I don’t think he’s being used as effectively as he could be. I was a Colby Rasmus fan … so I was sad to see him go, but the new guys haven’t been all bad.
As for this season, it’s so hard to say. I’m such a cup-half-full kind of fan in that, as long as it’s mathematically possible, I’ll still be holding out some bit of hope! That said, there are so many pieces that would have to fall into place (the Brewers collapsing, our own offense soaring, and our pitching holding steady, to name a few) that, while I still hope they do something, I’m not holding my breath.
Assuming the Cardinals do not make the playoffs, which is starting to look like a distinct possibility, what moves do you think the Cardinals need to make to improve the team for next season (besides resigning Pujols, of course)?
This off season could be very interesting. There are a LOT of decisions to be made, including what to do with Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman as well as the predicament with Ryan Theriot. I wouldn’t mind adding a bat in center field, but I’m not holding my breath there.
The underlying question may revolve around Tony La Russa — if he’s back, chances are Pujols, Carp, and Yadi are around again. Regardless, it will be a very telling off season — we COULD see a very different team on the field next year. But, it’s just as likely that we see a largely similar lineup.
How many games do you go to? What is your favorite commercial or tv appearance featuring a current or former Cardinals player?
Tara: Since I grew up in Utah, I wasn’t at a Cardinals game until 2009, after my family moved to Iowa. We’re about five hours away now, so it’s not a terrible drive, but it definitely takes some planning. That time (in ’09) we were really ambitious and we drove down for the game and back in the same day, so we didn’t get to really experience the new Busch. Of course, my dad had been to all kinds of games as a kid when he lived in St. Louis, so it was fun for him to be back and to see the new stadium. They played the Marlins that game and Todd Wellemeyer pitched a pretty solid game, backed by a Pujols home run right at Big Mac Land. Then, we were back just over a week ago and saw two games — the final game in the Brewers series and the opener against the Rockies. (So far, I’m 3-0 in games I attend!!) I’ve been to other Major League games, but not to see the Cards outside of St. Louis.
Favorite commercial. That’s a good question! I always love seeing what crazy Cardinal Nation commercials they come up with at the beginning of the season, and this year I especially love the one with Berkman trying to pick a number. One, because I like just about anything Adam Wainwright is in, two, because it shows just how many Cardinals greats there are! It’s a great way to show what it’s like becoming a part of Cardinal Nation. Plus, Lance is such a great personality, too. That one’s my favorite … at least right now!
So, that’s how the interview went down. I would like to thank Tara for taking time out of blogging to help me with mine. Thanks Tara!
The St. Louis Cardinals are more than just a sports team to me, they have been a part of my life for my nearly 30 years of existence. Some of my earliest memories are of going to Cardinals games with my dad and grandpa, though, I must admit that those memories are spotty at best. I was four years old when they took me to my first game . That was in 1985 when the likes of Ozzie Smith, Tommy Herr, Jack Clark and Willie McGee graced the field and when Bob Forsch and Joaquin Andujar would take the mound every five days. In fact, according to my dad, at my very first Cardinals game, Tommy Herr hit a homerun to win the game. I honestly don’t remember that, but it’s nice to think that something cool happened at my first game.
From that first game, going to a Cardinals game was a yearly or bi-yearly event. My grandparents would take me out a day or two before the game each year and by me a new Cardinals outfit (Hat, shorts, shirt) and then I would go to the game with my dad and grandpa sporting my brand new attire. When I was a kid Ozzie Smith was, by far, my favorite player, though, I must admit that it was mainly due to his backflips. Most of those yearly games were Cards-Cubs and occasionally my cousin and uncle would attend, though they were Cubs fans. Silly relatives. Those yearly games were often the highlight of my year and I couldn’t wait.
In the beginning of the ’90’s my dad got a new job and worked second shift and did quite a bit of mandatory overtime on the weekends, but he managed to find at least one weekend a year to take me to games. However, by ’93 or ’94 he began to lose interest in the Cardinals. To be clear, he was still a Cardinals fan, but working second shift made it difficult for him to watch games and he just sort of drifted away. His incresing work hours (60 hours a week or so) made it difficult for him to take me to games, but my Grandpa still took my and by this point, my brother was attending every year (and the two of us bickering all the time, as brothers tend to do).
By 1997 my dad had been promoted and in his new role he was able to get free Cardinals tickets that were pretty good seats and he was able to get tickets to Mark McGwires second or third game as a Cardinal (I cannot remember which). In ’99 we were at a game in Chicago against the Cubs and the Cards were down by a run and the Cards just didn’t seem to have anything going until McGwire stepped up to bat late in the game. The wind was blowing in at Wrigley Field and at a pretty good clip. McGwire waited for the pitch he wanted and then crushed the ball for a homerun that put the Cards ahead and they eventually won that game. I think it was McGwire’s 58th or 59th homerun that year (he finished the season with 65 dingers).
As I got older, learned to drive, and became independent, I started taking the lead on getting tickets and making trip plans. I would occasionally take my grandpa to games, my dad rarely went by that time, but most of the time trips consisted of my brother, my best friend, and me (or I? Myself? Whatever it is). In 2004 my grandpa was no longer able to attend games (he was over 80 years old at that point and his health was beginning to fail) he would watch the games on TV every day. In fact, on many occasions we would watch the games together and turn the TV on mute and listen to Mike Shannon. One of the funniest things about my grandpa (to me, at least) was the fact that he never seemed to be able to pronounce players names correctly. It wasn’t Isringhousen, it was Isenfeller or Isenhousen. I tried, unsuccessfully, on many occasions to correct him, but after awhile I just gave up. I could never get him to pronounce the “J” in Pujols as an “H” sound, he always said the name as if it was an English “J”
Sadly, in December of 2007 my grandfather passed away at the age of 84. It has always been kind of cathartic (if you haven’t realized it already, my grandpa and I were pretty close. My love of the Cardinals was passed on from him, a Missouri boy through and through) to know that he got to see the Cardinals win the World Series one last time. He was born in 1923, so he was alive for every single World Series Championship and every single World Series trip the Cards ever made. His favorite player of them all was Enos “Country” Slaughter. It was the “Mad Dash” that endeared Slaughter to my grandpa.
In 2009 my dad was forced to go on disability from work and began watching every Cardinals game again. I would call him almost every day and we would talk about the Cardinals and chat about trade rumors, scores, Cardinals history, etc. One of his favorite topics, however, was Skip Schumaker. My dad was very impressed with Skip’s work ethic, his tenacity, and the fact that Skip played hard every day. My told me that Skip reminded him of the kind of players that the Cardinals had in the ’60’s, when my dad was a lad learning to love the Cardinals. In January of 2010, my dad passed away at the age of 57. The beginning of the season last year was hard for me because I had become accustomed to calling him on my way home from work and talking Cardinals. Throughout my life, I always enjoyed hearing my dad and grandpa talk Cardinals history or giving humorous anecdotes about things that happened to them at games.
In September of 2009 I got married to a wonderful woman. How wonderful? She grew up a semi-Braves fan (never a huge baseball fan), but after we met and I took her to her first Cardinals game, she converted. If my wife and I watch a game on TV and the Cards fall behind, it’s hard for me to get mad because she is usually yelling at the TV and all I can do is laugh. She’s addicted. In fact, it was HER idea that we spend our honeymoon in Milwaukee for the Cards-Brewers series (I have to admit, I really like Miller Park). We went to all three games (something I had never done before) and lo and behold, Cards sweep. Pujols homered in all three games and Holliday hit a go ahead homer in the top of the ninth inning and gave the Cards the win. It was a very exciting series. I have a great wife.
In February of 2011 I started a Cardinals blog. Why? Because I love talking Cardinals baseball and if my dad and grandpa were still with us today, I am sure they would read this blog (well, my dad would anyway, my grandpa really never figured out the whole internet thing) and help fill in some of the memory gaps I have from my youth.
Year in and year out, I can count on the Cardinals, for better or for worse, giving me excitement and entertainment. I can’t wait for the regular season to start this year, or any year for that matter, because it feels like I am getting to seen an old friend I haven’t seen in months. Welcome back, St. Louis Cardinals.