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Interview With a Blogger (Not The Vampire Movie)

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!

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Arch Madness

Posted by JE Powell

This is a St. Louis Cardinals blog, but I think I am going to expand a bit and deal with college basketball and March Madness. So here are a few questions and answers for this years first round of the NCAA Men’s basketball tourney.

What do the Louisville Cardinals and the St. Louis Cardinals have in common? Neither of them will be playing basketball in March anymore this year. Louisville, a fourth seed, lost by one point to Morehead St. a 13th seed, 62-61. Rick Patino, you may now start looking ahead to next season.

What is a better bird, a Cardinal or an Owl? Unfortunatley, I would have to say an Owl, since St. Louis lost to Floriday (5-2) in baseball and Louisville (as previously stated) both lost today and Temple beat Penn State to advance to the second round. Some where, Bill Cosby smiled and brought a puppy back to life.

Unlike the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Pittsburgh Panthers can win a game and and they did so by beating North Carolina-Asheville by 23 points. At least one team has a bright future in Pittsburgh. (Pirates? Enough said. Penguins? No Sidney Crosby. Steelers? Lost in the Super Bowl. U of Pitt? One game down five to go).

Kentucky beat Princeton (edging them by only 2 points) to prove that sometimes it is brawn over brains*. Had Princeton been as smart as STL Cardinals fans, then they may have found a way to pull off the upset (yes, that’s outrageously biased and I have no statistics to prove that STL Cardinals fans are smarter than Princeton basketball players).

The West Virginia Mountaineers, with 5 seniors, beat the Clemson Tigers, with only four seniors, proving that an experienced Mountaineer can beat a wild Tiger any time. Final score: WV 84, Clemson 76.

The Butler Bulldogs dethroned the Old Dominion Monarchs 60-58 thanks to a last second shot by Matt Howard. He seems to be a smooth customer, kind of like Matt Carpenter (poor way to tie it into the Cardinals, but oh well, I suppose).

The Richmond Spiders wove a web and caught the Vanderbilt Commodores (insert old computer or Lionel Richie joke here). Richmond bit Vandy 96-66 for the second biggest upset of the tournament so far. Richmond was a 12 seed and Vandy was a 5 seed.

The number 2 seeded San Diego State Aztecs speared the Northern Colorodo Bears 68-50 for a spot in the second round. I wonder if the Aztecs consulted the Padres for spiritual guidance before the game?

Cougars can be viscious animals and a little dog, such as a Terrier, doesn’t stand much of a chance. In fact, the Bringham Young Cougars tore apart the Wofford Terriers for a 74-66 win. Jimmer Fredette scored 32 pts and if BYU goes very far into the tournament, he will have to keep putting up 30+ points a game.

The Michigan State Spartans fought bravely against the UCLA Bruins, but a pack of ravenous bears was to much for those warriors of Sparta. MSU nearly mounted a 23 pt comeback, but fell just two points short losing 78-76.

St. Johns’ school name nickname is the Red Storm and now that I think of it, I think that would be a great nickname for the Cardinals. Well, maybe not. Anyway, St. John’s lost to Gonzaga 86-71. I am beginning to think I should never pick against Gonzaga in the first round.

A Spanish-Indian cowboy from South America (a Gaucho, which I had to look up) probably shouldn’t be playing around in a swamp because sooner or later a Gator will bite and not let go. That’s what happened to the UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos when they played the Florida Gators in the first (second? I get confused with the way the 68 team format is) round of the tournament. UCSB suffered a 28 point defeat against Florida. Final score: 79-51.

I have never been a University of Connecticut fan, but they are playing some very good basketball right now. They had to win five games in five days to win the Big East tournament then came into the first round (second? someone please help, this is driving me crazy!) and destroyed Bucknell 81-52. I guess a pack of Huskies are more viscous than a heard of Bison.

The Wisconsin Badgers beat the Belmont Bruins. I wish that some of these schools would come up with some original nicknames. How many Bulldogs, Bruins (or bear related), or cat related (Cougars, Tigers, Panthers, etc) do we need? How about the Belmont Tea Cozys . Yeah, I like that. The Badgers tore apart the Tea Cozys 72-58 despite the fact that many (including me) thought there would be an upset in this one.

You know what? I am going to start renaming these teams myself. Rather than the Missouri Tigers losing to the Cincinnati Bearcats  (I like bearcat because, by definition, a bearcat is someone or something that fights ferociously). The Missouri Mittens lost to the Bearcats. 78-63.

Oh fun, more cat related nicknames. The Kansas State Hamburgers (formerly the Wildcats) nipped the Utah State Aggies (short for Agnes? Agriculture?) 73-68.

That’s a recap of the day that was in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament. I hope to do an Arch Madness, Part II, but we will see how things go. If my bracket gets even more busted than it already is, I may just get to depressed and do some other topic.

And as always GO CARDS!!!

*To be clear, I am NOT saying that Kentucky basketball players are dumb. But Princeton is an Ivy league school known for academics and Kentucky is known for bourbon. I guess that’s the state, not the school. The school is known for a winning basketball program.

There’s No Tying In Baseball!

Posted By JE Powell

On Monday, Kyle Lohse pitched six innings of shutout baseball, becoming the first Cardinals pitcher this spring to reach six innings. He allowed only one hit. It looks as though that after two years of bad seasons, Lohse is starting to look like the pitcher the Cards signed in 2008 who went 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA and 200 innings pitched. They certainly need that version of Lohse this season with Wainwright out until 2012. So far in Spring Training, Lohse has pitched 13 innings in 3 starts and is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 9 strikeouts. Now, if he can carry that into the season the Cards might do all right.

Matt Holliday hit his second home run of the spring and has quietly had a very productive spring. He has a .393 batting average with 3 doubles and five RBI and only one strikeout in 28 at bats. The Holliday’s sixth inning home run put the Cardinals up one to nothing, but the Atlanta Braves tied the game in the top of the seventh. At the end of nine the game was still tied so the Cards and Braves went into extra innings and after ten innings the game was still tied. And that is where the game ended. 1-1 F/10. Tie game. In baseball. What? Baseball games don’t end in ties!

Yes, I am aware that the players don’t need long drawn out games that last four or five hours and that it is only Spring Training and there are no ties in the regular season. I also get that Spring Training is to get the players ready for the regular season (and also to see what players might make the team this year or may get called up later in the year) and that teams and fans don’t want their players to get hurt during ST because of marathon extra inning game. But if I didn’t complain about this, I wouldn’t have been able to use the nifty title I came up with for this post. I suppose, all in all, it’s a plus that the Cardinals didn’t lose.

I guess I feel like a tie game in a baseball game, even if it is just Spring Training, feels like having Cubs fans in the family. I don’t really like it, but it’s something I just have to deal with.

Cardinal Fever (A Type of Bird Flu)

Posted by JE Powell

As a child I contracted Cardinal Fever and am still feeling the effects (affects?) of it many years later. Fortunately, there is no cure and those who contract it are forever stuck with a cheerier disposition.

So, how do you know if you have come down with a case of Cardinal Fever? Let’s examine the symptoms.

1. Those afflicted with CF often find themselves slightly more intelligent and have an inexplicable desire to learn as much as they can about the game of baseball, with an emphasis on St. Louis. This can lead to reading anything they can get their hands on about the Gas House Gang, Branch Rickey, or Stan Musial, among many, many others.

2. Individuals with CF often get increasingly excited about the month of February and begin rambling incoherently about pitchers and catchers reporting. Those around people with CF (who don’t themselves have it) often think that CFers (saying “CFers” aloud seems kind of naughty) are mentally unstable when he or she begins talking non-stop about wanting to go and/or going to Jupiter.

3. CFers will often begin to exhibit an almost unhealthy need for the color red around them at all times. Their wardrobe often consists of many shirts and hats adorned with a red bird on a yellow bat. In most cases this consists of a had and a t-shirt, but in some extreme cases, CFers have been known to wear matching socks and underwear.

4. From late March/early April to the end of October, CFers will have roughly a three-hour period almost everyday in which they seem to have spaced out and are staring mindlessly at the TV or have a radio on and appear to be staring out into nothingness.

5. When contracting Cardinal Fever, it’s not uncommon for individuals to starting referring to St. Louis as “My Mecca” and insisting on making a yearly pilgrimage. The only thing to treat this is allowing them to go to St. Louis.

6. Often times, CFers will seem to make friends easier and will find themselves talking to a stranger simply because, based on apparel, they feel the stranger also has Cardinal Fever.

7. CFers will sometimes be found listening to Gretchen Wilson songs or watching BillyBob Thorton movies for no apparent reason. Leave them be as the CFer can tell their own kind.

8. Those with Cardinal Fever have been know to run red lights because they are convinced that red means go. This can be dangerous, so if you know someone with Cardinal Fever offer to drive them around, for your own safety and for the safety of others.

9. Cardinal Fever victims often develop a sense of entitlement as if they are at least five times better than everyone else and are in a league all of their own. Sometimes there is a division between them and others. Winning is central to their way of thinking and they can sometimes truly believe that having Cardinal Fever is a national honor.

10. The last, and perhaps most important, part of Cardinal Fever is that it is highly contagious and in most cases has been found to be genetic, passing on from generation to generation.

I now realize, after writing that last line, that I may never have actually contracted it, but that I was born with it as if it is a hereditary trait like eye color. Now, there is no cure, but there are plenty of treatments and if you know someone with Cardinal Fever it is imperative that you treat them with the following suggestions:

1. Make sure that you have cable TV and, if necessary, order the MLB package so that your loved one can get a St. Louis Cardinals fix every day (except off days).

2. Make sure that there is always a ready supply of Cardinals reading material nearby, just in case it’s on off day or the game has yet to start. There are plenty of Cardinal-centric books out there and they can be had for cheap if you just take a few minutes to look on-line.

3. Keep your internet running so that those who show symptoms of Cardinal Fever can check out some of the great blogs out there such as http://www.pitchershiteighth.com, http://www.cardinal70.com, or http://www.cardinaldiamonddiaries.blogspot.com (I have links!)

4. Allow the sufferer to indulge in all things Cardinal, this can help to slow down the process (or speed it up, I have yet to do any research as is often the case).

5. Buy them a stuffed Fred Bird to hold. It gives them a warm, fuzzy feeling and gives them something pretty to look at.

The one thing that all Cardinal Fever sufferers have going for them is that it’s not Cubitis, which is certain death. So remember that Cardinal Fever can improve a person’s way of life in many ways, but the symptoms must be monitored.

NOTE: No birds were harmed in the writing of this blog and there have been no reported cases of this blog causing bird flu.

Wainwright Knifed in St. Louis

Hellllloooo Cardinals Nation!

Don’t worry and cast aside your concerns about Wainwright. Next season may be just out of arms reach but before you know it, Wainwright will be back slinging fastballs just like he has in the past. This season, the Cards will definitely miss his surgeon-like precision locating his pitches, but the Cards organizations will persevere. While McClellan may have been trying to elbow his way into the starting rotation this spring, it looks as if he (or someone else) will have to cover for Wainwright. There is a chance, of course, that my beloved Cardinals could be disjointed and in disarray, but LaRussa/Duncan have a knack for making the best of bad situations.

There are some rumors (and they ARE just rumors) that Chris Carpenter would be open to a trade, though he is NOT seeking one. So, what does this mean? Prospects for Carp’s $15 Million for next season? Trading Carp for another pitcher? I don’t see how losing Wainwright would cause a panic move such as that, but down the road?

It’s possible that if the Cards are not in contention for a playoff spot in July (blasphemy, I know) that the Cards organization could then trade Carpenter for top prospects to build up the minor league system. If Carp would get traded I think, at least at first, he might feel like a fish out of water. But I digress.

I admit that this season is full of unknowns and, even into next season, Cardinals fans are going to have several things to “worry” about that I think most of us have taken for granted over the last several years: Pujols, Waino/Carp, and winning the division most of the time. But no matter what happens at least the Cardinals aren’t the Cubs.*

 

*I apologize for the quality of this post. But, unfortunately, this is probably a good example of how most of my blog entries will go. I apologize for any inconvenience. And bad grammar. And improper punctuation. And even with spell check, spelling.