Ah, Monday morning … right after Daylight Saving Time begins. And just when we were beginning to enjoy the fact it was brightening up after 6 a.m. Patience is now needed again for the longer days ahead.
As you’ve probably read by now, the St. Louis Cardinals have signed 23-year-old Cuban free agent shortstop Aledmys Diaz to a four-year contract. There aren’t many details about it yet, as he’s scheduled to be introduced at a news conference this morning, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has some good info on what he calls “a landmark moment for the Cardinals. His will be the richest contract ever from the Cardinals for an international free agent or amateur, signaling their intent to reach beyond the Latin America amateur market they’ve cultivated.”
Joe Schwarz at Viva El Birdos also has been covering Diaz in-depth since he first worked out for the Cardinals several weeks ago.
Headed to Jupiter, Fla., to see the Cardinals spring training games at Roger Dean Stadium? Forbes reports that the Cardinals have the 10th most expensive spring training tickets, with an average price of $50. The teams with more expensive tickets, in order from 9 to 1: the Astros (perhaps surprisingly?), the Twins, the Phillies, the Cubs (which is perhaps not a surprise — have you seen there new spring home?), the Yankees, the Giants, the Rangers, the Braves (who train at Disney World) and, of course, the Red Sox with an average price of $79.
All of us as St. Louis Cardinals fans — actually, all of us as baseball fans — should be thankful for Dr. Frank Jobe, an orthopedic surgeon who died a few days ago at age 88. You may or may not have heard of him, but there’s no question you’ve heard of his greatest contribution to baseball: ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery, better known as Tommy John surgery.
That surgery is something we as Cardinals fans are quite familiar with, isn’t it? Jason Motte is still recovering from undergoing the procedure last May.
And just imagine what the 2011 Cardinals pitching staff would have been if there were no Tommy John surgery and a pitcher’s career — as happened with Sandy Koufax — just ended because of elbow injuries.
Of course there already wasn’t Adam Wainwright that season, since he’d had Tommy John surgery in February. But there also wouldn’t have been Chris Carpenter (who had the surgery in 2007), Jaime Garcia (2008), Jake Westbrook (2008), Kyle McClellan (2005 — and remember how good he was in the starting rotation early that year?) and Octavio Dotel (2005).
Just imagine … no happy flights and magical September and October without them, and that’s just one Cardinals season.
Also just one team. Last July Will Carroll, an expert on sports injuries, published a study at Bleacher Report that indicated one-third of current MLB pitchers at the time had undergone Tommy John surgery.That was 124 of 360 pitchers and even Carroll was stunned at the high number. Here’s his full list of the 124, if you’re interested.
Starting today, you’ll have your chance to decide which two players from eight nominees will be inducted into the new St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame in August. Fan voting runs through April 22 at cardinals.com/HOF.
The nominees are Jim Edmonds, Bob Forsch, Keith Hernandez, Willie McGee, Mark McGwire, Matt Morris, Ted Simmons and Joe Torre.
“Induction into the Cardinals Hall of Fame is one of the highest honors the team can bestow,” Bill DeWitt Jr., Cardinals chairman and CEO, said. “We think it is appropriate to have the best, most knowledgeable fans in the game of baseball choose the two Cardinals players who will be part of this first elected class.”
The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame was established as a way to recognize the exceptional careers and significant achievements of the greatest players in Cardinals history. To be eligible, players must have played for the Cardinals for at least three seasons and must be retired as a player from Major League Baseball for at least three years. The eligible pool of players is divided into two categories, modern players and veteran players. If a player retired more than 40 years prior to the induction year, he is classified as a veteran player.
Following is a description of each nominee’s career as a Cardinal.
It seems pretty safe to say that Rick Ankiel will always be a favorite of many Cardinals fans, just based on the reactions to yesterday’s announcement that he’s officially retiring.
For me, 2000 was my first season as a Cardinals fan so seeing his pitching success throughout the regular season of his rookie year was so impressive. The high socks, the curveball — how could anyone not love it all?
Then, of course, came Game One of the NLDS. I’d taken the day off work and was watching on ESPN. From the great high of the Cardinals scoring six runs off Greg Maddux in the first to the oh-my-God-what-is-happening five wild pitches in the third, it was an emotional rollercoaster unlike anything else, wasn’t it? My uncle called me partway through the third inning, because we were both in disbelief over what we were watching.
Anyway, we know how things went from there and we all exulted in his return to the big leagues as an outfielder in August 2007. What a career — one of such highs and lows and resilience. So. on the occasion of his retirement, a video look at some of the highs (because, personally, the lows will always be too depressing).
Ah, Red Sox against Cardinals: the rematch.
I’m not yet over the World Series — what about you? (Actually, I’m not yet over the 2004 World Series — what about you?)
Yet today’s schedule brings the Red Sox to Jupiter, which means that it’s not going to exactly be a lineup for Boston like we saw last October. (Hopefully that means less horrid facial hair.) Although looking at the Cardinals lineup, with Yadier Molina behind the plate for the first time this spring, seems to say “ooooh, this is serious.”
Or that Yadi’s tired of just hitting.
But, given that FOX Sports Midwest is bringing today’s game, you know Dan and Al will be on the THIS IS SERIOUS! bandwagon. Because they love nothing more than hyping things, don’t they? And, based on last weekend’s broadcasts, they also love telling us about everything we watched last October and have already moved on from, although they didn’t have the chance to tell us all about it in their hyped-up giddy way at the time so they have to remind us over and over now … and in April when real games start.
Anyway, poetry time.
Yes, it was just a spring training game. No, it doesn’t count for anything.
Still, Jhonny Peralta hitting a home run yesterday on the first pitch to him from his former team, the Detroit Tigers, was pretty cool.
Hitting another homer in his second at-bat? Even more cool — even if it sounds like the wind helped that one a bit.
Baseball moments like that are great, no matter when (or how) they happen.
And especially when they happen in a game that’s a long bus ride away from Cards camp in Jupiter, Fla., as Andrew Simon writes at MLB.com:
Veterans with 11 years of Major League service, a new $53 million contract and a guaranteed spot in the lineup don’t make too many 150-minute bus rides to play in Spring Training games. Jhonny Peralta was an exception on Monday, and the cross-Florida trip proved to be well worth it.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny suggested that his new shortstop go so that he could visit his former Tigers teammates and play in front of their fans after spending more than three seasons with the club. Peralta agreed, then went out and blasted two home runs off left-hander Drew Smyly in two plate appearances, hitting one out to left field and one to right.
“I feel really happy to be at home plate here and to face the Detroit Tigers,” Peralta said. “I was excited to hear the fans and everything. It made me excited to play today.”
As for the outcome of the game itself, well — remember that spring training games don’t count. Not every Cardinal had as good of a day as Jhonny did.
Everyone has a favorite player, right? That’s part of the enjoyment of watching the Cardinals or any sports team you like, keeping up with the individual accomplishments of your guy along with the team overall.
As time passes and seasons go on, however, your favorite eventually, and unfortunately, goes on also — to retirement, to another team. And then what?
That’s where I’ve found myself with the official retirement of Chris Carpenter. Ever since I saw him standing in the dugout before a game at old Busch Stadium in 2004, he was my guy … and I was never shy about stating that. And even though he didn’t pitch much after Game Seven of the 2011 World Series, he remained my favorite Cardinal. Sure, there were others I enjoyed watching during those 10 seasons — outfielder Rick Ankiel and Lance Berkman — and enjoy now, like Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal. Peter Bourjos and his high socks are making a strong first impression too. But no one whose jersey I’d buy (especially since my Chris Carpenter jersey is still in fine shape, thank you).
Yet I’ve found one now. And, not surprisingly, he’s a pitcher.
I’ve always admired pitchers. Not that any player on a big league roster isn’t worthy of admiration just for making it to that level, but the way a pitcher — good or bad — controls a game is just something I find appealing.
Michael Wacha obviously can control a game quite well, as everyone discovered last season. Easy choice for a new favorite, right?
With spring training games under way (Michael Wacha today — yay!) plus the opportunity to get a look at the newest Cardinals, it also means we have the chance to see those who’ve moved on to other teams.
Yep, it still feels weird.
Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
I had the chance to see the highlight of David Freese’s first Angels spring at-bat on MLB Network on Friday. Since he was in red, that wasn’t too jarring — but seeing the 6 on his back is definitely different. The result of a ground-out? Well, yeah, we’ve seen that before. Not that spring results matter, especially at-bats in the first game.
Here’s an article on Freeser from the Los Angeles Times and his perspective on leaving his hometown team. And, though the pic above is not from the Times article, he looks a little awkward … although we should probably be thankful the photo is not as awkward as all the Angels photos this year have been.
Speaking of awkward former Cardinals photos, thanks to Kelly for passing this one of Skip Schumaker along. Well, “thanks” meaning “ugh, yeah, we’ll share the pain of this with you.”
Because, yeah, it is nice to see Skip in red again … sure, but not that red.
And apparently Reds writers feel the same way, saying that Skip spent eight years with the “much-despised Cardinals.” Although isn’t Hal McCoy the one who wrote the article with the infamous and idiotic Brandon Phillips quotes back in 2010? And Phillips and “that” whole thing is referenced in here, as well as in this article from the Reds MLB.com site, as Skip calls him the “best second baseman in the big leagues.”
We move one step closer to the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals regular season today, with the beginning of spring training games. The Cards take on their Roger Dean Stadium partners, the Miami Marlins, starting at noon Central Time.
Not that the outcome of the game matters, of course. Still, it’s an interesting pitching match-up for the first couple of innings: Carlos Martinez against NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez.
But it’s baseball and — even better — it’s on television and radio so you have a choice of how to keep up. It’s the first game on FOX Sports Midwest of the year, plus MLB Network will be carrying it and it’s online at MLB.TV. And, of course, Mike Shannon and John Rooney will be back on KMOX and the Cardinals Radio Network.
Ah … when you ignore the temperature outside and the weather forecast, it really does feel like spring!
Here’s the Cards lineup for today, from Brian Stull on Twitter.
The St. Louis Cardinals today announced that every 2014 regular season game will be televised locally or nationally as well as broadcast on the Cardinals Radio Network.
In their 21st season with the team, FOX Sports Midwest is scheduled to carry 150 games in its fourth full season as the exclusive local TV home of the Cardinals. FOX Sports Midwest will also continue to produce the Cardinals Live pre and postgame shows for every regular season telecast on the network. This season, each telecast will originate from the network’s new television studio on the second level of Ballpark Village overlooking the FOX Sports Midwest Live! marketplace.
In 2013, Cardinals telecasts on FOX Sports Midwest generated the second highest local market television ratings in Major League Baseball, the 14th straight year in which the Cardinals ranked among the top three teams. FOX Sports Midwest-produced Cardinals telecasts are shown in nine states and available in approximately four million homes.