Throwback Thursday – Chris Carpenter: A Warrior’s Final Stand

Note: As I said last week, I’m not planning on writing much here anymore. But today I’m posting an article I wrote for the United Cardinal Bloggers 2013 season in review publication, which is still available for purchase. Like last week’s from the 2012 UCB publication, it’s also on Chris Carpenter. 

Chris Carpenter: A Warrior’s Final Stand

It can’t be how he expected his career to end.

The final pitch of Chris Carpenter’s career came on Oct. 4, 2013, fittingly on the Busch Stadium pitcher’s mound. Fall sunshine bathed the ballpark with a golden glow as more than 40,000 Cardinals fans stood and cheered.

524f2477274c4.preview-620

Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Unfortunately, that final pitch was of no consequence. His last was a ceremonial one delivered just before Game Two of the National League Division Series between the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Touchingly, he was accompanied to the mound by his daughter, Ava, and tossed the baseball to his son, Sam, behind home plate.

Perhaps surprisingly, the emotion of the moment was visible on Carpenter’s face as he tipped his Cardinals cap to the crowd and, moments later, embraced his children as they all walked off the mound.

Then again, emotion from Chris Carpenter on a pitcher’s mound – though of a different sort – was never a surprise. It was expected. Emotion defined Chris Carpenter’s career nearly as much as his signature curveball.

And nearly as much as injuries.

Injury definitely defined the final two years of Carpenter’s career, 2012 and 2013. Yet it also defined how he became a Cardinal, when the Toronto Blue Jays – the team that chose him in the first round of the 1993 draft – removed him from their 40-man roster after the 2002 season ended, and after he’d had shoulder surgery. The Jays wanted him to sign a minor-league contract with incentives.

He instead chose to become a free agent, signing with St. Louis in December. He missed the entire 2003 season, finally making his Cardinals debut on April 9, 2004, at Arizona. His 2004 season was better than any he’d ever had as a Blue Jay, as he went 15-5 with a 3.46 ERA. But he didn’t pitch after Sept. 18, as a right biceps strain kept him from the mound. Tests later revealed a nerve irritation to his upper arm, a condition we would become all too familiar with in the future.

Continue reading

From The Cardinals: Statements from DeWitt, Mozeliak Regarding Investigation

The Cardinals issued the following news release.

The St. Louis Cardinals Chairman and CEO William O. DeWitt Jr. and Cardinals Sr. Vice President and General Manager John Mozeliak this morning shared their thoughts regarding Tuesday’s news of a federal investigation of the club related to a possible security breach of the Houston Astros’ database.

Saint_Louis_Cardinals_logo“These are serious allegations that don’t reflect who we are as an organization,” DeWitt said. “We are committed to getting to the bottom of this matter as soon as possible, and if anyone within our organization is determined to be involved in anything inappropriate, they will be held accountable.”

DeWitt said that several months ago, after the team was made aware of the allegations, he and Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak engaged Jim Martin and the law firm of Dowd Bennett to assist the team in providing requested information to the federal government and to conduct an internal inquiry to attempt to identify any employee that may have engaged in the alleged conduct.

“The alleged conduct has no place in our game,” Mozeliak said.  “We hold ourselves to the highest standards in every facet of our organization.  It has been that way forever and is certainly true today.  We are committed to finding out what happened.  To the extent we can substantiate that these allegations have merit, we will take appropriate action against anyone involved.”

“The internal inquiry is not yet complete,” said Martin. “In the meantime, we wish to respect the process and avoid saying anything which would interfere with the government’s investigation.”

MLB Has A Very Important Third Base Question For Us

Sure, the 2015 Major League Baseball season only began four weeks ago today. And, yes, it’s still more than two months until the All-Star Game in Cincinnati.

No matter. It’s time to start voting for the All-Stars! And apparently, there’s some question as to which third baseman who plays in the National League Central is worthy — excuse me, #ASGWorthy — of spending his break in Cincinnati, as MLB tweeted this yesterday afternoon.

MLBtweet

Really? There actually would be some type of debate on this?

Let’s see. One of those NL Central third baseman currently leads the majors in doubles with 14, is tied for the lead in extra-base hits with 18, is second in the NL with 34 hits including a triple and a homer, and overall is batting .366/.434/.634. Oh, he also drove in the game-winning run in the 11th inning yesterday as the Cards beat the Pirates 2-1 for the second straight game. 

The other is not bad by any means, hitting .280/.429/.360. He has 14 hits total, and has played 14 games, plus has four 4 doubles and 10 RBI. Among NL third baseman, he is second in one category: strikeouts, with 18. (The player above has 13 in 23 total games.)

But, of course, this second candidate is on the Cubs! He’s the bestest prospect in the history of ever — or at least since Bryce Harper! (And the most over-hyped!) Again, he’s on the Cubs! And the Cubs are good this year! (Their Twitter account even tells us so on occasion!!!) Plus he has those blue eyes that match his Cubbie uniforim and he’s SO good looking!!! (Wish I could remember right now what sportswriter I read during spring training gushing over his looks — male sportswriter, by the way.) Everyone loves KRIS BRYANT!!!

Except most Cardinals fans.

And, on May 3, KRIS BRYANT!!! is not the NL Central’s most #ASGWorthy third baseman. Not by a long shot (which, remember, he still doesn’t have yet).

The only choice this ridiculously early for third baseman for the National League All-Star team is, obviously, Matt Carpenter — you remember, MLB, the guy who finished fourth in MVP voting in 2013 and has been ridiculously good these first four weeks of the season.

And, with all your hyperventilating over KRIS BRYANT!!! since spring training, MLB, at least you were kind enough to include Matt in the question.

Cardinals Hall of Fame Inductees To Be Revealed Monday On FOX Sports Midwest

The St. Louis Cardinals’ 2015 Hall of Fame induction class will be revealed on FOX Sports Midwest in a 30-minute pregame special on Monday, May 4, at 6 p.m. CT.

logo_hof_museum_220x263FOX Sports Midwest play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin, joined by Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III, hosts the special from the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum inside Ballpark Village. FOX Sports Midwest’s Rick Horton, Al Hrabosky and Tim McCarver also contribute to the show. Members of the Red Ribbon selection committee are interviewed, including Rick Hummel and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Martin Kilcoyne of KTVI-FOX 2.

Fans selected two players for induction from a ballot that included Steve Carlton, Bob Forsch, Keith Hernandez, Mark McGwire, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria, Ted Simmons and Joe Torre. In addition, the Red Ribbon committee elected a veteran player for induction. Independent of this process, the Cardinals organization may also opt to induct an individual who was an important figure in Cardinals history.

The 2015 Cardinals Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony will take place Saturday, Aug. 15, at FOX Sports Midwest Live! in Ballpark Village, and will be televised on FOX Sports Midwest. Each member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame is permanently enshrined in the Cardinals Hall of Fame Gallery presented by Edward Jones that is located on the second floor of Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village.

2015 Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Class Announcement
Monday, May 4 on FOX Sports Midwest (times Central)

  • 5 p.m.: Encore presentation of 2014 Cardinals Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony
  • 6 p.m.: 2015 Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Class announcement
  • 6:30 p.m.: Cardinals Live pregame show
  • 7:10 p.m.: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals Hall Of Fame Fan Balloting Begins Today

The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame fan balloting process began earlier today. Fans can select two players for the Aug.15 induction from a ballot that includes Cardinals greats Steve Carlton, Bob Forsch, Keith Hernandez, Mark McGwire, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria, Ted Simmons and Joe Torre.

logo_hof_museum_220x263The eight modern ballot nominees were selected by a “Red Ribbon” committee of Cardinals baseball experts through a secret ballot process in January. The Cardinals Hall of Fame Vote presented by Edward Jones will run until April 20 at cardinals.com/HOF. The two players with the most fan votes after voting concludes will be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame during a formal enshrinement ceremony that will take place on Saturday, Aug. 15, as part of the 2015 Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.

“Induction into the Cardinals Hall of Fame is one of the highest honors the team can bestow,” said Bill DeWitt Jr., Chairman and CEO of the St. Louis Cardinals. “We think it is appropriate to have some of the best, most knowledgeable fans in the game of baseball choose the Cardinals players who will be part of this 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. Continue reading

An Evening With Mike Matheny

“Matheny, what are you thinking?!”

If you have asked (or yelled) this question at your television or made that somewhat rhetorical inquiry on Twitter, let me save you some time: Mike Matheny’s new book, The Matheny Manifesto, will not give you the answers you’re looking for. The book is not about Mike’s bullpen philosophy nor does it give an insight to how he develops the batting order.

Matheny bookIt does discuss Mike’s beliefs as to how youth sports (specifically baseball) should operate. So if you are a parent, teacher, coach or all of the above, it might resonate a bit more.

As a quick background, shortly after his retirement from playing, Mike Matheny was asked to coach a youth baseball team. He agreed but decided that if he was going to be the coach, it was going to be on his terms. He wrote a letter outlining the expectations he had for parents; the expectations for the young athletes who were to be on his team and what the parents could expect from the coaches. That letter, later posted on the Internet, became known as “The Matheny Manifesto” as it went viral. Hence, the title of the book.

Thanks to the heads-up from a friend, I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to attend “A Very Special Evening with Mike Matheny” at Lindenwood University last Monday, February 2. Attendees received a signed copy of The Matheny Manifesto upon arrival. The program consisted of a chat facilitated by Greg Amsinger of MLB Network, followed by a Q & A with the audience.

Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Red Schoendienst

Feb. 2 is always an important day. Yes, of course, it’s Groundhog Day, but after dealing with the 13 1/2 inches of snow that fell in my hometown yesterday, I don’t think spring is on the way anytime soon.

RedMore importantly, Feb. 2 is the birthday of Red Schoendienst — today he turns 92 and been involved in baseball for more than 70 years, and of course nearly all with the St. Louis Cardinals.

How much of Cardinals history has he been part of? As this from the SABR Baseball Biography Project puts it:

On October 28, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals won their 11th World Series championship. Among those celebrating with the team was 88-year-old Red Schoendienst, who had first tasted World Series victory as a young second baseman for the Cardinals in 1946.

Sixty-five years after he savored his first World Series win, Schoendienst was still an integral part of the Cardinals organization. Officially listed as Special Assistant to the General Manager, at heart he was still a coach, donning a uniform for pregame practice at home games, at which he routinely hit fungoes to infielders.

Learning about Red and his expansive history with the team is one of the best parts about becoming a Cardinals fan. Who doesn’t love seeing him in his uniform with his No. 2 on the back, or in his red Hall of Fame blazer on Opening Day?

Continue reading

Seeing Chris Carpenter At His Best Again? I’d Go Back

During these winter days where spring training is still on the horizon and regular baseball is months away, thinking and dreaming about baseball is the way to get through. Which is why the January project for the United Cardinal Bloggers was definitely well-timed.

cc2009The topic was actually one I suggested: if you could attend any game in Cardinals history, what would it be? And it’s something I wrote about last January, choosing Game Seven of the 1926 World Series. That would still be my top choice of any game, for all the reasons I stated last year. So, for the UCB project, a caveat: if I could attend any regular-season game in Cardinals history, which one would it be?

Still so many options. The double-header where Stan Musial hit five homers, or the game where he had hit No. 3,000 at Wrigley Field. Bob Gibson’s no-hitter. One I really thought about choosing: Sept. 8, 1998, where Mark McGwire hit homer 62. And then I had a different idea: what about going back to a game I’d attended, just with today’s knowledge and insight? A serious contender was April 5, 2000 — my first game at Busch Stadium since I was in high school (then a Cubs fan) and the one that sealed my decision that becoming a Cards fan was absolutely the way to go. The Cardinals won 10-4, Jim Edmonds hit his first Cardinals homer, Rick Ankiel pitched two innings in relief since his first start of the year was still several games away and he hit a triple that had the entirety of old Busch, minus my Mom and the other Cubs fans, giddy.

Then I realized the obvious selection: Sept. 7, 2009, Labor Day at Miller Park. My first-ever time seeing Chris Carpenter pitch in person — and it was an absolutely stellar game.

At the time, the Cardinals had a commanding 11 1/2 game lead in the National League Central. Carpenter was in the midst of an incredible comeback season, entering the game with a 15-3 record and 2.28 ERA after having pitched just one game in 2007 and four in 2008 after undergoing two surgeries. He’d be named Comeback Player of the Year and finish second in Cy Young voting. (Damn you, Timmy Lincecum.) Continue reading

Happy Thanksgiving To All!

turkey-baseball-11658716Wishing you a wonderful day filled with food, family and friends — and maybe baseball via a Cardinals World Series DVD. (Better than football any day!)

Thank you for your support and readership of AMF, even though I haven’t been writing as regularly recently. (Hoping to change that soon!) And, with each passing day of this off-season, Cardinals baseball for 2015 gets closer and closer. Now only 129 more days until Opening Night on Sunday, April 5, at Wrigley Field.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Flashback Friday: Bob Gibson’s 17 Strikeouts

We’ve heard Bob Gibson’s name a lot in the past couple of days, leading up to the announcement of the National League MVP yesterday. Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers became the first  NL pitcher named the Most Valuable Player since Gibson in 1968, with each winning the Cy Young Award also.

bob-gibsonIt’s always amazing to look back at Gibson’s stats from that year. The most incredible, and likely most well known, is the 1.12 ERA. Looking at his game log from 1968, the highest ERA he had at any point was 2.35 — on April 20, after his third start of the season. It was 0.96 after starts on July 25 and July 30, and was 0.99 on Sept. 2 after his 10th shutout of the year.

In that 10th shutout, a 10-inning 1-0 win over the Reds, he pitched all 10 innings and allowed just four hits.

Speaking of shutouts, he had five straight complete game shutouts from June 6 to June 26, allowing 21 total hits in those games and striking out 35. He walked five, but none in two of the games.

Let that sink in for a moment. Five straight complete game shutouts.

His record, which probably also is familiar, was 22-9 — and it’s the number of losses that’s so surprising. But two were by scores of 1-0, one was 2-0 and two were 3-2. He won 15 consecutive games between June 2 and Aug. 24. There were only three games all season in which he had no decision, including his first two starts of the year. Continue reading