Counting Down To Opening Night: 16

It’s Friday! It’s officially spring! The first day of the NCAA tournament really was March madness! And it’s just 16 days until the Cardinals play the Cubs on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball!

Time to celebrate!


Yes, definitely plenty to celebrate today … including Kolten Wong, the current No. 16.

The Cardinals first-round draft pick in 2011, Wong has been a favorite here at AMF ever since then — he was here in the Quad Cities from late June on that season and thus a member of the Midwest League championship team (along with Trevor Rosenthal and Oscar Taveras, among others). Tara interviewed him back in August 2011 and got Kolten’s impressions on his fledgling pro career two months in.

Just under two years later, he made his major league debut with the Cards in Chicago.

And in the time since, he’s experienced the full range of emotions both on the field — and off. There was the unfortunate ending of World Series Game Three in October 2013, followed by the death of his mom at age 47 from cancer that December.

On the joyful end of the spectrum, there was this moment from Game Two of the National League Championship in October (which, of course, is what the above photo is from).

Ah, perfect feel-good moment for a Friday morning.

Just 16 more days!

Ever Been To A Ballgame In The Middle Of A Flood?

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the Quad Cities River Bandits, since they unfortunately (for those of us here, anyway) are no longer a Cardinals minor league affiliate as they were through 2012. Yet the now-Astros Midwest League team still plays at Modern Woodmen Park, the beautiful riverfront ballpark along the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa.

Although, at the moment, the Mississippi surrounds Modern Woodmen Park.

It’s an island, as the river reached more than 20 1/2 feet on July 4 (which is more than five feet above flood stage) — the sixth-highest flood in Davenport history. Yet the ballpark remains high and dry thanks to the tremendous engineering that went into remodeling the ballpark about 10 years ago to build in flood protection, as well as an only-when-needed flood wall that can be installed. Which means we have the opportunity to watch the Bandits play even as the water flows around the ballpark instead of beyond right and center fields as usual … once we cross the walkway over the water, that is.

Yesterday the River Bandits hosted the Brewers-affiliated Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in a doubleheader, thanks to a rainout on Saturday. So a friend and I went to the game and I, like so many others there, had to get photographic evidence of this unique occurrence. Because it’s obviously not often you go to a ballgame in the middle of a flood.

Now you can see what the experience was like as well, and it sure beats thinking about the now-third place Cardinals, doesn’t it?


Here’s what you see as you approach the ballpark, as the parking lot had enough dry land in the last row for about five cars.

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The walkway, which takes you above and over the flooded parking lots.

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The parking lot from the walkway. Yes, that’s a ferris wheel in the background — the newest addition to the ballpark this season.

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The Big Picture: Robert Stock

Robert Stock’s story has picked up some steam as the year wears on. His is a story with plenty of twists and turns, but none as significant — or shocking — as the one that came this spring.

We’ve all read by now about Stock’s unexpected meeting with manager Mike Matheny and members of the coaching staff that took place well into spring training earlier this year. In that meeting, Matheny told the progressing catcher that the organization believed his strength were greatest not behind the plate, but rather on the mound; he was better suited to pitch than to catch.

Stock hadn’t pitched since his college days at USC (where he did a fine job of it, along with regular catching duties), but the organization had come to a consensus that his best shot at making the big league roster was as a pitcher, not a catcher.

Thus, the transition began.

Earlier in May, I had the opportunity to sit down with Robert and talk baseball, both growing up and now as a member of the Quad Cities River Bandits squad.

You can see the first portion of that interview here:

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