Category Archives: Annual Petco trip

Stand Down

I'm the runt on the left...

With the World Series over and the parade cleanup complete, the off-season starts in earnest. Every club and player takes a moment to reflect on the season past, the challenges of tomorrow, and their place in it. The Cardinals front office has already started that process and declined to exercise their options for Rafael Furcal and Octavio Dotel. Tony LaRussa began his reflection back in August and announced his retirement yesterday. There are more changes to come for the ballclub.

There are changes coming here too. This is the last post of Stan Musial’s Stance.

I started the blog in 2006, when the Cardinals went on an unexpected playoff run and won the World Series. Apropos that it ends now, after the Cardinals went on an unexpected playoff run and won the World Series.

It’s easy to be a fan. It’s relatively easy to be a fan and a writer. It’s difficult to be a fan and a good writer. In order to do it right, one has to not only read what’s going on with the team but actually watch/listen to the games. I can find the time to read what’s going on via the Post Dispatch, Twitter, and the United Cardinal Bloggers, but unless the game is nationally televised I don’t have the free time to watch or listen to it. You’ve no doubt noticed that; if you laid a schedule down next to the dates I published something, the dates would almost exactly correspond to when the Cardinals were on ESPN, FOX, or in San Diego.

And the time is the issue. Geoff Young of Ducksnorts recently hung up his spikes, and he said something that resonated with me: “The sacrifices and compromises one is willing to make in life at age 42 are different from those one is willing to make at age 28.” I’m closer to 42 than 28. My children demand my attention. My wife deserves my attention. It’s not fair to plop down in front of the TV at 5pm Pacific, spend 3 hours watching the Cardinals, and deny them that. You may disagree, and that’s cool. Everyone’s got to live their life the way they think is right.

I close this chapter with no regrets. I’ve had a lot of fun doing this. Blogging about the team my father and I rooted for has literally changed my life for the better. I’ve had the opportunity to do things I never thought I would experience, and I have met some tremendous people along the way. The people list is an All-Star team of Cardinal writers. Dan Shoptaw. Nick at Pitchers Hit Eighth. Bill Ivie. Bob Netherton. Matt Philip. Derrick Goold. Matt Leach. And many others I should mention but won’t in the interest of brevity. Thank you all for your help, your kindness, and your friendship.

To those reading this – thanks. Thanks for making this blog an occasional part of your week. Thanks for your feedback and comments. I am not disappearing altogether from the internet. I will continue to write. I will do a weekly article for I-70 Baseball as long as Bill Ivie will have me. I also plan to focus on the San Diego Padres, the local team in my time zone, as well as provide sage observations via Twitter on a wide variety of things. Perhaps our paths will cross again.

Cheers.

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Filed under Annual Petco trip, General Baseball, Off-Season Moves, San Diego Padres, St Louis Cardinals

Game Reflections – #50 at San Diego

First, in case you did not get the word, how the Cardinals scored their first run last night changed about at about 2300 Tuesday.  Lance Berkman still gets credit for the single, but he lost his RBI as the scoring changed to a throwing error on Brad Hawpe, which allowed John Jay to score from second.  Those fantasy owners who have Harang lose an earned run (yay); those with Berkman lose an RBI (grr).

This game was like Monday’s game – tense.  I was at Petco for two of the Padres/Mariners games and thought San Diego rolled over once they got down.  That has not been true in this series.  In my opinion San Diego has not played these games like the second-worst team in the NL.

– Congratulations to Tony Cruz on his first major league hit.  Not being satisfied, he followed that with 2 more.  Well done.

– John Jay is going to be a great hitter, if the past 2 games are any indication.  That said his bunt to end the fifth was gawd-awful as a bunt, but almost genius as a soft line drive.  It handcuffed Brad Hawpe, who had to make a pretty athletic play to snare it.

– Love the aggressiveness by Pujols when he tried to advance on the ball in the dirt, but he was out by a  mile as Rob Johnson made the throw to nail him.

– Still not a fan of the contact play.  More Kudos to Cruz for staying in the run down long enough to move Descalso to third, and Rasmus to second.

– The Padres are struggling and scrapping for runs.  With a 2-1 lead in the seventh, mired in a 4 game losing streak, why play the infield back on Theriot?  Why not try to prevent the run?  If it backfires, you probably lose, but so what – you’ve BEEN LOSING.  I did not understand why they allowed the tying run to score there and still don’t.  Hawpe then made a great catch to rob Jay and keep the score tied.

– Descalso has both game winning RBI in this series so far.  Some smart guy on Twitter came up with the hashtag #Descalshow, which is pretty cool (a la #pumania)

– The Padres had only 2 hits, both for extra bases.  They’ve done that eight other times in their history, the most recent in 2009.  They lost all 8 of those games too.  Last night was also the fourth time they’ve put up only two hits, both for extra bases, with the two hits being a double and a HR.  Last time they did that was 2005.  Yeah I was poking around Baseball Reference last night.

– San Diego’s troubles are not due to Aaron Harang.  He is experiencing a career revival there.  He has the best won/loss record on the staff, and may currently be the best pitcher San Diego has.

– The Padres played pretty good defense last night, but it epitomized their season that Descalso’s single to score Allen Craig in the eleventh glanced off Orlando Hudson’s glove.  Just out of reach.

St Louis goes for the sweep this afternoon.  Sadly I will not be at this game, for I have to work.

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On To San Diego

The Cardinals won their weekend series from Kansas City, getting 2 runs on bases loaded walks and hanging on for a 9-8 win in 10 Sunday.  The win pushes them to their biggest season lead in the division at 2.5 games (tying their lead on May 3), their farthest over .500, and just percentage points behind San Francisco for the second-best record in the league.

Their offense is clicking, and now they go to San Diego to play the woeful Padres.

The Cardinals have dominated San Diego in St Louis since 2004 (when Petco Park opened).  Despite losing 2 of 3 to open this season they are 19-9 in that stretch.  They have struggled in San Diego though; they are 11-11 at Petco.  Some of those Padres teams were better than others, but the Cardinals have trouble there.

Now the Padres are in a funk right now.  They followed a streak of scoring 7 runs a game for 5 games by scoring 6 runs TOTAL in their last 7.  Looks like an easy sweep, right?  I wouldn’t count these chickens yet.  San Diego did call a team meeting yesterday after being smoked by Felix Hernandez.  Team meetings are not unusual, but they are for the Padres; manager Bud Black rarely calls them.  The Padres are being embarassed at home and they are an angry team right now.

Based on sheer roster talent the Cardinals should cruise through this 3-game set.  But a word of caution:  the Padres feel like a cornered team.  Don’t be surprised if they play markedly better over the next 3 days than they have over the past week.

I will be at tonight’s and tomorrow’s games.  Game summaries will go up over at Padres Trail; I will post links to those stories here.

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Filed under Annual Petco trip, Cardinals Preview, San Diego Padres, St Louis Cardinals

Brendan Ryan Leads the Charge

(Ed. note:  This post should have appeared Friday AM.  My apologies; clearly I screwed something up.)

I would have lost a lot of money if I’d bet on which Cardinal would hit the first HR of the series at Petco.  Brendan Ryan?  He of the .175 batting average and .237 slugging percentage coming into the game?  Wow.  I turned towards some Cardinal fans at the game, caught the eye of one, and said “Brendan Ryan?  You kidding me?”  He laughed and shrugged his shoulders.

Ryan had three hits to pace the Cardinals, who survived a seventh inning scare and beat San Diego 8-3 today, salvaging one of the three games.

Odd.  San Diego finally drives in a runner in scoring position and loses the game.

Albert Pujols also homered for St Louis.  I think I’ve seen Albert hit a HR just about every time the Cardinals are in San Diego.  Not saying I’ve seen him hit a home run in every game I’ve been to here, but I’ve seen him hit one a lot.  The one I remember best is the HR off the batter’s eye he hit back in 2006.  What a shot.

PJ Walters – what can you say?  He pitched great in a tough situation.  Only his second start in the majors, his first in over a year, and he got through 5 scoreless.  It helped he had Wade LeBlanc at the plate in the second with two out and the bases loaded, although LeBlanc has swung the bat well in 2010 – and put a bit of a charge in his flyball to right that ended that inning.

I didn’t keep score, so I don’t have any unique insight from Thursday’s contest.  This is a rare occurrence for me, but I have an excuse – I took my oldest boy to his first baseball game.  My Dad took me to my first game, and I watched the Dodgers bludgeon St Louis 11-0 – and eventually became a Cardinal fan.  My son fared much better.  I hope I didn’t just fate him into becoming a Padre fan.

I took some photos at the game, but I put them at up over at Padres Trail (they’ll be up at 9:30 CDT).  No the Cardinals didn’t wear the powder blues to go along with the Padre throwbacks, which is too bad.

On to Chicago.

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Filed under Annual Petco trip, Cardinals recap, San Diego Padres, St Louis Cardinals

Baserunning

It feels like they gave that game away.  When we look back, the 5 baserunners lost on outs on the basepaths will be the big story.  Let’s take a look at them.

  • Felipe Lopez thrown out stealing (first inning) – well, the Cardinals hadn’t scored the previous night, and Tony LaRussa was trying to get the offense started, so one can understand why he’d send Lopez. Yorvit Torrealba made a good throw, and Lopez was out by 4 or 5 feet.
  • John Jay thrown out at home (first inning) – Luis Durango was called up from AAA on Tuesday, so the Cardinals probably had no scouting report on his arm and decided to test him.  Doing that in the first inning, when you have 8 innings to recover if he’s thrown out, seems reasonable.  Durango had the ball before Jay rounded third, and threw him out by 10 feet.
  • Cody Rasmus thrown out at second (fourth inning) – there were two out, and Yadier Molina hit a dribbler up the line.  Rasmus rounded the bag thinking he might be able to get to third if the defense was asleep.  Adrian Gonzalez, however, was wide awake, and alertly threw to second, getting Rasmus in a rundown.
  • Whatever that was in the eleventh (eleventh inning).  I hate the contact play, especially in extra innings with NO OUTS.  You gotta get a run there.  If the ball is hit right to an infielder, then they get the out at first, but you can still score the run from third with a fly ball.  Rasmus was caught in a rundown.  Molina tried to get to third, and probably would have if Rasmus had stayed in the rundown a little longer.  He didn’t, and both runners got tagged out.

So if you’re keeping score at home, three outs based on managerial/coaching decisions, and two on over-aggressive baserunning. But, one could come up with a rational reason for all the blunders, except Rasmus getting picked off second.

The other thing I can’t figure out is why LaRussa stayed with Kyle McClellan in the eighth against Matt Stairs instead of bringing in Trever Miller.  Stairs is 0-3 lifetime with 3 K’s against Miller, and had walked against McClellan the only time they squared off before tonight.  Seemed a curious decision, exacerbated by Stairs lining the only pitch he saw to the deepest part of the park for an RBI double.  Sure looked like that would be the game, although gritty at-bats by Skip Schumaker and Ryan Ludwick in the ninth staved off defeat for 3+ innings.

As Jerry Hairston Jr’s second HR in as many days left the yard, all I could think was ‘They gave that game away.  They gave it away.’

PJ Walters gets the start tomorrow as the Redbirds try to salvage one.

For my Padres coverage, click here.

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Filed under Annual Petco trip, Cardinals recap, LaRussa decision making, San Diego Padres, St Louis Cardinals

AFTERMATH – Annual Trek to Petco

Oh man, a lot has happened since my last post. We’ll stick to Sunday’s game, but first some background.

I returned from a business trip last Thursday to find . . . my Mom waiting for me at the airport. This might seem normal until I tell you she lives 1500 miles from me. But that was just the beginning. Several other members of my extended family had also flown in.

Seems my wife had planned a big shindig to celebrate a milestone birthday of mine. Never mind which milestone birthday that is.

Anywho, she had told me we had tickets to Sunday’s game at Petco, as I mentioned. She never told me where we were sitting, however.

I wrote last week that if readers of this blog were at that game and saw a guy walking around the ballpark in a Taguchi jersey, to say hello because it was me. Well you may have seen a guy walking around in a red Taguchi t-shirt, but that wasn’t me (I have a white home jersey with his name on the back), because my wife…

…had purchased a luxury suite for the occasion. And filled it with friends and family.

Needless to say, I made it to the railing in the suite and no further.

There are pictures – oh, there are pictures – but they’re on a different computer and I haven’t had a chance to peruse them fully. I’ll probably post them at some other time. Some thoughts on the game, if you care to go back in time four days:

Item: They have pre-printed scorecards in these suites. Complete with the starting lineup filled in and all traditional statistics included (AVG, HR, RBI). On the back of the sheet media information was listed (who’s hot, head-to-head record between the two, ‘this date in Padres history’), and so on. Here’s a good statistic: the Padres are 71-141 all time in St Louis.

Item (Part 1): There was a left over score sheet from TUESDAY’s game against the Cubs in the suite. Remember, we were there on Sunday – 5 days later. Do the Padres suffer from ‘inattention to detail’ syndrome? More on this later.

Item: After the Cardinals acquired John Smoltz, and it became evident he’d start this game, I was looking forward to seeing him pitch, if for no other reason than I would have an in-person seat to evaluate him. Some of my relatives are dyed-in-the-wool Red Sox Fans (including my Mother, which made Christmas 2004 an interesting event). As you might expect, no opportunity to heckle was lost by these folks:

“Hey Mike, over/under on how many innings Smoltz throws today is 3.”
“Second time through the lineup he’ll get lit up.”
“If he was facing the Orioles, they’d have knocked him out by now.” This was after he had stuck out the seven consecutive hitters.
“Wow, National League baseball. Wow.”

For my zealous relatives:
– The NL might be a weaker league right now, but please don’t form an opinion on the caliber of play in the league based on watching the PADRES play.
– I thought the Red Sox led the world in savvy employees looking for any edge, including color of contact lenses and length of chest hair; so if Smoltz was tipping his pitches, how did they not see it?

Item (Part 2): Around the sixth inning, the Padre staff stopped by with a birthday gift and cake (which was a Nestle Tollhouse Cookie Ice Cream Bar, one of the many reasons Western Civilization rocks). The gift bag included a Padres pin (with Most Valuable Padre written on it, a nice touch for the Padre fan), a ‘Padres beisbol’ shirt with the word Padres covering South America (actually, a pretty cool shirt), and:

A Khalil Greene hat. I am not kidding. I burst out laughing.

This is funny mainly for two reasons. Obviously, one is that Greene’s a Cardinal now, and I’m a Cardinal fan. I doubt the Padres staff was clever enough to give me a hat featuring a Padre who is now a Cardinal just because I am a Cardinal fan The other is there are Padres fans out there getting gift bags that also contain a Greene hat. Can you imagine being a die-hard Padre fan (assuming they exist) and receiving that? “Hey, guy, thanks for spending your special day with the San Diego Padres. Here’s a memento for you: some merchandise bearing the likeness of a guy who was pretty popular but we got rid of because we can’t afford to pay him, and now we’re stuck with all this crap we can’t sell. But we hope YOU like it. Go Padres!”

Yes, the Padres suffer from ‘inattention to detail’ syndrome.

Item: I was in the loo when Jason Motte took the hill. Good thing, too, because I missed his gopher ball to Hundley, and therefore was not tempted to scream at the top of my lungs the first curse word that came to mind. Which I’m pretty sure would rhyme with some variation of duck.

Item: Eleven pitchers makes for a very loooong game.

Item: John Smoltz had never struck out seven in a row. I saw that. I also saw AP hit his 40th HR. Not often you get to see that.

Item: Sunday was Padre backpack day, and a free Padres backpack was given to every kid 14 and under. We had made the decision to get a babysitter for our kids, so they didn’t go to the game, but my wife was determined to get each of them a backpack. Only 27,435 people attended this event, so you know there were extra backpacks lying around. After protracted negotiations with the Padres staffers administering the suite for us, we finally received the backpacks. My thanks to Mark and Natalie for their efforts on our behalf.

And, the backpacks hold about 10 beers each.

Item: This suite was all you can eat. Hot Dogs, chicken tenders, well made bean dip lavished with extras like sour cream and olives, cookies, fudge, peanuts, crackerjacks, and so on. It also had a fridge stocked with Budweiser/Bud Light/Coors Light/Miller Lite, water, and soda. We paid for all the drinks as part of the suite price, but there was so much we couldn’t hope to drink it all. We did give it the old college try, however.

Because we paid for them up front, we wanted to take the leftovers with us. Within reason, of course; we didn’t shove bottles of beer down our pants or anything like that. So we put the kids backpacks to good use. All Coors Light was left behind, but a healthy sample of the rest came home with us. Good Times.

Ryan Franklin made the ninth inning more exciting than it needed to be, and I am thankful Oscar Salazar swung through a 3-2 fastball that was belt high right over the plate with the bases loaded and one out. But Franklin worked through it and finished the game. 5-2 Cardinals.

A fun day and a great day.

The only problem is the same milestone birthday for my wife is coming up soon. Now I have to top this. I am taking suggestions….

One more thing: apparently this was Brian Giles’ suite. I can’t imagine why he’s not using it right now.

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Annual Trek to Petco

Cardinals have just wrapped up a 5-1 victory over the Padres, with Pineiro fanning 7. Seven!

As this weekend marks the annual Cardinal appearance in San Diego, and just like the sparrows returning to San Juan Capistrano. your humble author will make his annual foray into the stands of PETCO. This year it will be Sunday’s game, which will also afford me the opportunity to watch John Smoltz make his debut as a Cardinal.

I won’t give out my seat location here, but, I will be wearing my mega-cool So Taguchi #99 jersey. Because any part-time fan can wear Pujols/Holliday/Carpenter. I doubt there will be a lot of people wearing Taguchi jersey’s Sunday, so if you see one walk by say hello.

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