Leaving Baltimore With a Win at Camden Yards

Sunday, August 9, 2014

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Lance Lynn gets the Cardinal start to stop the bleeding in Baltimore.

With an Sunday game today it wasn’t as crowded as the first two games in Baltimore this weekend so we looked to upgrade our upper-deck seats while the Cardinals tried to salvage a game in the series against the Orioles.

Lance Lynn had the task of cooling off the first places O’s and the Cards got things going in the top of the first with four singles and a walk.  Oscar Taveras’ line drive shot to center ended the rally when Adam Jones threw a strike to home plate for a 8-2 double play.  Wow!  What a way to start the game.  Cards up 2-0.

In the 2nd, we walked the concourse from our outfield seats to a section above the third base line where the usher, Sheila asked to see our tickets.  When I responded that we didn’t have seats in the section she said, “Well, don’t go anywhere.  We’ll see what we can do for you!”  Boom!  We just got upgraded.

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Having fun on a Cardinal win, above the third base line at Camden Yards.

Usher Sheila upgrades out Sunday seating with a spray and a price!

Usher Sheila upgrades our Sunday seating with a spray, for a price!

Sheila grabbed a spray bottle and walked up the isle to a row of empty seats, spray cleaning 6 seats in a row with a smile.  A couple of $5 tips and some high fives, we were set for an afternoon of hassle-free baseball at Camden Yards!

The Cards scored another run in the third and Lynn kept the ball inside the ballpark throughout the afternoon to pick up his 12th win of the season.  It was a hit parade today; 17 Redbird hits, most in a game for the Cardinals this year.  Big win and a happy flight out of Baltimore.  That’s a winner, 8-3!

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Lance Berkman’s home run ball is just one of many honored along Eutah Street at Camden Yards.

After the game, we walked along the outfield concourse on Eutah Street to admire home run balls that have landed there throughout the years.  An usher pointed out the only Cardinal to be recognized there, Lance Berkman’s 418 foot blast from the Cards’ 2011 Championship season.

The big win today gave the Cardinals a 8-12 interleague record in 2014, but the good news is that we evened our Go Go Cards Roadtrip record at 2-2 this season.

After a pub dinner on Pratt Street was off to Nashville and the RoadTrip back to St. Louis.

Go Go Cards!

Camden Yards Special Place in Baseball History

Saturday, August 8, 2014

Right Field seating, Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Right Field seating in front of the B & O Warehouse within the ballpark at Camden Yards.

With a late afternoon game scheduled, we left our hotel early to explore Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and find some good seafood before the game. It was a short walk up Russell Street and over the rail tracks to old Eutah Street and Camden Yards.  What a great setting!  The right field bleachers built right on Eutah Street in front of the long, narrow B & O Warehouse Building.

Once claimed as longest building east of the Mississippi, it’s the signature piece of the ballpark development in 1992, over 3 football fields in length but less than 60 feet wide.  The rail yard was once here and the B & O Warehouse building had storage doors the width of rail cars over the entire length of the building.  Walking along you can see these openings, which have now become retail and restaurants within the confines of the ballpark.

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The twin colonial towers of Camden Station beyond the center field wall at Oriole Park.

Beyond the center field scoreboard the old train station, Camden Station still stands with its two small, white towers.  At the O’s box office I commented on how awesome the building was but Dusty challenged me that  it was a replica, not an actual historic building.  Game on!

Just looking up at the beautiful details of the twin colonial towers that soared above the brick and steel structure, I knew it was real.  No one but Walt Disney himself would be able to construct a building like that today!   Inside the building we stopped at the gift shop of the sports museum there and up to the atrium ticket window to settle our bet.  To paraphrase Elaine Benes, it’s real and it’s spectacular!  This was Camden Station, the B & O terminal that was built in 1857 and later the scene of the Pratt Street slavery riots when President Lincoln visited Baltimore just  before the Civil War.

IMG_20140809_114336_322

Phillips Crab Deck on the waterfront along the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.

Walking along the harbor we spotted Federal Hill where Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner during the War of 1812, then made our way over to Phillips Crab Deck for a half-dozen crab, half racks of ribs and traditional Maryland crab cakes.  What a feast!

Boats began to tie up on the Inner Harbor wall next to the Amphitheater where the music group Heart was completing a sound check for a concert later today.  A number of Cards’ fans were hanging out nearby in the shade enjoying the breeze off the water.  We tried to get an understanding on why this team has looked so bad lately, yet still hanging on to 2nd place in the Central, still leading the N.L. Wild Card race.

A view from our Club Level seats in Section 67.

A view from our seats in Section 67, Game 2 at Oriole Park in Baltimore.

Close to game time now, we made our way down Pratt Street to Eutah and the entrance to Oriole Park.  This is the ballpark that revolutionized baseball stadiums in across America by rejecting multi-purpose seating in favor of a new retro-style, baseball-only facility.   Experiencing Camden Yards first hand, I’m convinced this may be the best ballpark in Major League Baseball.  It’s awesome!

It’s not just the retro look, it’s so much more.  The urban setting, the beautiful views, the easy uninterrupted access to any seat in the park, the friendly and enthusiastic fans.  I’ve been to AT&T Park, I’ve seen Wrigley and Fenway and I love our own Busch Stadium III, but this place is really special.

The Cardinals came out today hoping to rebound from a terrible loss on Friday night,  scoring runs in each of the first two innings to give Joe Lackey and 2-0 lead.  Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last long.  The O’s scored three runs in the 2nd, two in the 3rd, and three more in the 5th.  Lackey was left to mop up his own mess to save a bullpen that was already battered in Game 1.

Eutah Street, now a part of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The post-game experience on Eutah Street, within the confines of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

After the game, we walked onto Eutah Street where the O’s Team Store is located along with Rick Dempsey’s Restaurant and Boog Powell’s Barbeque.

 Unfortunately, Boog’s had already shut down by the 7th inning when beer sales end in the ballpark, according to one Boog’s employee.  So many people had recommended Boog’s but it will have to wait for another time.

One game to go in Baltimore.  Hey, let’s get winner tomorrow!

Go Go Cards!

From St. Louis to Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Thursday, August 6, 2014

1962 Classic Rambler

1962 Classic Rambler

The maintenance  requirements of a 2,000 mile road trip ruled out the 1962 Classic Rambler for this year’s Cards RoadTrip to Baltimore so we scuttled the notion and loaded up the Davelee Bluesmobile, a 2011 Chevy Impala for the interleague weekend series at Camden Yards.

I took the first shift, driving 300 miles past Louisville and into Kentucky where we had the $7.99 KFC lunch buffet  before our stopover in Barboursville, West Virginia.  When Davelee asked the Best Western desk clerk what Barboursville was noted for the hotel manager emerged from his office to provide an oral account of pre-Civil War Barboursville, end of the rail line near the Guyandotte River just south of where it flows into the Ohio River.

Three Amigos Mexican Restaurant in Barboursville, WV.

Three Amigos Mexican Restaurant in Barboursville, WV.

Up in the Appalachian Mountains the weather was cool for an August day, still we cooled off in the pool before checking out Three Amigos Mexican Restaurant – perfect place for a Three Amigos photo!   Our next stop was Fat Patty’s Sports Bar for the Cards-Red Sox game.  Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals took the third game of the series, 5-2 on a pair of Kolten Wong home runs!

 

Anime fanatics from the Baltimore Convention Center.

Anime fanatics at the Baltimore Convention Center.

With GPS tracking our progress, we made it to Baltimore and the Holiday Inn Express by 3 pm on Friday.  It was just a few  blocks south of Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the Convention Center where 35,000 Otakon anime geeks gathered to role play and show off their costumes.  Shuttle driver Tyrone drove us thru the streets of Baltimore to pick up beverages and we ordered Mikey’s Pizza to watch Game 1 of the series back at the hotel Great Room.

Orioles’ success since leaving St. Louis in 1954.

Inside the lobby, Orioles and Raven items line the wall of the hotel which is located across the street from the new Horseshoe Casino, opening at the end of August.   The Orioles were recognizing the series with St. Louis to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Browns relocation to Baltimore.  With three World Series championships and six American League Pennants it’s been a good move for baseball.  Before the game began, O’s greats paraded the field at Oriole Park.  When the game began, the current team joined the party, pummeling the Cardinals 12-1.

As Charlie Daniels would say, “ain’t no reason to sweat.”   Tomorrow’s gonna be another day!

Go Go Cards!

Joe Kelly Returns to Duel Miller at Busch

Wednesday, August 5, 2014

Joe Kelly returns to Busch Stadium.

Joe Kelly returns to Busch Stadium.

Last night before the Go Go Cards Roadtrip to Baltimore and it was good to see Joe Kelly return to Busch Stadium.  It was a rain-delayed start featuring two best friends, two best men facing each other on the mound for the Cardinals and Red Sox: Joe Kelly vs. Shelby Miller.

We sat outside Ballpark Village on the turf that marks the old infield at Busch Stadium II.  It was Grant’s Farm night at the ballpark and I was excited thinking about the possibilities, camel rides and complementary beverage tasting throughout the game.  Oh yes, there were camel rides, but no free beer!

Clark Street and Ballpark Village.

Clark Street and Ballpark Village.

A light rain delayed the start for almost an hour but it gave us enough time to sort thru the cluster of ticket issues awaiting at the will call window. Things got emotional as new Red Sox starter Kelly made his way from the bullpen to the dugout.  The rain-delayed crowd gave Kelly an incredible ovation for his contributions as a Cardinal during the past two seasons in St. Louis.  The trade last week sent Kelly and Allen Craig to Boston in return for veteran starter Joe Lackey in a move made as a wake up call to the lackluster play of this 2014 team.  More than a half dozen times this year, the Cards have been tied or within 1 game of the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers only to stall and fall back into second or third place. 

The Cardinals jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first on a big RBI hit by Big City Matt Adams but beyond that the Cards were unable to get more than a few walks and a single.  By the 7th, the Kelly-Miller match up moved on to the bullpens in a 1-1 tie.  In the 9th, Manager Mike Matheny made the curious move to bring in King Closer Trevor Miller despite having pitched the previous two games.  It didn’t work.  Rosenthal gave up two hits and two walks to give the Red Sox the one run they needed to beat the punch-less Cards, 1-0.  

Chalk this one up to the manager and his designated closer.  Fortunately, Adam Wainwright takes the mound tomorrow as the Go Go Cards Roadtrip takes the highway to Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

Go Go Cards!

The RoadTrip Goes On Forever!

Ballpark Village

Three Amigos on Clark Street near Ballpark Village before Game 1 of Cards-Red Sox series.

Tuesday, August 4, 2014

With the Red Sox in town for a rematch of last year’s World Series, the 2014 Go Go Cards RoadTrip began with Game 1 of the series at Busch Stadium.  The Cardinals had just traded Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to Boston last week for starter John Lackey so there was a lot of hype going into the game.  Unfortunately, Craig was just placed on the injured reserve list so he wouldn’t be in the line up for the huge homecoming everyone expected.  The loss of Craig was a shock, but something that was likely needed to shake up this lackluster 2014 team.  The RBI Machine was gone and Cardinal Nation was eager to recognize Allen Craig and the impact he had made during the past three years as a Redbird.

We met Toni and Mike Durham at the PBR Bar after checking out Ballpark Village for the first time.  When the Durham texted me to find our location, I responded “I’m with your wife,  next in line to ride the bull!”

Disclaimer

Sign posted along the foul lines at Busch Stadium.

Thanks to Toni, we had two sets of seats for the games in St. Louis – our Club Level tickets purchased with the Kerchers back in March and four first row tickets in Section 136 down the first base line.  Between the two sets of tickets there was plenty of game to enjoy both locations, hoping for a Cards win and a chance to regain a first place tie with the Brewers.

Lance Lynn started the game with a 1-2-3 1st and then got out of a 2nd inning jam after a lead-off triple and a fan interference.   Sitting so close to the field it’s easy to see how a fan can be tempted to pick up a ball down there.   You’re so low and close and the foul line is hard to distinguish down there.   Signs like these are posted along first row seating but I’m sure paying customers aren’t ejected from games for making the mistake of accidentally touching a ball.  Running on the field?  Absolutely.  Touching a ball?  I don’t think so.   Either way,  it’s not something anyone would want to experience at a Major League Game!

Shane Robinson

Sugar Shane Robinson takes a head first slide to tie the score in the 6th inning!

St. Louis got on the board  in the 4th on a Matt Holliday double and a Matt Adams RBI single, then took the lead in the 6th when Sugar Shane Robinson slid into home plate with a headfirst slide and a left handed sweep of of the dish on a Kolten Wong single to center.

The winning run came in the 8th on singles by new Cards’ catcher A.J. Pierzynski, Oscar Taveras, and Jon Jay.  True to form in 2014,  Trevor Rosenthal failed to get a 1-2-3 9th but ended up getting another save, number 35 this year.

That’s a Winner!  A Game 1 Winner!

Go Go Cards!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardinals Winning Streak Continues, Now 3 1/2 Out

June 18, 2014

Matt Adams returns from a calf strain to lead the Cards with 3 home runs in 3 days!

Matt Adams returns from a calf strain to lead the Cards with 3 home runs in 3 days!

The Cards 2014 season is finally starting to jell.

The offense has come back from the dead with First Baseman Matt Adams’ return from the DL.  Big City’s three home runs in three days led the Redbirds to a three-game sweep over the Nationals this past weekend and the Cards now ride a 5 game winning streak.  They’ve won 8 of their last nine, and look for another win and a sweep over the New York Mets today at Busch Stadium.

It hasn’t been easy.  Rookie Kolten Wong was sent back to Memphis in May, Randal Grichuk was brought up and sent back down twice, Oscar Taveras made his much-anticipated MLB debut with an opening night home run that turned into a two-week cup of coffee.  He’s back in Tennessee now too.   An offense that was so good with runners in scoring position in 2013 was sputtering until the return of Wong and Adams in June.

Fortunately,  pitching and defense kept the Cards in the hunt.  Adam Wainwright leads the NL with a 9-3 record and a 2.15 ERA.  Despite injuries to Jaime Garcia and Joe Kelly, the starters have kept this team competitive.  In the field the Cards have risen from the bottom of the pile in 2013 to a top-tier team in the National League this year.

The Cardinals haven’t been closer than 1 1/2 games out of first place this season and the team still finds themselves 3 1/2 games behind the surprising Milwaukee Brewers.

Of course, last time the Brew Crew won the NL Central was 2011, and we all know what happened then!

Go Go Cards!

 

 

With Spring Training Done, Let’s Do the 162!

March 30, 2014

Finally, the last weekend of  exhibition games!   So close to Opening Day and still it’s not a national holiday.

So what did the St. Louis Cardinals learn from Spring Training in Jupiter, Florida this year?   Aside from losing left-handed starter Jaime Garcia to more shoulder issues, the Cards came away from the Grapefruit League pretty healthy this spring – a big improvement over last year.  And it looks like the big bats in the Cards’ line up are ready to go.

Yadi, MCarp, and Allen Craig.

Yadi, MCarp, and Allen Craig celebrate winning the NL Central.

Matt Holiday,  Allen Craig, and Yadier Molina each had a good spring tune up.  Matt Carpenter is now at 3B with a big contract extension and great expectations to play like he did in 2013,  an All-Star leading the league in hits and doubles.  The new guy, Jhonny Peralta looks to be a good fit for the Redbirds at short, and the big guy, Big City Matt Adams proved that he deserves to start at first base day-in-and-day out this year.  Opening Day is oh so close!

Sorting out the competition for playing time, Kolten Wong got hot this spring and won the job at 2nd base.  Utility infielder Daniel Descalso played well too, so getting at-bats for newcomer Mark Ellis might be tough in the early going so long as Wong and Descalso keep hitting.   Right now, that’s a good problem to have.

The competition in center field wasn’t much of a competition for Peter Bourjos.  He flashed the leather in CF and showed his speed on the bases too.  For John Jay, it looks like he’ll be platooning all three outfield spots along  with Shane Robinson this season.   Another good problem to have!

KWong

Kolten Wong played his way into the starting line up this spring.

Like the big bats, the Cards’ starters accomplished what they set out to do.   Joe Kelly won the 5th spot in the rotation to join Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn,  and Shelby Miller in what may be the best starting five in the National League.  The reliever spots haven’t changed much since the Cardinals won their 19th Pennant last year.  Trevor Rosenthal gets the closer role and Carlos Martinez is the 8th inning set up.  Deeper into the pitching staff, it’s a big plus having Chris Carpenter in his new role as a special assistant to the General Manager.  Excellent move for everyone in the organization!

Down on the farm it’s gonna be fun watching the progress of Aledmys Dias, the Cuban defector and phenom shortstop who just signed a 4-year deal with the Cardinals.   No doubt, his first game was pretty impressive last week going 2-for-2,  playing steady defense.  He’ll open the season playing for the AA Springfield Cardinals in the Texas League.

Former Cuban National Shortstop, Aledmys Diaz in his first Spring with the Cardinals.

Former Cuban National Shortstop, Aledmys Diaz.

If you haven’t noticed, an outfield log jam is on the way from Springfield to Memphis and St. Louis.  Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuck made names for themselves in spring camp, displaying both the talent and hard work to make the big league club soon.  Grichuck was obtained (with Bourjos)  from Anaheim in the David Freese deal, and Piscotty was another selection the Cards got in the Albert Pujols defection.   Don’t be surprised if they get the call up even before top prospect Oscar Taveras.

Finally, the win-loss record;  it doesn’t really matter.   Wins and losses in Spring Training really are meaningless since pitching changes are based solely on getting starters and relievers enough work to be ready for the Opener.   So, Cards fans… that 11-13 Cards’ record from Jupiter?  Just throw it out the window,  it’s not an indicator of how well the Cardinals will compete this year in defending their National League Pennant.

Alright now, let’s start the real games!

Go Go Cards!

 

 

Happy Holidays Cards Fans!

December 19, 2013

2013 Cards celebrate winning the Pennant.

2013 Cards celebrate winning the Pennant.

2013 brought another great year of Cardinal baseball.  Starting off with holes to fill in a line up of injuries to our number one starter, the star shortstop,  and our reigning closer, the Cards’ filled the void from within to battle Pittsburgh and Cincinnati for the NL Central Division Crown.  They defeated the storybook Pirates in the NLDS in a thrilling Game 5 at Busch Stadium, and finished off Kershaw, Puig, and the LA Dodgers to win the Pennant – the 19th National League Pennant in St. Louis Cardinals’ history!

In the end, the Cardinals didn’t have the bench strength or the infield depth up the middle to win their 12th World Series Championship.  Allen Craig’s September injury hurt our playoff depth too, but it was a hellava season for Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright,  Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Chief Mujica, Shelby Miller, and Michael Wacha.  The St. Louis Cardinals were pretty damn good in 2013.

The page has turned and change has come as Cardinal Nation says goodbye to David Freese and Carlos Beltran.  Beltran’s bat helped us heal and surge again without Albert #5 and, without a doubt  Freese’s Game 6 in 2011 will never ever be forgotten in Cardinal Nation!

A big Birds-On-The-Bat welcome to Pete Bourjos,  Mark Ellis, and Jhonny Peralta in 2014.   Here’s to 12 in ’14!

Go Go Cards!

Cardinals Begin Second Half, Best Record in Baseball

July 20, 2013

beltranline12The Cardinals get set to begin the season’s second half with the best record in baseball. So, who needs Albert Pujols?

Here’s a look at the 2013 Cards batting stats versus The Player Formerly Known As El Hombre:

PUJOLS VS. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS  –  2013 STATS

BA

OBP

SLG

ISO

OPS

OPS+

wOBA

Molina

.350

Carpenter

.394

Beltran

.535

Beltran

.234

Molina

.895

Molina

147

Molina

.386

Craig

.318

Molina

.392

Molina

.503

Pujols

.182

Beltran

.878

Beltran

139

Beltran

.377

Carpenter

.317

Craig

.357

Craig

.470

Holliday

.165

Carpenter

.858

Carpenter

138

Carpenter

.376

Beltran

.301

Holliday

.353

Carpenter

.464

Molina

.154

Craig

.827

Craig

128

Craig

.359

Freese

.278

Freese

.353

Holliday

.437

Craig

.152

Holliday

.790

Holliday

118

Holliday

.342

Holliday

.271

Beltran

.342

Pujols

.431

Carpenter

.147

Pujols

.755

Pujols

112

Freese

.332

Pujols

.249

Pujols

.324

Freese

.398

Freese

.120

Freese

.751

Freese

109

Pujols

.320

Kozma

.247

Jay

.323

Jay

.332

Jay

.088

Jay

.655

Jay

83

Jay

.287

Jay

.245

Kozma

.293

Kozma

.313

Kozma

.066

Kozma

.606

Kozma

69

Kozma

.266

Special thanks to Viva El Birdos  http://www.vivaelbirdos.com/2013/7/1/4481642/albert-pujols-the-bullet-the-st-louis-cardinals-dodged

Go Go Cards!

2013 RoadTrip Awards, Presented by Donnally

July 14, 2013

Thanks again to everyone who helped make the Go Go Cards Roadtrip a success this year!  With a week removed from the trip, it’s time now for this year’s MLB RoadTrip Awards, presented by Donnally.

Kal

Kal

Silver Slugger Award Winner:

Kal Kercher wins his first Silver Slugger Award,  best-of-the-best top zombie killer at Pier 39’s 7D Experience!  He led the group with way more kills than BillO and Davelee combined.

Spiegel

Spiegel

Rookie of the Year Winner:

Kenny Spiegle arrives in time to share stories and take in a Sunday afternoon game at the Coliseum.  He didn’t bring us a series winner but he was wearing the colors and talkin’ the talk in Oakland!

davelee

Davelee

Come Back Player of the Year:

Davelee had the sophomore jinx last year, picking up stray cats and losing coin flips, but he came back strong this year honoring the ground rules to end The Curse!

Donnally

Donnally

Gold Glove:

Donnally snares a foul ball on a bounce and gives it to an Angels’ kid.   Not much of a web gem but could be a Roberto Clemente nomination as well.

Jess

Jess

MLB Delivery Man Award:

Top Prospect Jess, despite a torn rotator cuff, becomes the unofficial designated  driver specializing in door-to-door drop-off and superior Costco voucher delivery.

PK Nails

PK

Roberto Clemente Award:

PK Nails, handing out discount tickets, and presenting baseball memorabilia in the spirit of the award as one who  “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, and community involvement.”

BillO

BillO

MVP Award:

BillO Baggins wins the MVP.   Now in our 11th year following the Cardinals on the Roadtrip,  BillO is the guy who keeps the mojo goin’ everyday,  every trip, every year!

Thanks again everybody for a great Roadtrip.  Rock On with the Rock On!

Donny  Baseball

Go Go Cards!

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