August 12, 2014
It doesn’t seem that long ago when you could find a corner pay phone, grab the phone book and make a local call for 25 cents. The lyric “Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares,” doesn’t make much sense anymore in an era of smart phone technology, that is unless your battery dies or you lose your phone. If that happens, good luck; there aren’t any pay phones around anymore except this one I found at the American Pickers’ Antique Archaeology shop.
After four Cards’ games in two great baseball cities, it was time for a couple of nights in Nashville.
We relaxed poolside after our venture to Antique Archaeology then called our prearranged driver for a golf cart ride down to Broadway. No answer, just voice mail so we commandeered a taxi for the $7 ride from a cab driver from Kenya, who told us that he had never been a pirate there. Never!
“No, that’s Somalia,” he said.
With so many Nashville sights to see in so few hours we didn’t waste much time. The Stage on Broadway, Cadillac Ranch, Honky Tonk Central, Legends Corner, Full Moon Saloon, The Wheel, B.B. King’s, Whiskey Bent Saloon.
For a Tuesday night, the atmosphere was really good. Not too crowded either. One step in the door at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and we knew we found the right spot on Broadway with a 5 piece band on stage, great vocals and a fiddle. This place has some big history behind it too.
Many of the Grand Ol’ Opry stars have stories about stopping by or playing at Tootsie’s before or between shows.
Today it’s a three-level honky tonk that features a different band on each level.
We checked out each of the different levels along with the bands playing but no doubt, this Jake Maurer http://www.jakemaurer.com/ led band was the best!
Here’s a look at Jake Maurer’s set from a Tootsie’s show last year.
We must’ve spent three hours that night listening to Jake Maurer and the band at Tootsie’s before moving on. We checked out Dusty’s favorite barmaid at The Wheel, had a slice of pizza on 2nd Avenue watching the tour buses come and go. Discovered a duet playing to an empty house, mainly because they didn’t know any duets other than Jackson!
There was a drink-less table at B.B. King’s, way too many overly zealous bathroom attendants at Tootsie’s, and finally we closed out the night with a Southern Rock band at Silver Dollar Saloon, the old location of the Charlie Daniels Museum.
The RoadTrip was coming to the end. The Cards still fighting to take over first place; it seems like such an endless battle this year, which made our stop in Nashville that much more of a welcomed diversion.
Nevertheless, we’ve still got a pennant race and a month of September baseball to go!
Go Go Cards!
Monday, August 9, 2014
Back on the road to Nashville we stopped for breakfast at the Southern Kitchen in New Market, Virginia before a quick drive to the Civil War battle site north of town where cadets from the Virginia Military Institute joined Confederate soldiers in May 1864 at the Battle of New Market.
Nearly 1000 Americans from both sides of the war were killed or wounded along this road in the Shenandoah Valley over Massanutten Mountain. It was my first experience at a Civil War historic site and even though the visitors center was closed during our visit it was an extraordinary setting from such a devastating period in U.S. History.
Our objective today was Nashville, with a lunch stop in Roanoke, Virginia where the Davelee was eager to see the city where he worked as an engineer for the Norfolk & Western Railroad 27 years ago. So much had changed. King Coal’s headquarters building was now a college annex, the historic Roanoke Hotel was renovated and extended to the edge of the street, hiding its stone and brick structure and manicured lawn near the rail lines. An underpass walkway was removed and replaced by a skyway overpass to provide hotel guests direct access to downtown Roanoke.
So much had changed. Dave said, “I feel like Marty McFly coming back here.”
Across the tracks downtown, Roanoke was alive and well with plenty of new shops and restaurants near a farmers market on the square. We found the Texas Tavern just the way it had been so many years ago, a small dive of a diner with little more than a grill and a till and 10 counter stools. Not much had changed here. $1.30 hamburgers, $1.70 bowls of chili.
We made it thru four thunderstorms on the interstates from Roanoke to Nashville but the sun still shined as we hit Music City. There was dinner and $2 Tecate at the Tin Roof on Music Circle, another coin flip to avoid the pull-out couch at the Best Western, and a full-day of honky tonkin’ to come!
The first big change to Nashville since our last visit was the loss of the Charlie Daniels museum, once located near 2nd and Broadway. Here’s what it was like http://wp.me/p1wIyv-8YoJ back then. Taking its place not far from the tour buses along 2nd Avenue now is the Silver Dollar Saloon.
With the Nashville Sounds out of town, it was a baseball off day on the Roadtrip. First stop in the morning was a visit to the American Pickers’ shop, Antique Archaeology housed in the old Marathon Motor Company plant on 13th Avenue.
Dusty and Ned bought Picker t-shirts as I roamed the building checking out the old Marathon Auto memorabilia. The Pickers’ space was jammed with items picked from around the heartland, but there was so much more to see here at the Marathon Motors building. Each hallway on both floors contained detailed history plaques and photos of the car company’s production years, from 1911- 1914.
So, what’s a trip to Nashville without lunch at Pirana’s Bar & Grill? We had 2 for 1 burgers and sandwiches, their signature sandwiches topped with peppered cole slaw and handcut fries.
Next up for Nashville, the Ernest Tubb Record Shop and some honky tonkin’ on Broadway.
Go Go Cards!
Sunday, August 9, 2014
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.
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!
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!
Saturday, August 8, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Thursday, August 6, 2014
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.
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!
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.
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!
Wednesday, August 5, 2014
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!
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!
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!”
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!
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!
June 18, 2014
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
December 19, 2013
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!