June 19, 2015
Heading back south toward the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill, we heard from Carla Bunny with an update on our scheduled AA game in Springfield. If the rain subsides, the Cardinals are set to play two games tonight at Hammons Field. That’s bonus baseball to end the GoGoCards Roadtrip!
There’s plenty of ways to spend time on a 10-hour road trip.
Splitting the drive into three shifts from Minnesota, we listened to Jim Marrs discuss global elites’ plans to limit world population on a Coast to Coast broadcast. We also took turns spinning the tunes from Ned’s digital collection and enjoyed a buffet lunch at the Ameristar Casino in KC. Before long we were on the E. Chestnut Parkway passing the ballpark and checking into the University Plaza Hotel. No doubt, this is the place to stay if you’re going to a Cardinals game in Springfield with its classic ’70s style, indoor and outdoor pools, and proximity to Hammons Field.
With a rainout last night, the Cards and Northwest Travelers were scheduled to play two 7-inning games, bonus baseball! We arrived 3rd inning of the first game with the Royals Chris Medlen on the mound in a rehab start, still making a comeback from Tommy John surgery last year. We bought $14 tickets in the lower box seats and went straight down to the rows behind home plate where Cardinal and Royals scouts were tracking the game.
A visit to the farm club is a perfect option to include on a big league road trip; we’ve seen the Memphis Redbirds on a few trips but this was our first time seeing the Cardinals AA affiliate from the Texas League. This is pro baseball at it’s minor league best!
Box seats ring the field from foul pole to foul pole, picnic seating on the grass is available beyond both left and right field walls, and suites bring in the revenue for the parent Cardinal organization which has own the club since 2005. Best yet is the major league scoreboard in left that tracks the St. Louis Cards game pitch by pitch like MLB’s GameDay or a nifty phone app. As the Springfield team mounted a comeback in the first game, we watched the Cards put on a hit parade at Philadelphia. Looking at the board in the 5th, the Cards had the bases loaded looking to add to a 5-0 lead over the Phillies.
In Springfield the Cardinals had their bats on as well, tying the game in the seventh and winning on a walk-off hit in the 9th inning. Two walk-offs in two days on the Roadtrip. Holy Cow!
The night cap was explosive too! As the Cards went down 4-0 early in the game it looked like the highlight was going to be the Skipper Races between innings where Hall of Fame racers LaRussa, Schoendienst, and Herzog circle the perimeter of the field. Instead, the Cardinals hit three 3-run homers in the fourth to score 9 runs and put the game out of reach.
Go Go Cards!
June 18, 2015
This two-game set in Minnesota went by in a blur. Just before 9 a.m. Cards players began checking out of the Lowes Hotel dressed in suits for their travel to Philly after the final Twins game. Dusty called up to the room, “I just saw Jimmy the Cat, you gotta come down to the lobby.” The hotel had all hands on deck to make sure no one bothered them, which apparently means guys like me. As hotel guests ourselves, BillO and I sat nearby and watched them filter thru.
A group of Cards fans gathered outside behind rope a line hoping to get autographs, but players weren’t signing. Matt Carpenter stood in the Starbucks line to buy coffee drinks for Mark Reynolds. Tony Cruz and Jon Jay waited by the front windows for Yadi to show up wearing Beats. Al Hrabowsky was just being Al, talking to everyone and no one at the same time!
With game time near we hit nearby O’Donovan’s for a wee bit of Irish pub food that turned out to be incredible! An authentic Cork Corned Beef Sandwich was the perfect pregame meal before our quick stroll to the ballpark. Gate 34 dropped us just above the bullpens in right field where Jaime Garcia was warming up for the 12:10 pm start. We had cheap seats for this one but we never actually made it up any ramp or escalator. An open section in the right field box seats was the perfect spot to enjoy a day baseball in Minnesota.
Garcia and Twins starter Mike Pelfrey pitched a scoreless duel into the 7th inning when Jason Heyward hit a homerun over the right field wall to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. In their half, Garcia gave up a walk, a hit, and a sacrifice bunt before Mike Matheny made the call to load the bases and pitch to Kennys Vargas. The move worked and Vargas grounded out to Kolten Wong for a 5-3 double play. Matheny’s the man!
Throughout the game, Twins fans were perfect baseball hosts. They knew the game and enjoyed talking about it, especially when it came to Joe Mauer who went 2 for 15 against Cards’ pitching during the four-game set that began in St. Louis. From an outsider looking in at Target Field, it seems the jig is up for the hometown St. Paul native. His eight year $184 million contract, a .250 average, and his lack of home run power hasn’t set well with Twins fans lately. On Wednesday night, Minnesota fans began to boo Mauer in the 7th after he struck out with the bases loaded to end a rally in a one-run game. It was his 5th strike out in the last three games and fans have had enough.
One guy behind us complained, “It’s not that he’s batting .250, it’s that he’s our clean up hitter and he’s batting .250. And his contract is preventing us from building a winning team!” Sounds like a mess the Cardinals might have had if we had gone and re-signed Albert!
With the game tied 1-1 Matt Carpenter led off the 9th with a crushing blow out to the right field wall that bounced back into the playing field. With a shot nearly 25 feet above the Twins right fielder, the Target Field monster turned a sure go-ahead run into a double. We must’ve left our offense back at Busch Stadium as Peralta, Reynolds, and Molina failed to bring Carp home. Sure enough, Vargas came thru with a solo blast off Carlos Villanueva for a walk-off win. I texted PK and Jess back on the West Coast, “That is raw.”
We regrouped at the hotel and took a long walk east downtown to see the Vikings new Stadium under construction, a mammoth retractable roof structure built to resemble a Viking ship. What a concept!
So, even though the Twins walk-off win put a sting on the northern stretch of our roadtrip, there’s still more baseball to come as we head south to Springfield, Mo. to take a look at the AA Cardinals.
Go Go Cards
June 13, 2015
The 2015 GoGoCards Roadtrip began in Southwest Missouri this year with a rendezvous at Davelee’s 11 Stone Ranch south of Mountain Grove. We spent an extended weekend relaxing, barbecuing, horseback and mower riding before the big drive up I-35 to Target Field and a two-game series with the Twinkies.
Dusty was King of the BBQ this weekend, grilling pork steaks, chicken wings, and an Eye of Roast, then burning off calories on the Kubota zero turn mower while Ned ran the bush hog, and Lucky worked the horses. Hey, 11 Stones is no gentleman’s farm, it’s a working ranch!
At game time on Friday we discovered the Ranch didn’t have FoxMidwest’s broadcast but after a quick call to DirecTV, Ned was all set with a 3 month free trial and a summer of pennant race baseball. In St. Louis, the Cards beat the rain and the Royals on Friday night, 4-0 to take the first game of the I-70 Series.
Tropical Storm Bill was causing havoc in the South and we felt it’s brunt during the weekend. With showers threatening the Ozarks both Saturday and Sunday we ventured to the Bryant Creek at Highway 95 for a quick dip in the waters before the rains came on Sunday. Waiting thru delays, the final game of the Cards-Royals game was called, rescheduled for an open date in August.
On Tuesday, we set the alarm clocks and were on the Roadtrip by 6:15 for the big drive to Minnetonka Country, making a stop to see our long lost Uncle Bill and Aunt Brenda in Plattsburg, Mo. What a bonus and a nice visit to catch up and share life stories together!
In a lot of ways, Bill Stocklas is man cut from the same cloth as Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog. He’s affable, honest and straight forward like Herzog but he also has an incredible sense of humor that made our two hour visit seem like mere minutes on an egg timer. What a fun time!
Go Go Cards!
July 17, 2015
The Cardinals flew into Minneapolis riding a two-game series win over the Twins at Busch Stadium this week. We made our way up I-35 for the short series in Minnesota lucky enough to be staying at the same hotel as the team.
Our first visit to Target Field was a good one and even though we missed the afternoon ballpark tour I still had enough time to check out the plaza near Gate 34, named in honor of Twins hero Kirby Puckett just beyond the outfield bleachers.
There’s a statue of slugger great Harmon Killibrew, an oversized glove that attracts scores of fans looking for a photo opp, and a signature statue of Puckett, his right arm raised celebrating the Twinkie walk-off World Series winner in 1991. Like so many other baseball clubs today, the Twins have erected life-size and bigger-than-life statues of their hometown heros at gathering places in the ballpark.
Fittingly, the Cardinals organization should do the same by updating their current concept of Champions Plaza at Busch. Those miniature tributes to our Hall Of Fame champions need to be replaced by statues more deserving of their status as the Kings of Cardinal Baseball. Brock, Gibson, and Ozzy deserve so much more!
In this quick, two-game set the Twins were recognizing their 1987 World Series victory, celebrating with a St. Louis appearance of the world famous Clydesdales who took a victory lap around Target Field before the national anthem in Game 1. Minnesota fans reminded us during the games too.
As we enjoyed the Clydesdales and marveled at the improvements of the new ballpark over the Homerdome it replaced, one fan rubbed into Dusty, “that’s when we beat you in the World Series.”
BillO responded, “So where did they install that big fan here at Target Field? You know, the one your team used to cheat, hitting all those home runs to win the series?”
Overall, Twins fans were good spirited if not fairly quiet during the game and the atmosphere at Target Field was upbeat but without the manufactured hype at many baseball parks today. For this first game, we had Home Plate Box Seats in Section 113.
Even though the Cards stumbled in the first game losing a one-run lead in the 4th on a bad pickoff play, it was a good pitching match up with Carlos Marinez on the mound for the Cards. Unfortunately, a 9th inning rally fizzled with two on and no outs after Mark Reynolds and Randal Grichuck both struck out. Reynolds I get, but Grichuk too? On the next play, Yadier Molina lined out sharply to the second baseman to end the game, 3-1.
No worries. There’s another game tomorrow!
Go Go Cards!
October 8, 2014
The long come back of the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals continued last night with a 3-2 win over Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers, taking home field advantage in the next round, the NL Championship Series.
The defending National League Champions outlasted the Milwaukee Brewers in September then outplayed the Pittsburgh Pirates down the stretch to win the division. They unleashed some key home runs off of past, future, and current Cy Young Award winner Kershaw to seal the deal.
The Cards ambushed Kershaw in Game 1 with a 10-9 comeback win at Dodger Stadium. They lost on a late-game home run despite a great performance by Lance Lynn in Game 2. Kolten Wong went long in Game 3 to break a 1-1 tie in the 7th inning, giving Joe Lackey the win before the Dodgers decided to bring Kershaw out on short rest to pitch Game 4. In the clincher, Matt Adams hit a 3-run shot to put the Cardinals ahead for good.
The Cardinals beat the Dodgers to move on in the postseason, the fourth straight NLCS in the past four years for the Redbirds!
Go Go Cards!
September 3, 2014
After 137 games this year the Cardinals finally outlasted the Milwaukee Brewers to take sole possession of first place in the N.L. Central. Yadi’s back, Wacha’s back, and the Cards are back on top!!
It’s been a long and frustrating season watching this team trying to live up to it’s preseason potential as the follow up to their National League Championship season in 2013. It has been a long season of second place baseball, until now!
It was a wild and crazy weekend with the Cubs, losing the first two games before coming back to win the last two in dramatic fashion to grab a share of first place in the Central. The Cardinals then swept the Pirates at Busch to grab the lead by three games over Milwaukee and five over Pittsburgh.
Matt Holliday was the guy who got things going for the Cards. He hit three home runs in two days, drove in 11 RBIs in three games just in time for a 9-game Brewers losing streak.
September baseball is so much better than anything this side of October!
Go Go Cards!
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 we were off to Nashville and the long road trip back to St. Louis.
Go Go Cards!