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January 26: Thinking of Baseball Once Again January 26, 2015

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball, Photography.
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During these long winter days at work leading up to next month’s convention, it’s no surprise that thinking about baseball helps. And who better to think of today than my favorite Cardinal?

Chris Carpenter was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame yesterday, which I read about here. As always when reading something about his career, the amount of injuries and number of surgeries he had are mentioned — and make me wonder once more what his success would have been without the three elbow, two shoulder and one rib removal surgeries that caused him to miss nearly five seasons yet win three Comeback Player of the Year awards.

2015/01/img_5521.jpg
This photo is following the last of those surgeries, the rib removal to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. It was supposed to be season-ending, after surgery on July 19, 2012. This photo was on Sept. 21, his first pitch of the season.

It was a rainy and cool Friday afternoon that ultimately ended miserably — though it was no fault of his. That was the second time I saw him pitch in person, with the first a one-hit, 99-pitch complete game shutout on Labor Day 2009 in Milwaukee.

Give what it took for him to reach the Wrigley Field pitchers mound that day, I’m not sure which game was more impressive.

Today, and Every Day, Thankful for Baseball November 28, 2013

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball.
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NOTE: This is a repost from today at my Cardinals blog, Aaron Miles’ Fastball.

I’m not sure where my life would be without baseball.

baseballheartI realized this yesterday, when thinking about Thanksgiving and the multitude of blessings I am so grateful for: my family, friends, good health (even though I now can’t eat or drink everything I used to enjoy without getting sick), a good job where I can see the end result of my efforts every February, money for food and clothing and shelter … the list could go on and on. It also includes the chance to do something I’ve been compelled to do since I was a kid — write — and know that people read and even react to it.

Much of the writing, obviously, is here and about the Cardinals and baseball. I don’t remember when I first started watching baseball — it was a very, very long time ago. Baseball became a daily part of my summers back when my brother turned 8 and started playing and my Dad was his coach. In high school, when my family got cable TV, the magic fact we received WGN and the Cubs played in the afternoon is part of the reason I first followed them. (The cuteness of Jody Davis was the other.) In college, my daily routine of listening or watching every Cubs game led to an internship with the team — and afterward a 10-year baseball break that lasted until Harry Caray died in 1998. That year’s Cubs team brought me back to baseball, yet Mark McGwire made me notice the Cardinals. It took a couple years, and a typical Cubs season in 1999 following the gloriousness of 1998, to finally bring me to where I am today: on the right, and red, side of the rivalry since 2000.

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A New Appreciation of Baseball’s Family Ties November 18, 2013

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball.
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NOTE: This is a repost from today at my Cardinals blog, Aaron Miles’ Fastball.

Most of us love baseball because of a family connection — our dad, mom, grandpa, grandma, uncle, aunt or cousin sparked our interest in the game as kids in some way, then that interest took hold and grew. For me, there are several family members: my Grandpa who taught me to play catch, my Dad who taught me to keep score and, later, my Uncle Jim who taught me about the Cardinals and their history.

For Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins, it was his grandma.

jose fernandezI will readily admit to not knowing much beyond the basics about Fernandez — his terrific stats during this rookie season, sure (especially since I picked him up for my fantasy baseball team early on), his age and that he’s Cuban. Plus I knew how he did against the Cardinals this season: he won one game (the first of the Marlins three-game June sweep in Miami) where he struck out 10, and lost at Busch Stadium as Matt Holliday homered and stole second in a rundown as Carlos Beltran stole home. Beyond that, though, there is only so much baseball I have time to keep up with, and the Cardinals rookie pitchers were my priority.

So, last week, when I heard the story of Fernandez’s surprise reunion with his grandma the day before he was named National League Rookie of the Year, I was incredibly touched. Take a look at the photo above — even that tells you at least part of the story.

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Sometimes Mistakes Can Be Tasty November 8, 2013

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball, Food.
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I have a confession to make about Game Six of the World Series: I actually didn’t watch very much of it. Instead, I was baking cookies and listening to the KMOX radio broadcast online.

It wasn’t necessarily a stress reliever — I would have been baking cookies even if Michael Wacha had been throwing a no-hitter. (Probably.) There was a bake sale at work the next day for United Way week and I needed to make something to bring in.

oatmeal cookiesNow, the fact Game Six was going on at the same time I was baking meant several things:

  1. I was drinking wine before and during the cookie-making process
  2. I was getting texts from several friends as the game was falling apart
  3. Responding to these texts while in the middle of mixing up the ingredients for the cookies and drinking wine meant that I might have had trouble keeping track of just where I was in the recipe. Possibly …

It was my first time making these particular cookies, gluten-free oatmeal raisin ones using this recipe. And I was doing fine with everything, making progress mixing everything together, until I got to the oats.

They are the final ingredient and I’d reached this part of the recipe right around the time Stephen Drew of the Red Sox hit his home run, which I knew was the final nail in the coffin of the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals season. Even with the homer, the guy ended up hitting .158/.190/.316 in the World Series.

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My Own Daily Mad Dash November 7, 2013

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball, Goals.
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I start most mornings very early, writing about the St. Louis Cardinals at my other online home. With the baseball season having ended a week ago, however, I’m not writing about what happened during last night’s game. Instead it’s some other type of Cardinals topic.

Between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, I started writing “Throwback Thursday” posts a couple of times a month and today revived that tradition. Sometimes my friend Michael will send me a YouTube video he’s created from his own amazing collection of Cardinals games. If not, it’s always enjoyable for me to just pick some past Cardinals player, year or game and start searching away — often on YouTube — to see what I can find and then write about it. The coolest find was a video about the 1926 World Series.

Slaughter

Enos Slaughter, forever sliding and forever safe

With the disappointing outcome of this year’s World Series, I wanted to kick off this year’s Throwback Thursday with something on either the 1946 or 1967 World Series — the Cardinals won both over the Red Sox.

So I started searching for 1946, since it was first chronologically. I did know a bit about that Series, as it’s famous for Enos Slaughter of the Cardinals “mad dash” from first base to score what ultimately was the winning run in Game Seven. It’s one of the most famous plays in Cardinals history — there’s even a statue of a sliding Slaughter outside Busch Stadium.

I found a highlight video of 1946, which of course included Slaughter’s dash, plus found a fantastic photo of Slaughter, Stan Musial and two of their teammates — click to see, as it’s totally worth it. Getting the post written and published took longer than anticipated because, as usual when researching anything, I got sidetracked by the other information I was finding too. And what Cardinals fan doesn’t love reading more about the team’s history?

When I finally was done, it was time for my own mad dash — and one that occurs every morning. Because each day it’s something that gets me behind schedule. Writing, the Internet … far too often there’s some distraction. Plus I think the clock goes twice as fast between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. as it does the rest of the day, other than whatever hour I take for lunch.

So once again this morning I attempted to eat Greek yogurt and berries while drying my hair and putting my makeup on. And I did make it out the door when I needed to, thanks to this dash and all my multitasking.

Tomorrow will probably be the same thing, even though I keep vowing to myself that I’m going to do better and get things accomplished sooner and not have to be so madly crazy each and every morning.

That’s always my goal anyway. One of these days, maybe I’ll actually accomplish it.

Memories Help Come To Terms With Baseball Season’s End November 2, 2013

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball.
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NOTE: This is a repost from today at my Cardinals blog, Aaron Miles’ Fastball.

The manila envelope arrived on Thursday, the familiar handwriting of my Cardinals fan uncle Jim across the front scrawling out my name and address.

Upon removing it from the mailbox, I could immediately tell it wasn’t one of his usual gifts of a Cardinals t-shirt — that kind of package will likely arrive in the months ahead, after the postseason merchandise ends up on clearance.

WS newspapersNo, this envelope contained something sturdier yet flexible. A magazine, perhaps?

I ripped open the end of the envelope and saw newspapers. Further inspection revealed special sections from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the World Series. Given the timing, not even 24 hours after Game Six and the Cardinals season had ended, I could only take a quick glance before replacing the newspapers in the envelope and tossing it on my desk. Too painful to investigate right away.

This morning, up early, curiosity — and coming to better terms with what happened in the final three games of the World Series — got the best of me. With a cup of coffee in hand, I went back to the envelope and removed the newspapers to have a closer look. The pages were all from Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, last Friday and Saturday’s editions of the Post-Dispatch, and are filled with stories on the Game Two victory in Boston and previews of Game Three at home in Busch Stadium plus page after page of glorious, full-color player and game photos.

Some of the articles were ones I’d read online, yet seeing them again and in print and now knowing just what was to come gave me a much different perspective. Especially of Bernie Miklasz’s column from one week ago today, in the photo above at the top left: “Can Cards Win Out?”

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My new Cardinals blog January 5, 2011

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball.
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Writing about baseball is something that I missed, I realized recently. As a result, I started my own Cardinals blog. You can find the blog, Aaron Miles’ Fastball, here. (And if you don’t know who Aaron Miles is, that’s fine. You don’t have to click the link!)

In keeping with my productivity goal for 2011, however, I am planning to still write about other topics here – though I’ll likely be writing about the Cardinals on my other blog much more often! Here’s a bit of good news on the 2011 goals front: a great first week at Weight Watchers, surprisingly so, as I lost 5 pounds. The exercise goal is harder to get back into the routine of, but I’ve gotten started at least. Besides, it’s only Jan. 5!

These Things Happen December 13, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball.
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Brendan Ryan

Photo by Chris Lee/STLToday.com

Baseball is a business.

Yes, of course, it’s a sport too, and entertainment to those of us who are fans, but it’s a business first – particularly to those who are employed by a team. And, like any business, personnel decisions don’t have to be based on what’s smart or what’s “right” or what the customers think or the talent of the employees, or on anything other than what a boss wants. And that boss doesn’t necessarily have to be the CEO to get his or her way.

All of which brings me to yesterday’s trade of Brendan Ryan from the Cardinals to the Mariners. The trade was not a surprise. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said going into last week’s winter meetings that “exploring the Brendan Ryan market” was one of the team’s goals, following the trade the week before for Ryan Theriot, who essentially was publicly anointed as the Cards starting shortstop for 2011. Reasons were given for possibly trading Brendan, which were expected things like his defense not being enough to make up for his offensive inconsistency. Ozzie Smith spoke out on keeping Brendan a Cardinal, which to me seemed like a sure sign that he would be out as soon as possible. Because, as I said above, decisions are made on what the boss wants. For the Cardinals, that means decisions are typically based on what Tony La Russa wants.

Like any skilled politician, La Russa didn’t explicitly say he wanted Brendan gone. But he certainly made some interesting comments about him, particularly last week at the winter meetings. From an article by Derrick Goold from last Wednesday:

“First of all, this is a team sport. If you play one of the team sports, if you’ve got your head on straight, if your representatives are talking to you correctly, if your family is keeping their — you know, they’re caring about you doing the best they can for you, you’re part of a team and an organization. The organization has an obligation to make the best team. You just can’t cater to one guy. I worry about that. You care about things like that, but you don’t change your decision. I mean, it’s up to the player to understand the organization or the team’s responsibility to put together the best team. In Brendan’s case, I think he’d prefer to be an everyday player, but if he’s with us next year, I think he loves the Cardinals and he’ll make the adjustment. Just handle it.”

Telling comments, especially “if you’ve got your head on straight” and “it’s up to the player to understand.”

As a Cardinals fan for eleven seasons now, La Russa is obviously the only manager I’ve known. So I never had the “he’s not Whitey” bias nor distrust against him that my long-term Cards fans friends (plus uncle) did. Their bias and distrust seemed to soften a bit in 2002, following the death of Darryl Kile and La Russa’s handling of the team in its wake. But that was a very long time ago. The 2010 season was definitely a disappointment for everyone and, for the first time, I was ready for him to move on and preferred that someone else manage the Cardinals for the upcoming season.

But it’s nothing I can control. My own approach to fandom seems to be different than others. I don’t spend the off-season dreaming and debating and wishing for this guy or that guy to become a Cardinal (or even the Cardinals manager), or plan what season I can expect my favorite players from this year’s River Bandits team to take the field at Busch Stadium. Personally, I know that I have no influence over what happens and what the roster looks like. So I’ll let those who do have that authority go about their jobs. The 25 guys who leave Jupiter, Fla., in March for St. Louis are the guys I will root for when opening day arrives – even if they were past villains to me, like Theriot and Lance Berkman. Same goes for the manager. It’s La Russa for 2011, so I’ll support him.

In other workplaces, there have no doubt been employees who shine in certain areas, fall short in others, and get on the nerves of a boss and peers for being late or being hyper. And those employees have likely been dealt with in similar ways to what Mozeliak did yesterday, even though it’s not exactly like Brendan Ryan is looking for a new job today as other such employees would be. Still, one constant remains: business is business.

And that’s always the bottom line.

I live for this! October 7, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball.
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Roy Halladay, 10/6/10

And that's a no-hitter! Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Yesterday was my second-favorite day of the baseball season. (Opening day, of course, is the first.) Even without the Cardinals in the post-season, I love the playoffs and the way the intensity and excitement build as each series moves along. It’s the last baseball of the season and, in most cases, it’s the best.

In previous years, with the Cardinals in the playoffs, I’ve taken a day like yesterday off so I could watch all the games. (It is disappointing that Cardinals baseball is done for this season but, really, I can’t complain. I’ve been a Cards fan for 11 seasons now. They’ve gone to the post-season seven times, to the NLCS five times, to the World Series twice and won it all in 2006. And when I look at the entire roster of the 2010 Cardinals, not just the five All-Stars and Jaime Garcia, it does not say “playoff team” to me.) Yesterday, I settled for coming home at lunch to watch the start of the Rangers-Rays game and then listening online. It doesn’t necessarily matter to me who wins that series. I like the Rays, but it’s also great the Rangers are in the playoffs once again. And I’m always for Cliff Lee. So I was happy he settled in and got the win.

The game I was most anticipating yesterday was the Reds-Phillies, and that was for two reasons. One, like most Cardinals fans I know, I’m rooting for a Philadelphia sweep just to get Cincinnati out of there as quickly as possible. Any good feelings I might have had for the Reds disappeared in August. Secondly, the Phillies have been my playoff step-team since 2008 and I enjoy their games. So I made sure I was at my desk when the game began just after 4 p.m., then silently cheered as the Phillies came out swinging and took the lead in the top of the first. It was even better when Roy Halladay got a hit and drove in a run in the second inning and the Phils scored three more to chase Edinson Volquez from the game.

Pitchers are my favorite baseball players, which is another reason why I love watching playoff games – the chance to see the top pitchers on their biggest stages. It was exciting just to listen on the radio as Halladay sent down Red after Red, so I hurried home to watch on television. During that short commute, he walked his lone batter of the game. I marveled at his command and precision inning after inning. After Drew Stubbs was called out on an unbelievable pitch to end the top of the eighth, I checked the Reds lineup online.

Yes, what I’d been thinking was true: Brandon Phillips would be the third batter in the top of the ninth inning. The man whose big mouth started all the problems with the Cardinals, then exacerbated them with his shallow gesture that started the brawl on Aug. 10 – yep, that guy. The potential final out in a no-hitter. Thank you, baseball gods.

Like everyone, I was impatient during the bottom of the eighth. It didn’t matter what the Phillies did – just make an out and be done, so Halladay can get back out there! And the stage was set. I wanted so much for this to happen, both for the historical aspect of Roy Halladay throwing a no-hitter in his post-season debut and for the absolute delight of the Reds being his victims. Ramon Hernandez hit a pop-up to Chase Utley at second. That was one. Miguel Cairo was next, pinch-hitting, and he was quickly gone on a pop-foul to third. Two down. Then came Phillips. The crowd had been standing and roaring all inning, but notched it up in intensity. The shots of the fans were wonderful – what an incredible experience to be there! And then Phillips hit a grounder right in front of home, which Carlos Ruiz picked it up and fired to Ryan Howard to end the no-hitter. Beautiful, on so many fronts! And, like many Cards fan, I had to tweet the obvious: karma is the bitch, Brandon Phillips.

The drama, the beauty, the ultimate ecstasy and agony – all are the many reasons why I love baseball. And even with my team done for 2010, my interest and excitement will continue until the World Series champion is crowned in a few weeks. It’s an MLB marketing slogan, true, but I really do live for this. And there are three more games to watch today!

Riverfront ramblings May 5, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball, Exercise.
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Spending the early evenings of Monday running and Tuesday walking along the Mississippi River gave me plenty of time to think.

Fun with WordPress searches
One of the things I like best about a WordPress blog is the stats it provides, such as the number of visits to a particular post each day. It also lets me know what search terms people used to find my blog. This doesn’t happen regularly, and most have been some variation on “when to give up writing a novel.” Then there are these two searches from the past couple days:
shirtless pics of chris carpenter
“chris carpenter” shirtless cardinal

First, it was not me doing these searches. Second: What? Really? This isn’t enough? And did you actually find shirtless pictures of him out there?

I do have these actual words in one post, but it mentions Chris plus a shirtless guy I saw running on the riverfront. Sorry to disappoint the searcher. But if you did find any pictures, can you please post the links in the comments?

Competitiveness
Speaking of my favorite Cardinal, he was on my mind while walking last night. Yesterday I realized it was exactly two months until the Firecracker Run 10K race on July 4, so I need to start adding more distance to running and walking. Along Ben Butterworth Parkway, there is a 10,000 step path – a starting point at the east end, then signs that mark every 1,000 steps to a turnaround point at the west end. Doing the whole 10,000 step path is approximately four miles and, when I walk quickly, I can do it in an hour.

As I was getting out of the car, I noticed a couple starting to walk. They were very far in front of me by the time I started – it takes me forever to get going, as I have to find the right music on my iPod, re-tie my shoes, drink some water, re-set the timer on my watch and the finally go. So I took off, walking into a pretty strong breeze but moving at a good pace.

Right after the 2,000 step sign, I noticed that couple up ahead. As I got closer, I saw they were walking on the opposite side of the path most of the time. The woman turned around several times and noticed me approaching. They were walking fairly fast, as was I, but they then started walking even faster. I would gain a little ground, but then the woman would turn around again and see me. People were approaching from the opposite direction, so they had to move to the proper side of the path. It bugged me they were so close in front of me – plus I didn’t like that the woman kept turning around – so I was determined to pass them. I picked up my pace. So did they. This was annoying. For a moment, I thought about running just to get around them, but didn’t really want to do that. No, this was now a battle – and a battle I was going to win on equal terms. Just like Chris Carpenter.

From somewhere within, my inner CC pushed me to walk at a crazy-fast pace. I pulled up side-by-side with them momentarily, then walked on by. The man said hi, but I wasn’t really paying attention. My focus was only on walking as I fast as I could, as long as I could, to get as far in front of them as possible. Then, battle won, I laughed to myself – after first having the perfect Chris Carpenter thought of “take that” with an F word thrown in (since we Cardinals fans heard for ourselves how much he likes that word). Where had this competitiveness come from? I really do have an inner Chris Carpenter. I am scaring myself.

The lesson: don’t mess with people whose initials are CC.

Baby geese!
Springtime along the riverfront means baby geese and ducks. Haven’t spotted any ducklings yet, but there are geese! Baby Canada geese fall into the “so ugly they’re cute” category. They are yellowish-green and fuzzy, plus look so tiny at first compared to the full-grown geese. Saturday morning I saw four babies, swimming in a line along side their parents on the river. Yesterday, I saw a large group with probably 10 or more surrounded by several geese.

Dancing along the path
Monday, I thought I saw a woman dancing along the path up ahead of me and coming my way. As I got closer, I realized that she was dancing – taking big steps from side to side, swaying her shoulders and her hips and waving her arms around. Then she started skipping for a couple moments, then returned to dancing. She said hi as she passed by. Later, going the opposite direction, I passed her again – still dancing.

New earrings
I had to decide what earrings to wear today. My lucky silver earrings and bracelet I’d worn each day since Saturday suddenly ran out of luck in the bottom of the 10th inning for the Cardinals last night. Yes, I’m just a little superstitious – as are Erika and Angela, my Cardinals friends and co-authors of Cardinal Diamond Diaries. Here’s Erika’s superstition post, and more on my earrings.