You've probably heard me talk time and time again about the postseason publication the UCB was working on. Now, we've finally got it out and ready to be downloaded. Let me tell you, even before you get to the quality writing, you'll be impressed by the photography of Erika and the design of Jon. Then you get to the writing of all the bloggers that you have come to know and love, 15 different ones in fact. Put that with the fact that it's a free download and, well, why are you still here?
The United Cardinal Bloggers are proud to announce that their second season review publication in as many years is now available for download.
Happy Flight: The Story of the 2011 Cardinals details the incredible season that the St. Louis squad had last year. Highlighted by photography from Erika Lynn and laid out in beautiful full color by Jon Doble, Happy Flight brings you the highs and lows of the '11 season, recaps the amazing postseason run, and includes features on Tony La Russa and Lance Berkman, among others. Inside the pages you will find the writing of 15 different Cardinal bloggers, from sites such as I70 Baseball, Pitchers Hit Eighth, Aaron Miles' Fastball and Future Redbirds. Happy Flight clocks in at 93 pages, chock full of Redbird goodness that you'll enjoy reading time and again.
You can download your copy at this link. Options for purchasing a printed version and a Kindle version will be released later.
Founded in the fall of 2007, the United Cardinal Bloggers are the only known formalized team-centered blogging community in Major League Baseball. Members participate in various projects throughout the year as well as being a resource for other members. You can find out more about the UCB at their official site,www.unitedcardinalbloggers.com.
I mentioned in this morning's post that the Cardinals had opened a new website for their Hall of Fame. I've not had a chance to play around with it much, but it looks like it's going to be a great addition to the online Cardinal Nation. Here's the official press release for it. And if you don't know the address by the end of it, well, you just aren't reading.
NEW CARDINALS HALL OF FAME MUSEUM WEBSITE DEBUTS
On Line Museum Celebrates Team History, Showcases Extensive Cardinals Collection and Engages Fans
ST. LOUIS, Mo., January 30, 2011-- The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum debuted a new website ( www.cardinals.com/museum ) today that showcases the team's extensive collection of baseball memorabilia, while encouraging fans to explore and learn more about the rich 121-year history of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The web site ( www.cardinals.com/museum ) includes hundreds of historical photographs, several fresh virtual exhibits and dozens of informative videos that go inside the collection and highlight the biographies of some of the greatest Cardinals in team history. The new web page (www.cardinals.com/museum) also has interactive elements designed to encourage fan input and engage fans.
"We wanted to create a place to showcase our vast museum collection, while giving fans a chance to learn more about the rich history of the Cardinals," said Bill DeWitt III, President of the Cardinals.
The Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum collection is the largest team-held collection in baseball and is second only to National Baseball Hall of Fame in terms of size with over 15,000 memorabilia items and over 80,000 archival photographs. While the museum has been closed since 2008, artifacts from the Cardinals Hall of Fame museum are currently featured throughout Busch Stadium, including in the team's front office, Cardinals Team Store and Cardinals Club, as well as part of periodic special exhibits within the community.
"This website is a great way for us to further the educational mission of the museum, while making our collection available to fans all over the world in a free and fun format," said Vicki Bryant, Vice President of Event Services and Merchandising. "Our museum staff and Major League Baseball did a fantastic job with the designing the web site to bring the rich history of the Cardinals alive."
The virtual museum (www.cardinals.com/museum) features several unique exhibits such as the story of the Cardinals 11 World Championships, Stan "The Man" Musial and a look at how the Cardinals got their name. The website also includes a "Question from the Fans" section where fans are encouraged to give their personal account of games, eras or players. This interactive ability will allow the team to gather and share individual experiences as they continue to tell the story of the organization.
Other sections of the site (www.cardinals.com/museum) include, "Cardinalographies," an in-depth look at an era in Cardinals history or biography of a Cardinals great; "Inside the Collection," a unique look at individual items from a special Cardinals moment; and the Cardinals Museum "Theme of the Week," where each week the museum will offer a topic that will be discussed at length. The site is designed to be updated often as new chapters in team history are written each season.
Just when you thought it was safe to go on autopilot for a month, to start writing out rosters and planning for pitchers and catchers to report on February 18, John Mozeliak breaks out the curveball and immediately everyone starts swinging at it.
Buzz built Friday night that the Cardinals and Roy Oswalt were getting close to an agreement. Mozeliak denied that they were actively pursuing Oswalt, though that didn't make much of a dent in the speculations and expectations. Mozeliak is always going to be circumspect in free agent dealings, but more so in this case, as there's not an obvious spot for Oswalt--which means someone would have to go. You hate to risk bruising egos unless a deal is almost completed.
That is, of course, unless your name is Kyle McClellan.
I've said before that it can't be easy for McClellan to return to the Cardinals in 2012. After two spring trainings of planning to be a starter but winding up in the bullpen, he finally gets his chance last year, only to have the club bump him from the rotation mid-season with the acquisition of Edwin Jackson. Then he's not on the NLDS roster and only pitches 1/3 of an inning in the NLCS, a series that was dominated by the relief staff. Following that, he's left off the World Series roster. It'd be enough to have anyone question their place in the organization.
Now, though, it appears that the Cards are looking to dump him off for salary relief. If a deal doesn't get done, how do you (if you are McClellan) come back to this team next month? Can you really just put it all behind you and go out and pitch, knowing in the back of your mind that the club is likely to deal you at the first opportunity?
I'm not saying that the Cards have done anything wrong. They've definitely worked in the best interest of the club and that nice shiny trophy is an indication that they've done a pretty good job at it. However, human nature being what it is, you'd have to think that there's some tension between McClellan and the club.
Some indications were that Oswalt, whom the Cards gave a low-ball $5 million offer a week or so ago if reports are accurate, the Cards were about $2.5 million shy on what Oswalt wanted (I believe the talking points were that the Cards were offering $7.5 and Oswalt wanted $10--he may want to play in St. Louis, but he's not going to go crazy with the discounts.) Not coincidentally, McClellan just avoided arbitration and signed a $2.5 million deal. Funny how these things happen.....
On the broader point, I've been a fan of Roy Oswalt since the big rivalry days of the mid-aughts. He seems like a player that would slide right into the organization in a similar way as Lance Berkman did. He'd definitely upgrade the rotation--as we saw in Philadelphia, when you've got Oswalt as a #4 guy, you are doing pretty well. Kyle Lohse would probably be the best #5 in the league and from top to bottom the Cards would look very strong on paper.
What happens to Jake Westbrook in this scenario is unknown. I assume that he'd move into McClellan's slot in the bullpen, as the club must feel like he can do the relief thing and be effective. I'm surprised that they aren't trying to shop him a little more. I know he's got a no-trade clause and perhaps he's been adamant about not waiving it, but if the Cards offered to pay half his salary, that'd still save them around $4 million, I believe.
Apparently Oswalt meets with the Rangers today and, honestly, I'd half expect him to wind up there. The Rangers don't necessarily have a spot for him either, but I think they could move pieces easier than the Cards could. Still, I hope we'll get a chance this season to see Oswalt take the mound every fifth day wearing Cardinal red. It just seems right somehow.
A few links from around the World Wide Web......
--The Cards have introduced a new website for their Hall of Fame, according to KMOV. Being that I don't believe they have a physical location as of yet after moving out of the Bowling Hall of Fame, it's nice to be able to see some of the great history of the Redbirds. The site can be found here.
--Speaking of Hall of Fames, the Missouri Hall of Fame welcomed in some new members. Most importantly for Cardinal fans, they inducted Jim Edmonds into their august body. I don't know if Jimmy Ballgame can get into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but I'm sure there are a number of smaller ones like this that will have his name on a plaque. Congrats to Edmonds for the honor.
--Finally, Mark over at RetroSimba got a chance to talk with Cardinal broadcaster (and former pitcher) Ricky Horton while he was down at Cardinals Legends Camp. Horton talks about what went right last year and how the broadcast team had to scramble after Game 6. Head over there and read what is a very good interview!
Before we take on the latest of the United Cardinal Blogger projects, it seems to me that we have to define the terms of what we are looking for. What does the dictionary say about iconic, for instance?
Iconic (adj): of, pertaining to, characteristic of an icon.
Well, that doesn't do us much good. Maybe going a level deeper and defining icon might be.
Icon (n): a picture, image, or other representation.
Still not helpful. Any other definitions that might get us a little closer?
Icon (n): a sign or representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance or analogy to it.
Closer, but still not something that makes a list like this cut and dried.
If you heard me ramble on about this topic on Wednesday's UCB Radio Hour, you know that I consider this to be one snapshot moment, one picture in your mind that you think of instantly when you talk about the St. Louis Cardinals. So while the Chris Carpenter game from this year's NLDS was amazing and a classic, it wouldn't necessarily be on my list because it's an entire game, not one signature event. You'll likely see what I mean as you read on.
After the jump, I have the five that are my selections. However, there are so many that you have to put down an honorable mentions list as well, in my mind. Some of those would include:
--Grover Cleveland Alexander striking out Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series.
The last time the Cards actually went to a hearing in the arbitration process was 1999, when they beat Darren Oliver. I think it says a lot about this organization that they do their very best to stay out of a process that can only engender bad feelings between a young player and the club. Not that it doesn't happen anyway at times, as we saw with Colby Rasmus, but it helps not to have a guy that you hope to be a part of your future sit and listen to you pointing out all his faults and why he shouldn't be paid what he wants to be paid.
Also in the Motte story was the little nugget that the Cards aren't engaged in talks with Roy Oswalt. That seems to go against what Joe Strauss said on Twitter last night, but not necessarily. Strauss said that the Cards had offered Oswalt $5 million, but that he expected the Rangers would go higher than that. It seems likely to me that the Cards aren't "talking" to Oswalt, they've made him their only offer. If he comes around and accepts it, fine and dandy. Odds are he won't, since Texas may offer him more like $7-8 million, but if he really wants to play in St. Louis and will take the big discount to do so, they'll find a place for him.
Finally, it was announced yesterday that Tony La Russa will manage the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City. I don't think that was any surprise at all, since both Bud Selig and La Russa had indicated they'd like him to do that. I know it's possible that some would get worked up about a retired guy managing a game that "counts," but 1) TLR probably approaches driving to the grocery store as something he has to win and 2) no matter what MLB says, they still don't play that game like it counts. Come talk to me when pitchers throw more than two innings or there's still a starter out on the field in the ninth. I don't think having TLR in the dugout rather than Ron Roenicke will make a lick of difference.
Check back tomorrow as I'll put up my top five iconic Cardinal moments as part of the January United Cardinal Bloggers project. You can find other lists over at this post.
Finally, congratulations to a couple of my favorite people. The worlds of I70 Baseball and Cardinal Diamond Diaries are colliding as Bill and Angela are now engaged to be married. I think I can speak for all the UCB as we wish them the best in their future life together. It's a no-brainer to have this wedding at the ballpark, isn't it?
Last night was the annual State of the Union address, given from the White House in Washington. It was an (inspiring/depressing) speech, full of (uplifting messages/political malarkey) but it didn't address a major point of life in 2012. It didn't address the state of the Cardinals as we approach spring training.*
*I am assuming that it didn't, at least. I didn't watch the speech, instead bathing and putting the kids to bed and watching White Collar. There are better ways to spend an evening, but not many.
So today, members of Cardinal Nation, I want to rectify that oversight. As I stand (well, sit--who stands to type a blog post?) before you now, I contend that the state of Cardinal Nation is strong, perhaps as strong as it has ever been.
There are arguments for other times, of course, arguments that Bob or Mark or Tyler might be best in the position to make. You could say that back in the '40s, when the Cards were in the midst of their run of three straight World Series, that things were better. More recently, coming into the 2005 season, with a team that had won 105 games in the last season and had made the big move for Mark Mulder, things were very good. However, right now most likely at least ties for first in Cardinal history.
Anytime that you are coming off of a World Series title, of course, things are good in a fandom. It's the ultimate achievement for a squad and, no matter how expected, still creates a lot of good feelings among its followers. When you do it in the dramatic fashion that the Cardinals did it last year, that buzz and excitement is going to last well into 2012.
There are more reasons than just a shiny trophy, though, for the high standard Cardinal Nation is setting right now.
I know, it's been a while. These dead times are tough to write through, but I probably should make a better effort.
Until that happens, though, I can continue to pass around press releases. This time, Tony La Russa has made it official that he'll come out of retirement for one game this summer, skippering the National League All-Stars. Wonder if he'll name Mike Matheny as a coach?
LA RUSSA TO MANAGE 2012 NATIONAL LEAGUE ALL-STARS
Retired Cardinals Manager Will Lead All-Stars for Sixth Time, Third with N.L.
Tony La Russa, the longtime manager of the St. Louis Cardinals who retired following his Club's 2011 World Series Championship, will serve as the manager of the National League All-Star Team for the 2012 Midsummer Classic at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today.
Commissioner Selig said: "Tony earned this opportunity with the remarkable run that the Cardinals completed last October, and I am delighted that he shared my enthusiasm about his staying in this role. The All-Star Game celebrates all the best of our game, and it is very appropriate that we will have the chance to celebrate one of the greatest managerial careers of all-time as a part of our festivities."
La Russa will lead the N.L. All-Stars for the third time (previous: 2005, 2007) and it will mark his sixth Midsummer Classic managerial assignment, matching Joe Torre's total and surpassed only by Hall of Famers Casey Stengel (10), Walter Alston (9) and Joe McCarthy (7). While leading the Oakland Athletics, La Russa was the American League All-Star skipper from 1989-1991. La Russa has a 3-2 record in his five Midsummer Classics as manager. The remainder of La Russa's N.L. coaching staff will be announced in the months ahead.
La Russa, 67, managed 33 years in the Major Leagues, with the Chicago White Sox (1979-1986), the A's (1986-1995) and the Cardinals (1996-2011). His clubs won three World Series Championships and made six World Series overall. The four-time BBWAA Manager of the Year won three National League pennants (2004, 2006, 2011) with St. Louis, including its National League-best 10th and 11th World Series Championships.
This will mark the second time that a retired manager will lead an All-Star squad. Hall of Fame manager John McGraw retired following the 1932 season and managed the N.L. squad in the first Midsummer Classic in 1933. Two managers led an All-Star team after moving on to new Clubs immediately following a World Series. Dick Williams was the 1974 A.L. All-Star manager after leaving the A's for the California Angels following the 1973 World Series. Dusty Baker, who managed the San Francisco Giants to the 2002 Fall Classic, was the 2003 N.L. All-Star manager after joining the Chicago Cubs.
The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, July 10th. The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies will begin at 8:00 p.m. (EDT)/7:00 p.m. (local). ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Personally, I'm not a fan of this administration but for the second time in just about a year, I found myself watching the official White House feed. As much as it was great to see Stan Musial up there last year--a fact the president referred to in his remarks--this was a little better because it was solely focused on the Redbirds. It was fun to see the players and hear what the president had to say.
Plus, the first lady admitted she was a Cub fan, and anytime you can twist that knife just a little bit, it has to be a good day.
I thought it was an interesting tidbit that they confiscated the baseballs the players had brought for the president to sign, noting that they were projectiles. It seems a little extreme, but then again, you did have Chris Carpenter there. I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of his fastball!
Of course, a few players didn't make it. There was no Albert Pujols, which was not surprising--can't imagine how awkward that would have been for the team and for Pujols, who would have been besieged by the media--or Tony La Russa. Adam Wainwright didn't go, most likely as he was working out and probably because he didn't feel like he should, since he never was on the roster last year. Ryan Theriot missed as well, again I'd think because of the uncomfortableness of having to sit next to the guy that cut him from the team.
You noticed Edwin Jackson went, though, and I can't blame him at all. He's not signed anywhere, so he has no loyalty to another organization, and he's been around a while. He knows that it's not every player that gets to make this trip. I'd have definitely gone if I were him. Heck, if I were Theriot I might have dealt with the tension and gone anyway!
Leave it to Matt Holliday to put it into a great quote: "Let's do this again next year"
Before the team went to the White House, though, they made time to visit the wounded veterans at Walter Reed Hospital. In one of those "small world" type of encounters, Sgt. Justin Griffin made sure to find
David Freese, since they had attended the same St. Louis high school. Freese Tweeted out a picture of their meeting later on and there's no doubt the whole experience was memorable for both sides of that equation.
Like Lance Berkman said, this is "life-altering stuff" and the players seemed to get a new perspective on those that serve in the military and the sacrifices that they make for our freedom. I'm sure that the soldiers really got a kick out of seeing the players come through, especially those that were Cardinal fans.
It could be stated that John Mozeliak is a workaholic. I mean, most GMs would have just enjoyed the day, soaked up the experience, just kinda kicked back on this trip. Instead, as I noted yesterday in posting the press release, Mozeliak got work done on the trip by signing Kyle McClellanto a contract, avoiding the arbitration process with him. Mozeliak actually got the deal done on the bus to Walter Reed, which is just got to be one of those legendary things about Mo that we'll talk about years from now. (Granted, it'd have more lasting power if it was more than extending a middle reliever, but it's still a good story!)
Kevin may link to this when he writes more about talking with McClellan, but you can see some of his interaction with the media at Winter Warm-Up over here. At least in public, McClellan is saying all the right things and appears to want to stay in St. Louis. Mozeliak also said over the weekend that they expected to keep him, so at least for now it seems that McClellan will be wearing the birds on the bat in 2012.
Jason Motte is the last arbitration guy out there and you'd expect the two sides will come to some sort of deal before they have to go to a hearing. The Cards always avoid the hearings, not having had one in over a decade.
Also, if you are into the fantasy side of baseball or other sports, check out The Fantasy Sideline Show. I know Dennis through various organizations and he wanted me to pass this along, noting that they are just outside the top 20 on iTunes and would love some ratings if anyone was so inclined. (Of course, if you are going to rate that one, would you mind rating and commenting on this one?)
Lots of things will be coming down the pipe as we get closer to spring training. Those that have read here for a long time know that there are a couple of traditional things we do and I'm making plans to have those happen again. Until then, stay warm and keep counting the days until February 18!
I'm still not sure what to make of Kyle McClellan and, in my mind, the organization isn't either. After a couple of years of saying, "hey, prepare to be a starter" and then putting him in the pen, McClellan gets to start last year. That went OK for a while, but by mid-season the Cards are going out to get Edwin Jackson and McClellan's back in the pen. Then he's left off the NLDS roster, put on the NLDS one but pitches only a third of an inning in a series where the bullpen worked more than the starter, then left off the World Series roster.
However, there are still plans for him within the club, it appears, since he's come to terms on his 2012 contract, avoiding arbitration. That's 1) not unexpected--I think the last time the Cards went to arbitration was Darren Oliver back in the late 90's and 2) a good idea, because the criticism that comes with an arbitration hearing is the last thing McClellan needs right now.
This doesn't mean he can't be dealt somewhere. I'm still thinking that's going to happen at some time, even if it's after the season starts.
Sure, we know about the big defections on the field. We know about Albert Pujols going to Anaheim, Jeff Luhnow going to Houston and Tony La Russa going to retirement. The people wearing the uniforms have undergone quite a shakeup in the past few months.
They always say things come in threes, of course, and that trio was completed when I heard news today that Terry Rodgers would be leaving the Cards to head back home to Pittsburgh.
Most of you reading this don't know Terry, but he was in public relations for the Cards and, as such, was the main contact for the UCB inside the organization. He was the one that we'd drop an email to for an answer, which we often got back immediately. He was the one that would arrange things like the blogger contingent at the Warm-Up this weekend. He was always at the events, directing traffic and handling things like a pro.
Beyond all of that "officialness," though, Terry was a great guy to know. Last year at the blogger event, we talked for a long while about baseball, both here and in his home of Pittsburgh. Since then, we've sympathized about long road trips (his taking the family to Pittsburgh, me taking my crew to the wife's family in Ohio) and he always been great about answering emails and texts. I'd actually been looking forward to introducing my wife and kids to him this summer, as we hopefully will get to take in a game.
Now, though, the pull of home has gotten too strong for him to resist. I joked with him that he must have been the PTBNL in the Jenifer Langosch deal, with her coming from Pittsburgh to take over Leach's role. All I know is that Pittsburgh's getting a great asset and our community is losing yet another piece of the puzzle.
While I look forward to working with Terry's replacement (whomever that may be), I'll miss him here in St. Louis and wish him the best back home with the Pirates!