This past week I was fortunate enough to attend a new event at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals hosted an event known as “Social Media Night”, inviting bloggers, internet writers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and even guys like me to come down and rub elbows with team officials, beat writers, and each other.
It has been a long time since I attended a game with so much anticipation. Driving to St. Louis, I kept fans of the site updated on my progress as we came closer to the stadium and the event. My Twitter account was bombarded with well wishes, invitations to meet up during the event, and some jealousy from those who could not make it.
Attending with me was fan of the site Greg Dowler, BaseballDigest.com’s Matt Wilson and i70baseball.com’s Justin Hulsey. We settled into our table front and center to listen to the likes of John Mozeliak, Matthew Leach, Derrick Goold, and representatives from Skorch, an agency that helps companies with their social media presence.
My first opinion and comment here is to thank the St. Louis Cardinals for organizing this event. It was informative, fun, light-hearted, and entertaining. While there were some minor flaws, I think the organization is doing a great job reaching out to the fanbase and showing some appreciation to people who keep the team at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. They have expressed an interest in making this an annual event and I fully believe that it will allow them to build on the success of this year’s event.
All that being said, after listening to the guest speakers and shaking a few hands, I had the opportunity to rub elbows with some people I admire and look up to. When the Cardinals formed the event, I am sure they expected a swarm of internet pundits to gather around the speakers they had lined up and embrace the opportunity to speak with some of the team’s executives. I am not saying I did not take the opportunity to meet Matthew Leach, Derrick Goold, and Terry Rodgers among others; we had some very good conversations and made some great contacts. In this instance, however, my mind was set to get face to face with the people I drove four hours to see.
You see, I spend most of my days reading the same sites you probably do. I bounce around the Cardinal “blogosphere” and read the various sites and voices every morning, placing my finger on the pulse of the fans and being entertained by some of the most creative people out there.
Daniel Shoptaw, the “godfather” of the United Cardinal Bloggers, worked very hard and very closely with the Cardinals and Fox Sports Midwest in order to achieve this gathering. Because of this, he and Nick (PitchersHitEighth.com) and Mike Metzger (StanMusialsStance.com) were invited as guests of Fox Sports. You can read Daniel’s account of his amazing day over at his site, C70 At The Bat.
While the majority of us sat and listened to John Mozeliak answer questions, Leach and Goold tell us how much Twitter has changed the game of journalism, and the other speakers, the UCB guys were still busy with Fox Sports. The real goal and focus of the event became apparent as a low murmur rolled through the seats during the event as Shoptaw, Nick, and Metzger emerged and arrived in the area set aside for the evening’s festivities. While everyone in attendance enjoyed listening to the speakers that the team had arranged for all of us, most of us were truly there to meet each other for the first time.
As the event came to a close, the opportunity I was waiting for had finally arrived. I shook hands and posed for pictures with the United Cardinal Bloggers. I talked baseball, New Media, and internet radio with Daniel Shoptaw, Justin Adams, and Tom Knuppel. I got the opportunity to meet Cadence, the new Diamond Diaries lady. I put faces with names and voices with words for the first time in years of reading their work. We shook hands, we took pictures, we settled in to watch a Cardinal victory and we began talking like old friends. I felt like I had known these people for years and immediately connected with them like we simply had not seen each other in a long time.
Social Media, New Media, Email, Phone Calls, whatever medium had introduced us all, it was baseball that gave us a bond and baseball that held us all together.
A very heartfelt thanks to the St. Louis Cardinals for putting together an event that I hope to be a part of for years to come.