A non-AAA follower's love for September call ups

Toledo Mud Hens ballpark in Downtown Toledo, Ohio (July 2007)

I have never been to a Memphis Redbirds game. Nor have I ever been to a Springfield Cardinals game. Blasphemy, I know.  In fact, the only minor league game I have ever been to (besides the River City Rascals or Gateway Grizzlies – both members of the Frontier League here in the STL area) was a Toledo Mud Hens game, AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, with some students from The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University when I was in Student Government in undergrad and we did a tour of several different colleges in Ohio. I loved it, as I didn’t expect any less being a huge baseball fan. There is just something about paying less that $15 for seats right down the third base line and getting to see up-and-coming talent and maybe some burn-outs and flops as well (Larry Bigbie was playing for the other team, the Richmond Braves, at the time – just one season after [not] playing for the Cardinals). The atmosphere is great, and I am sure that any of you who have been to a minor league game would be able to describe it a lot better than me! 

One of my favorite movies of all time is Bull Durham, thanks to a friend of mine from college who turned me on to it. He played baseball pretty much his whole life and knows EVERYTHING about sports. He told me that any self-respecting baseball fan who hasn’t seen Bull Durham should be ashamed. Of course, I couldn’t let him make fun of me anymore, so I went out and bought the movie, as well as several other baseball-related movies. I won’t go explaining the movie to you, but I have always wanted to spend my life like Annie Savoy; in the sense that I could go to baseball games every day and spend all my time at a minor league ballpark in the Carolina League (just the baseball part). And, since I can’t do that, and I am too far away from the Memphis Redbirds and the Springfield Cardinals, I have to settle for seeing my minor-leaguers when the baby birds get called up to the big club throughout and at the end of the season.
Allen Craig *
Now, since I don’t really understand much of how this team has been operated lately, I am not going to even begin to try. But, I can say that I am excited to see so many minor leaguers getting the opportunity to play some major league ball. Ever since Joe Mather got sent down to Memphis back in May after making the ball club at the beginning of the year and guys like Jon Jay have had pretty great rookie seasons, I get more excited every time a new guy gets called up. Sure, their contributions may not mean much anymore – whether good or bad, but the Memphis Redbirds have gotten farther into the postseason in AAA than the Cardinals have gotten in the postseason last and [I am assuming] this year. Let’s face it, there hasn’t been too much to be excited about in the last couple months, in fact the last thing I got excited about was when Yadier Molina stood up for the team and then the Cards went on to swept the Reds in Cincy. Everyone thought it was a turnaround, but it turned out to be just another pull from the good side in the tug-of-war the Cardinals have played with our hearts this season. So, I have decided to pay a little more attention to the Memphis Redbirds by listening to a couple of their games at the end of the season and waiting for more of the younger guys to get called up. I don’t know much about their stats, but from chatting with Erika and Bob (@throatwarbler), I know that they are an exciting group to watch. And last week after Memphis lost their final game and were eliminated from the postseason, I was anxious to see who would get the call up. 
Mark Hamilton *
We have all seen Joe Mather, P.J. Walters, and Allen Craig play at the major league level already this season. We sort of know what they are capable of, but only Allen Craig really got the opportunity to show his potential. I still feel like P.J. Walters and Joe Mather are good players but haven’t gotten the chance to really have the innings/at-bats necessary to prove that they can be a valuable asset to the team. Besides he and Brendan Ryan’s hilarity and youth/life that they brought to the clubhouse at the beginning of the season with their home videos (which I love), we haven’t seen much from Joe Mather. And I know he has the ability and the desire to play – look at what he did in April against the Mets in the 20-inning game; played though, the incredible slide into 2nd avoiding a tag, and he pitched! I like the kid (ha, kid, he’s older than me) and I want him to do well. To add to those three, Mark Hamilton and Daniel Descalso got called up to. We have yet to really see what either of them can provide except that Descalso had a pretty great day Thursday going 4-5 and making his first major league start on Wednesday with his first hit being a 2-run double. Sure that was after the Cardinals were losing 11-3 in the 8th against the Pirates, but lets look at it for what it is worth; he was able to come through with a big hit and plate two runners when there were runners on base. That is what I like to see from these guys, when they get the chance to get in the game, they play ball. I enjoy that even though it doesn’t matter anymore (as much as that breaks my heart every time I say it) we get to and need to see these young guys get the opportunity to show what they are worth to the club.
Joe Mather *
Sure, it’s weird that Tony is playing the guys out of position, and I don’t know how much that really helps them (Descalso starting at 3rd base in his first major league start? I know Feliz is a terrible at-bat, but what?). But, like I said before, I am far past trying to understand anything that is going on right now with lineups that I just take it for what it’s worth; the young guys get playing time. If we were gonna lose to sub-.500 teams anyway, why not? So, is it really hard to believe that the baby birds are playing? Many people have questioned lineups lately, but I just say I would rather Yadier Molina be out for the season if we have 3 series left and 2 of them are with sub-.500 teams. Why shouldn’t guys like Pagnozzi or Anderson have the chance to start? I will pretty much take anything these days. I just want to see them playing hard and trying to prove themselves so that spring training next year will be even more exciting! Let’s just say, next season, my summer baseball road-trips will include a trip to Memphis. And I can’t wait. :)
With 3 series left, I thought I had gone to my last game of the season last Thursday for Social Media Night, but I have decided to give it a last go with Stand for Stan Day on October 2nd when the Cards play the Rockies. I am not going so much for the game as I am to pay tribute to The Man. Since it isn’t until next Saturday, and after my next post, I will make sure to share with you all the following Friday. Courtney is going with me too, so fitting enough, my last game of the season will be her last game of the season and we hope to have a lot to share with you! Keep your heads up, Cardinal Nation. A terrible, unexplainable season like the 2010 season is really hard to understand, but I can’t help but continuously think to myself (ok, out-loud too) “I still thank God I’m not a Cubs fan. Amen.” Enjoy your weekend, baseball fans! 

(*All pictures in this post are credited to Erika @erika4stlcards – thanks!!   And we kindly ask that they not be used without the permission of CDD)

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