Tag Archive | "Followers"

Fans Decide The Cap


ST. LOUIS, Mo. (March 26, 2013) – The Cardinals are giving fans the opportunity to put the finishing touch on the 2013 uniforms by allowing them to decide which color cap the players will wear during road games this season. The team is taking a new approach to gauging fan sentiment by adding a social media polling option to the more traditional web vote.

“We want to let our fans decide whether they want our players to wear red caps or blue caps when the team is on the road,” said William DeWitt III, President of the Cardinals. “We also wanted to have a little fun by getting our fans to engage via social media to gauge how intensely they feel about the options.”

For the next two days, fans can go online to cardinals.com/redvsblue to vote for their favorite cap and uniform combination. The team’s Twitter followers will have a chance to sway the final outcome in a one-day Twitter vote on Thursday. Fans may vote for any of the following four options:

1.      #AllBlueSTL:  Continue to wear blue STL caps during road games red STL caps at home

2.      #AllRedSTL: Wear red STL caps during both road and home games

3.      #BluevsRed: Wear blue STL caps on the road but only when playing against red teams

4.      #GetawayDays: Wear blue STL caps on road “getaway days” (the last game of each road series)

Throughout today and Wednesday, all fans may vote online at cardinals.com/redvsblue, opting to vote for as many of the options and as frequently as they’d like. After the polls close oncardinals.com/redvsblue, Cardinals Twitter followers will have the final say with tweeted votes all day Thursday. Fans may tweet using the designated hash tag for the cap color of their choice. Each tweet will be counted as a single vote. Fans may tweet as often as they like, but only one hashtag per tweet will be tallied. The Cardinals will add the Tweet tally to the rest of online voting, and the final result will be announced once all of the votes are tabulated.

The Cardinals have most currently worn navy blue STL caps during all road games and red STL caps at home – with the exception of Spring Training games in which they wear the traditional red home caps for both home and road games.

In November, the St. Louis Cardinals unveiled new uniforms for the 2013 season, the first update to the teams’ wardrobe in more than a decade. For the first time in more than 80 years, the team will wear an alternate uniform on Saturdays that will feature “St. Louis” in place of “Cardinals” on the jersey. In addition, all the team’s jerseys (home, road, home alternate) will feature more detail in the embroidery, consistent with the graphical logo used by the club since 1998. The cap color change marks the finishing touch on the 2013 uniform updates.

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Kansas City Royals Spring Training Pics From Bob Fescoe

Bob Fescoe spent last week in Surprise, Arizona interviewing Kansas City Royals players and coaches for his morning show on Kansas City’s 610 Sports Radio.

When he was not on the air, he was taking in the sites of early Spring Training and snapping pics that he would later tweet out to his followers.

With Bob’s permission, we share those pics with you below:

Billy Butler BP

Picture 1 of 42

Billy Butler takes BP with Frenchy and Hosmer looking on

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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United Cardinal Bloggers 2012 Spring Roundtable

Straight from the horse’s mouth, here is what the UCB website has to say about this project:

Didn’t we just leave this party?

With a postseason that joyously ran long and a participation level that was through the roof, the United Cardinal Bloggers spent from the end of October until  just before Christmas rehashing and discussing.  Now, as the calendar turns to February, it’s time for us to take up the discussions again.

This time, however, there’s a twist.

In an effort to engage our readers and followers a bit more, we are encompassing the UCB Twitter feed (@utdcardbloggers if you aren’t following it) into the discussions.  Every day, the question that the bloggers are discussing via email will be also put on our Twitter account.  Answers that are received will be eligible to be added to the transcript when the blogger posts it.

To keep things organized, we ask that you use the proper hashtag when responding to a question.  To answer the first question, use #ucb1.  The next day, use #ucb2 and so on.  The hashtag will be listed with the schedule below.

Then, during the last week of the roundtable, we are letting you–well, turn the tables seems pretty cliche there, doesn’t it?  We’ll ask you to submit a question you want the bloggers to bat around.  The best one will be put into the system and the transcript will be posted here on this site.

So that sets us up.  I-70 Baseball drew the question that would be asked last Friday and posted on Monday, February 13.  After some thought, I crafted the following question for my fellow new media writers:

The collective group here is obviously one of the foremost knowledgeable on Cardinal baseball.  You know your in’s and out’s and all about the players.  So, I am going to ask you to look at something other than the Cardinals for a second…
Brandon Phillips, Nyjer Morgan, Johnny Cueto…the Cards have had a few “enemies” over the last few years.  At the same time that these three guys still exist in this division, there has been quite a bit of change with the other teams this year.  So peer into your crystal ball for a two part question:
The answers to these can be names that are listed above or they can be new names added to the list.  All I ask is that you stay in the Central Division with your picks…
1 – Who is the biggest “Cardinal Killer” in 2012 (ie who does his talking on the field and just seems to always do his best against the team)?
2 – Who becomes the biggest mouthpiece about the Cardinals in 2012 (ie who gets on your nerves because he hates this team and is going to end up with a Carp fastball in his ear)?

Let’s get into their answers, shall we?

Corey Noles: The Daily Statesman
 I think the biggest Cardinals killer may likely be Brandon Phillips. It sure seems that he feeds off of the boos he gets when he comes to St. Louis. The funny thing about Phillips is, now don’t stone me, that he would be a great fit for the Cardinals. Through this whole mess I haven’t been able to help thinking that about him.

As far as who is the biggest tool in the NLC, that’s a tough one. I would like to think Morgan had his comment shoved hard enough in his face that he will likely shut up, but I’m never surprised by idiots. Truth be told, I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head who will likely shoot his mouth off. Frankly, at this moment in time no one is in a position for smack talk. If I have to name one though, I’m going to go with Morgan just due to his general lack of class.

Daniel Shoptaw: C70 At The Bat
I’m with Corey on the second part–I don’t figure we’ve heard the last of Nyjer Morgan.  For a man that has multiple “personalities”, I can’t imagine a little thing like reality will deter him.  He might not be as covered, especially if Milwaukee doesn’t stick around with the Cards in the divisional race, but he’s the most likely candidate.

As for the “Cardinal killer”, I’m wondering about Brett Wallace.  He’s done pretty well against the Redbirds in his time in Houston and, while the Astros won’t contend, I could see him turning around a couple of close games and sending the Cards home downcast.

Rodney Knuppel: Saint Louis Sports
Nyjer Morgan is not good enough to be a Cardinals killer. That guy is a clown. Brandon Phillips, while a good player – doesn’t put up great numbers against the Cardinals. I look for Votto or someone else to carry that load against STL.

My answer to the Cardinal Killer goes to Aramis Ramirez. Granted, he will have to try to kill the Cardinals. I just think if he is healthy, he kills STL pitching. Now, with Milwaukee, he is in a pennant race(hope not), and the hate the Brewers/Cardinals have is at a different level than the pretty boring rivalry lately of Cardinals/Cubs.

Ramirez is 33 years old. I think he still has alot of baseball left in him. I know many people think he is washed up,or simply overrated, but the guy has a career .284 batting average, over 300 homeruns and 1,100 runs batted in. Without Fielder, he will need to be an offensive force for the Brewers. Now, if Braun is out those first 50 games – ALOT of the load will land on Ramirez, and if we remember right – he is a slow starter. The Cardinals see the Brewers several times early, so it would be advantageous to keep him in check early in the year, and maybe get off to a good start against Milwaukee.

As far as the biggest mouthpiece against the Cardinals. I think the Morgan and Phillips thing will hopefully die down with Matheny at the helm. Hopefully these two clowns are not a factor for this team. I think we will see less and less “hatred” with LaRussa gone. LaRussa did alot of things to bring on the hatred, and I don’t think Matheny will. So, I don’t have a good answer for the mouthpiece. I’ll go with Albert Pujols – as the Cardinals and Angels will meet in the World Series, and El Hombre will talk bad about the Cardinals :)

Bob Netherton: On The Outside Corner
There is one player in the NL Central that makes me ill every time he steps up to the plate.   It is Casey McGehee of the the Pirates.  If he played against the rest of the National League like he does against the Cardinals, he would already have a multi-year contract in place, buying out all of his arbitration years, and still be in Milwaukee.  The Cardinals have given up the most hits, doubles, home runs and RBI’s to the former Brewers third baseman.Fortunately for the Cardinals, McGehee’s offensive numbers are going downhill faster than a box of frictionless bearings.

Nyjer Morgan is like Mikey from the Life cereal commercials.   The youngsters might have to google that one, so I’ll save you the trouble.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgB25WBeBxA   The point is that Morgan is a punk with just enough talent to stay in the big leagues, but not enough to let his playing do the talking.  But it’s not limited to the Cardinals, he is pretty much a punk to all the teams in baseball.  His own team is just as likely to put a fastball in his ear if the Brewers struggle during a possible Ryan Braun suspension.   So we can scratch Morgan off the list.

For getting on the Cardinals nerves, there is a seemingly endless supply of such players over in Cincinnati.  Even though the Dusty Baker/Tony La Russa personal vendetta is not longer in play, there is enough carryover to fuel a brawl or two.   Something tells me that we haven’t heard the end of Johnny Cueto, just yet.

So my answer is Johnny Cueto and I’ve already put all of the Cincinnati games on the calendar, so that I don’t miss a minute of any of them.

Chris Reed: Bird Brained
If he gets enough playing time, I could see Ryan Ludwick being a thorn in the Cardinals’ side. You have to figure the Cards and Reds will play every game tough as nails if they truly are the best two teams in the division, so the maneuvering will be fast and furious. Whether it be a late-inning appearance off the bench or a regular starting role, Ludwick is a guy I expect to be hitting in big-time situations. And a lot of those could be against the Cardinals.

The mouth-runner is tougher to pin down. After last year, I’m not sure what Nyjer Morgan could possibly chirp about anymore but I wouldn’t put it past him. Phillips definitely has more discretion in his trash- talk, and certainly backs it up better with his play on the field (plus he’s in a contract year…yikes). I still maintain that if you’re going to talk the talk, you have to also walk the walk. Phillips can do that. Morgan cannot. I expect to hear more from Phillips this year.

Angela Weinhold: Diamond Diaries
As far as a “Cardinal Killer,” I always say Aramis Ramirez. It doesn’t matter how much he has declined, even when he has been having a slump it seems like all it takes is a visit to Busch for him to break out of it. Even when the Cubs were terrible (isn’t that every year?) I feel like the Cardinals find ways to get beat by the lovable losers a few times a year. Seems to me like Ramirez has earned a couple of those wins singlehandedly.

Of course, I have been accused of holding grudges more than once…

For the mouthy one, it’s Nyjer. The sad thing is he has never been an overly talented player, but his mouth keeps his name in the papers. It doesn’t seem to matter how bad *he* is playing, if the Brewers are near the division lead I expect him to find new and creative ways to run his mouth. Unfortunately the crow he ate last year can’t shut him up forever. ;)

Aaron Hooks: Cards Diaspora
The biggest Cardinal Killer? ALBERT PUJOLS.

We’ve been busy giving the Cardinals verbal fellatio over not having to pay 30M a year in 2021 to the Angels first baseman that we’re forgetting that the dude is still in his prime, pissed offed about how he thinks he’s perceived around baseball, and is still the best player alive.

Carlos Beltran? Nice addition. But if we’re thinking that he’s going to fill the shoes of Pujols, we’re mistaken. We’ve taken for granted the fact that NOBODY wants to see the Cardinals 3 spot come up in the order and they’ve played accordingly. Now? It’s game on. That’s going to hurt.

And Brandon Phillips will still be the biggest irritant. He loves the attention and with the Reds expected to contend for the NL Central, he’ll get the digital ink he thinks he deserves.

Dathan Brooks: Cards Tied For First
Morgan’s not much more than a mouthpiece.  The guy sells his face on T-shirts and stuff, and shamelessly promotes himself in ways that makes Bill look like a monk.  By comparison, and I might get some crap for saying this, but I see Phillips as more of a guy who is having fun with the game more than I see him as a true jackass, like Morgan.  And FWIW, I tend to agree that BP & Carp are similar in that they can both (accurately, I think) be described as “that guy who you’d love to have playing with you, but you hate him if you play against him”.

Cardinal Killer?  Bud Norris, who else?

Ray DeRousse: StL Cardinal Baseball
Cardinal killer? Has everyone forgotten Bud Norris? Actually, the Norris thing needs to finally end this season.
As for biggest mouth, I fully expect Nyjer Morgan to (spoiler alert) do something dumb now that his exposure is increased on that team minus Braun and Fielder. Someone that dumb simply cannot help himself.

Matt Whitener: Cheap Seats Please
1. Biggest Actual Cardinal Killer: I think it has to be somebody who can actually make a difference in a game with a direct benefit for his team vs. ours in the race for the division, so Bud “Big Train Jr.” Norris is out.

I think it has to be Phillips. He may not have the greatest overall numbers against the club, but he delivers when it counts (that walkoff last year still stings now) and that’s all you need.

A darkhorse here for me is Ryan Ludwick, I think he’s going to have some at-bats when it counts against us and will deliver. Same for Scott Rolen.

2. As for biggest mouth, Morgan talks so much that it just blends together and is like the hum of an air conditioner; it’s just always there, so it doesn’t matter as much.

For actual talk & backup, I’m going back to Phillips. Because he’ll talk everywhere from on-base to Twitter, but will still be an All-Star with our biggest competition in the division, so he’ll actually be backing it up. Big difference.

Nick: Pitchers Hit Eighth
Can I choose more than one “Cardinal Killer”? As in, any left-handed pitcher with a fastball that sits 87-89? Chris Narveson, maybe?

I think the biggest mouth in the division might wind up being Dusty Baker. With Tony La Russa riding off into the sunset, Dusty becomes the elder statesman in the NL Central, and is certainly no stranger to dust-ups with the Cardinals. I could envision Dusty trying to push some teams and managers around a bit in a division that the Reds should contend in. What will be entertaining is watching Dusty try to “school” Mike Matheny strategically (remember last season’s rain-affected start against Cincy with the Miguel Batista deke?) and still failing miserably and wasting three pitchers on accident.

Kevin Reynolds: Cards N Stuff
Hmmm…for some reason, I keep thinking of Carlos Lee as the Cardinal killer…and Joey Votto emerging as a mouth :)

But it’ll probaby still be Phillips and Morgan again.

Miranda Remaklus: Aaron Miles’ Fastball
I can’t just pick one! I think Ryan Braun, once he gets his stuff straightened out, will once again but tough against us. Probably the Panda from the Giants. And Eithier or Kemp from the Dodgers.

This one is pretty easy! I think Nyjer retains the title of being the biggest…. mouthpiece! Carp will nail him in the ear this season. I can feel it! Ha! I don’t think Brandon Phillips will be that bad. He was a jerk but he seemed to chill a little with the Reds losing ways. Almost humbled him! ALMOST! B.J. Rains lovely … bordering on homer … reporting of him has softened me to BP.

Mark Tomasik: Retro Simba
1.       Got a feeling Ryan Ludwick is going to pound Cardinals pitching this year. He likes being with Cincinnati and he’s been embarrassed by his performance of the last year or so. Got a feeling he’s going to launch some longballs against the Cardinals in that Great American Ballpark bandbox.
2.       Brewers still have a burr in their saddle about being kept out of the World Series by the Cardinals in 2011. Maybe Rickie Weeks takes the instigator role and earns the Carpenter fastball in the back.

Tom Knuppel: Cardinals GM
Nyger is a tool and will be the one that gets the fastball inserted into his ear.Aramis Ramirez is the Cardinal killer.Looks to be interested series’ with Brewers.

Christine Coleman: Aaron Miles Fastball
My opinion matches what many have already said.

1 – Even though on a different Central team, I think Aramis Ramirez will continue his Cardinal Killer ways in 2012 as a Brewer.

2 – My thought is the biggest mouthpieces of last season, Nyjer Morgan and Brandon Phillips, will continue in those roles in 2012 – mostly because the broadcast media (and particularly Fox Sports Midwest) won’t ever let those storylines drop. Look at all the games last year where we had to listen to Dan McLaughlin and Al Hrabosky going on and on (and on and on) about Phillips. And, even though his talking and tweeting amounted to nothing in the end last season, Morgan will just have to start back up in 2012 – and get attention for it as well. They’re both media whores who know how to play to the broadcasters … and those broadcasters are ever so eager to give them both what they crave the most: attention.

Daniel Solzman: Redbird Rants
I think it’s either Brandon Phillprs or Nyjer Morgan.

JE Powell: STL Fear The Red
For the first part of the question I am going with the consensus. I think Brandon Phillips is a great 2nd baseman and seems to hit well against the Cards. For the second part of the question, I am going with the consensus again.  Nyjer Morgan is a loud mouth who, in my opinion, will be fueled by the fact that he ended up watching the Cardinals on TV, not the other way around as he so incorrectly predicted. I look to see more of Morgan running his yap in 2012, loud mouths usually get louder when proved wrong.

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Who Is The Royals Big Game Pitcher?

Our good friends over at Kings of Kauffman posed an interesting question on Twitter. If the Royals were in a one-game, must-win situation, which starting pitcher would you put on the mound? The response thus far has been mostly in support of Bruce Chen, and when I saw that I wondered what criteria their followers had for making the selection. Not that I necessarily thought Chen was wrong, but were they just picking him because he’d been the Royals most reliable and (and by virtue of the others’ lows) best pitcher? Is that what you want in a one-game, must-win situation? I’m not so sure.

If I’m facing a must-win situation, I want the guy with the highest ceiling, almost regardless of his floor. Theoretically, in a must-win situation nearly everyone is available, so it is fairly easy to circumvent an “off” night from your starter by simply giving someone else a chance. Sure, you have to be ready to have a quick trigger finger, but the reward of a dominant performance outweighs the risk, at least in my mind. That being said, which Royals starter has the highest one-game upside heading into 2012? Let’s take a look:

For the purposes of this study I did not consider anyone with less than a full season at the major league level. That rules out phenoms Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi, and even Danny Duffy. One of them may very well turn into the best pitcher on the club, but for now it would be ridiculous to suggest giving the ball to them when it is all on the line. Let’s take a look at the other four probable starters for the Royals, starting with the favorite on Twitter:

Bruce Chen- I certainly do not want to disparage the 2011 Royals Pitcher of the Year. His consistency and, for lack of a better word, craftiness, have been essential to the Royals maintaining some sort of a rotation. That being said, I came into this study expecting that Chen’s ability to dominate a major league lineup was much less than it is. Five times last season Chen pitched 8 innings while allowing one run or less. That is absolutely dominant and far more than I remembered. As impressive as that is, it is important to note that he accomplished against the Mariners, White Sox (twice), and Twins (twice). Those teams ranked 18th, 25th, and 30th in runs scored last season. Furthermore, three of the games came in September, against the Sox and Twins who had absolutely nothing to play for. Chen had accomplished this feat just once before in the last five years and heads into the season as a 34 year old with four career complete games and a 4.52 career ERA (4.28 with the Royals). Surely we have someone more likely of putting up a dominant performance, right?

Felipe Paulino Okay, I love Paulino, and so does Rany…but let’s not get crazy here. A workhorse he may be, but that has not, to this point, translated into dominant performances. His K/9 innings ratio is outstanding, and good for 6th in the AL last year, but not quite enough to outweigh his control issues. Does Paulino have the greatest potential amongst Royals starters? Maybe, but the unknown makes him too risky.

Jonathan Sanchez As the only real splash made by the Royals this offseason I am surprised Sanchez didn’t get more love. He had four of these “dominant” performances in 2010, after posting one each in 2008 and 2009. He is five years younger than Chen, and certainly is regarded to have more “dominant” stuff, at least when he throws strikes. That “when he throws strikes” issue is probably the reason more people didn’t choose him, but is there any more easily assessable problem with pitchers than not having control of the zone?

Luke Hochevar I may be biased here, because Hochevar is my pick for a breakout performance in 2012, as Cool Hand Luke has lowered his ERA over the last three seasons from 6.55 to 4.68. He is 28 years old and, in my opinion ready for a career year in 2012. Hochevar has been maddeningly inconsistent, and has only thrown four so-called “dominant” starts in the last three years. Still, Hochevar posted a 3.52 ERA from the All-Star Game forward in 2011, allowing opposing hitters to hit just .222 off him. I can certainly understand the argument against him, but I’m betting by June he may be our number one choice, with a bullet.

The bottom line is this is absolutely a subjective choice, and subjectively I would absolutely take Cool Hand Luke in a “one-game must-win situation.” Chen may very well be the “ace” because his consistency makes him the guy you want out there the most often. Sanchez may be the most hyped just because Dayton would like to pump up his new acquisition. But for my money, I’ll take Hochevar when it is all on the line. Disagree? I’d love to here your choice in the comments.

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A Bro-Mance For The Ages

It was 2004 when the Cardinals handed the reigns of their pitching staff over to a young, talented, and defensively sound Yadier Molina. The younger brother of Major League catchers Bengie and Jose, Yadier arrived in St. Louis being regarded as a player who was defensively ready, however, fans were warned that he would be learning to be a hitter at the Major League level.


Very early in Molina’s career, the Cardinals’ up-and-coming superstar, Albert Pujols, seemed to have taken the backstop under his wing. It was not long before the St. Louis organization had a behind the scenes “bro-mance” on their hands.

A baseball bro-mance should yield some results for the fans, writers, and followers of the ball club. Two players being connected on the same team for such a long period of time begs the question of their combined production. Not just the production of their combined season statistics but also a look into just how they feed off each other in individual games.

The interesting standpoint here is that we are dealing with two very different players. This is not Joe Dimaggio and Mickey Mantle. This is a player that is regarded as the best in Major League Baseball defensively at his position. It is another player that is regarded as possibly the best hitter baseball has ever seen.

That defensive player has seen himself evolve into a player that is becoming respected for his bat. That reason alone led this writer into researching just how many times the members of this relationship had achieved the pinnacle of power, the home run, in the same game.

Molina was brought to the big league club in 2004, but it was not until his third career home run on May 18, 2005 that he and Albert Pujols would go deep in the same game. It would happen in the top of the third inning as Pujols, with Larry Walker on first base, would put the Cardinals ahead 2-0 on a two ball, two strike delivery from Jon Lieber of the Philadelphia Phillies. The home run was the 170th of Albert’s still young career. Later in that same inning, Molina would drive the first pitch he seen out of the park with Mark Grudzielanek and Abraham Nunez on second and third, putting the Cardinals ahead 5-0. It is the only time to date that the duo has gone deep in the same inning. The team would go on to win the game 8-4 and our bro-mance begins to take hold.

The tandem would not wait long for a repeat performance and would not waste the curtain call on a road crowd this time. Back in the confines of Busch Stadium, it would be Molina who would put his name in the box score first with a solo shot off the Pittsburgh Pirates starter Mark Redman in the bottom of the third inning of a scoreless game on June 25, 2005. The Cardinals would be ahead 5-0 when Pujols would step to the plate against reliever Ryan Vogelsong. Chris Carpenter and David Eckstein would score from second and third on Albert’s dinger, his 180th of his career, and the final runs of the Cardinals 8-0 win that day.

Two years and a combined 114 home runs would pass before the two hitters would find themselves going yard in the same game again. During a game in St. Louis that the Cardinals would go on to win 6-4 on August 22, 2007, Albert’s two run homer in the bottom of the first inning off Florida Marlins’ starter Scott Olsen would plate So Taguchi and mark the 280th career long ball of his career. It was the 20th home run of Yadier Molina’s career, a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth off of Olsen, that would put the duo’s name in the box score side by side for the third time.

May 3, 2008 would mark the first time the pair would go deep in the same game with no one on base as the Cardinals would drop a game to the rival Chicago Cubs 9-3. Molina would touch the Chicago Cubs’ Ted Lilly for a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth while Albert would follow suit in the bottom of the sixth.

Albert would once again reach the thirty home run plateau on September 1, 2008 as he would take one of the best left handed hurlers of the time, Randy Johnson, out of the ballpark in Arizona in the top of the third inning with Ryan Ludwick on second base. While Johnson could seem untouchable at times, it was Molina that actually reached him first with a solo shot in the top of the second that day, his sixth of the year and 28th of his career. Johnson would get the last laugh as the Diamondbacks would hold on to win 8-6.

The Pittsburgh Pirates starter Ian Snell would take the mound in St. Louis and yield a two-run home run to Albert Pujols in the bottom of the third, scoring Colby Rasmus. The game was already out of hand with the Cardinals leading 8-1 by the time Yadier Molina would take relief pitcher Donald Veal deep for a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, but the teammates had left the ballpark in the same game for the sixth time and the team would hold on to win 9-3.

Not quite a month later, the subjects of our discussion would again enjoy some home cooking and find themselves producing a pair of solo shots on Cinqo De Mayo 10-7 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was Molina taking Brett Meyers out of the park in the bottom of the fourth and Albert greeting his old friend Brad Lidge in the bottom of the ninth to achieve the feat this time.

The eighth such game would occur once again in St. Louis, this time against the Colorado Rockies. The Cardinals would lose 11-4 but it would mark the third time in one season that the pair would go deep in the same game, more than any other year to date. Rockies starter Jorge de la Rosa would give up solo shots to the pair in the bottom of the sixth for Pujols and bottom of the seventh for Molina.

The only time the two would leave the yard in the same game in 2010 would also be the only game featuring multiple home runs from one of them. The Cardinals would visit the Cincinnatti Reds to open the season on April 5, 2010 and Aaron Harang would find himself in trouble early, giving up a solo home run to Albert in the top of the first. Albert was not done for the day and would hit a two run homer in the top of the seventh off Mike Lincoln, driving in Brendan Ryan from first. Yadi would get to put the nail in the coffin on this day as he would take Nick Masset out of the yard in grand fashion, emptying the full bases and driving in Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus and Felipe Lopez, giving the Cardinals an 11-6 opening day victory.

June 16, 2011 in the Nation’s capital would find the backstop and first baseman reaching the bleachers once again. It was the Nationals’ Tyler Clippard surrendering a solo shot to Albert in the eighth and his bullpen mate Drew Storen who could not contain Yadier Molina in the ninth from a solo shot of his own. The team did not fair as well, dropping the game 7-4.

The eleventh and most current game to feature the two men hitting home runs in the same game would occur on July 22, 2011 in Pittsburgh. Pirates starter Paul Maholm would serve up a two run bomb to Pujols, his 430th of his career, scoring Jon Jay from first. Chris Resop would be on the mound in the eight when Yadi would find a way to drive the ball over the fence for the 47th time in his career, giving the Cardinals a 6-4 victory over the suddenly competitive Pirates.

The duo will continue to grace the field in the same uniform for the remainder of 2011. Beyond that, the story has yet to be written, but time will tell if the career numbers might continue to coincide for years to come or fans may need to relish the few games they have left with two superstars in the same lineup.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Mike Sweeney Retires A Royal

As I was sitting here, working away today, all of a sudden the Royals wire got very hot. Mike Sweeney was going to make an announcement with the Royals. Quickly the word came that Sweeney was going to retire from baseball and he wanted to do it as a Royal. This not so secret announcement became official about 4pm when Around the Horn KC made the announcement:

The #Royals have signed Mike Sweeney to a one-day contract. Sweeney has announced his retirement from baseball.
Official Royals Blog

This hits home for many Kansas City Royals fans. Sweeney has had a mixed reaction in Kansas City when he appeared on the Royals Hall of Fame Ballot this year. I would be surprised if him and Appier are not voted into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame this year but many people remember him negatively and don’t think anyone other than Appier should get in on the ballot. I tend to always see the positive in the Royals so I asked some of my twitter and facebook followers to describe what Mike Sweeney meant to them.

Some remember Sweeney in a positive fashion. Andrew Johnson lamented he was the most personable Royal when he was a kid. Lana Royer remembered him as beloved, never lazy and someone the fans miss. One of my twitter followers spoke common words among many fans; “Good guy, good player, hated by most royals fans cause he got a (large) contract, got hurt…”. Shizzyrocks on twitter said, “He has always been wrongfully hated.” Many people echoed the part about being unfairly hated because he earned a huge contract for being the “best player on a terrible team,” as griney55 on twitter said.

It is easy for me to say how great the Royals legends are but I think it’s important to really realize how great of an all around human being Sweeny was on top of being a great player. Start with how great of a player he was. Sweeney played 12 years in Kansas City. He was an All-Star 5 of those years (2000-2003, 2005) and received MVP votes 3 of those seasons, never finishing above 11th (2002) in the voting. 2002 was his best season where he hit .340. This is the 2nd highest batting average in Royals history behind George Brett’s near .400 season. Had it not been for a 2-16 final four games, Sweeney would have won the AL batting crown.

Sweeney made no more than 265,000 his first 5 years before getting a bump to $2.25 Million his first MVP caliber season. His contract rose over the next couple years before getting a $55 Million contract. (On a side note what is it with $55 million contracts and the Royals but I digress.) This contract garnered much anger from the public. It could easily be argued he had earned it after having 3 MVP-like seasons and he would have probably still been loved but the later years of the contract were absolutely injury ridden. In fact when I asked how some remembered him at least 20-30% of the responses included injured or injury prone.

Sweeney was sent to the disabled list with nerve irritation in 2003 an injury that would create multiple stints between 2003 and 2006. In 2006 he played only 60 games while making $11 million. This started to turn the home town fans against him. He actually did have good offense during his late years in KC but was restricted to the DH and limited on at bats due to the injuries.

Sweeney was not resigned by Kansas City in 2008 and he signed a minor league deal with the Oakland Athletics. After a strong spring, Oakland did purchase Sweeney’s contract but the injury bug would strike again and Sweeney was laid up with arthroscopic surgery for four weeks on June 11th. He returned but was cut September 9th. 2009 saw Sweeney get a Spring invite to the Mariners and he would make the Opening Day Roster. He was removed from the game due to back spasms in his very first at bat. His first home run as a Mariner was the 200th of his career and ironically came against former club, The Oakland Athletics. Sweeney would return to the K and hit his 100th home run in that venue, this one coming as a member of the visiting team.

Sweeney received another minor league deal with the Mariners and actually beat out Ryan Garko for the starting 1b job. The Mariners sent him to the Phillies for cash later that season. He would make his one and only playoff appearance going 1-1 in the NLDS.

Sweeney signed a 1 day contract March 25, 2011 and retired a Kansas City Royal.

While Sweeney had a decent career, he should also be applauded for what he was as a person. Sweeney was beloved by many from all around the country. When I asked on twitter for people to give what they thought of Sweeney, I had many local responses, some I mentioned above but I also received from Sarah in Texas (@luckiexstar), “pretty much nicest guy ever :)” and from Sam Endicott (@cottman3) “And that when I worked for the SF Giants Spring Training he shook my hand and smiled when I gave him directions to the clubhouse.” These people are not in the Royal Blue Sea every day and they echoed many of the local thoughts of the man. Other local thoughts included Clinton Corley (@clintoninc) “class act player who played the game the right way. Great w/ fans and with players around the league”. And Clinton DeMontel (@Clintonde) “Mike Sweeney is the best man in professional sports. Hard work, dedication, a rich, rightful life. All of these come to mind”. These 2 summed up how many in KC felt. I personally remember the 2010 Royals Fan Fest where he came as a fan and signed autographs as people asked until he got swarmed and his little boy got scared by the mass of people. He then had security around him mostly to protect his child and allow him to enjoy his time. He didn’t have to come to fan fest but he wanted to be around a team he loved. A couple weeks later he was signed by the Mariners, but that day I felt he was a Kansas City Royal again.

Sweeney has several awards for Community Involvement. Some of these awards include (but not limited to) The Royals Mr. Baseball award which is the top honor at the Royals award dinner and is named after Ewing Kauffman. The Royals present an award bearing Sweeney’s name annually to the player in the organization who has been the best representative on and off the field. He was also a nominee for the Roberto Clemente award and is still involved in Kansas City’s Mercy Children’s hospital and Boys and Girls Clubs.
Most will remember him as a positive man who loved the city and the city loved back. Some remember him as a zealot while others remember him standing for something he believed in. While many Kansas City fans may have once remembered him as an over paid player, injury prone player , most will remember him as a class act who played the game right. So few players play the game the way he did. Injuries or not, Mike Sweeney was a great player and this is one fan who is happy to know that Mike Sweeney is now and forever a Kansas City Royal.

In closing Sam Endicott asked me: “Do you think the #Royals retire Sweeney’s number??” Sam, I don’t know. I seriously doubt it because when you think about the three retired, they are the best of the best. Let’s see if Sweeney gets into the Royals Hall Of Fame and go from there. If they don’t I will not be surprised but if they do I would be all for it.

Mike Sweeney’s Career Stats
Hits Doubles Home Runs RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS
1540 325 215 909 .297 .366 .486 .851

Thank you Mike Sweeney for being a great player on some truly awful teams. I hope you call Kansas City your post baseball home because the city would be proud to have you as part of this organization for many years to come.

Troy “KCRoyalman” Olsen can be found on twitter (@kcroyalman) and here on I-70 Baseball every Monday with Bill Ivie at 10pm central time.

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Giving Thanks For Kansas City Baseball

A few things I am thankful for in the KC baseball universe.

1. The Farm

Royals GM Dayton Moore’s ProcessTM of building through the draft took a quantum leap forward in 2010, and the Royals boast the consensus pick for most loaded farm system in the universe. Royals fans could often look past another lost season at the big-league level and find eye-popping performances from kids down on the farm and dream about things to come. 2010 was an unabashed success on the farm, which was more crucial than a successful year in the bigs. It has been repeated many times in Royals-land, but that’s because it is freaking awesome: It is assumed KC will earn Baseball America’s top ranked farm system this off-season, and the last 10 organizations so named have reached the major league postseason within four years.

2. Royals Nerdosphere

Though Royals followers have not been rewarded with great play on the diamond in recent years, we do enjoy more than our fair share of great Royals coverage from both professionals and amateurs. With so much insightful, passionate coverage of a bad team, sometimes reading, writing and discussing the Royals is more fun than actually watching them. My Twitter feed sometimes reads like a support group for us woebegone fans.

I am not sure if it is a paradox or if it makes perfect sense, but the fact is that while the Royals front office has been infamously dismissive of advances in baseball analysis, a large segment of the fan base has swung the other way and make up some of the brightest minds in sabermetrics. Bill James, the grand poobah, grew up a Royals fan. Rob Neyer, a James protégé, was also a KC fan. Joe Posnanski has long covered KC baseball with a saber-tilt. Names familiar to saber nerds such as Rany Jazayerli, Matt Klaassen, Jeff Zimmerman, and many more belong to Royals fans. Jazayerli put it best:

“Sometimes I wonder if the Royals were put on this earth with the express purpose of teaching the world the core principles of sabermetrics…If you want to know why it seems like so much of the Kansas City media—and increasingly, the Kansas City fan base—is so stat-savvy even though the team itself is stuck in the 1970s, it’s precisely because we’ve seen what happens to a team that ignores 30 years of analytical progress. Royals fans understand the value of a walk, because they’ve seen first-hand the consequences of a dismissive approach to plate discipline.”

3. Joe Posnanski

Posnanski is a part of #2 above, but his greatness deserves its own spot. Pos left the Kansas City Star for Sports Illustrated in 2009, and no one was quite sure what that would mean for his unparalleled coverage of the Royals. Thankfully, Pos is apparently a compulsive writer, prolifically commenting about anything and everything at his blog, and since Joe still lives in KC and attends Royals games as a fan, the Royals remain a part of his writing universe. I have a voracious appetite for baseball writing, but if I could only read one scribe, the choice would be easy.

4. Buck O’Neil’s Legacy & The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Buck has been gone for four years now, but his legacy thrives in Kansas City. The Royals honor him every home game by awarding tickets to someone who “embodies an aspect of O’Neil’s spirit” through the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat program. Barbecue baron Ollie Gates has stepped up and is currently funding rehabilitation of the old Paseo YMCA to turn it into the Buck O’Neil Education & Research Center, and on one side of the building is a new mural of Buck keeping an eye on the 18th & Vine district. Buck’s spirit is most alive at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and though the museum has seen turmoil since Buck’s death, we should not lose sight of what a treasure it is. No struggle for power or financial woes can eclipse the vitality of the story the museum tells. Just as baseball itself is bigger than the many scandals it has endured, the inspirational story of Negro Leagues baseball is bigger than any problems at the museum.

5. Zack Greinke

Zack may have ruffled a few feathers this season when he voiced frustrations about waiting on a youth movement that may not blossom until after his current contract is up. But the alternative is someone who does not care about winning and/or puts on a filter to ensure they remain uncontroversial (i.e. boring). If Zack had a stricter filter, he would not have told the New York press that he did not want to win with the Yankees but with the Royals. For a franchise that has gotten so much wrong, Zack is the best current reminder that sometimes things go right. And if you think Zack was not good in 2010, I would suggest you take a deeper look at his numbers. In a year that he was not his best, he was still excellent. Now if Dayton Moore can extend Zack instead of trading him, maybe Moore can make my thanks giving list next year.

6. Unions, Cowboys, Packers, Blues, Monarchs, & A’s, Oh My

1888 Kansas City Cowboys

The history of professional baseball in Kansas City is long and rich, and learning about the teams that preceded the Royals provides context that enhances the present. Pro baseball first came to KC in 1884 in the form of the Union Association “Unions,” and Kansas City has hosted pro baseball every year since with the exception of 1968. We have enjoyed more than our share of great players and personalities: by the count of Curt Nelson, director of the Royals Hall of Fame, 43 members of the baseball Hall of Fame have ties to Kansas City teams.

7. Kansas City Baseball Historical Society & SABR Monarchs Chapter

In that vein, I’m thankful for a couple of organizations geared to people who enjoy the history of the game in KC. The Kansas City Baseball Historical Society formed in 2008, and host an impressive list of Kansas City baseball names as guest speakers at monthly meetings. Moderator David Starbuck does a fantastic job, and the guests relive fascinating and often hilarious stories of KC’s baseball past. The group also puts on a large Kansas City A’s reunion every summer. The Society For American Baseball Research (SABR) is a national institution, represented in KC by the Monarchs Chapter. The chapter meets twice a year, and also pulls in engaging speakers.

8. Kauffman Stadium & Royals Fans Therein

Kauffman Stadium may not get the recognition it deserves on the national level, but Royals fans know what a gem the park is. The recent renovations brought the amenities up to date while maintaining the soul and feel of the park where Royals fans have made memories for 35+ years. On a nice day, there is nowhere else in the world I’d rather be. I am thankful for the Royals fans that keep going to the K and cheering the Royals, losing season after losing season. They are a friendly and good-natured bunch. Relative to the size of our city and the product on the field, I find our attendance numbers impressive. And if #1 on this list pans out the way we all hope, the K will really start rocking again.

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The Baseball Digest “Tenth Inning” Facebook Essay Contest

“A star works at being a star … that’s how you tell a star in baseball. He shows up night after night and takes pride in how brightly he shines. He’s Wilie Mays running so hard his hat keeps falling off; Ty Cobb sliding to stretch a single into a double; Lou Gehrig, after being fooled in his first two at-bats, belting the next pitch off the light tower because he’s taken the time to study the pitcher. Stars never take themselves for granted. That’s why they’re stars.” – Jim Murray

Jim Murray was one of the greatest sportswriters who ever lived, and his excellence earned him a Pulitzer Prize as well as enshrinement in the Baseball Hall Of Fame. One of the great things about the Internet and social media is that I have found there are thousands of budding Jim Murrays out there.

If you’re one of these once and future baseball scribes, you can show off your writing chop by entering to win the BaseballDigest.com BASEBALL Essay Contest!

Entering is easy, just go to the Baseball Digest Facebook page, sign up, and post what your essay is going to be about*. Then, send your essay (no more than 500 words) to Baseball Digest Online Editor Mark Healey (mhealey@baseballdigest.com).

If your essay is chosen as a winner, it will be published on BaseballDigest.com and you’ll be entered to win the Grand Prize of a copy of “BASEBALL” The 2010 DVD Boxed Set (which includes The Tenth Inning).

*Only entries by certified Baseball Digest Facebook followers are eligible to be selected for the Grand Prize drawing.

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Cardinals Host Social Media Night

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.

Bill Ivie and Derrick Goold

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.

Bill Ivie and Matthew Leach

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.

L-R Front row: Pip, Fungoes Second row: Joe, The McBrayer-Baseball Blog; Nick, Pitchers Hit Eighth; Justin, i70baseball; Daniel, C70 At The Bat; Bill, i70baseball; Tom, CardinalsGM Back row: Chris, Bird Brained; Mike, Stan Musial's Stance; Matt, Baseball Digest; Justin, Rising Redbirds (and others); Steve, Play A Hard Nine

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.

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