Archive for June, 2007

Autozone Park: 6/24/07
Redbirds vs Zephyrs

Monday, June 25th, 2007

I felt like I’d stepped into a parallel universe watching 2 of my favorite players from the turn of the century Cardinals each homer in their first plate appearance of Sunday’s minor league contest between the Memphis Redbirds and the New Orleans Zephyrs. Fernando Tatis went deep off Blake Hawksworth in the top of the first, while Rick Ankiel answered with his 20th homer of the season in the bottom half. Full marks for the player intro music selections, especially All Along the Watchtower for Ankiel – the Cardinals could learn a lot from the Redbirds in this regard.

Busch Stadium: 6/19/07
Cardinals vs Royals

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Brad Thompson pitched well for the Cardinals conceding just a single run in 7 innings to the visiting Royals. Chris Duncan continues to show signs of recovery from a knee infection as he belted a 2-run homer in the 2nd. The Cards added 3 more runs in the 3rd with singles from Thompson, Taguchi, Spiezio and Duncan with a Pujols sac-fly mixed in. The pitching carried them the rest of the way as the Cards beat the Royals 5-1 in their shortest game of the season, clocking in at just 2 hours 10 minutes.

Scott Rolen makes the play Note the Brendan Ryan - Scott Spiezio combo up the middle Kip Wells gets paid to sit on his ass
Juan Encarnacion had his 18-game hit streak snapped Scott Elarton pitches to Albert Pujols as So Taguchi leads off 1st Brad Thompson scores on a Pujols sac-fly
Bleacher fans battle the sun Adam Wainwright, Aaron Miles, Ryan Ludwick, and Todd Wellemeyer appreciate every moment in The Show View down Spruce St from below the Musial Bridge
Looking down on the 3rd base side Sunset 2 days before the summer solstice Pujols plays off the bag in front of Emil Brown
Brad Thompson reaches back Brad Thompson pitches View of westbound Hwy 40 from the Busch Stadium sign
It's a great night for a ballgame Sun pokes through above the top row Sun sets on Busch Stadium

Busch Stadium: 6/10/07
Cardinals vs Angels

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Albert Pujols homered twice and Todd Wellemeyer pitched 5+ effective innings as the Cardinals avoided being swept by the Angels. There was light rain throughout much of the game but there were no delays. Scott Spiezio provided some insurance with a 3-run homer in the 7th and the Cards cruised to a 9-6 victory.

Special Comment – 06/10/07

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

It’s been over a year now since the new Busch Stadium was completed. Since then the site where the old stadium previously stood has been neglected to the point where if someone unfamiliar with the situation came to visit from out of town they might think it was ground zero of a terrorist attack.

I’m normally not one to publicly criticize the Cardinals ownership. As far as sports team owners go, we could do a lot worse. This group has an established track record of fielding contending ballclubs year-in, year-out – and I’m grateful for all the aesthetic improvements made to the old stadium in the mid 90s that transformed a ‘cookie-cutter’ stadium into the majestic palace us fans remember so fondly.

Maybe that’s why I’m writing this – because the stadium we were just learning to love was taken from us a mere decade after it had been reborn. Just because some group of filthy rich businessmen gave Anheuser-Busch a pile of cash doesn’t give them the right to go tearing down culturally significant landmarks in our city. The decaying emptiness where old Busch stood for nearly 40 years disrespects the people of St Louis as well as the legacy and spirit of Gussie Busch – a man whose greatness can be measured by the fact that he has a number retired in his honor alongside the likes of Musial and Gibson. Gussie Busch and the people of St Louis built that stadium, and neither Gussie (wherever he may be) nor the citizens of St Louis will forget what the current Cardinals ownership have taken from us.

I’m aware that nothing lasts forever, and that the club was at a financial competitive disadvantage playing in a nearly 40-year-old crumbling concrete bowl while virtually every other club had a shiny new mallpark optimized to suck the maximum revenue out of its fanbase. I’m sure the purists bitched and whined when the club moved from Sportsman’s Park as well. I can live with the team relocating to a new stadium, but I’m not sure it was necessary to demolish one of the finest architectural structures in our city (you need a ballpark site, I can get you a ballpark site – there are ways – you don’t want to know about it, believe me – I can get you a ballpark site by 3-o’clock this afternoon with nail polish), but what’s done is done and no amount of ranting on the Internet is going to bring our stadium back.

Let me say this though: The 2006 World Series title on top of a decade long run of contending teams does not absolve them from these sins. This town had tasted World Series champagne 9 times before this group took over. Consistent winning requires contributions from players, management, ownership, and the fans. Everyone must keep up their end of the bargain or the system breaks down (see: the 1950s, the 1970s, and the early 1990s). The players must win the games. The front office must acquire the right players. We must show up and spend our money. The ownership must keep everyone happy, and they in turn get rewarded with higher revenues. Everybody wins when the team wins. While I’m personally grateful to have ownership that has (up until recently anyway) shown a commitment to winning, all they’re really doing is holding up their end of the bargain. I’ll say it again: The 2006 World Series title on top of a decade long run of contending teams does not absolve them from these sins.

I don’t want to hear another word about additional public funding for Ballpark Village until this ownership group earns back some credibility in this town. They created this mess, now they need to clean it up. At the very least level out the ground, lay down some sod, plant some trees, and leave it as green space until plans for further development can be negotiated. At this point, they’ve blown all credibility on matters pertaining to Ballpark Village. Time and again claims made by the Cardinals PR department about the new stadium and Ballpark Village have turned out to be nothing short of lies.

When Clark Street is “rebuilt” through the site after Busch Stadium comes down, fans and motorists traveling along Clark Street will be able to enjoy unobstructed views into the ballpark, including the playing field itself!
-Official Cardinals Web Site

Actual View:

It doesn’t get any more obstructed than that. I always thought this was a major selling point of the new stadium: that pedestrians walking by could check out an inning or two without paying for a ticket. You can do this at Wrigley, and I believe at other stadiums as well. Unfortunately the owners have opted to install additional rows of seating that make it impossible to see the field from outside the gate.

Every fan who comes to the Ballpark will also enjoy improved concessions, family entertainment options, and restroom conveniences that were impossible to provide in Busch Stadium due to its age and restricted configuration.
-Official Cardinals Web Site

When I go to the concession stand, my primary concern is that I be able follow the game while away from my seat. The old ballpark had TV monitors inside the concession areas that made it easy to follow the game while you waited in line. The new ballpark has the TV monitors outside of the concession stands making it impossible to watch the game once you get within 2 or so people from the front of the line. Also, it’s difficult to watch TV outdoors during the daytime because of the glare. For this reason alone, I view the new stadium concessions as inferior to the old stadium. I hope the ownership remedies this issue at some point in the future.

There are also a number of unique standing room and group gathering areas that will give fans limitless opportunities to roam the Ballpark and take in spectacular views of the action on the field.
-Official Cardinals Web Site

The part about limitless opportunities to view the action on the field is a crock of shit, and the worst part is that the old stadium had exactly what is being described here, with two circular walkways (one on the lower level, and one on the upper deck) that allowed anyone with a ticket to view the field from any angle high or low. The new stadium has no such walkways, nor does it allow anyone without privileged access to take in the view from dead center field. Additionally, the areas behind home plate have been roped off for the elites on every level other than the upper deck.

Behind home plate open access view in the old stadium

Behind home plate open access view in the new stadium

At the old ballpark I could roam anywhere in the stadium with the exception of the club level and the field boxes. In the new ballpark I’m restricted to only the highest and furthest most areas from home plate. It was infinitely easier to roam the ballpark and take in the spectacular views of the action on the field in the old stadium – especially the areas behind home plate.

In summation, they tore down our beloved stadium, didn’t keep their promises about the new stadium, and now they’re leaving a huge gaping eyesore in the heart of our city until John Q Taxpayer finances their next real estate project.

I can only imagine what Gussie Busch would say if he were alive today…