Last weekend’s exhibition games against the St. Louis Cardinals was significant in that it issued in the Redbirds first taste of baseball in AutoZone Park of 2009, but it was special for other reasons as well. Primarily, it introduced two vulnerable, naive youths named Ben and Alex to the tumultuous, tenacious world of professional baseball.
We did manage to have some fairly great experiences. In a weekend certainly filled with more highs than lows, the two of us are pleased to announce some of our personal highlights and not-so-highlights of the weekend.
1. Getting quotes in the Cardinals clubhouse – My first brush with a major league clubhouse was an absolutely surreal mix of stonewashed denim, tattoos and Rambo. Everyone was extremely personable and answered questions, which was great for a guy who was unbelievably nervous about the whole thing. Awesome.
2. Albert Pujols’ monster performance over the weekend – On Friday night alone, he posted a 3-for-5 outing with a homer and six RBI. He definitely put on the performance everyone wanted to see over the weekend. Super awesome.
3. Jose Oquendo – The Cardinals third-base coach and all-around legend decided to get in an at-bat in Saturday’s exhibition game, earning the walk and eventually making it all the way to third base. Baseball dreams do come true. Undeniably awesome.
Not the best:
Tripping in the Redbirds radio booth – It’s hard to make friends with broadcasters when you misjudge steps and form-tackle trash cans live on-air. I can only assume the sound of clanging aluminum raises more questions than answers from the listeners’ perspective. Embarrassingly awesome.
1. The Cardinals Clubhouse – Finally getting experience interviewing professional athletes. Who better to break me in than Tony La Russa? I was fortunate enough to be in there with a few other interviewers, who knew what they were doing. Pretty cool.
2. Getting stared down by Albert Pujols – I enjoy taking photos and I was granted access to the field during warm-ups. I was really close to Albert Pujols and started taking some photos. A few pictures in he turned his head and stared me down. It was evident he wasn’t going to back down so I turned and took pictures of the player he was throwing to. Really just being able to take photos on the field was a privilege.
3. Action in Press Box – I was finally able to see how it all works. From the FOX Sports truck to the delicious buffet, there were a lot of people running around and getting everything in order, including myself. There was a buzz in the air. I think everyone was ready for professional baseball in the AZP.
Yellow – I never thought I’d be saying this about my favorite color, but wearing a pale yellow game day polo in a Cardinal-red dominated clubhouse certainly didn’t help me blend in. And for a rookie interviewer unsure who to interview, I have trouble believing that I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Still, the experience will not forget.
This weekend was unquestionably phenomenal, but it’s only the tip of a giant, diamond-shaped iceberg. The Redbirds officially kick off their season Thursday, April 9, when they take on the Oklahoma City RedHawks, so expect the good times to keep rolling all summer long. All-in-all, we’re pretty pumped about some catching some Redbirds baseball this year.