Originally posted on B3: Big, Bald and Beautiful:
With the amount of contributions from rookies the Cardinals are getting, I suppose we could stay with them throughout the rest of their run. Given Kolten Wong’s ninth-inning heroics in Game 2, and the fact that we’ve spoken with the rookie second baseman a TON since his draft year in 2011, he was the obvious choice. Let’s take a look:
- It started with a pre-Draft story on Wong, who was coming out of the University of Hawaii and ready to show that his size really didn’t matter.
- He had a huge junior season with the bat and we ranked him No. 25 on the Draft Top 50 in 2011.
- Wong really wanted to attend the Draft in 2011, but a family illness kept him from making the long trip to MLB Network. Instead, he joined the broadcast via phone:
- He had a huge first full season in the Minors…
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Originally posted on For The Win:
The St. Louis Cardinals clinched the NL Central pennant for the fifth time in the last decade on Sunday after the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 4-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. The Cards will return to MLB’s postseason for the fourth consecutive year as they look to win their 12th championship in franchise history.
Here are 17 awesome things about the Cardinals:
1. Perennial excellence
The Cardinals have become this era’s answer to the Yankees of the late 1990s: They’re always good and they seem to always have more good players on the way, so baseball fans everywhere outside St. Louis now hate them. But it’s a testament to their management that they’ve established themselves as perennial contenders.
2. Adam Wainwright’s curveball
Wainwright doesn’t draw as much national attention as Clayton Kershaw, but he’s been fantastic whenever he has been healthy in his career. His big curveball is…
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The baseball year has come to a close and the 15th season at AutoZone Park has concluded. Thanks to all the fans who made us apart of your summer. Take a look back at the 2014 season with a breakdown of the numbers and statistics during the Redbirds’ Division Championship campaign.
Xavier Scruggs (@Xavier_Scruggs) was drafted by St. Louis in 2008 out of UNLV and is in the midst of his seventh professional season. He grew up in California and attended Poway High School in San Diego. The infielder spent the past two seasons with the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals, where he is the all-time career home runs leader with 59.
“A few years ago I was blogging for Scout.com and had a great time doing it,” Scruggs said. “I wrote about winter ball and my season in Springfield. When the Redbirds Media team ap
proached me about blogging, I immediately thought about how awesome it would be to give fans an inside look on a player’s thoughts and everyday experiences.”
From June 17, 2014
One of my favorite parts of playing this game is the opportunity to develop relationships with my teammates, coaches and others associated with the team. I know some of these guys better than others from playing with some longer than others.
For example, I have been playing with Jermaine Curtis since I was in high school. We played on the same travel team back in Southern California (Orange County Shockers). We played against each other in college multiple times as well. Eric Fornataro is another guy in the same boat. He was in the same draft class along with Jermaine and I. Eric and I have been to every level of the minors together and have even been roommates. We have both spent the past few off-seasons working out in Tampa, as well as running camps and giving lessons. Being Eric’s teammate for so long I get to see the type of work he puts in. Whether it is in the weight room or on the field before the game even happens, he is easily one of the hardest working and strongest pitchers I have ever played with. It’s cool to see the work that a lot of people outside of our team aren’t privileged to witness. The best part is seeing it pay off on the field.
Fans can’t even begin to understand how enjoyable it is to be around players like Greg Garcia and Oscar Taveras because of the strong energy they bring to the clubhouse. Both guys always seem to be smiling and keeping things loose. I admire how hard they work and the will to push their teammates to be better. It’s contagious to become a better hitter when you are around guys who are constantly working on their swing like Tommy Pham and Steven Piscotty. A lot of people don’t get to see the work that is put in the behind the scenes before it gets transferred out onto the field. Many would be in awe if they saw the practice hours put in on the same swing. If fans saw the way Pham works on his defense, not letting a single ball drop that comes within his radius during batting practice, they would have a better appreciation for when he makes a difficult catch look routine. Teammates are just what make this game what it is. There are so many different personalities and so many different backgrounds but they all come together.
It’s almost surreal that we have guys on our team with so much time in the big leagues. I learn so much from being around guys like David Aardsma, Pedro Feliciano, Scott Moore, Shane Robinson and Pete Kozma. I don’t take moments around them for granted. My eyes and ears are always open around them, taking every opportunity to retain information that will help me better my own game. There are also those guys that in my own biased opinion, are just flat out my favorite to watch. I love seeing Jorge Rondon pitch just because he throws so hard and has so much movement. Often times it looks as if the opposing hitters don’t even have a chance. He is constantly slinging the ball and throwing flames. I love to watch Luis Mateo on defense as well because of the pride he takes in his game. His glove work is smooth and the way he fields the ball is always in rhythm. True fans of the game can notice how his fluidity on defense is as good as it gets.
Often times it’s so easy for us as players to get caught up in the offensive side of the game and trying so hard to be a productive hitter, we lose sight on bettering the other aspects of our game. That’s why it is so fun to watch my roommate Randal Grichuk play this game. Every aspect of his game is just incredible to watch, from hitting to base-running and defense, he is such a powerful and explosive athlete. Don’t tell him I said that though because he might get a big head.
My point is that I have a strong appreciation for my teammates and how they perform because I get to see them behind the scenes. Every player is different and every personality is unique. Whether it is a guy like Jermaine who I have played with for a while or the hometown guy like Ed Easley who I’m playing with for the first time, every player forms a big part in shaping our team. Sometimes I just think about how all the guys in the clubhouse are the people I spend the most time with, even more than my family. I don’t want to get all mushy here, but these relationships we build are what make this game truly what it is. Everyone has something different to offer to the team.
The next time fans watch a game, I hope they aren’t just waiting for that big home run, but instead paying attention to the details. They should be watching the little things that make each player different from one another, then consider how each player benefits the team. Fans need to take a look into the dugout and pick out a certain player to watch specifically for an inning or two. Maybe it’ll change how they watch the game. Maybe they’ll start learning things they never knew before…
Looking for the best way to celebrate your Independence Day weekend? Come out to AutoZone Park as the Redbirds open a seven-game homestand against the division rivals New Orleans Zephyrs and Nashville Sounds. A fireworks show will take place following the games on Friday and Saturday with a red rally towel giveaway on the 4th (1,000 fans). In addition, a special auction will be held during the game Friday as fans will have the opportunity to bid on game-used, autographed “Stars & Stripes” hats.
Ever wondered what it would be like to catch the Memphis Redbirds’ pre-game batting practice? Enjoy the exclusive footage of your favorite players filmed around AutoZone Park.
The life of a professional baseball player is tough. With the season beginning at the start of April and running through September, players are forced to make baseball a way of life instead of just a hobby. The hours of travel and time spent around teammates in a clubhouse seem never-ending when the season comes to a close. The ups and down of a full year of baseball can bring tension to even the calmest athlete. But most players make sure not to let these things get in the way of having fun.
Fans hear of community visits, games, pranks and other ways that players enjoy their long season with one another. Some ballplayers follow a pre-game routine or make sure to wear a certain undershirt out of superstition. But what Redbirds infielder Greg Garcia has done has shaped the way his team and others in the St. Louis organization interact before every game.
Garcia, a seventh-round selection in 2010 out of the University of Hawaii, has recruited a majority of his fellow Redbirds to participate in something every player looks forward to: pre-game handshakes. And these hand-slapping, wing-flapping, chest-bumping moves have taken over the Redbirds’ dugout.
Originating in rookie-level Johnson City during the 2010 season, Garcia and then-teammate Travis Tartamella compiled a basic handshake that enlisted the whole team following a win. As the infielder progressed through the various levels of the Cardinals’ organization, so did the number of different routines. By 2012, when Garcia was stationed with the Springfield Cardinals in the Texas League, “everyone had a handshake with everyone.” It was something he made sure he carried over to Memphis during his first season with the Redbirds in 2013.
For the variety of handshakes that Garcia possesses, coming up with fresh material can be a challenge. It is something he relies on strange methods to produce.
“Usually the handshakes come to me in a dream so I see them before they happen,” Garcia jokingly said. “But honestly, guys will come up with ideas and run them by me. If I like the idea then we’ll go with it and if it works, it works.”
The second baseman prefers no particular order to perform the eight to nine pre-game handshakes. For him, it is whoever comes down off the field into the dugout from stretching first. Having no specific order helps keep Garcia on his toes, which he appreciates considering the depth and speed of each handshake.
“It’s like a dance routine honestly,” Garcia explained. “I just practice them enough that it becomes second nature to me. I see a guys face, just let my instincts go and the handshake comes out.”
Unfortunately, it is not always that simple. Garcia said that messing up a teammates’ individual handshake is “like stepping on a girls’ toes when dancing.” Forgetting a move can be embarrassing for both players involved, although the Redbirds’ leadoff hitter claims it to be rare.
Making a mistake is always in the back of his mind though and when he was promoted to St. Louis in May to make his Major League debut, Garcia was cautious about his pre-game routine.
“I only did it with Grich (referring to Randal Grichuk who was promoted to St. Louis at the same time as Garcia) when we were both there together,” Garcia hesitantly admitted, “but we did it in the corner where no one could see us. It wasn’t like it is here. I wasn’t as comfortable doing it up there.”
If fans get to the park early enough, they will witness a third base dugout full of players partaking in what has become series business. Garcia has enough handshakes with his Memphis teammates to fill a starting lineup. Of those recruited, Redbirds’ catcher Ed Easley confessed their handshake gets him ready for every game.
“I know when Greg comes to me for our handshake, it’s time to lock it in,” Easley stated.
When it comes down to it, Garcia’s easy-going attitude has translated something as simple as a handshake into a staple within the Redbirds’ clubhouse
“It’s just something we do to keep the clubhouse light and fun before the game and it kind of bonds you a little bit with the other guys,” Garcia said.