I'd rather be lucky than good

I come to you from the main press box at Yankee Stadium, and things are warming up at T-minus three hours till game time. The players have arrived, and they’re signing stuff, trading stuff and getting their free iPods and other goodies. The media have arrived and staked out our work spaces. And at this moment, it appears the gates have opened to fans, and the AL stars are taking batting practice.

I’ve already had a pretty full day. Along with fellow dot-commers Alyson Footer, Anthony Castrovince and Corey Brock, I recorded a “roundtable” video program at MLB.com’s studios in Chelsea. Then I picked up some Fat Witch brownies (hi, Erin!) and completed the Manhattan Espresso Tour with a shot at Ninth Street Espresso’s location in Chelsea Market.

From there it was on to The Stadium, with stops for plenty of photos between when I arrived on the subway and when I actually walked through the press gate. Made a visit to Monument Park, my first time ever going out there, and yeah, it was very cool.

One thing I’ve noticed all day — everybody is taking photos. Media, stadium and league officials, security and police, everybody. This event is a big deal.

So I came upstairs and set up in the main box, where I’m extremely lucky to be stationed tonight. I’ve never seen an All-Star Game from anywhere other than a workroom, so this will be special.

The highlight of the day so far for me, though, came shortly thereafter. I ran across some Cardinals officials, and knowing that one of my assignments tonight is a story on starting the countdown to the 2009 game, I asked one official if he had a few minutes to spare.

But he did much more than spare a few minutes — I was invited along on their tour of the stadium. While a large delegation of Cards representatives saw all the things they’ve done to Yankee Stadium to prepare it for the All-Star Game, I got to tag along. All the nooks and crannies, all the rooms they converted into special-purpose spaces for just this week. Very, very cool, and simply a product of some perfect timing.

Now it’s time to start looking ahead to the game, and this may be my last post tonight on OYNAG. That’s because I’ll be live-blogging the game for MLB.com. Come on over to AllStarGame.MLBlogs.com, starting at about 6 pm CT, for frequent updates throughout the evening.

-M, off to buy souvenirs.

54 Comments

Sweet! Dude…you should totally buy a cheap, yet Yankee Stadium ASG unique souvenire and use it as a give away here on your blog! What I wouldn’t give for a piece of that history…man…

Oh…and my 9 year old son is dying for an AP autograph…so if it wouldn’t be too much trouble…no? I thought not…thanks, Matt!

hehe…have fun!

Are you serious? These guys are getting paid at the very LEAST in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they get FREE IPODS?!?

Ridiculous, isn’t it. That’s one of these things that really sucks. Rich people getting tons of freebies, because of who they are…as if they need any more perks. Disgusting!

How exciting to get to go on the special tour, Matthew! I have enjoyed seeing Luddy grinning ear to ear every time they show him on TV. I don’t begrudge them any of the goodies and special treatment they get.
I finally got to Yankee Stadium last month, for my first and last time. Great visit.

Albert did well representing the Cards (altho he needs to watch that trying to stretch singles into doubles). Ludwick seemed to be one of the happiest guys in the park. From what I see today, it looks like the Padres are ready to deal some pitching (Wolf, Baek, Maddux). Hope the Cards mgt talks to them while they are in town and take a close look at the Pads have to offer. The idea of maybe getting Maddux maybe as a middle innings or a setup man is interesting. He might accept that role if he saw the possibility of getting in another World’s Series. Wolf might benefit from a change of scenery as well.

That was a great All-Star game until it got to the 11th, then it was just dragging on and getting boring. By the time the 14th rolled around, I didn’t care who won as long as it ended soon. Good job managing by Clint Hurdle, and on the other hand a poor job by Francona. And yet Francona & co. still freakin’ won! Ugh! It’s getting very frustrating to be an NL fan in July. They had their chances and blew every one. Very nice sliding catch by Luddy last night. Pujols was safe on that play at 2nd, but that just a bullet by Ichiro out there. I don’t think Albert was stretching a single into a double. He hit the ball off the wall! Ichiro just got an excellent bounce off the wall, then made one of his perfect throws to 2nd. Not APs bad for going to 2nd. Good job overall by the NL. They just couldn’t get that hit when it was needed.

The fact that Albert was running against Ichiro in a 314 ft. right field didn’t help him much, either… :)

Honestly, I thought the extra innings were outstanding! In fact, if the NL won, my MVP vote was going to Aaron Cook…MAN! That lineup and escaped so many critical jams!

And, how honorable was it of Hurdle to stretch out his own pitcher in the extra innings (Cook) rather than risk another team’s pitcher???

Very good job, Hurdle. Lidge loses it again…*sigh*…

What was up with Ryan Ludwick’s batting helmet? It looked like a Reds helmet with a pink STL sticker on the front of it.

Common consensus on some forums suggest Ludwick was so excited he forgot his road helmet (like Albert was wearing). As a result, I’ve heard it said he borrowed Chase Utley’s helmet and put a clear STL logo sticker on it.

I’m being completely serious…

I love Ludwick…that dude is like watching a 10 year old play out his dream every day…

Maddux would never become a setup guy. Ever. He’s a starter, bound for Cooperstown, and wouldn’t accept that assignment.

True Kev. Short right field+ good bounce off the wall+ Ichiro’s arm= OUT! Even though he made a good slide around the tag. Too bad the umps aren’t All-Stars too. I think that ump decided he was out when he saw the throw beat him. I wish more umpires would stay with a play like that and make the right call. No biggy in the ASG, more so in games that count obviously.
I enjoyed the first couple extra innings, especially that 10th that Cook worked around that bases loaded, no outs. But I wouldn’t have given him the MVP, because he got himself into that trouble in the first place. If the NL had won, I’d give the MVP to whoever drove in the game-winner. Especially since so many had a chance and didn’t come through.

I wouldn’t go that far matto. You never know what kind of assignment he’d take on, unless you’re his brother or agent or something. But I wouldn’t want him at this point anyway.

I have a very hard time seeing Maddux doing anything but starting. It’s where his passion is.

I have a hard time seeing that too. But never say never. That’s all I’m saying.

thing is, out of 30 teams, there is going to be someone, somewhere that will want him to start…if, for example, the Blue Jays are the only team willing to put him in the rotation, that’s who he’ll play for…or retire…

You think he’d start for the Royals as opposed to contribute in the ‘pen for, say, the Cubs on their quest to win for the first time in 100 years??

…you know…I see what you’re saying…and obviously, a true, legit shot at a World Series title impacts your decision…

that’s a tough one…

I’ll say this…in a trade situation, if he was able to step onto a World Series bound team in a significant bullpen roll, I think he would take it if no comparable starting job is available.

However, starting the season….he goes where he can start…’cause everyone thinks they can win before April.

That’s true. Do you think he’s about ready to hang ‘em up? I thought he was going to after his 2nd stint with the Cubs. It’s not as if he’s not effective anymore, but he’s nowhere near as good as he used to be. I think part of the reason is he doesn’t get as many borderline pitches as he used to. That was one thing that always bothered me about him back in the 90s. I always wondered how good he’d be if he weren’t getting those pitches called for strikes that move 6 inches or more off the plate.

What is the latest update on Mark Mulder’s injury? And, whatever happened to Matt Clement?

Well…I really don’t have any expectations for Maddux past this year…just because he seems like the type that, now that he’s reached his win total, I don’t think he will want to wait around and watch his game degrade to the point where he can’t compete anymore.

Of course, with his style of pitching, who knows how long he can hang in the game…?

Re: Mulder…Yeah, haven’t heard anything beyond “going for a second opinion”…I’ve become extremely frustrated with the Cardinals’ organization and their unwillingness to communicate information when they know fans are staring at their computers waiting on pins and needles.

Re: Clement…very little velocity, pitching out of the bullpen in AAA, apparently effective, may get a callup in September when rosters expand.

slforre, you said the following:
“I enjoyed the first couple extra innings, especially that 10th that Cook worked around that bases loaded, no outs. But I wouldn’t have given him the MVP, because he got himself into that trouble in the first place.”

I read this a couple days ago and wanted to respond right away, but I had to ensure that all the facts were correct. Aaron Cook did not get himself into that trouble. According to the Gameday log of the game, on the first pitch of the at-bat, Michael Young reached on a fielding error by Dan Uggla. On the first pitch of the next at-bat, Carlos Quentin reached on a fielding error by Dan Uggla. During a mound visit, Cook was told to intentionally walk Carlos Guillen to load the bases with no outs. Of course, this means the force it on at any base. Well, Cook got three ground ball outs in a row to end the threat. I’d say that would be worthy of an MVP right there if the NL won. I must note that in the top of the 10th inning, Uggla came up with a runner on third and one out. He grounded into a double play. He must have had one of the worst games ever. Three fielding errors (the last one could have went for a hit, but still…), 0-4 with three strikeouts and an inning-ending double play in the top of the 10th with the go-ahead run at third.

I highly enjoyed the extra-innings. Every out the NL pitchers recorded, I was pumping my fists, hoping for another inning…another chance for Ludwick to bomb one.

Kelvin Jimenez is back??? Another one of those fool’s gold of pitching right up there with Kip and Anthony. Who knows how many times they will bring him up until they figure it out.

Cards have brought up and sent down a slew of pitchers this yr. Are they trying to see what the future might look like considering the health of Clement, Mulder and that Looper and Loshe can be free agents at end of season and the age of Villone and Springer?
Are they maybe trying to showcase some of them to other teams to see what trade interest there might be?
It sure has been interesting and hard to keep up with at times.

Good for you Brian. Either way he was on the mound to begin the inning. And in the inning after that he worked into and out of trouble. Still he wouldn’t deserve the game’s MVP, in my opinion, had the NL been able to win. But who cares anyway. The NL didn’t win. So it’s a moot point anyway.

Flores is still the same old Flores. In his first appearance since coming off the DL, after getting his batter down to 0-2, he threw 4 straight balls to walk the guy. He has either lost his control or his confidence or both.

Hey regulars! I created a blog on the Cards. If you guys want to, go ahead and check it out.

http://holdemorfoldem.mlblogs.com/

– Joel

Hey regulars! I created a blog on the Cards. If you want to, go ahead and check it out. – Joel

http://holdemorfoldem.mlblogs.com/

Did we lose our good baseball relationship with Oakland when Jocketty left? Or are we simply not looking to add a pitcher? I’m just curious because two pitchers have been traded from Oakland, and I know we used to make quite a few deals with Oakland. Also I see the Brewers added Ray Durham, a middle infield bat that we need. Yeah he’s 36 but he’s hitting .293, .385 OBP, and slugging .414. It would have been nice if a Kennedy-Durham trade could have been made. Of course, I don’t know what the Giants needs are, but we have some pitchers we could throw in…Anthony Reyes??

I don’t think it’s cause of Jocketty leaving, I think that the FO is a little more wary of Billy Beane going on a fire sale than before cause of Mulder. Speculation on my part of course, but it’s still possible. But I’m much more concerned with the pen, since Izzy hasn’t really held up well in pressure (save) situations. I feel bad for the guy though, he’s trying so hard but can’t quite get there.

Sorry for the double post earlier. My browser didn’t show my posts. What a crazy ending, and a crazy game in general! Troy Glaus and Aaron Miles were co-players of the game today. I hope Moz realizes that we need to trade for bullpen help after today. I could feel that Izzy was gonna give up the game when he came in. Good news is, we came out on top!

Yea I can see that. But I don’t think Rich Harden or Joe Blanton have been overused like Mulder and Zito were. They were both excellent in the AL and anything but in the NL. Anyways, it doesn’t matter. You’re right. The ‘pen is where we need help. I’m not sure I buy the theory about our starters not going deep enough. Yesterday Wellemeyer went 7, no? The ‘pen still nearly blew it. They didn’t, but I was certainly nervous. Izzy, man, I feel for him too, but at what point do you say “This guy just can’t get hitters out anymore” and move on? I love the guy, always have. But he also makes me more frustrated than any other player I can remember…kinda reminds me of the last days of Lee Smith.

Harden has been on the DL every year of his career so far hasn’t he? A little hard to be overused when you’re gone for like a month a year if not more.

The Blanton deal shocked me. I didn’t realize he was available.

I think with Izzy, you just keep him out of pressure situations. He can get guys out in the middle innings, or at least did before.

And, all those bashing Jimenez before, did you like his performance this afternoon?

Yea he has been on the DL 6 times in 6 years. Not sure if there were any DL-free years, so to speak. Well, regardless of the reason why Harden wasn’t overused, the fact remains he wasn’t and that makes a big difference in decision making. I’m saying we shoulda been in the ruinning, at least.
As for Izzy, I am ready for the Cards to move on. And although I have not been an outspoken critic of Jiminez, I have wondered to myself why he desrves to be here. He showed me today.

In the RUINing….HAHAHAHAHA. Obviously, I meant “in the running”…for his services.

4 innings, 1 hit, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts, 12 months removed from surgery. Not too shabby for the former NL CYA, eh?

was at the Carp game…needs a bit more velocity and improved command (he was OBVIOUSLY upset with himself during his bullpen warmups)…but he’s looking good.

I read in Lee’s article that his fastball topped out around 91 or 92 MPH. That’s not too bad, but his command was shaky. Hopefully he feels fine today and goes back to another start. I think he should go down to AA again for his next one, so he doesn’t rush himself.

Wasn’t Carp topping out at 94 95 before? I am not expecting that I just couldnt remember…

“topped out at 91 or 92″ means he hit it once…the rest was between 86 – 89…and, the Springfield stadium gun is what they were going off of…typically, it is 1 or 2 mph faster than reality (based on Mulder et al).

Carp will be fine…but he’s not there yet.

Yeah I got ya… I was just thinking before the surgery he was hitting 95 or so… Great game yesterday… Wishin Izzy the best, he looked nervous from the minute he walked out there and just isn’t himself yet…

I think Izzy needs to see a sports psychologist. He can still pitch, but he just doesn’t have it going between those big ears of his. If he can get past the mental wall, he’ll be an effective closer again. (by the way I have big ears too, so I can say that.)

If he has to see one (which I don’t think is something you can rule out 100%), would we disable him for it? It may be too much of an added on distraction while still pitching in ballgames.

Izzy’s whole problem is he’s too focused on the result and situation when he comes in the game…

He needs to just throw and try to get the guy in front of him out and let the rest settle itself.

In re: the Jimenez thing… tonite sure seems to me to have been another example of plowing through relievers who are getting people out just to maintain RvR and LvL matchups… and then having to bring Franklin in in a non-save situation ‘cuz there’s no one left… maybe I’m too old school but it has always seemed to me that pitchers who get batters out are the key, not RvR or LvL… driving back from Ann Arbor my wife and I both, and simultaneously, started getting frustrated at the pace at which TLR was turning over the mound in the late innings.

Those match-ups are what Tony has made his living on, and it goes beyond just Righties and Lefties… If he has someone in his bullpen that has made a guy go 0-8 or 1-10 or something he knows who that is and thinks about that all the time. Unfortunately for us sometimes we dont think the same way he does, but think about it this way… If he only uses those guys to get a guy or two out he can use them again tonight instead of being unavailable to pitch tonight. So it is either a pay me now or pay me later kind of situation. Izzy will get it back. He will get 300 saves as a Cardinal… I hope.

I agree with you Alan. I hate the way TLR burns thru relievers like that. I also agree that you don’t need to stick to the LvL and RvR matchups the way he does. No other manager that I can think of does that and plenty more managers win. Also you can say that it saves them to be used the next night, but think about how many times a pitcher spends 20 minutes stretching an warming up, only to face one hitter. No player can like getting themselves mentally ready to go in, only to be taken out after one hitter. It’s going to make those guys change their normal routine to be mentally ready for the possibility of getting yanked after one hitter…and if he doesn’t get that one hitter out (Villone yesterday), then the whole experience is one big negative!!! And that’s the pitcher’ most recent memory next time he goes out there.
And don’t be disillusioned in thinking Izzy is just gonna “get it back”. The man needs help.

With the long outing of Franklin and problems that Izzy has had, who would get the save opp tonight? Seems to me that K-Mac or (unbelievably) Boggs would get top choice, perhaps even Flores.

I vote Russ Springer in as our new, most of the time, available as age allows, closer…

When Carp/Waino come back, I liked an idea I saw on a forum…Wellemeyer in the closer role! But he’s got to keep his walks under control…split time with Russ Springer, and Welle/Springer as closers could be interesting…

hehe

If I were the skipper I’d use Springer at a time like this, with Izzy stinking it up and Franklin unavailable. I’d consider McClellen, too, and even Chris Perez over Boggs. Is Chris still here? I think Wellemeyer has the stuff, but I doubt he has the mental toughness.

Perez went down…

I could see McClellan in there…if we had any other pitcher to take his spot…if our starters could go 7 innings, K-Mac could easily split time with Springer in the closer role…but that won’t happen until late august, early September when Carp/Waino are back, sharp, and working from well-built stamina…

We’re stuck with 5 inning starters for the next month.

Waino said that since it isn’t an elbow/shoulder injury he can still work his arm out so he hasnt lost much if any of his endurance… we’ll see… Lohse is also good at going a little deeper into games… So hopefully we’ll have it back early to mid August rather than late…

I’m not StatBoy, so i don’t know the numbers. But I’m curious to know how many innings our starters have pitched compared to other teams. Also how mnay innings our ‘Pen has thrown compared to other top teams. Also let’s not forget that Tony has a bad habit of taking guys out too early, sometimes for his favorute LvL or RvR matchups and sometimes I can’t figure out why the hell he does it. I’m not convinced it’s the starters fault that the ‘pen has been pretty awful.

Houston acquired Randy Wolfe from San Diego today for a minor league pitcher. He is eligible to be FA at end of season.

I heard Duncan was DL’ed with a pinched nerve in the neck for 15 days…Mather called up…

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