When you think of bloggers, the idea of ground floor scrappy scribes instantly comes to mind. You think of 9-5 pushers by day hitting the keyboard by night. Unlike the paid professionals who write whenever they want, bloggers have to fit in their writing when the time is right on all fronts and that comes after an 8 hour work day.
Questions and limitations abound. Are the kids down? Is the husband or wife doing alright? Is there work to be done? Laundry? Cleaning? A bit of sleep? As a blogger and cyber net maniac, I can confess to overloading my brain and tiring our the senses in pursuit of sports commentary and film coverage. So when The St. Louis Cardinals invited the United Cardinal Bloggers to the ballpark for a day of festivities, I was taken aback. My initial thought process went like this. They actually want to let us in the house? The result was a day I will never forget and an experience that proves the worth of what the UCB do in order to provide their readers with a little piece of their mind.
The day after meeting for dinner and talking Cardinal baseball with scribes like Joe Schwartz, Tara Wellman, Daniel Shoptaw and A.J. Blankenship, the Cardinals had us meet in the offices next to The Team Store around 11:15 in the morning, about two hours before game time. We were led up to a conference room where drinks, chairs and a microphone was waiting. Cardinals public relations reps told us about Ballpark Village, the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and other developments. Then, Team President Bill DeWitt III and John Mozeliak made their way into the room.
Now, Bill and I go way back. When his family bought the team back in 1996, he moved in next to my grandmother and we begin a long friendship that included golf caddy work, dog walking, some baseball conversation and a job on the Manual Scoreboard at old Busch. DeWitt III is as nice and sharp as it gets and he has been a good friend over the years. He came to my wedding and to my son’s first birthday party. I didn’t have any questions for him.
Bill fielded some questions as Mozeliak took a seat about 4 feet from my wife and I. Without hesitation, he looked at me and said, I better have a good question. Mo is a true pro when it comes to handling questions and dealing with the media hounds. My guess is he didn’t mind taking our questions over the usual group’s requests for a day.
Mozeliak dished on topics like the use of tobacco in ballparks across the majors, player development and how they encounter the idea of trades. I asked him about the Oscar Taveras situation and I will transcribe that answer later in the week(hint, they want him to play every day, so he’s in Memphis). Upon the wrap of the Q&A, Mo looked at me and said, “You’re a good guy. I don’t care what she says.” This could have been because I didn’t ask him a truly tough question or he was playfully kidding. While I lean on the latter, I will hinge on the hope that it was at least 25 percent genuine. The group then got a visit from the chef and this is where things hit another level.
Sure, the chat with Mo and Bill was great. The free coffee and drinks were gracious. All I was expecting afterwards was a small suite with some chicken strips, chips and burgers for the duration of the game. Always thinking low before the higher reward shows itself. That’s the way. Instead, the top chef from the stadium’s kitchen and one of the minds behind the food at Ballpark Village told us the list of food that we would be eating. They read like this in my head.
- Pulled Pork “eat this and float around a bit” macaroni and cheese.
- Fried Cheesecake. No joke.
- Pretzel bites with beer cheese sauce. Delicious. I had about 48 of these just to sure I wasn’t lying to myself.
- Two more kinds of pasta, one with a red sauce and the other with a white.
- A chicken dish with a fancy name and an even better taste.
- Brisket. Enough said.
- Fresh cookies. Brats. Dogs.
- Tater tot mozzarella cheese infused nachos and then your standard nachos. Non stop treats.
- All you can eat. Until you drop. Heart rate spikes. Literally bleed red. Whatever. They would feed you more and more.
It wasn’t easy concentrating on the game when I was negotiating pretzel bite counts with my colon and eating continuously for close to three hours. You won’t get food like this at home or every other day so I went all in.
The suite was huge by the way. Two rooms. Together as one. Lots of space for the 40+ bodies in attendance. Bloggers. Family. Friends. Cards associates peeking in and chatting. Lots of Cardinal commentary being fired around the room like a Tommy Gun misfire. I engaged pretty much anyone that would listen. My wife smiled at me occasionally as if to say, “Sit down. Breathe. Relax and get me another brownie.” The experience at the park tromped the game for this one day.
The Cardinals won. Two starting pitchers went on the disabled list afterwards. Michael Wacha was one of them, suffering a shoulder stress reaction. I tried to convince my wife I experienced the same thing in my stomach but suffice it didn’t really work.
All in all, we were treated like royalty for a day. We were kings and queens for a day. While the Post Dispatch scribes hung together in the press box battling deadlines and expectations, the bloggers got to unwind and kick their feet up at the good old ballpark. If there is a right way to watch a game, this may be it. Sure, the sweat running down the side of your head and the soaked shirt and stress levels involved with a seat in the bleachers has it’s own raw experience attached to it. However, sitting in a suite with your fellow writers and being treated like royalty for a day is pretty swell.
My thanks to Shoptaw for adding me to this wonderful group and letting me write for the Conclave. Like the rest of the group, I do it for the love of the game but these small perks make it extremely worthwhile.
Come back tomorrow and later in the weekend as I fire endless rounds of doses on the Cards and transcribe Mozeliak’s full answer to my standard Oscar Taveras whereabouts question.
Have a good night and Go Cards!