It’s hard to believe, but it’s been almost a month since the St. Louis Cardinals graciously hosted a ragtag group of bloggers for the fourth consecutive year. While I enjoyed myself immensely, as always, I’ve not sat down and actually done any writing about this yet. As the leader of said ragtag group, it’s really sad that I haven’t and that’s got to be rectified.
While the Cardinals always have us up for a Sunday afternoon game, UCB Weekend really kicks off the night before. For the past three years, the bloggers have gathered at Patrick’s Restaurant (the old Pujols5) and just hung out and socialized. A casual environment conducive to some good conversations.
This year, we mixed it up a little bit and got together at Joe Buck’s a block from the stadium. After driving in from Arkansas and having made a quick stop by Ballpark Village, my family and I–yes, for the first year, my wife and two kids took the plunge to meet this group–walked over to Buck’s.
We weren’t the first ones there, however. Ben Chambers (The View From Here) and his wife Danielle had already staked their place in the corner and were watching the end of the game on the TV in the room. Being that this was the first time Ben had joined us, we quickly became acquainted and waited for more folks to join us.
More folks did. Being a month out, I couldn’t begin to make sure I could list everyone, but there was Spencer and Brian from StanGraphs, Dan, Tara and Cole from their respective Conclave blogs, Joe from Viva El Birdos, Mary from MLB Voice, Joe from (now) Cardinal Red Baseball and Jacob from CardsBlog. (If I’ve forgotten anyone, I do sincerely apologize.)
We also had our favorite FSMidwest public relations guy Geoff Goldman in attendance as well as a couple of his coworkers that my daughter really wanted to meet.
This year’s dinner had a lot of contributions from various folks. Our friends at Bonfyre stepped up with a monetary donation that helped defray some of the cost of the room. I know, I know, I’ve talked about Bonfyre a lot, but that’s only because it’s completely worth it. Go download it now.
We also had door prizes and raffle prizes donated by Out of the Park Baseball and Rob and Sally Rains over at St. Louis Sports Page along with FS Midwest and the Cardinals themselves. Everyone was extremely gracious to contribute to this event and we appreciate all of their contributions!
Besides the monsoon that opened up outside while we were eating, the night was a completely enjoyable experience. People that had never met each other were talking like old friends. There was a good mix of folks that had been at a couple of these before, but there were a lot of “newbies” as well. It didn’t matter, we had a blast. There might have been singing from the StanGraphs guys and Tara, I’m not sure.
As fun as the opening round was, the main event was what everyone was there for. We gathered in the administrative lobby on Sunday morning and then headed up to the conference room. Many of us have been there four times now, but you still get a bit of a thrill when you walk in the door.
We went up and heard from John Mozeliak, Bill DeWitt III and Vicky Bryant, VP of Event Services and Merchandising. You’ve already read what they had to say and I can’t do any better than my Conclave brethren in summarizing things. I will say, though, that I happened to be sitting in the back row when John Mozeliak came into the room, sans glasses and bow tie and with a backpack slung over his shoulder. (Not sure if he was going for the inconspicuous entrance or what.) I caught his eye and gave him a bit of a nod. Apparently that got his attention, because he walked by, rubbed my son on the head and said to him, “How are you, big guy?” No matter what anyone says, Mo is one cool dude.
Then we went up to the suites. Talk about baseball heaven. Great seats, air conditioned rooms if you want to be inside, and all the food you can eat. Not that I ate much of it–I tend not to in these situations, focusing more on socializing and the game–but what I did have was outstanding.
We socialized, we watched the game, we cheered when the Cardinals rallied, we agonized when Trevor Rosenthal made it interesting. After all that, we went home full, content and victorious. That’s a heck of a trip to the ballpark.
We can’t thank the Cardinals enough for them doing this for the bloggers and taking us seriously as a group. Maybe we aren’t breaking news (it’d sure been nice if Mo had told us about Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha, since they went on the DL after this game) but we’re important nonetheless and I’m glad they think so as well. Looking forward to next year!