Well, here it is. FINALLY!! Baseball 2007. I met some of the players at the team dinner on Tuesday evening at John O'Donnell Stadium. I don't remember a group of players who have ever expressed so much excitement about having a winning team. Suite owners, season ticket holders, family members, staff, and fans in general got an early chance to talk to players, get acquainted, and share the joy of the return of baseball.
I had the opportunity to talk to a few of the players Tuesday night. As I was pressed for time (on a long dinner break and then going back to work), I asked each of the players I met just one question: "What is the most important thing you learned this year at Spring Training?"
Here are the answers I received:
Luke Gorsett (OF - left): I learned a lot about base running and fielding.
Brandon Buckman (IF): I concentrated on getting my timing down.
Matt Lane (P - right): I worked on daily preparation and worked out the flaws in my mechanics.
P.J. Walters (P): I just worked on getting up every day; it's going to be a long season.
Kenny Maiques (P - left): We really worked on keeping the ball down and throwing strikes. (Kenny Maiques pronounces his name KEN-knee…. Oh, yeah, it's MY-cuz.)
Brandon Dickson (P): Keep the ball down.
Tyler Herron (P - right): I learned a lot about pitching. I have to keep the ball down.
(I'm beginning to think that these guys all listened to the same coach!)
I offered a different question to catcher Omar Falcon (left). I asked what his spring highlight was. He replied, "I hit .540, so I know I can do it!" (Omar came to the Cardinals organization via the Pirates after playing Class A ball for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. He has played at JOD before, as an opponent.)
In the coaches' introduction, pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd (right) earned the biggest ovation when he said, "Ben, Ben, Bill, Jim, WHOEVER it was who got it done, THANK GOD you got rid of the powder puff blue uniforms!"
I also enjoyed talking to our new general manager, Ben Burke (BUR-kee rhymes with turkey.) He's a native of Wisconsin so he likes the Brewers. I'm willing to forgive that if he turns around the Swing's recent attendance slide. Burke seems very interested in knowing what the fans want so he can improve the entire experience.
Swing fans are looking for a breakout year from several players and from the team as a whole. The club has better pitching, more powerful hitting, and a higher level of excitement than I've ever seen. What a year it's going to be.
I know there are parents who read this website, and I met some players who have recently joined stlcardinals.scout.com so they'll be reading these reports. I welcome questions, suggestions, love notes, and rants from everyone! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As a reminder, all the games are broadcast on 1270 AM for local listeners, and they are carried live at www.swingbaseball.com.
This week's schedule:
Thurs. through Sat. (5-7 April) at Clinton Lumberkings. 6:00 P.M. each night.
Sunday (8 April) OFF, Happy Easter!
Monday (9 April) Home opener at NOON against Cedar Rapids.
Tuesday (10 April) vs. CR at 6:30 P.M.
Wednesday (11 April) vs Peoria 11:00 A.M. Managed by Ryne Sandberg!
Thursday (12 April) vs. Peoria 6:30 P.M.
Friday (13 April) vs. Kane County 6:30 P.M.
Saturday (14 April) vs. KC at 1:00 P.M.
(Seems the guys will have to learn a daily schedule after opening week!)
This first report is a bit short this week, but I'll be attending Swing games all season long, cornering your favorite players for interviews, and generally basking in the glory of baseball. Look for my report each week; and, if you've never visited before, stop by our message board.
Jon P. can be reached via email at email@example.com
© 2007 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.