I just returned home from the game in St. Louis about an hour ago. Boy, was that a fun experience.
I arrived at the ballpark at 11:30 AM (after leaving my house at 5:30 this morning and catching the Metrolink to the park.) The new Busch Stadium looks VERY nice; in fact, paint the seats green, throw some mountains in the background, and replace all the Anheuser-Busch products in the park with Coors Light, and it’s Coors Field. (No, I’m not suggesting that Busch Stadium is an exact replica of Coors Field. But the ballpark designs, etc., are pretty similar. You can tell that the Cardinals brass borrowed a few ideas from the Rockies when constructing their new stadium.
So I had plenty of time to explore the new ballpark. Two items on the agenda: Find a Rockies hat (even out of town, I want to show support for my team) and a beer. The Rockies hat was a bit difficult; the Cardinals stores pretty much only sell Cardinals gear, and the guys at the kiosk looked at me a bit funny when I asked for a Rockies hat. They also assumed that I was from out of town ("enjoy St. Louis"), which is true, though I guess there aren’t too many Rockies fans in St. Louis.
The latter was not difficult, though as a person who generally drinks Coors Light or, well, premium beer, it’s kind of a bad deal when you’re at a stadium named for Anheuser-Busch. "Premium" beer is sold at the Backstop Bar behind home plate (where they also sell wine by the glass and mixed drinks) but at eight dollars a pop. Anyways, I figured I’d need some beer to deal with the impending loss. Yeah, I’m generally an optimist when it comes to the Rockies, but when the pitching matchup is Josh Fogg against Chris Carpenter… I’m realistic about things.
After that, I walked around the ballpark a bit, catching some of the Rockies taking practice in the outfield. I know I really shouldn’t say this about somebody who’s the same height and ten pounds heavier than me, but BK Kim looks tiny on a baseball field. (Of course, it’s also possible that he’s overreporting his height and weight, but I’m not going to go into that.) Ray King, on the other hand, clearly underreported his. There’s no way he weighs 240. 280 is more like it.
I also caught JJ throwing on the side in the bullpen before the game. Humor here: The bullpen coach stood in the "batter’s box" as JJ pitched. JJ threw three pitches in a row six inches off the outside corner and after each he said "he fouled that one off." That’s nice, optimistic thinking. Most MLB hitters would probably happily take a three-ball count.
I avoided all the greasy food present in the ballpark (though I did stop by Taco Bell on the ride back) and instead stuck to beer during the game. Bad call. The heat wasn’t that bad considering, well, it’s St. Louis in June, but still, I was sweating beer by the second inning. Thankfully, my seat was covered from the rain — which was a very, very good thing.
The top of the first inning almost made me regret drinking all the beer. After Jamey Carroll grounded out to start the game, Cory Sullivan hit a solid single to right, Todd Helton had a blooper fall in for a base hit, and Matt Holliday walked. Bases loaded, one out, Atkins and Hawpe coming up. Of course, the Rockies being the Rockies, they couldn’t get anything out of it. It’s almost as though the Cardinals wanted to rub it in my face; the scoreboard repeatedly showed the stats: The Rockies are third in the National League in batting average, yet 14th in runs scored. How does that happen? Well, loading the bases with one out and not scoring any runs doesn’t help.
Then the rain came, and of course, when the rain comes it becomes difficult for the pitcher to grip the ball. But the ump decided not to stop the game until the top of the second inning, after the Cardinals put two runs across in the bottom of the first on a Scott Rolen homer (and the inning could have been much worse, but Fogg luckily induced a broken-bat double play to end the inning.) I hate rain delays, but luckily this one didn’t last terribly long and when it cleared up the sun came out, it had cooled down considerably and the weather was perfect for baseball. (As close to perfect as St. Louis gets in June, anyway.)
Of course, I knew at the time that the Rockies had blown their opportunity to get to Carpenter in the first inning and that Carpenter would settle in. Carpenter never did completely settle in, as he always seemed to allow a baserunner in every inning, but the Rockies could only put across one run. The Cardinals only scored two more after the Rolen homer but that wound up being enough to win.
I left in the middle of the eighth inning. Normally, I would hate leaving the ballpark early, but the game had already gone on for three hours due to the rain delay and I had a five-hour drive ahead of me. Besides, it looked like the Rockies were going to lose anyway. Ah, I hate getting swept, but at least the rest of the NL West didn’t do much this weekend.
The bottom third of the Rockies’ batting order is pretty weak. Then again, I can’t really think of any better options at catcher and short (at least, not until Iannetta and Tulowitzki are ready.) Jamey Carroll looked like, well, Jamey Carroll today. In fact, I wasn’t really all that impressed with anybody on the team except for Cory Sullivan, who was inexplicably pulled for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. Tom Martin striking out two batters in the inning he pitched was another pleasant surprise.
One major oddity: The Cardinals sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the middle of the sixth inning.
I need some sleep now.