It was a day of frustration for the St. Louis Cardinals.
That being said, I had a thoroughly enjoyable experience because I was able to cover the Cardinals as a member of the press. Before I get into the real details of my day, I want to thank Dave Nemetz a hundred times over for granting me this opportunity.
Walking towards the press office in order to collect my credential was less nerve-racking than I had originally thought. In fact, the man at the office desk was the former assistant athletic director at my high school, so it made for some nice conversation.
After receiving my pass, I proceeded to walk onto the field to see who all was down there warming up. Unfortunately for me, because it was a day game after a night game, both teams skipped out on batting practice, so I was utterly disappointed at this juncture.
In an attempt to be social, I went up to FOX's Ken Rosenthal, peered down at him (he's 5'4"), and introduced myself. After discussing a number of topics, most notably the Manny Ramirez acquisition, he allowed me to accompany him into the visiting clubhouse, which housed the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Within moments of entering the clubhouse, I found myself engaged in small-talk with Ramirez, and then proceeded to walk into manager Joe Torre's office for a small pregame gathering.
Because there were only 10 or so of us there, I felt less timid about asking a question to Torre. Of course, all of my Ramirez questions had already been asked, but I was fortunate enough to ask what Torre's thoughts were on having the NL World Series contender come out of the sluggish NL West.
Torre was very blunt, stating, "I never like to speculate until the playoffs start, but there are some great teams in Chicago, Milwaukee, and obviously here in St. Louis. I will take our team against any of them right now though, especially with Blake and Ramirez here now."
It was over. I had asked my first question as a reporter to one of the game's greatest managers. The nerves had completely subsided, and I went up the press box to enjoy the ballgame.
The Rick Hummel press box was beautifully adorned with Cardinals pictures and flat screens.
I felt a bit out of place, but I found a spot and made myself comfortable as I scoured through the game notes. As not to feel over matched, I took out my lineup card and recorded all the outs.
The matchup seemed thrilling on paper, Cards "ace" Kyle Lohse pitted against Dodgers farmhand gem Clayton Kershaw.
However, the game was anything but exciting, as minimal offense produced few runs from either side.
Ramirez, who proclaimed before the game, while heading down to the hitting tunnel, that he was going to hit a home run, did just that, notching his fourth since coming over from the Boston Red Sox.
I heard some of the game's finest sportswriters deliver one simple reaction: Man, that guy is amazing. Local radio and TV personality Frank Cusumano commented to a colleague that Ramirez "is one of the best hitters to ever live."
After Manny's 418' blast, all I really had to look forward to were the press box brats, and those didn't even come until the sixth inning.
All jokes aside, this was one of the truly fabulous days of my life, and I want to thank Bleacher Report for giving me this incredible chance.
Here are some of the events of my day, journal style:
11:02 a.m.—I picked up the pass from press office.
11:14 a.m.—Walked onto the field to survey the scene (79 degrees, several Cardinals relievers throwing in the outfield)
11:26 a.m.—Manny Ramirez heads the wrong way towards the hitting tunnel and jokingly says "Wrong Way!" in his distinctive accent.
11:30 a.m.—Andruw Jones strolls by as I wait to speak with Joe Torre.
11:33 a.m.—Joe Torre summons the writers into his office for a brief question/answer session. This is where I asked my question. Torre tells several stories about Jim Gray, with whom he shares a love-hate relationship with. Torre also believes that there is credibility to Tony La Russa's system of hitting his pitcher eighth in the order.
If he were to do that, he said, "I would probably stick Pierre in that spot." When asked about Manny, he compared him to Pujols, saying that they are both "frightening hitters" and he wouldn't want to face either of them on any given day. He also stated that Pujols "scares me much more than Ludwick. I mean, he's a perennial All-Star."
11:59 a.m.—Torre poses for pictures and autographs with fans
12:07 p.m.—I'm sitting in the Cardinals dugout enjoying the 80 degree temperature and relaxing before I head up to the press box.
1:14 p.m.—Kyle Lohse opens the game with the first pitch.
1:23 p.m.—After Lohse gets two quick outs in the first, a Kent double, a Ramirez walk, and a Loney single put the Dodgers on the board, up 1-0.
2:41 p.m.—Cesar Izturis steals his 12th base of the season, but Pujols is left on-deck for the second time in the game.
3:48 p.m.—The game concludes on a strikeout of Skip Schumaker. The game went by in a brisk two hours and 33 minutes.
4:12 p.m.—I sit in Tony La Russa's office as he angrily holds a postgame press conference.
Notable quotes that I was able to get on my audio recorder from La Russa's postgame interview, which can also be seen on FSN:
Q: "What were your impressions of Kyle Lohse today?"
A: "I thought he had good stuff. He made a couple mistakes, and that's three of the four runs right there, that's why it's the big leagues."
Q: "Before the game, you talked about getting guys on would be important, how did Lopez' stolen base seem to attribute to that?"
A: "It was really nice. I mean we had a shot to win it. We had the tying run at the plate, just couldn't get it across."
Q: "You'll be making your first trip to Wrigley Field in August, how is that going to feel?"
A: "I'll think about that tomorrow. Right now, I wanted to be at 13 [games over .500], and we're 11, so it's disappointing."