For Cardinal Nation™, Opening Day is like senior skip day in high school, except this time around the cops laugh and pat you on the back when you're wasted in the street. We've all been planting the seeds of a family emergency or illness at work, and we'll be reaping the benefits today.
You know how it goes: Your granny's health takes a turn for the worse this time every year, but she makes a miraculous recovery. You have an endless supply of great uncles who die, most tragically, each spring. You think it's just an innocuous rash, but your doctor says it might be scabies.
Last night a friend told me her throat was sore. Mmm hmm. Heard that one before, sister.
But here's the deal: If you're lucky enough to have tickets to the game, then sun or snow, you're going to figure out a way to be there. And if that requires a little hooky, no one -- not even the bossman -- is going to blame you*.
In honor of the start of the 2011 season, let's look at the Top 5 traditions of Opening Day in St. Louis:
FORDS: In what has to be the longest running pre-game endorsement in history, the St. Louis Cardinals shamelessly plug Mustangs and F-150s for Ford. The players start the year with a lap around the field, loving life because they’re in a Ford!
In 2009, Mike Shannon accidentally bellowed “Heh, heh, heh. Take a look at those bee-utiful Chevrolets. What a truck!” His people were quickly in his ear to correct the mistake -- and he apologized over the PA system to the crowd, which, of course, Chevy took umbrage with.
The moral of the story? Buy German.
EASY-DRINKING BUSCH LIGHT: You’re not drinking, huh? Been on the wagon for a while, eh? You might want to sit this one out.
This city likes its brewery and its baseball. And on the day when America's pastime is renewed again, it likes to blow 0.15. After all, what’s more American than getting a public urination ticket when you’re 45?
CUBS-TAUNTING SHIRTS: You're good and beery, it's a dreary March Thursday, and you're a little bummed about the fake uncle you killed off this morning. How to cheer up? Maybe T-shirts making fun of the Cubs?
Count me in!
Over the years, the set-ups for these T-shirt vendors have become more elaborate, and the shirts themselves have become, well, more offensive. (Zambrano mows my lawn, anyone?) But 100-plus years of futility makes for a good time no matter which way you slice it.
CROWDS: The weather in the Midwest during late March doesn’t lend itself favorably to outdoor day-drinking. But if you think that is going to stop St. Louisians from celebrating -- or every bar from breaking the fire code 15 times over to make some cash -- you’re insane.
Chances are you’re going to get mugged later, so do yourself a favor and blow all your money on strippers and booze before those dirty thieves make out with your unused cash.
CLYDESDALES: Oooooh, look! Horseys!
The absolute best part of Opening Day is the Clydesdales. So big. So powerful. So able to carry a metric shitload of beer in one cart!
Every single year the famous Budweiser icons get trotted out so St. Louisians can rhythmically clap to a song that was made to shill beer. Meanwhile, everyone in the stadium looks at around and coos about how baseball is back, and they are so much happier for it.
We're so predictable: Pathetic, but endearing.
* Full disclosure: The bossman might actually blame you. Play hooky at your own risk.
Opening Day is for joy.
Tomorrow is about Mike Shannon’s laugh crackling over the radio and Pat Parris’ fake tan glowing from your TV. It’s about donning lucky game-day undies, downing a brew and a dog, and watching Albert straight mash.
Tomorrow is about the promise of warmer days and extra innings. It’s about the possibility of the next seven months leading anywhere.
But Friday? Oh, Friday it’s on. no comments
The 2010 Summer of Suck is now a distant memory, and as of tomorrow at 3:15, it's only a matter of days before the Cards get dominated by studs like Bud Maholm again (or was it Ross Narveson? Or J.A. Lannan? Whatever). So to get you prepped for Opening Day, here's an MS Paint guide on what to look out for when you get downtown tomorrow afternoon:
1) Derrr-runk People. There's nothin' better than taking a half day - or a full day if you're hardcore - and getting sloshed on a Thursday at 1pm. If a baseball game between the Cardinals and Padres breaks out inside that stadium-looking thing: bonus.
2) Ticket Scalpers. These guys are the worst. I once heard a guy say "Hey brah - check your other hand," walking by a scalper. Leave it to frat boys to bring some common sense to the table.
3) Girls Wearing Pink Cardinal Gear. Our own Mad Librarian has resorted to vigilante justice, in order to rid the world of more pink Cardinal shirts. It's not working, but she's getting her jersey dirty and giving 110%.
4) Display Your Gross Jerseys. While pink gear is shameful, a hoosierized (that's a personalized jersey with something hoosier on the back) or totally obscure jersey that's shared with others on the internet is priceless.
And that's all you need to know for Opening Day. There's not really a lesson involved, but I will say that if none of this made sense, I can't wait to see TwitPics of you tomorrow afternoon.
Is Vince Coleman the only person that has a hard time accepting that it's a coincidence that this circus began in perfect conjunction with MLB's opening week?
Isn't anyone even a little concerned that our judicial system thinks it has the resources to piss away on whether or not some asshole that played a children's game for a living told a fib?
For the record, Vince Coleman doesn't like Barry Bonds, at all. One time, Barry Bonds slapped Vince Coleman like a woman at a titty bar in Scottsdale. Barry was with all his boys and at the time was a gigantic man with a incredible roid rage. Had it been 1989, Vince Coleman would have stomped his ass out.
But in 1996, Vince Coleman didn't have a lot of fight left in him. He was pretty happy just to be getting free drinks and telling waitresses that he once stole 110 bases and was way more handsome than Rickey Henderson.
Did Barry Bonds take steroids? Hell yes. So did all those other dudes you think were better than that. That's not the point. The point is there are real problems in this country that sure as shit deserve the time, money, and media attention that this silly witch hunt is getting. This whole mess is just another slap in the face of the American taxpayer and yet another black eye for what is supposed to be America's Pastime.
It's a sad day when Vince Coleman feels sorry for Barry Bonds.
After these tough weeks of analyzing Charlie Sheen’s heater and Mike Moustakas’ ass, I’m ready to bust out the tea leaves on 2011. My predictions:
Cardinals wins: 83.
Top excuse for failure to reach playoffs: Wainwright’s injury.
Vitals for No. 5: 43 homers, 121 runs batted in, 101 walks. Batting average .334.
McClellan starts: 24.
TLR-Rasmus feuds: Three.
TLR-Rasmus feud articles/columns in Post-Dispatch: Twelve.
Team leader in HLR (hustle, loyalty, respect): Ryan Theriot, natch.
Non-Cardinals team I’ll mention most: Kansas City Royals. No, seriously. The Royals have been investing heavily in their farm system for the past several years, and we’re about to start seeing dividends as those homegrown boys advance to the major leagues. Plus, did I mention that Mike Moustakas is hawt?
Month when I’ll begin trash-talking Tony LaRussa in earnest: June.
Most I’ll spend on a single-game ticket: $112 + fees. Every year I buy reasonably priced seats off a friend with season tickets, and every year I supplement them with a few sets of not-so-reasonably priced single-game tickets for one reason or another. I suspect this is the year I succumb to the Pooches at the Ballpark promotion. Don’t you worry; no one’s judging me more than me on this.
Player most likely to file a restraining order against me now that LaRue’s gone: Jason Motte.no comments
We're going to go ahead and do it big on Opening Day 2011. This Thursday, not only will our our Mad Librarian be hosting a Live Blog (starting @ 2:15p CST) - she's going to be on The Today Show that morning to promote it.
The whole staff will be checking in, including pics from the ground that you won't see anywhere else. So turn on NBC in the morning Thursday and if you can't be at the game, then log on to CardsDiaspora.com an hour before first pitch to hang out for the first real baseball game of 2011...
So you want to own the Cardinals do you?
Forbes Magazine begs to differ. They’ve come out with the MLB team valuation reports for 2011 and it looks like the Cardinals, while leading the pack in TV audience (share), aren’t necessarily the cash cow that you probably picture when dreaming about Bill DeWitt’s golden toilets on your garbage route.
So let’s take a look at these numbers…
Player Expenses -- The amount of revenue spent on, you know, paying these dudes.
The Cardinals hit the high water mark for payroll in the 2008 season when they coughed up over 120M to not make the playoffs. Payroll has gone down the subsequent 2 years and is poised to fall off the cliff if Albert Pujols and Adam Wainwright don't return to the team in 2012. In fact, it'd be in line to drop to pre-2004 levels.
Operating Income -- The amount of profit realized from a business's operations after taking out operating expenses - such as cost of goods sold (COGS) or wages - and depreciation.
The Cardinals ownership group hit lean times at the beginning of the aughts, losing money 4 consecutive years before turning a profit in 2006. Looks like a World Series does help the bottom line, eh? And while 13 million dollars isn't anything to scoff at, it's not a huge amount of money to be making off such a large venture that involves literally hundreds of people.
Win to Cost Ratio -- Wins to cost ratio determined when in comparison to other MLB teams and it's own payroll.
100 here is break even for wins vs player costs. So a number less than 100 is not good, 100 is even and everything over 100 is good- as in your ROI on payroll is good. 2010 was break even for the Cardinals. Meaning they got exacty the amount of wins that they were projected to get with their payroll in 2010. The first time that had happened since 2007. However, if you believe this metric, the Cardinals are headed for a -6 in 2011. And that's probably just good enough to miss the playoffs. Again.
So what's keeping DeWitt, a guy who doesn't live in St. Louis, who isn't making gobs of money of the Cardinals, who isn't exactly Gussie Busch in terms of popularity keep pressing forward with the team?
Franchise Value -- If put on the the market today, what would be the estimated worth of all it's assets?
There's the money shot. DeWitt and his group got involved with the Cardinals when the valuation of the franchise was well under 200 million. Just a decade later, the Cardinals are worth 518M and rising every year. So while the operating income isn't super great for the Cardinals, the value of the franchise is going up at a rate that's far higher than many other investments would. And if he decides to cash out sometime in this decade, he can expect 6X his purchase price.
Economics can be FUN! Now on to the Friday Links...
- Are you a bad parent? If you're on this site you are. LINK HERE
- Sounds like a girlfriend you had in college? LINK HERE
- Wish I could give a shoutout to this awesome paper. LINK HERE
- Yeah, maybe that's why. LINK HERE
- Irony. Sometimes it's a wonderful thing. LINK HERE
- Chicken police. LINK HERE
7 days from now the St. Louis Cardinals will take the field for the first game of the 2011 season, other wise known as the Pujols Farewell Tour.
In fact I hate to keep bringing this up, like some jackass that reminds everyone at the bar that most of these people are driving home drunk and killing everyone's buzz... but this really could be the last season that we see Mighty Albert take cuts with the Birds on the Bat.
So how do we treat this situation?
Do we A- give the guy unbridled support. Regale him with the loudest ovation we can muster and hope against hope that Jose Alberto Pujols is a good man with a good heart that knows how much STL loves him and he's just trying to lookout for his bottom line but is never, ever leaving.
Do we B- Support him as what he is- a great player on a contending team. Nothing more or nothing less. If he hits a home run or a makes a golden glove snag we cheer loudly... but we'd cheer loudly for Joe Smith who hit the game winning home run on made the golden glove snag - #5 just tends to do it more often. We respect his greatness and his past history of the team, but his deal is his deal- we stay out of it.
Do we C- Brace for the loss. Stay silent opening day and let him know that we don't hate him, after all he's done, but we don't want to be Cleveland Jr. either and that until he commits to us, he's just a guy collecting a check to play a game.
Do we D- Boo. Let him know that if he wants to go he better go ahead and just wave his no-trade clause now and at least let the Cardinals get something for the best player in baseball. He's made it clear that he's not ready to really be a Cardinal for life... otherwise he'd still be negotiating.
Now I already know the answer.
It's A. STL is a town full of love for the Cardinals. They could come over to your house and slap your mother in the chops right now and you'd still pay over face value for a ticket to see the Padres on March 31st.
But is this the right tact? Are we setting ourselves up to be crushed?
Let the debate begin.