Downtown St. Louis once again was covered in an ocean of Cardinal red this weekend. The Birds hosted their 16th annual Winter Warm Up. It is a way for the fans to meet some of their favorites, if they are willing to stand in the autograph lines, talk baseball and basically get their winter fix for Cardinal activities until Spring Training kicks off. I had an opportunity to attend the Warm Up this week and take in the sights and sounds.
The best way to describe the atmosphere at the Warm Up was electric. People are still buzzing about the miraculous comebacks that the 2011 season had to offer. They are equally as excited as to what this next season will bring. Will it be #12 in 2012? I am always a little apprehensive when it comes to calling for repeats, but I think the 2012 club brings some great things to the diamond this upcoming year. There was every type of Cardinal baseball memorabilia that you could think of, from every era. Brian Jordan had his own booth selling his newly penned children’s books. There were specific stands for Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa. I found it interesting they were located directly in front of each other. There was, in addition to every booth containing Stan Musial memorabilia, a stand dedicated just for Stan Musial’s personal business. There were also a few sightings of Cub’s stuff. This included shirts that noted the official drink of the Cubs was “Choke” and a Cubs suck sticker autographed by Ryan Theriot. I found that one funny. The proud owner of that item said Theriot was more than happy to sign and thought it was pretty funny.
As I walked through the aisles of the displays and vendors I noticed that David Freese and just about anything with his face or name on it was in high demand. The hometown boy has concreted himself into the role of hometown hero with his amazing post season performance. It was impossible not overhear many of the attendee’s conversations of what will he do this year? Is he the new face of the team?
Of the literally tens of thousands of items that were for sale, I saw only two items with Albert Pujol$‘s image on them. It seems that Cardinal Nation is well on its way to recovery from what many felt would be apocalyptic since he left. Honestly, he was not main topic of conversation by the masses in attendance. I am not saying he wasn’t discussed, but there many other things that were dominating the minds and conversations of the fans.
Another Cardinal that was conspicuously absent from the events was Yadier Molina. This is the second year in a row that Yadi has not attended the festivities. As the news first hit that Yadi was not going to be there, the reason given was due to family reason and obligations. This was also the second year in a row the same reason was given. GM John Mozeliak gave a little different explanation of the events on Sunday. He said the he had spoken to Molina’s agent in regard to the absence and how the club felt about it. He was told that Yadi would be making a donation to Cardinal Care in lieu of his absence. Mozeliak went onto to say he felt that Molina’s lack of enthusiasm for the “crush” of the autograph process probably was the major reason Molina did not attend. He also attempted to squelch any rumor of the reason for Molina’s hiatus, was him being upset about the guy that went to the Angels in the off season and the Cards not signing him. I hope these are not premonitions of what we may experience in the upcoming future with Molina and new contracts.
Overall, it was a great weekend in St. Louis and the faithful followers of Cardinal baseball are as excited now as I can ever remember. The energy from last year has yet to slow down. How many days till the pitchers and catchers report?