Mar 10, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak addresses the media about newly acquired shortstop Aledmys Diaz (not pictured) at Roger Dean Stadium. Image Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to the United States of America and the St. Louis Cardinals. I know that you will be extremely busy over the next few weeks playing baseball and trying to get that whole visa thing ironed out, but the staff at Redbird Rants wants you to know that we are here to help. The prevailing wisdom right now is that you are to begin your Cardinal career playing for the AA Springfield Cardinals in the Texas League. The minor leagues can be challenging for anyone. Add to that challenge that you are coming from a different country—Cuba by way of Mexico—and you will certainly experience some difficulty in adjusting to your new life.
As a life-long Cardinal fan and resident of the great state of Texas, I feel that I am uniquely situated to help you navigate the road trips which you will soon need to survive. Below are some pointers for when you visit the many cities of the Texas League. If you take my advice it will save you some heartache and no doubt help you ascend to the big league club that much sooner.
The first road trip in your minor league career will begin in San Antonio. Given that you have been living in Mexico for the last year you might be ready for some good Mexican food. You can find that here. Nothing against Missouri, but it will be hard for you to beat San Antonio for a south of the border taste. Native Texans love the San Antonio Riverwalk, outsiders don’t see what all the fuss is about. Go with the outsiders on this one.
Leaving San Antonio you’ll head to Corpus Christi. At first you might be excited to head to the beach, just don’t set your expectations too high. If you feel the need to do a little sightseeing you can visit King Ranch which is larger than the state of Rhode Island. Also a word to the wise, Corpus Christi is home to more bird species than any other city in the country. Keep your eye on the ball, but do yourself a favor and keep in mind that bloop singles aren’t the only thing falling from the sky.
Before you know it you will find yourself in Little Rock, Arkansas. Little Rock isn’t known for a thriving night life, but it might be educational for you to visit the Presidential Library of former President Bill Clinton. Many have made the observation that his library bears a striking architectural similarity to a mobile home, but I am sure there is plenty you could learn about the U.S. and its history. Some of which we even are proud to admit.
The next trip you take will find you deep in the Ozark Mountains in Springdale, Arkansas. Springdale is home to the headquarters of Tyson foods and claims to be “The Poultry Capital of the World.” You might want to take a good stack of DVDs for this trip. Then again, your salary of $8 million over 4 years means you will have more walking around money than the average minor leaguer. Maybe you want to purchase a restaurant or something while you are there.
Your next destination is Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa is actually a pretty decent city to visit, and is often ranked as one of America’s top cities. The real thing for you to keep in mind here—and I cannot stress the importance of this point enough—is that Tulsa is located right in the middle of what is known as tornado alley. Just make sure that when you take the field, you know where the closest exit is at all times.
Midland, Texas will be quite the culture shock for you. It will be dry, windy, and hot. The entire West Texas area is in the middle of a big oil boom thanks to fracking technology, so bear that in mind. A while back they couldn’t even find people to work in Cracker Barrel because everyone was busy working in the oil field. Midland is a good spot to take in a movie, or cruise over the headquarters of the Commemorative Air Force. Just make sure you don’t fall down a well while you are there.
The last unique visit for you will be Frisco, Texas, where you will take on the Rangers AA affiliate RoughRiders. Frisco is a great town and, because it is situated in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, there is a lot to do. However, the fans are still a little bitter about the 2011 World Series and losing the 2012 Texas League Championship to Springfield. There is a good chance that while you are in Frisco my family and I will be in attendance for at least one game. So please, if a small three-year-old boy jumps out of the stands and runs onto the field, try not to laugh at his dad too much. He is doing the best he can.
Now that you know how to navigate the Texas League you can spend your time on the important things. We know that you idolize Derek Jeter, but Cardinal fans have seen some pretty good shortstop play before. Forget Jeter; dial up The Wizard, as I am sure he’d be glad to help.