St. Louis Cardinals: Mystery Bus Tour, Finally Some Fun in Spring

Feb 17, 2017; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) laughs during spring training drills at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 17, 2017; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) laughs during spring training drills at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Cardinals spring training exercises are often enjoyable for fans to follow, but they might not have been so exciting for players. At least not until today.

News surfaced today from J.J. Bailey (follow him on Twitter) that the St. Louis Cardinals were told to board buses this morning by manager Mike Matheny but weren’t provided any information regarding the destination.  This “mystery” marks a major departure from spring trainings of old.

Spring training is the time when players report, stretch themselves, and begin (or continue) the arduous task of readying themselves for the six-plus-month grind that is major league baseball. Of what we know from Cardinals camps of yesteryear, these tasks are often less than exciting. Matheny runs a tight ship and makes sure that his machine is well-oiled and functional come the first outings.

This “tight-shipping” often leads to less fun. At least this is how much of prior years’ spring training exercises appeared. True, there were sporadic photos released each year of random smiling players but these seemed to involve smiling at or with each other. Yes, true, there were pictures released of Matheny cracking a smile every once in a while too.

Enter then this season with a new quality control coach and a new, by all reports, humorous center fielder who insists on bringing a big speaker and music to each exercise. Would Dexter Fowler‘s antics have been allowed in 2015 or 2014? Should they have been allowed?

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Last spring training all the rave circled around the new and improved Cubs camp where manager-extraordinaire Joe Maddon brought live animals and made games out his team exercises. In strong contrast, the Cardinals camp was focused on rigor and set schedules. Did Matheny learn a thing or two from losing the season to the fun that was started way back in spring?

Back to J.J. Bailey… If you aren’t following him then you need to correct that flaw immediately. Bailey- who is in Jupiter (Florida, not the planet) reporting on the St. Louis Cardinals camp- released the following this morning:

A few hours later he released this:

And then just recently even Derrick Goold joined in and released this:

What is this mystery tour? Where are the players going? What are they doing?

Twitter is loving the mystery tour and it seems the players are as well (just look at Adam Wainwright‘s “smiling face” in the Goold picture). Many tweets are suggesting that the first bus hid Easter eggs and the second bus must now go find them. Another tweet suggested that a trust fall should have been involved.

One of my favorite suggestions of purpose was that Matheny wanted to test his team’s fortitude by making them survive Florida:

Either way, regardless of the real reason- which we surely will learn at some point today- this “fun” departure is likely welcome company in what was once a staunch and regimented St. Louis Cardinals spring training.

What are your theories of the mystery tour?

Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble but Derrick Goold just moments ago released the real reason for the mystery bus tour:

What do you think of Matheny’s tactic today? One last question: do you believe today’s excursion was the brainchild of Matheny or someone else trying to infuse fun (Mike Shildt or Fowler or another)?

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Do you believe these changes- the infusion of fun- will make this season better than last? Let me know on Twitter and stay tuned for more updates and opinions on the St. Louis Cardinals spring training.