The St. Louis Cardinals have- at least for the past several years- hosted one final exhibition game in Memphis facing their AAA-affiliate to close out Spring Training. It seems this will not be the case for the 2018 season.
One of my favorite traditions to wrap up winter and usher in baseball is something known as the “Battle of the Birds” in Memphis, TN. This great event features the St. Louis Cardinals visiting their AAA ballpark to face-off against the Memphis Redbirds in one final exhibition game before the start of the season.
This is an event that I have attended at each of its occurrences since the inaugural Civil Rights Game some ten years ago or so. The “Battle of the Birds” is a great opportunity for fans in the Mid-south region of the United States to see the Cardinals in action.
Let me say right away that this contest is never really a close one nor is it one that is hard-fought. Both teams use this event to introduce their players, allow Mid-south fans a chance to see the St. Louis Cardinals players, and- maybe most importantly- avoid injuries. That said, it is a fun game putting fans face-to-face with major league players in a beautiful setting.
Last season’s “Battle of Birds” gave me the opportunity to stand in the Cardinals dugout and meet and interview several of the current players. Last season’s battle afforded me the chance to talk with Jose Martinez and learn that (1) he is a really nice guy, and (2) that he had made changes to his hitting approach in the offseason between 2016 and 2017; I think fans witnessed the fruits of this labor.
During last season’s interview period, I also had the chance to experience the power that is Yadier Molina. Just walking around the room, you can feel just how valued and respected Yadi is among the St. Louis Cardinals players, coaches, and organization. Add to that the fact that Yadi carries with him a heavy air of power.
More from Redbird Rants
- Cardinals Rumors: 3 pros and cons of signing Carlos Rodon
- What’s next for the St. Louis Cardinals after Contreras signing?
- Report: Cardinals Emerge As Mystery Team for Carlos Rodon
- Cardinals: Trade targets after signing Willson Contreras
- Reflecting on the 2013 Cardinals’ top 30 prospects
Last season’s battle of the birds also afforded me- and then thereby you our readers- the chance to hear directly from manager Mike Matheny as he discussed the rise of players like Paul DeJong and the aforementioned Martinez. This allowed me the chance to see just paint-drying-boring Matheny is in person.
Fast-forward then to this year. Crickets. Usually by this point, actually far before this point, the St. Louis Cardinals would have announced the “Battle of the Birds” as the final stop before departing for Opening Day. This season, we get a final stop in… Canada. That’s right, Canada.
How many St. Louis Cardinals fans are there in Canada you might ask? My guess is that there are plenty but not the type of draw that would take place in Memphis. Don’t get me wrong, I find it exciting that the St. Louis Cardinals will play games in Canada if only to hug it out with former teammates like Aledmys Diaz and Randal Grichuk (sorry, not sorry, Josh).
All of that aside, I am very disappointed in the St. Louis Cardinals organization for NOT hosting a “Battle of the Birds” in Memphis prior to the start of the 2018 season. Boo to you, front office. Boo to you.
Have you attended one of the “Battle of the Birds” contests at Autozone Park? If you have, share your story with me via Twitter and thanks for reading!