St. Louis Cardinals: Spring Training creates new nostalgia for Opening Day

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 10: Matt Carpenter
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 10: Matt Carpenter /

The storied St. Louis Cardinals franchise is filled with nostalgia, and that rings even truer for me after my first trip to Spring Training.

I was fortunate enough to meet an amazing woman and fall in love.  When she fell in love with me, she fell in love with our St. Louis Cardinals.  Fortunately, she happens to be an amazing gift-giver as well.  What gift did I receive?  She got us tickets to St. Louis Cardinals spring training.  Yes, that’s a keeper.

We went to spring training earlier this month and saw two games.  One against the Atlanta Braves at Disney and one in Jupiter against the Houston Astros (who played their starters).

I got to see Miles Mikolas live before most fans and I witnessed the sharpness and professionalism a motivated Michael Wacha brought to the table.  I also saw one of the few (and dominant) performances of Luke Gregerson this spring.

St. Louis Cardinals
JUPITER, FL – FEBRUARY 20: Miles Mikolas /

Let me also state that I reminded my fellow writers not to worry about Mikolas after I saw him.  The guy has a great fastball and great fastball command.  He is sometimes overly reliant on his secondary pitches, but his stuff will play.  Now I think people are starting to see the true Mikolas after he dominated and struck out six versus the Toronto Blue Jays in Montreal.

I also had the pleasure of seeing Marcell Ozuna, the big bear, play left field for the first time and hit in person.  The guy is huge, and he is probably one of the fastest players on the team.

Other takeaways?  I was there the day before DeJong signed his extension and saw him take batting practice.  The ball just sounds different off of his bat.  I saw how fast Harrison Bader is.  The guy can fly – and it is faster than it looks on television.

I also saw the emergence of Jose Martinez.  This will be a breakout year for Jose and he will be a fixture on this team.  That is how good of a hitter he is.  The guy has incredible plate discipline and has easy opposite-field power.

The St. Louis Cardinals have a really good lineup from top to bottom (and a great bench).  The rotation is even better than the lineup.  And, with today’s news about Greg Holland, the bullpen is the best bullpen in the National League.  The bullpen is this team’s biggest strength.  Just watch and see.

Excitement for Opening Day and Baseball

Every year, no matter what, I am excited about opening day.  I had the pleasure of going to a Cardinals-Cubs game on opening night a few years ago, and I always take the time to watch that first pitch.  This year seems special.  This year resonates with me.  This year my hopes are higher.

This team is more talented than many of the teams we have seen make the playoffs and succeed.  I believe this Cardinals team is more talented with a higher upside than the 2013 team that won 100 games and went to the world series.  They are that good, and I saw it with my own eyes.  Can they put it all together?  I sure hope so.

I take this opportunity to share my hopes and express my gratitude for the new perspective on the nostalgia associated with our great franchise.  I encourage all of you, as fans, to stand behind this team through the thick and thin and give them your support and your hope.

Please be constructive in your criticism of this team and the front office.  Criticism is productive and helpful from the fan base and from writers, but demeaning people or trolling others is not.  Let us all just take in the fresh air and feel that comes with Opening Day.  I hope you enjoy it and you are as excited about it as I am.  Oh, and let’s go ahead an beat the Mets today!

Next: Cardinals Solidify Bullpen with Holland Signing

Finally, I want to encourage everyone to put spring training baseball on your bucket list.  I was fortunate enough to receive that as a gift from a great fiance, but all of you should add it to your list.  It will reinvigorate your love of this team.  It will renew your hope.  It will make you a better fan.