‘Twas the Night Before Spring Training

JUPITER, Fla. — This afternoon, on the eve of report day for St. Louis Cardinals pitchers and catchers, the clubbies continued setting up the clubhouse by hanging jerseys at each locker … with, um, care.

I snapped a picture of the corner awaiting position players when they arrive:

Jerseys hanging at lockers in the Cardinals' clubhouse in the spring training complex at Jupiter, Fla., on Feb. 17, 2012, two days before the team's first official workout.

The unopened bags, the anticipation of spring training’s opening, the jerseys hung ever so carefully — why that phrase kept clinking around in my skull all afternoon and the obvious result was — what else? — a poem, starring the local nine and even some of the journalists who cover the club. Here goes.

‘Twas the Night Before Spring Training

‘Twas the night before spring training, when all through the clubhouse

Not a reliever was warming, not even a Motte

The jerseys were hung by their lockers with care,

in hopes that the Cardinals soon would be there.


The baseballs are nestled, all rubbed up with mud,

eager for that whack that smears the signature from Bud.

And Hummel at his keyboard, and I on the blog,

had just sent our stories to beat a deadline slog.


When out on Field 1, there arose such a clatter Continue reading


This Time They Didn’t Boo

DOWNTOWN — No adventure into Twitter is complete without some verbal shrapnel. Criticism, sometimes unfounded and always unflattering, is part of the medium, and stepping out into Twitter, like reading the comments at the end of a story or wading into my inbox, is done with the understanding that there will be as many thorns and roses.

That said, the shots are two-dimensional, and though some of them can be caustic they all can be deleted, forgotten, trashed, scrolled past. Some come with names, but even then they’re impersonal. The computer between us empowers the harshest critics just as it gives me a buffer.

Boos are different.

I did not know this until experiencing them.

Continue reading

The Cardinals and Ketchup Connection

TOWER GROVE — The benefit of having a curious child who has yet to find the thing that doesn’t inspire a question is the unexpected connections he makes throughout the day, leaping from topic to topic like electric current from outlet to finger.

Baseball cards might lead to a question about candles because, you know, wax packs. A discussion about the Chicago Bears might veer into a question about having a picnic because, well, Yogi is a bear. Spider-Man can prompt a question about Costa Rica because we saw a spider there. And, this morning, a “Stuart Little” movie on television inspired him to ask if I remember a time with Captain America went “swording” (his verb for swordplay) because … well, I’m not quite sure.

And that’s the beauty of it. Who knows what synapse fired when he saw a talking mouse and needed to know immediately whether the star-spangled Avenger had ever been forced to ditch the shield for a good old-fashioned cutlass?

So, it wasn’t a surprise at dinner this past week when he had a question.

“Daddy, if you don’t like ketchup,” he began, “how come you like the Cardinals?”

Continue reading

Drawing Mike Schmidt’s Mustache

TOWER GROVE — The goal today was to get Bob Gibson’s glower just so and Kirby Puckett’s fist pump just right and, of course, Mike Schmidt’s mustache just bushy enough to evoke the Philadelphia Phillies’ slugger without overwhelming the caricature.

This was not as easy as it sounds.

The cartooning muscles have certainly slowed but thankfully they haven’t atrophied. Continue reading