Got Cardinals Fever?
It's been a long winter, and the boys of summer just can't get here soon enough.
Here are a few of the highlights:
On the fieldWith the continued tinkering of the St. Louis roster, changes are rippling down through the farm system. Springfield fans can expect to see last year’s phenom, Colby Rasmus, in center field for the big Birds sometime this season, along with ex-Springfield players Jarrett Hoffpauir, Mike Parisi and Brendan Ryan. So who will wow us this year?
While rosters won’t be set until the end of the month, most minor league pundits agree that top prospects Allen Craig (third base), Adam Ottavino and Jamie Garcia (pitchers) will likely start the season in Springfield, along with possibly Tyler Greene (shortstop) and John Jay (outfield). Don’t bet on seeing fan favorite Joey (“Bombs”) Mather unless his performance slips.
At the concession standsThe Cardinals use their annual Media Day to unveil their new concession stand treats (and really, who knows food better than a bunch of sportswriters?) This year’s highlights (prices not announced?):
• Walking Taco: Popular at the Ozark Empire Fair, this is an individual-sized bag of Doritos crunched up, with chili, lettuce, cheese and salsa poured in. You eat the whole mess out of the bag with a fork. Brilliant.
• Reuben panini: Corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand-Island dressing on ciabatta bread. This drew more raves than any other item at Media Day.
• Chetzel dog: A hot dog in a salted pretzel bun. One taster said it had a bit much salt, but tasted amazing.
• Wasabi peas: Hammons Field hopes these individual cans of healthy, spicy snacks turn in to the next big ballpark snack. They’re tasty, but we’ll see.
• Sherbert float: Two kinds of sherbert, mixed with Sprite and pink lemonade. Yum.
• Fireball burger: A regular burger topped with nacho cheese and jalapeños.
Cardinals marketing guru Dan Reiter was uncharacteristically tight-lipped about 2008’s between-innings contests. GM Matt Gifford only told us that the lineup was set, and that fans would be seeing more games that utilize the huge, state-of-the-art Hammons Field video board. He assured that the most popular games, like the brilliant musical chairs contest, would return.
Between the innings
The biggest change we’ve been told about is at the between-innings emcee position, where it’s good-bye Tim Tialdo, hello GO fave J. Fotsch from Power 96.5.
At the ticket window\Prices have gone up a bit for all fans, but those buying tickets in advance will receive a discount. For example, general admission tickets are now $5.50 in advance, and $6 on game day, a $1 increase over the 2007 price of $5. All other single-game seats have gone up by a few dollars per ticket. Compared to other forms of entertainment, it’s still a steal.
Around the stadiumThe biggest change, Gifford says, is the addition of 13 flat-screen TVs on the concourse, which will allow non-seated fans to watch the game (or, possibly, the St. Louis Cardinals) as they go to the concession stand or the restroom. Last year’s additions of TVs at concessions stands was such a hit, Gifford says they invested all the way around the stadium. Seating changes were minimal, but Gifford says there have been seats added to the Redbird Roost (aka foul ball alley).
2008 Hammons Field Dates to Know March 28-29: The St. Louis Cardinals come to Hammons Field to play two exhibition games against the Springfield team. Tickets are scarce, so good luck. You’re probably going to have to glom off friends.
April 3: Opening Day versus Frisco.
April 29-May 2: First home series against Northwest Arkansas Naturals (formerly the Wichita Wranglers), the Kansas City Royals’ Double-A affiliate and the closest thing the Cardinals have to a “rival”.
May 28-30: First home series vs. 2007 TL Champion San Antonio Missions.
June 25: Texas League All-Star Game at Hammons Field.
August 29: Last home game of the season.
September 3-13: Texas League playoffs.