First off, the Sopranos finale, what the……?
Went Saturday night to Little Rock to see the Arkansas Travelers take on the Springfield Cardinals. First, the Stadium. Dickey-Stephens stadium opened this season and replaces Ray Windsor Stadium. From what I understand, Ray Windsor Stadium is the type of minor league stadium that would have been found in Bull Durham. Lots of history and appeal. But Dickey-Stephens Stadium is a nice replacement. It has a semi-railroad feel. The outside of the stadium resembles a train station with a large bell tower, there is a small knockoff of a railroad bridge in the stadium, and the concessions have train names. That is where the train theme ends. The seats are really close to the action. When we ordered the tickets, no box seats were available so sat in the reserved, which are bleachers with backs. The view was great, the complaint is that smoking was allowed in this area. Also, there were hundreds of the box seats that were empty. The concessions and souveneirs were reasonably priced. The scoreboard was large and also had a very nice video board. Like Rent One Field, the videoboard showed action right up to the play, and then the proceedings after the play. It also showed the happenings and contests between innings. The stadium put a large emphasis on Blooper, some traveling mascot that was in town to entertain the fans. It was incredibly annoying. The stadium also has a really nice view of downtown Little Rock across the Arkansas River. The crowd was very enthusiastic and really into rooting for the Travellers. There were also quite a few Cardinal fans, as this used to be the Cardinals Double A affiliate.
Colby Rasmus was as good as advertised. Even though he is slumping at the moment, he has a nice fluid swing, most of the time. At times, his swing did get long but he seemed to make adjustments during the at bat. He was much more impressive in the field. One play in particular was a ball hit on a line that he initially misjudged, as he started drifting to his left, he realized he had misplayed it, and turned on the burners and caught up with it. He made several other really nice catches that saved several runs for Kevin Ool. He also has a gun. He went and got the ball in the gap and made a bullet throw to the cutoff, Tyler Greene, who fired to Bryan Anderson to cut down Bryan Fuller at the plate. Tyler Greene was very solid in the field. He has a nice arm and seemed to have good range. At the plate, he drops in his hands on every swing. Joe Mather seems like a guy who can help the Cardinals in the future. He has played a lot of first base in the past, but he seems very comfortable in right. At the plate, he has a lot of power. He has a short, violent swing. On the night he had 2 extra base hits and 4 RBIs. Sean Danielson is a player that needs to be seen in person to be appreciated. He has great speed. He makes a lot of contact, and he reminds of David Eckstein that he will foul off tons of pitches, keeping himself alive. So far this year, he has 5 Ks in 156 ABs. He covers a lot of ground and has a really strong arm. Bryan Anderson has a really smoth lefty stroke. He has really good gap power. He needs work on his footwork behind the plate. There were a couple of balls in the dirt that should have been smothered that got by him. But, hey, he is only 20, so I will cut him some slack. With such a good bat and Yadi blocking him at the big leauge level, and now after seeing him in person, I feel like he is athletic enough to switch positions. Kevin Ool is not a starter. Michael Cooper leaves a lot to be desired. The balls that Mike Ferris connected with exploded off his bat. He has really good power and I really don’t understand how he is hitting .200. Juan Richardson has good bat control and nice power. He doesn’t have much range at third, but he is really dependable with the balls he gets to. Jose Garcia has a really nice fastball that he can dial up when he needs to. He just had trouble with his command on this night. I could see him contributing as a middle reliever. Nick Webber has really good leverage on his fastball but did not have very command either. It almost seems like he doesn’t trust his stuff. During the first game, standing behind the Cardinals’ bullpen. I was standing right over Chris Perez’s left shoulder and came away truly impressed with him. He throws extremely hard with great movement. Each time he would really reach back and bring it, the catcher’s mitt sound like a car wreck when the ball would hit it. I don’t know if he could throw it straight if he had to. His slider is tight with a crisp break. After seeing him up close, and really getting to see his the movement on his pitches, I am really excited about his future. He has a powerful lower body that reminds me a little bit of Roger Clemens.
After seeing Springfield, I am excited about the Cardinals’ future. Colby Rasmus seems like the real deal. I have read how some of the great players see the game in slow motion and that seems true with Rasmus. Perez is a stud. Anderson is solid. Mather seems like he will be able to contribute in some form. Sean Danielson could turn out to be a really good fourth outfielder. Juan Richardson is a good player with some upside. I really like Webber. The Cardinals’ system is looking better and better.
I should have pictures up of the stadium and the Cardinals later in the week.
The Cardinals avoided the sweep today and Albert exploded with 2 HRs. Yeah, he is out of his slump.
Blake Dewitt had a hit and 2 RBIs.
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