Behind The Scenes Before NLCS Game 1

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Final preparations are being made to the field before Game 1 of the NLCS

 

 

POSTSEASON (SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11)by Larry State.

Being early in day, before start of NLCS in St. Louis:  Buzz around Busch Stadium – inside, outside – building, mid-morning.

Game 1 of NLCS between Cardinals-Giants, later tonight.

 

Postseason logos, receiving fresh touch-up paint on foul-territory grass.

 

Cool, overcast morning; large fans assist with drying of field paint.

 

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Television technicians get ready to cover the big game.

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Television technicians get ready for the big game tonight.

Cameras, technicians, other equipment abound throughout ballpark. In service-level hallway, small monitor displays Cardinals lineup graphic, likely to be used later during broadcast. Around two corners of hallway, TV camera operator sets up, waiting, waiting, waiting patiently, near entrance to visiting team clubhouse; will capture video of Giants arrive, when Giants arrive, for TV.

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The future Patrick and Michelle Holloway pose in front of the Cardinals Team Store and plaza of champions.

Outside ballpark, crowd mills here, there, back again. Among crowd, large wedding party, dressed in marriage finest, taking photos. Patrick and Michelle, to become the Holloways later in day, ceremony not long after 4 p.m. Couple stopped by reporter, agree to smile for camera. Wedding a big day for both; despite busy day of nuptials, couple-to-be asked if they root for the Cardinals during game. Couple answer in unison: “I do.”

Busch Stadium Preps for NLCS

POSTSEASON (THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9) – Being an off-day, between NLDS win and Game 1 of NLCS still two days off:

Overcast, almost cool, after late-night/early morning rain. Warning track behind home plate, mushy. Left field, into left-center, covered by silvery-white infield tarp. Postseason logos, still painted on grass but fading somewhat, four days after first painting. Field crew, many shovels, shoveling on tarp, removing sediment accumulated from tarp use during games. Will prevent sediment from dumping back on infield grass next time tarp needed to cover infield.

   grounds crew

Ballpark tour group filing down through seats to field. Group walks on warning track, takes photos at home plate, more in home dugout. In seats behind home plate, camera technician assembles parts of TV camera, new TV camera position for excitement of NLCS games.

camera set-up

On service level of stadium, provisions being delivered for upcoming series: fresh mushrooms, heavy whipping cream, diced celery, cheese slices. In mostly empty Cardinals Club – upscale dining area inside stadium, behind home plate seating, under stands – chefs and other staff testing new pizza oven, for future use at Cardinals Nation venue across street from stadium. Chef inspecting pizza when cooked, noting firmness of crust, then cooking another. Can confirm suitability of both cheese and pepperoni varieties of new product.

deliveries

Cardinals Club

Noon approaches, Cardinals begin to take field for workout. Pitchers to rightfield corner, jog, knees high, warmup exercises. Marco Gonzales, promising young southpaw, runs lap around field on warning track, threading between TV-equipment carts near visiting dugout; completes lap in right field and joins fellow pitchers. Position players play catch near infield, take positions on field. Three coaches, all near home plate, hitting ground balls at nearly same time to infielders. Nearby, field crew watching intently, seeming ready to pounce and protect field if heavy rain begins.

Marco Gonzales

players workout

 

Workout ends, players go inside. Swarm of media to home dugout, interview ahead with Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. Waiting, waiting, for manager to arrive. Word sent, rainfall to move interview indoors. Media herd marches across warning track, into usual interview room, now furnished for larger crowd. Cameras, lights, set up and turned on quickly. Manager enters, calm smile on face, takes place at table, fielding questions.

intrerview

 

On field, field crew in action, pulling tarp over infield. Bird, landing on seatback in first row, with excellent view of field. Asked to pose for photo with field in background. Bird takes umbrage at media request, flies away in huff, refusing to answer questions.

- Larry State

Postseason Preparations Underway at Busch Stadium

POSTSEASON (Saturday, October 4, early morning) – Cloud-free, sunny day in St. Louis, literally and figuratively, after comeback win previous evening in L.A.

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Later in evening, Game 2 of Cardinals-Dodgers battle on tap. At moment, a quiet, chilly, early morning, many perhaps still asleep. Around Busch Stadium work continues, readying ballpark for Game 3 of NLDS, scheduled for Monday.

A cloud free day in St. Louis helps workers tasked with preparing the stadium for Postseason baseball.

On field, five-man crew performing traditional, near-annual St. Louis chore, painting designs in grass for postseason games. In foul territory, first- and third-base side, identical patterns taking shape. Large, vinyl patterns, 16 feet by 42 feet, set on grass. Many holes pre-cut in vinyl patterns. Painters use rollers, apply paint over all precut holes, red, white, blue. Vinyl patterns folded, carried away; painted, connect-the-dots pattern remains, painted on grass. Painters do connect dots, completing MLB postseason image seen on grass of all fields hosting playoff games.

Trick of field-painting trade learned while observing. High frequency of grass mowing, leading to presence of small grass clippings. Painters, careful to use paint rollers slowly, avoiding phenomenon of white-painted grass clippings bouncing off ground, into air, and onto painter.

Behind home plate, familiar Birds-on-Bat logo ready for painting. Large pattern, used many times in past, made by sign company performing painting job. Many pieces to assemble. Duct tape, masking tape, some 200 nails, all helping hold things in place. Nearby, member of Cardinals field crew takes care not to soak painters while watering infield grass.

Field-painting crew gone, other work continues around stadium. Two-man crew updates rotating advertising signs to display during postseason games. Different paint crew, between 5-10 painters, continues job, begun roughly month earlier, applying new coat of paint to all structural steel in ballpark. Around lowest level of stadium, taped signs posted, providing directions to newcomers from national media,how to find various workrooms for media during playoffs. Media interview room, normally laid-back layout of one podium and two small rows of chairs, upgraded; raised platform in front (for interview subjects, to be seated at table) and back (for two-tiered multitude of TV cameras), indicating next game at ballpark, figuratively speaking, to be played on bigger stage. DSC_0008 DSC_0019 DSC_0020 DSC_0027 DSC_0048 DSC_0060

State of Cardinal Nation

Being an unofficial, semi-personalized account of life behind scenes and around edges of Cardinals 

POSTSEASON (Friday, October 3) – Postseason being not just event or schedule, but seeming at times to become actual place of its own …

Cardinals-Dodgers matchup in Game 1 of NLDS set to start in three hours, far off in Los Angeles.

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In St. Louis, chilly, windy, gray, off-and-on rain falling during parts of day at empty Busch Stadium, home of Game 3 of series three days hence. Red-white-blue bunting, already in place around façade of multiple seating decks for postseason games, ripples in wind, only sound in otherwise silent seating bowl of ballpark. Video board at stadium serving as giant TV, displaying Tigers-Orioles Game 2 of ALDS.

Field

Team employees, seeming to forget existence of any shirt color other than red. Excitement building during day through office and cubicle, with team-employee watch party on tap for start of game on TV at 5:37 local time. File cabinet in hallway stocked with delicious, non-nutritional snacks, sent to office as postseason-celebration gift; employees avoid lethargy despite mass consumption of pretzels, corn chips, candy corn.

Chatter throughout team front office likely same as many other places – lineup predictions, greatness of Wainwright-Kershaw matchup, review of other games throughout day. Some meetings and discussion topics perhaps unique to front office, during prep for Series arrival in St. Louis on Monday: identity of anthem singers, exact timing of lineup introductions, location and nature of pregame Monday pep rally.

Late in day, word arriving of possible 8:37 local game time for Monday game in St. Louis. Employees scurrying to last-minute, end-of-week tasks, halls growing quiet, as all hurry to watch-party gathering site near stadium. Silent, resting, ballpark awaits Saturday arrival of field-painters, sign-makers, for NLDS prep work over weekend.

-Larry State

The Secret Weapon’s Biggest Fans

On Saturday, September 20th, during the last homestand of the Cardinals 2014 regular season, a dream came true for two of Jose Oquendo’s biggest fans.  Jason and Randy Sklar, aka ‘The Sklar Brothers’, of Sklarbro Country fame, brought their families home to St. Louis to share in their thrilling experience of throwing a ceremonial first pitch to their baseball idol, Cardinal’s Secret Weapon, Jose Oquendo.

Jose Oquendo gives the Sklar Brothers some tips before their first pitch ceremony

Together, twins Jason and Randy Sklar equal Jose Oquendo’s biggest fan

Together, twins Jason and Randy Sklar equal Jose Oquendo’s biggest fan

The Sklar Brothers introduced their kids to their idol.

The Sklar Brothers introduced their kids to their idol.

MLB.com brought their iON Camera production crew to capture what it’s really like to throw out a ceremonial pitch at Busch Stadium.  Check it out.

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