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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Annual BBWAA writers dinner still a big draw

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  • For the second consecutive year, I was able to attend the Annual Baseball Writers of America Association dinner this past Sunday. However, instead of going alone this year, my wife Lindsay was able to accompany me.
    Looking back, she was supposed to go with me last year, but then our son Jaxson was born, five weeks early. Fast forward a year and our little guy is doing great. We celebrated his one year birthday Sunday and then he and the rest of our kids got to spend the night with Mema (grandma) while Lindsay and I went out for a nice evening.
    It almost didn't happen though as I have been battling a nasty cold since Thursday. However, I didn't want my wife to miss out again, so I manned up, drugged up, and out we went.
    Getting me to dress up is hard, but for the BBWAA dinner, I do my best to clean up. Lindsay got a new dress and we made the trip to St. Louis.
    We were placed at a VIP table, table 13 to be exact, in the front row. The person who assigned our seats said he was filled in on who I was and what I do by one of the St. Louis writers.
    Before everyone began to eat their dinner, it was jokingly announced that like most Cardinals' games, the event was a sellout. Unlike last year, I did not count the tables, but it sure looked like more people were in attendance this year than last year.
    The dinner was great and the awards that followed shortly after were an event not to be missed.
    Several players from the 2013 season were on hand to be honored as were several players from the 1964 World Series championship team. Additionally, Hall of Fame Manager Tony La Russa was honored.
    My favorite of the night had to be Cardinals' ace Adam Wainwright. Whether he was talking about his mentor Chris Carpenter, his season last year, or accepting an award, Waino was funny and kept the crowd amused during his many trips to the podium.
    Wainwright and Yadier Molina had their Gold Gloves presented to them. Because Molina was unavailable to attend, Cardinals' skipper Mike Matheny, himself a four-time Gold Glove winner, accepted the award for Molina.
    Closer Jason Motte became very emotional when being named the team's Darryl Kile Award winner. Of all the awards handed out, the Darryl Kile Award is the only one that is voted on by the players.
    Getting to not only see, but also listen to Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver, Bob Uecker, Mike Shannon, and company was a thrill I will never forget. They joked and took shots at one another and reminisced about the 1964 season.
    Other players currently on the roster to receive awards, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller, and Kolten Wong to name a few. While each player gave a short speech, some were just more memorable than others. One I particularly liked was when Rosenthal commented on how even though he has been named the closer heading into the 2014 season, he still considers himself as a competitor for a starting rotation spot. He later added that the Cardinals' pitching staff has eight starters and five closers.
    Page 2 of 3 - The one person every one wanted to see and hear from though was Tony La Russa, the former Cardinals' manager who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame later this year. The presenter for La Russa was Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Strauss joked that a fan stopped him on the way in and asked if he had a Hall of Fame vote. Strauss replied that he did so the fan asked how can Greg Maddux not get 100 percent of the vote but La Russa can be unanimous? Strauss' answer was brilliant, "because the writers didn't vote for La Russa."
    Listening to La Russa speak was neat. It brought me back to a time when I was a child and La Russa was the manager of the Oakland A's. My mom was one of La Russa's biggest fans because his daughter Devon's name had the same spelling and same pronunciation (Dev-in) as my sister's name.
    La Russa commented that it was never his dream to get into the Hall of Fame and that he did nothing special other than working for the right organizations at the right time. La Russa said if Jim Leyland and Tom Kelly had managed his teams, they would have had over 2,000 wins and they would be going into the HOF.
    La Russa mentioned that the hiring of Matheny as his replacement was spot on. The Hall of Fame retired manager then mentioned that he heard Matheny supposedly smiles less with the media than his predecessor did. While I can't say what La Russa did or did not do while working with the St. Louis media, I can tell you that over my first year of covering the Cardinals, I can only remember seeing Matheny smile once or twice.
    After the dinner was over, guests had a chance to walk to the stage and take photos of the Gold Glove Awards and maybe get a chance to talk to a player. But for me, it was just nice being recognized by some of the other writers and getting to introduce my wife to them.
    Back to my cold, it's still not gone, but I survived. After all, that's what I am, a survivor.
    St. Louis is one of just three chapters of the BBWAA to still host an annual dinner event. This past weekend's was the 56th annual. It was an event that I enjoyed along with many others in attendance. I am just grateful that I was able to take my wife along to experience the event. Now, when my kids get a little older, I might just take them too!
    The conclusion of the dinner brings me to this, baseball season is right around the corner. The Cardinals' pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Jupiter, FL., on February 12. The team will play its first spring game on Feb. 28 when the Redbirds will host the Marlins.
    Page 3 of 3 - After that, Opening Day will be here on Wednesday April 2 with the Redbirds in Cincinnati before coming home for their home opener on Monday, April 7, against the Reds.

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