There was certainly some action in downtown
in January to keep the streets warm and buzzing. First of all, the 2011 Writer's Dinner was themed around roasting and toasting the Cardinals' Manager, Tony LaRussa, and let me tell you there was not an empty chair within blocks to hear this one. Talk about entertainment- Bobby Knight, Billy Bob Thornton, Jim Leyland, and who cannot help but chuckle at a Harry Caray impression by John Rooney? It was a great pleasure to be involved in honoring Tony LaRussa and on top of LaRussa's honors, I was tickled to see Rip Rowan, the Cardinals clubhouse manager, take home the "Good Guy" Award at the Writer's Dinner. Rip is an outstanding person and a good friend who does an incredible amount of work behind the scenes for the Cardinals - well deserved Ripper! Adam Wainwright and Albert Pujols also received honors at the Writer's Dinner; they were co-winners of the
Baseball Man of the Year Award - there's no doubt that those two are great Cardinals. Matt Holliday also received the Darryl Kile Award, one of the most prestigious honors because it is voted upon by Cardinals players. Finally, congratulations to Jaime Garcia who took home the Rookie of the Year and Physical Comeback Awards.
Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood also had a monumental milestone, celebrating an exciting 25th year in business gathering in January as well. We certainly had fun with 500 plus of our fantastic guests who frequent the restaurant. I am so proud of my daughter Pat Shannon-VanMatre who has been the leading light of
's growth and success. I am equally proud of Pat's son, my grandson Gary VanMatre, who is the General Manager of
's. Hat's off to Pat and Gary and the entire Mike Shannon's staff for 25 years of great service and for throwing an unforgettable anniversary party. It was great to see Tony LaRussa, Billy Bob Thornton, Al Hrabosky, Jay Randolph, Red Schoendienst, John Mabry, Bill Dewitt III and all those who were able to toast their glasses to a quarter of a century of being in business.
Be on the lookout for Buzz Bissinger's rendition of Three Night's in August on film. Filming may begin as early as this Spring and Tony LaRussa's close friend, Billy Bob Thornton , will be producing and may even be playing a role in the movie - don't be surprised if he plays one of LaRussa's coaches. This has the potential of being a fantastic movie for baseball and for the city of
How's the 2011 season shaping up you ask? Things are on the up and up in Spring Training. As of right now it appears David Freese is on the road to being healthy which could make for an outstanding infield and even deadlier of a lineup. The Cardinals have also signed the switch hitting infielder Nick Punto who will be a nice addition to the infield as a back-up at third base and other positions. All five starters are in place and the bullpen is shaping up as well, however there maybe some spring training additions to the bullpen. Also, the outfield looks strong with Holliday, Rasmus and Berkman.
In a perfect world, all the players will enter Spring Training healthy and leave healthy. Both of those occur very seldom unfortunately. So on top of the bullpen there could be some other roster moves depending on how the expected 40 roster players are looking towards late March.
One player who is making a name for himself out of the Cardinals' farm system is Shelby Miller, who was a 1st round draft pick out of
in 2009 and was recently named to Baseball
's top 100 prospect list. This right-handed hurler spent last year pitching in the Quad Cities and has the potential to move up the ladder this year. He will more than likely start out in single-A baseball, but has the potential to move up quickly if he stays healthy. He is a non-roster invitee to this year's Spring Training, and it'll be fun to see how he fares.
I also look forward to hitting the mighty airwaves of KMOX again; our first broadcast is set for Tuesday, March 1st. I look forward to working with my partner John Rooney; also look forward to the help of Rick Horton and Mike Claiborne during the broadcasts as well. I am also pleased and honored to continue working with Jim Jackson, Anne Carroll and Dan Farrell - thanks for all the hard work all of you do in the off-season to make our job so great and fun.
On top of being at the booth in the ballpark, one of my favorite times I look forward to is continuing our post-game show, Live at Shannon's, which will be on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturdays after Cardinal games. Mike Claiborne and I look forward to talking baseball and interviewing some of our superstar guests. Honestly, you never know who will walk through the doors at Shannon's - some of the most memorable guests we've had include General Hal Moore who wrote "We Were Soldiers Once", later adapted into "We Were Soldiers", Lieutenant General Buster Hagenbeck, Randy Johnson, Dusty Baker, Billy Bob Thornton, Bob Gibson, Ed Hightower, and of course the great Bobby Knight. So sit back and relax and listen to the show or come on down and see for yourself why this is one of the most entertaining and lively post-game shows in baseball.
This year, instead of taking the interstate or traveling by plane to the 2011 Spring Training, I am taking a cruise ship. I am gearing up for my own Spring Training by going on the luxurious Panama Canal Cruise fully escorted by Destination Travel. I depart on the West Coast and make my way through the Panama Canal arriving in
- leading right into spring training. While on the cruise, I look forward to Sailfishing and Marlin Fishing in
, playing golf in Cabo San Lucas, and touring in
full steam ahead, Captain.
Finally, I must say, Jupiter,
is going to be a welcoming site to many of you who are enduring the blizzard of 2011. I hope to see you in
and have a safe February.