Day 2: The Icepeople Cometh
That was the schedule board on the lobby level of the Millennium Hotel, as Ice Storm II of this offseason was the big backdrop during this Winter Warmup. Amazingly, there were very few such indicators of the weather problems if you looked around this event. People have continued to show up just like they always do, despite conditions that had some 140,000 homes in the area without power due to the ice storm. Some folks like Scott Spiezio were affected, as travel plans took a hit. But there they were, absolutely packing the place, and basking in an afterglow of a world championship. You can see it in this giant stage banner:
Over at the MLB.com/stlcardinals.com booth, editorial producer Dan Hanzus and I have enjoyed the wintry return to baseball fever. For everyone who asks this question all day long: T-shirts are given out if you correctly shout out an answer in the Redbird Trivia contests we are showing on the giant plasma screen. The contests are typically whenever there is no activity on the main stage. Otherwise, we’re just tossing them out. Come by and get one if there are any left during the final day at the event, which ends at 3 p.m. CT on Monday. Mostly, we are showing constant replays of the last World Series as well as the last inning of Game 7 of the NLCS.
It’s what people here want to see right now. They also want to see this man anywhere. During the day on Sunday, Tony La Russa signed autograph after autograph…
…and at night, it was something you had to see to believe. I just got back from the "Stars to the Rescue" benefit concert from 6-11 pm CT at the Fox Theatre on Grand, where large sums were raised for Tony’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF).
La Russa emceed his own event as usual, and it was stunning beyond words. But here were some of the highlights:
– Tony jamming on the drums during "Takin’ It To The Streets" with an "All-Star Band" featuring a reunion of Doobie Brothers Michael McDonald and Tom Johnston. They performed the classics, and as the final act of the night, Tony got in the middle of those two legends for a rather historic photo.
– Wynonna. That’s all. Wynonna. She bantered back and forth with the crowd all night a la Bette Midler in "The Rose." She wouldn’t pull out her old stuff despite every "Grandpa" chant. She wowed the crowd with some soulfoul numbers. As with all the artists who appeared, she was there on her own and as a big-time ARF supporter.
– Same with Trace Adkins, whose session included the same "Swing" track that was premiered this past year on MLB.com. Same with comedian/actor Kevin Pollack ("A Few Good Men"). Same with the opening act, the "Liverpool Legends."
– Two video presentations of the last Cardinals postseason — one during the first half of the night featuring highlights through the pennant clincher, and one later in the night that captured the World Series. Here’s what La Russa told the crowd: The Baseball Writers Dinner on Monday night will be the "last time" everyone pats themselves on the back about 2006. Then he said, it’s all about 2007. You could tell from the crowd reaction that it was the right thing to say, but that there’s no way anyone is going to stop celebrating 2006 for a long, long time. They’re doing it now.