Next stop: Jupiter

The 2007 Cardinals Winter Warmup is in the book, and that video is just a reminder of what St. Louis always looks like at this time of year underneath all the ice. It just had a bigger banner this time. Here are some final thoughts on this year’s event as you get ready for Spring Training:

A woman came up to our booth and said proudly, "Look what I have." She pulled out one of the most beautiful pieces of memorabilia from this event. It was a 2-by-3-foot color print of Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina about to meet in a clinch hug near the mound. There was a signature from each player collected on Monday here, written over the home-white uniforms. It spoke volumes about the big machine that is baseball — it just keeps rolling and producing unexpected images like this each year. Wainwright and Molina. Who would have thought?

The Millennium ballroom was jam-packed in bright red all weekend, and yet there is no doubt that a good number of people just couldn’t make it because of the coinciding ice storm all weekend. Just consider these comments from fans earlier in this blog:

"I am in Oklahoma literally iced in. Thank goodness we still have power so I can use my computer and read all about MY CARDINALS. I hope everyone attending the Winter Warm Up is having a wonderful time. The Cardinals will do it again this year. We have character, class and the talent to endure the long hard season. GO REDBIRDS!" – Kermit from Bartlesville, Okla.

"4 Winter Warm Up passes for my family $130. Hotel reservations, $300. Items to get autographed, $100…Not having a wreck on the way to St. Louis and injuring my family, PRICELESS! We had everything set but couldn’t make it to the Warm Up due to the weather. I am glad to see that everyone else had a great time. Go Cards!" – Dale from Jonesboro, Ark.

I wonder if any fans are still waiting around the Millennium for Scott Spiezio. I don’t know about you, but I mainly wanted to see if he had shaved the red soul patch.

David Eckstein kind of owned this weekend, with the possible exception of Tony La Russa. First of all, Eck signed autographs virtually the entire day on Saturday, stunning onlookers. Secondly, he received a standing ovation from the Fox Theatre crowd when La Russa introduced him in the front row at Tony’s "Stars to the Rescue" bash late that night. And then later during the Warmup, Eck’s family was on stage talking about the new book "Have Heart."

Having said all that, the Shriek Meter officially recorded Albert Pujols as the annual winner. I wish I had taken a video of the reaction when he stepped through the curtains and took his autograph seat. No matter what, he’s still the rock star. And it’s worth noting what La Russa said Saturday night during that Fox event: Pujols went from his signing to get a plane full of goodies sent to the Dominican Republic for his ceaseless Pujols Foundation work. That was the side of Pujols most people would not typically be seeing on that same autograph day.

Red Schoendienst and Marty Marion signed autographs for a long line of fans this weekend. It seems like just six decades or so ago they were turning two. That’s the Winter Warmup.

The kid who played runescape on one of our computers almost all weekend probably misses the Winter Warmup the most. I won’t have to tell him anymore that he has to let someone else use the computer in five minutes. I think it’s cool that his parents got him to come here, but computers mean baseball has to be shared. Our booth is always a popular kid hangout. Will there be computers on Busch Stadium seats someday for this generation?

The best was saved for last. After the event, in the same ballroom, Commissioner Bud Selig revealed that the 2009 All-Star Game will be played at Busch Stadium. The only way this weekend could have been more perfect for Cardinal fans would have been for hundreds of thousands of homes in the region to have actually had power. It will all come back, just like baseball.

– Mark

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