Baseball temporarily took a back seat to the observance of the Fourth of July holiday at Mike Matheny’s pregame press conference Monday morning.
“I love to be part of the tradition of the Fourth of July and baseball,” the skipper said. “I’ve spent just about every Fourth of July on a baseball field and it seems to go hand in hand. There’s baseball somewhere. People are in their backyards, grilling with a radio or a TV on, listening to baseball.”
But it’s a lot more than just baseball, he said. “It’s a time to pause and be grateful. We take (this country) and the freedoms we have for granted sometimes. I’ve spent considerable time in the Dominican Republic,” watching young players who would do anything to get a chance to come to America, he said.
The national anthem is symbolic of that fact. “I want our guys to be reverent about the anthem. They have to be up on the field while it is playing and it’s a fine if they are late. There aren’t many rules, but that’s one of them. If we don’t respect the anthem, then we are disrespecting the sacrifices made by (military personnel).”
Matheny said both of his grandfathers fought in World War II and an uncle fought in Vietnam, bringing home how much military members sacrifice to ensure Americans enjoy the lives they have.
“You know, we sign the autographs, but those are the real heroes,” he said.
Matheny also paid high respect to the Busch Stadium ground crew for the work they have done to make the soggy field playable today. That crew worked late last night to repair and prep the field and were back early today. The steady rain yesterday left large puddles of water all the way around the field and made the infield slick and slippery as the Cardinals and Brewers finished the 9-8 Redbird win in the rain.
Matheny said he had not walked onto the field to see its condition, saying he trusted the ground crew. “They do an amazing job,” he said.
He was asked about Stephen Piscotty’s amazing batting average with runners in scoring position and especially with the bases loaded. Piscotty is hitting .456 with runners in scoring position (36 RBIs) and is 5-9 with the bases loaded, including a double and two grand slams.
Matheny said Piscotty is a special player in that he does not let the situation take him outside his game plan. “He is consistent and one step ahead. He has a plan and he sticks with it, whether the bases are loaded or the bases are empty.”
The Cardinals (43-38) start a crucial four-game series with the Pirates today, trying to eat up some of the eight-game deficit between them and the Chicago Cubs.
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