The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Why TCN blog?

Why did you start The Cardinal Nation blog?

Simply put, I have more to say than there was room to say it. After writing about the St. Louis Cardinals major league club and minor league affiliates exclusively for Scout.com/FOX Sports Interactive since 2003, I am now also officially rejoining the blogging community.

While I will continue to serve as editor, publisher and chief writer at TheCardinalNation.com, part of the Scout network, blogging about the Cardinals system here is returning as my primary method of personal expression about the organization.

What should I expect to see here?

Those who remember the days of “The Annex” know I have been writing online about the Cardinals organization for a number of years. You will see diverse daily posts here about a myriad of team-related topics from roster moves at the lower levels of the minor leagues to historical players and events to new signings in the Caribbean to commentary about potential free agents and everything Cardinals-related in between.

Didn’t you cut back on your writing a long time ago?

Just the opposite. Yet with a majority of my news items and articles sitting behind the Scout subscription wall, most of my output in recent years has been seen by a limited audience.

Just from the end of the 2007 season until December 1, 2008, I personally wrote over 950 unique articles, interviews and news items about the Cardinals that appeared on Scout. That averages out to well over two per day, every day of the year!

Many of these have run nationally on FOXSports.com, including a number with headline coverage on FOX’s MLB home page as recently as the Colby Rasmus trade request. Prior to that, my articles were regularly syndicated by Yahoo.com. I am annually responsible for the Cardinals section of the FOX Sports Fantasy Guide/Scout.com Prospect Guide, sold on newsstands all over the country each spring. My weekly Cardinals-focused minor league features can be found in-season at FOXSportsMidwest.com and I am the former minor league columnist for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

I’ve been on-air on a number of radio stations, including the past and present homes of the Cardinals, KTRS and KMOX in St. Louis and have a weekly segment for several years running on KXNO FOX Sports Radio in Des Moines. I have reported on minor league prospects on television for KSDK Newschannel 5 and FOX Sports Midwest, as well as having been a regular panelist and moderator during the latter’s live in-game chats.

Why do Cardinal fans need yet another information source?

You will have to decide that for yourself, but I think you will find value here 365 days a year.

There are many voices in the Cardinals blogosphere, but only those very few affiliated with the major media and the club itself can speak from a position of ongoing and detailed hands-on knowledge. I bring years of direct access to players, coaches, scouts and front office officials.

Just in the last year, I have traveled from Arizona to Florida (multiple times) to Washington to Philadelphia to New York to Boston and of course, to St. Louis and many points in between specifically to cover the Cardinals and the minors, all the way down to the back fields at Extended Spring Training.

I’ve been to the Arizona Fall League covering Cardinals prospects since 2003 and Spring Training for over 20 years. On literally hundreds of occasions, I’ve interviewed players, coaches and front office execs from the former Commissioner of Baseball, the Cardinals General Manager, the VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development, International Director, Director of Minor League Operations on down.

I am recognized as a member of the working media in Cardinals clubhouses from St. Louis down to the Batavia Muckdogs of the short-season New York-Penn League. For those affiliates where I cannot see games regularly, I still have access to club personnel and will call on my network of local colleagues for eyewitness reports.

What makes this site different?

In addition to the points already made, I don’t exclusively re-hash news first reported by others. I regularly break news, especially on the Cardinals minor league system, where I am often first to report player signings and roster movement.

Now and then, I am first with a big MLB story, too, such as when ESPN acknowledged that I broke the news of Albert Pujols’ seven-year, $100 million deal. What could be bigger than that?

Nowhere else can you come to one place to get in-depth news on nine different Cardinals clubs, from St. Louis all the way down to the Dominican Summer League Cards. Many other sites completely ignore the existence of the Cardinals program in Latin America despite its emerging importance as a supplier of players in the organizational pipeline.

Though a syndication agreement with Yardbarker.com, a unit of FOX Sports, you can see The Cardinal Nation Blog content featured nationally daily. Periodically, TCN Blog content will also appear on the main baseball page of FOXSports.com as well as on player pages at Baseball-Reference.com.

Don’t I remember TCN from before?

Yes. Jason Scott was one of the founding members of The Cardinal Nation website, which was the first place on the net where Cardinals minor league news was aggregated on a daily basis. Eventually Jason merged TCN into the main Scout.com site, where he continued to write regularly until the conclusion of the 2007 season.

I am grateful to Jason for allowing me to keep alive The Cardinal Nation name and its rich heritage and hope to represent you all, the site’s namesakes – the best fans in baseball!

Why are you doing this?

Simply put, this is my passion. I am different from the traditional media in that I do this because I want to – not because it is the job given me by an assignment editor. I focus all my efforts on this organization and am confident my energy and commitment show through in my work.

For me, this isn’t a hobby or something I do a few hours a week. Covering the Cardinals is my full-time endeavor. How many bloggers can say that? In fact, how many newspaper men even can?

Several years ago, one of the traditional media referred to me in print as a “serial blogger,” a badge I wear with pride!

How and when did you get started?

I have followed the Cardinals closely for over 40 years. Growing up in the 1960’s in Cardinals country, specifically in the home town of Bob Gibson, being a St. Louis fan was only natural. Yet there were two defining points later on that increased my interest and involvement to even higher levels.

The first was sheer luck. In 1992, a friend and I were attending Cardinals spring training at St. Petersburg, FL. One evening, at a crowded restaurant/bar miles away from Al Lang Field, totally by chance, we met a trio of ladies looking for a place to sit and eat. We obliged, only to learn two of them worked for the Cardinals!

In return for our gesture, the next day, we were presented game tickets for the remainder of our stay, a personal tour of the clubhouse, where I met heroes like Red Schoendienst and Joe Torre for the first time, and sat in the dugout talking with legend Joe Garagiola. I wanted more.

I kept in touch with one of the two Cardinals staffers and in 1996, had the opportunity to talk with Walt Jocketty and then-new manager Tony La Russa for the first time at an informal function one evening during spring training.

My second break came as a result of fantasy sports. I have played for years and really enjoy the competition and friendships developed. Writing for several websites during the ‘90’s, I eventually hooked up with CreativeSports, now merged with Mastersball.com. Founder Lawr Michaels and several staff members are directly associated with MLB, which helped me earn formal access as a member of the media.

What do you do other than cover the Cardinals?

I continue to write weekly for Mastersball and compete in a number of expert fantasy leagues. They include the industry’s most prestigious, Tout Wars, featured in the recent book Fantasyland, and the XFL, Xperts Fantasy League. My friends and cohorts include Joe Sheehan, formerly from Baseball Prospectus, BaseballHQ’s Ron Shandler and many other well-known industry names. I have also been a contributing writer to the Fantasy Baseball and Football Guide magazines for years.

How do I comment on what I read here?

Each article has its own comment area. I encourage your regular postings and will be very active in the discussions with the readers.

What is the catch?

There isn’t one. Did I mention this site is free? So what is there not to like?

Remember to take advantage of any one of the feed options available and/or bookmark this site. I assure you, there will be new, relevant Cardinals information every day all year long.

Thank you for coming. I hope you’ll be back every day!