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Criticize the Cardinals at your own risk...

Posted Thursday, July 16, 2009, at 1:34 PM

Hello for the first time, Southeast Missouri sports fans.

I am the newest edition to the semoball.com staff, and I look forward to not only providing you with coverage everything from high school football to rec league basketball to little league baseball but more importantly providing you with a Web site that let's you tell us about your hole-in-one, your trip to the state horseshoe tournament and your child's first home run.

We'll get to all that soon enough but for now I thought I'd introduce myself with the story of how I arrived at my new desk here in the Southeast Missourian newsroom.

The story begins with a column written by then-Missourian writer TJ Greaney in April of 2006. Greaney had just made his first visit to the new Busch Stadium and had a few bones to pick with Cardinal ownership.

Now, I was living in a residence hall (PC way of saying a very small dorm room) at the University of Missouri the day tickets to the new ballpark went on sale and, for perhaps the first time since I moved into that room, I willingly woke up before noon to try to get tickets to Opening Day. I think the tickets went on sale at 8 a.m. online, which for me meant setting not one, but two, alarms to make sure I got up on time.

Like some of you I'm sure, I sat at my computer for hours refreshing the "virtual waiting rooms" on the Cardinals' site and crossing and re-crossing my fingers each time the little countdown clock would wind down to 5...4...3...2...1. Then, like clock work (literally), a page would pop up telling me that too many people were trying to get tickets and that I should try again. So I did. Again and again.

I gave up on going to Opening Day, but by the early evening hours I had tickets to the second game ever played (and first night game) at the new stadium and to a few other games throughout the season. After months of watching the 24-hour Web cam of the stadium being built, I was thrilled to see the place for myself.

That put me at the stadium a few weeks ahead of Greaney, plus I was blogging about the Cardinals at the time and even appeared on a radio show in Oklahoma to talk abut the team a few times. In other words, it's likely that I was at the peak of my Cardinal knowledge at the time and ready to pounce on poor Greaney when he wrote his column at the end of April.

He said he liked the new look of the stadium but complained about the personalized brick pavers in front of the stadium and lamented the Cardinals' lack of a World Series since the turn of the century. (Obviously this changed at the end of the 2006 season.)

I read the column on semissourian.com and, since there was no option to leave a comment at that time, I could not click on the "reply to an editor" button fast enough to fire off what must have been a 1500-word response to the column. I pointed out that the brick paver proceeds went for charity and gave a detailed outline of management's decisions in the offseason and why I thought they were right and on and on.

You can find the reply as it eventually appeared in the paper here. It reads a little choppy and cut together and the first names of players are missing. This is because the Missourian's sports editor Toby Carrig had emailed me to say that they would like to print my letter...if I cut it down to 250 words. It was a painful process for me, but I eventually did it and felt quite satisfied to have set "the stadium record straight."

Toby and I kept in touch after that exchange. I was at Mizzou to get a degree in journalism and planned on writing about sports, and Toby was the first person to give me a shot as a result of my letter. I ended up writing a series of stories that summer about whether or not some activities such as fishing and throwing horseshoes were "sports" and I've covered the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament three years in a row.

I graduated in May and just returned to Southeast Missouri from Las Vegas, where I spent the summer covering the World Series of Poker. (That's another long story for another day.) I suppose it's possible that I could've ended up here (taking a position that was vacated by Carrig of all things) if it were not for my over-emotional and long-winded response to Greaney's column, but it seems less likely.

I'll be blogging here regularly about all things Southeast Missouri sports plus the Cardinals and Mizzou and whatever else we feel like talking about. (Except the Cubs. We're not talking about them.) I happen to be an avid follower of professional tennis, for example, so prepare yourself for the occasional "Novak Djokovic is the best" blog. (Roger Federer fans need not read.)

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

You gotta be kidding! It's Federer all the way. And...welcome to semoball. Some of us have missed the dedicated column to this site! By the way, where are you from before Mizzou?

-- Posted by Legend on Thu, Jul 16, 2009, at 3:04 PM
Rachel Crader's response:
Hi, Legend.

I'm finally able to respond to your question. Sorry.

I grew up in Leopold (where I went to school) and Oran.

Rachel, how many wins does Mizzou football have this year? Where do you see them finishing in the north?

-- Posted by redhawk81 on Thu, Jul 16, 2009, at 9:08 PM
Rachel Crader's response:
Oh how I wish I knew!

There are just too many variables and unknowns surrounding the team this year. I think that Dexter Native brings up a good point about Gabbert (or I guess whoever plays QB I suppose) figuring out the offense. It's easy to take for granted that Chase Daniel had already run the spread for years when he arrived at Mizzou, but at least Gabbert has had a year to learn from Daniel.

I'm sure we'll talk about this much more and much more in depth in the future, but for now I'll say that the Big 12 North obviously remains the weaker half of the conference and that I expect Mizzou to compete for the regular-season title once again.

Mizzou Football will be better than some may think. If Gabbert can figure out the offense, I look for close to another double digit winning seanson.

-- Posted by Dexter Native on Fri, Jul 17, 2009, at 9:20 AM

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Rachel Crader is the editor of semoball.com. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May of 2009 before spending the summer covering the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Highlights from Rachel's days in college include having a class down the hall from Chase Daniel and having NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren hold the door open for her at Brady Commons, Mizzou's student center. She spent time covering Mizzou basketball, softball and baseball while working for the Columbia Missourian and is excited to return home to Southeast Missouri to cover local sports for semoball.com.

Rachel has covered three Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournaments for the Southeast Missourian and semoball.com, and she'll see you courtside again this year.