Friday Soundtrack, or We’re goin’ downtown! Springfield, alright!

For years it was just a dream, something that I’d daydream about as a kid. Minor league baseball in Springfield. I consider the Springfield-Ozark Mountain Ducks a dry run, as A) it wasn’t affiliated baseball and B) no matter what they called the team, it wasn’t in Springfield. Suffice it to say, then, that the spring and summer of 2005 was magical for me. Now an adult, with a family of my own, bona fide Minor League Baseball came to the Queen City in the form of the Springfield Cardinals, playing Double-A baseball in the Texas League.

It’s been everything I dreamed it could be. Scratch that, it’s been better. The team has made very few missteps in becoming a key piece of Downtown’s revival and a crucial thread in the community’s fabric. I can’t imagine how I ever enjoyed a summer without them. I never get to go as often as I’d like, but I’m never disappointed when I go. I’m not even going to try and explain the magic of a baseball game on a summer night. I could never do it justice.

The sport comes complete with its own anthem, as the crowd rises to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the middle of the seventh and, as a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate, there’s a secondary anthem, “Here Comes the King,” a nod to the club’s longstanding ties to Anheuser Busch, that follows in the eighth.

A couple of years ago, though, the team got an unofficial anthem courtesy of one of the latest and greatest band to come out of Springfield, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. They recorded a Springfield-centric song called “Cardinal Rules” – which, sadly, I’ve never heard at a game. But it’s on my iPod and it’s in heavy rotation.

So, with the ‘Birds in the midst of their season-opening homestand, I’ll share it with you now. Enjoy.

–QCFM

First they came for the menthols…

Courtesy: Chris MaddenThis Tuesday, April 5, I get to flex my democratic muscle once again. Love it! I’m pumped, even though my stance on one of the issues has drawn the ire of the other members of my household. I’ll explain.

One ballot measure, according to Springfield News-Leader reporter Amos Bridges, “would outlaw smoking indoors almost everywhere except private homes and vehicles, as well as outside in playgrounds and within 5 feet of prohibited areas.” I plan to vote “No” on this issue.

Full disclosure: I’m not a smoker. It’s been a good year since I’ve used tobacco of any kind, and there was another significant gap before that. And, contrary to the views of the News-Leader’s editorial board, I do understand that “the freedom of one person to smoke infringes on the personal liberty of others.” I also understand the health risk posed by tobacco use – even incredibly limited use like mine. I’m not denying that, like some opponents of the ban are (which I think is pretty ridiculous). To me this isn’t a public health issue. It’s a personal freedom issue.

I don’t mind outlawing smoking in bars and restaurants, hospitals and colleges, even playgrounds. That’s fine. What concerns me is the bill doesn’t allow exceptions for certain businesses, including tobacco shops. Supporters of the ban claim they are protecting workers and members of the public from the risks associated with secondhand smoke. That’s good. Most people, at some point, find it necessary to go into a restaurant or, even, take a job there. They shouldn’t have to be bombarded with secondhand smoke.

But a tobacco business, like Just for Him or The Albatross, isn’t like a restaurant. The average citizen could go their entire life and never set foot inside of those places, and the average citizen wouldn’t seek out employment in such a specialized shop unless they were interested in the product. Selling tobacco is perfectly legal, and the secondhand smoke in those businesses isn’t bothering anyone who doesn’t want to be bothered. But if the ordinance passes, both of those places will be forced to go smoke free, and The Albatross is likely out of business.

I don’t want to be responsible for that. Restrictions to protect public health are fine, but, when they force legal businesses to shut down, the civil libertarian in me gets uncomfortable, so I’m voting no. That means, according to the QCFW, I’m currently living in a house divided.

I’m also voting no on the ban on alcohol in family theaters. The News-Leader editorial board has my back on this one, calling it “unreasonable, and likely unenforceable.” This ballot measure seems aimed at Campbell 16 Cine, which has no history of troubles with alcohol. This, like the smoking ban, feels like an overreach.

But that’s just my opinion. Whatever your opinion is, make sure it’s heard Tuesday.

–QCFM

Mental Break

Think warm thoughts.

Maybe they should change the baseball in the logo to a snowball?

There’s a lot of gray in this photo, from the steel gray sky to the dirty gray snow that has been plowed into a pile next to the concrete gray sidewalk. There’s some white, too. The unblemished snow piled up in the background, the white glass atop the streetlight. Then there’s the baseball in the banner hanging from the pole. And just down the road, a white “C” wraps around the Slugger Bird on that banner.

Let’s focus on that shall we? Soon we’ll be watching some gray-uniformed nine squaring off with white-clad Cardinals just half a mile from where I took this photo the other day, at Hammons Field. The Springfield Cardinals will play the St. Louis Cardinals in an exhibition game March 29. Springfield opens Texas League play at Frisco April 7 before the home opener one week later against those same Rough Riders.

That’s, right, Springfield…we’re a mere 63 days away from regular season baseball. Warm nights, cold beer, green grass, Redbirds. Hang in there.

–QCFM

P.S. – Tickets go on sale March 22.

This’ll be the best Mother’s day EVAR!

I try and leave important things to the professionals…or at least those who know better than I do. Brewing beer and interviewing people who brew beer are better handled by someone other than me, and luckily they’re both happening here in the Queen City of the Ozarks.

The news that the old Butternut Bread factory on South Grant was being turned into a production brewery was the best beer-related Springfield news in…gosh…since Springfield Brewing Company opened in 1997? That’s a heckuva dry spell, pun intended, and it’s about to be snapped by Mother’s Brewing Company some time this spring. The company has been all over social media, with an informative Facebook page and an active Twitter account. Mother’s Brewing also has a Web site, but it’s bare bones for the time being, save for links to their social media presence and a place to sign up for their e-mail list.

But what about the actual beer? What about the men behind the Mother? The Midwest Beer Collective has posted an informative Interbrew with brew master Brian Allen, owner Jeff Schrag and sales and marketing man Jeremy Wicks.

For an even more local spin on local beer, TAGsgf.com gives us Beer Buzz, with local blogger and home brewer Ben Stange. Dude knows his stuff, so it’s with great interest that I’ve read his three updates on Mother’s, including a mouth-watering account of his personal encounter with three flagship beers: “Towhead,” and American blonde ale; “Three Blind Mice,” a darker, malty beer; and “Li’l Helper,” and IPA. Well, Stange didn’t actually try Li’l Helper, because the sons of Mother’s had drank it all themselves – a great testimonial to the quality of the drink, as Stange points out.

Stange has also posted a series of Q&As with the team at Mother’s, starting with Wicks, and followed – today as a matter of fact – by Schrag. I can’t wait to read the Q&A with Allen.

Even more than that, I can’t wait to put Mother’s beer in my mouth. So until you can wet your whistle with an actual Mother’s, make sure you’re whetting your appetite by Liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, and signing up for their e-mail blasts.

Spring can’t get here fast enough.

–QCFM

Heer’s hoping

Wishing and hoping

This is Kevin McGown standing in front of the Heer's Building in a Springfield News-Leader photo dated THREE YEARS AGO! The place actually looks less awesome now, but maybe that'll change soon?

The Springfield News-Leader ran a story today on the Heer’s building downtown, where developer Kevin McGown is aiming to recreate the magic of the Piper Lofts in Kansas City. The story included interior photos of some of those lofts and it kinda made me want to move to Kansas City, because I fear that’s the only chance I’d have to live in a place that looks like that.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Queen City. But the Heer’s building has been an undevelopable eyesore on the square for years and I – like a lot of News-Leader commenters – are skeptical that high-rent lofts are going to work in that space. I know the numbers presented in the story say the Piper Lofts are full and the demand for luxury living downtown is still high, but I’m not buying it. This is still a small enough town where people want to own a house, with a yard, in a neighborhood, and they don’t seem to mind commuting to work.

One thing working the lofts’ favor has to be the new Bistro Market that just opened on the corner of Walnut and South. It’s well within walking distance of Heer’s and would allow those who work downtown to live, dine, play and do their grocery shopping as well.

Here’s the SN-L article: “Oh, the possibilities” — Amos Bridges, Springfield News-Leader

Speaking of the Bistro Market…I might be one of the few people in the Queen City that has not shopped there. The place is always hopping when I drive by. Once I get some spare cash money to throw around, I gotta stop in there.

–QCFM