As passionate as I am about baseball in general, nothing comes to the love I have for my hometown heroes, the boys who wear the birds on the bat, the St. Louis Cardinals. I grew up watching them here and saw them be great when I was a little kid in the late 1980s, saw them go through rough times into the early 1990s and have been fortunate enough to witness their consistent annual playoff run every October.
As a rule, I hate October. I hated it in high school because classes starting getting harder in October and worst of all, homecoming was always the major focus of the month and I had to deal with going stag each and every year. Then in college and grad school, I hated October because, again, it was midterms and I always did worse in my fall classes than I ever did in spring classes, for whatever reason. So, I hate October. But it is the month in which the MLB playoffs take place. And as a baseball fan, it’s my “duty” as Tommy Lasorda says, to watch. And usually the boys wbo wear the birds on the bat are playing. And every year, watching them during this month feels like coming home.
And I am very seldom home, living in St. Louis. It’s always been my homebase, but this is the first full baseball season that I have lived in the St. Louis area since the 1998 season, the year Mark McGwire hit 70 homeruns, but Sammy Sosa’s Cubs made the playoffs. Since that year, the year that was the end of my junior year of high school and the beginning of my senior year, I have spent four falls and three springs in southwest Missouri doing my undergrad work, one spring and summer in San Diego and New York City doing internships, two summers and two falls and one spring in Milwaukee in grad school, and one summer and fall in San Jose working at my first job. Seven years away. And since I left San Jose just before Opening Day 2006, I have been home for the entire inaugural season at the new Busch Stadium. It was something that maybe I didn’t think was going to happen, but I’m glad that it hss. There’s really nothing like baseball season in St. Louis. Nothing. It’s the greatest baseball town in the country, probably even in the world. And to live here is to the love the Cards. But it’s nice to be able to watch every game on televsion and not have to wait for the few times they’re on national tv each summer and fall. And it’s nice to wake uip every morning and pull the St. Louis Post-Dispatch out of the yellow cellaphane, and flip to the sports page to see beautiful pictures of the boys taken by Chris Lee, the Post’s amazing photographer who has been covering events in St. Louis as long as I can remember. It’s so much nicer to see it every day, to flip through the pages and get black on my figners and smelll the fresh newsprint, instead of just realding the early or late editions on line when I have time. I never get to see the pictures then and when I do, they’re always smaller any way.
So tonight, as a St. Louisan in her home, just 30 or so minutes from the ballpark, I say way to go, Redbirds. Thanks for getting us that big win tonight in the Big Apple. We’ll see you at home tomorrow.