Well after the game ended, I sat and stared at the TV set. Not really seeing what I was looking at,
my mind wandered to what had been, what was, and what might have been. While I regret that the NLCS with the
victorious Houston Astros ended with a relative whimper as opposed to the Game 5
Big Bang, it was amazing how quickly the hole in my life formed.
Today, for the first time since late February, there will be no Cardinal
baseball. I’ll watch the World
Series with dispassionate interest.
The Astros are a classy squad from the NL Central who are valued rivals
of the Cardinals. The White Sox
represent Illinois, my home state, and intuitively I feel like I
should support any non-Cardinal team in the World Series from the Land of Lincoln that isn’t the Cubs. Forgive me if my dispassion already
I would be remiss if I didn’t congratulate the
Astros. They are truly an opponent
worthy of Cardinal steel. If the
Redbirds can’t get to the Promised Land, I am truly delighted that Biggio and
Bagwell and Company will get there.
In trying to be truthful about it all, the best team won this series and
earned the right to advance.
I feared facing Roy Oswalt in this game more than I would have any other
pitcher. Oswalt was firing white
tracers at Brad Ausmus last night and the Cardinals couldn’t catch up. In opposition to Oswalt’s performance,
the Cardinals flailed away at the plate, looking nothing like the offense that
won 100 games during the regular season.
A wild pitch and a center field error, both of which led to cheap
did little to instill confidence in the direction of the game.
Still feeling the warm afterglow of The Great Pujols’ game-winning home
run Tuesday night, I thought the Cardinals would carry their dramatic momentum
in to Game 6. I hoped that the
return to St.
Louis, the massive adoration of Cardinal Nation, and the
miraculous new lease on life might cast favor on the Cards. Instead, the Astros rose to the occasion
and now we become passive spectators.
The other emotion that gnaws at me is some fear of the unknown. What will the 2006 Cardinals look like
as Walt Jocketty starts rolling up his sleeves? What does Fate have in store for Mark Grudzielanek, Reggie Sanders, So Taguchi, and Matt Morris? What pitfalls await the incredible
transition from KMOX to KTRS, a station that can’t transmit much beyond the
furthest most reaches of the Metrolink?
What can one make of the new stadium, and who will really reside and shop
in a Ballpark
Sorry, folks, I’ve got a bad case of the blues right
now. Cardinal baseball creates such
a rhythm in my life that those first few weeks after the last game are tough
ones. Like the end of a wonderful
summer, the conclusion of Cardinal baseball is cause for reflection, especially
when one considers all the challenges that were surmounted this year. I’m quicker to define the success of a
season in terms of total wins than in the good fortune that it takes to bring
home a World Series title.
Baseball, with all its intricacies, strategies, personalities, and
mysteries, is an experience best savored one game at a time.
And so the time has come when the Birds migrate. Many will go to warmer climates, some to
other countries, a few to their homes in and around St. Louis. The wrecking ball will thunder and
ultimately have its way with Busch II.
Busch III, like a brick tide, will eventually obliterate any sign of that
which is so familiar to us. KMOX
has already signed off as the flagship station of Cardinal Nation. For a little while, our lives will be a
Then, in February, really just over four months away now, the Cardinals
will return to Jupiter. Our
thoughts and hearts will leap to the first sounds of the pop of a fastball in
the catcher’s mitt or the crack of a ball well struck by a wooden bat. Familiar faces and new faces will again
don the Birds-on-Bat and prepare for 2006, and we, of course, will be there
again from start to finish. So,
with the eternal closing words of Jack Buck, which always bade well but assured
reacquaintance in the future, so long for just a while.
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