Anyone who has had a conversation with me for maybe 5 minutes knows how totally crazy I am about that little team from St. Louis. It’s easily one of the first things I mention when people want to know about me, and I tend to not be able to shut up about it for way too long afterwards.
And this time of year? Forget about it.
I can barely make it through the day without checking schedules, lineups, and scores. Of the three playoff games the Redbirds have played, I’ve been out to dinner during two of them–with my face glued to my ESPN app. While receiving text messages and phone calls about the game from no fewer than three different people. I’m a lovely dinner date, I know.
It’s a weird kind of feeling, living in a place where no one really cares about your team. Or any team, for that matter. In college, Peoria was split between St. Louis fans and both kinds of Chicago fans, so at least there was a little love. Here in Indiana, though, between the football and the basketball, I’m not sure everyone even knows what a baseball glove looks like.
But how much I love this team is hard to hide. My neighbors have to know it, based solely on how much I yell at the television. I’ve stopped trying to talk about it with coworkers. They just laugh at me and suggest maybe I should start liking a sport where something actually happens. Hilarious. (Not.) My boss was just amused when I told her I needed a day off last October to go to a last-minute playoff game.
None of these people understand what it’s like to worship a team they way I love the Cardinals. Sure, they’ve got the Colts (and I guess the Pacers, but since I hate the NBA I’m going to pretend they don’t exist…), and they’re definitely a huge deal around here. But let’s look at this logically. There are 162 games in an MLB season compared to just 16 for the NFL. And taking into consideration the fact that NFL teams always get a bye week, a Colts fan would have to watch almost 11 seasons of football to see the same number of games a Cardinals fan will see in just one. Sorry, Hoosiers, baseball wins.
It wins because those 162 games mean a lot of heartache. Ups and downs and injuries and road trips that seem to last forever when all your team needs to break its slump is just one game in front of a sold-out home crowd (they don’t call us “the best fans in baseball” for nothing, you know). Those 162 games mean you always have a reason to pay attention; you always want to sit down and watch.
Busch Stadium is, hands down, one of the best places to catch a baseball game. The atmosphere is incredible, and the seats are almost always sold out. They even mow the city’s iconic Gateway Arch into the outfield grass. I’ve seen games at U.S. Cellular Field on Chicago’s south side and AT&T Park overlooking San Francisco Bay (with plenty more on my bucket list), but none can compare to the feeling I get walking into that sea of red in the gateway to the West.
The Cardinals have the chance to win their third World Series in 7 years. They may be a long shot; everyone–that doesn’t live within a couple hours of the city, at least–may be counting them out, but they’ve pulled off miracles before. I don’t think many people will be forgetting last year’s Game 6 any time soon. And even though I’m still the farthest I’ve ever been from the STL, I’ll still be celebrating by screaming at the TV and looking at ticket prices on StubHub. A girl can dream, right?
Make me proud tomorrow, boys. Let’s win these first two in Washington and show little Bryce Harper how it’s really done in the postseason. (Seriously, that kid is younger than my baby brother. Not OK.) I’d say that I believe in you when no one else does, but we both that’s not true. The entire city is behind you, so let’s get this done.