It's July 20th and the St Louis Baseball Cardinals are 9.5 games back from the front running Brewers and six games back of the second place Northsiders. Their two all star starting pitchers are being paid not to play, the all star short stops deal with the devil appears to have run out, the all star center fielder is still leading the league in grimacing, but not much else, and the all star third baseman apparently has a small rodent living in his shoulder. The team right now is pretty much Albert Pujols, Chris Duncan, and a bullpen.
As much as it pains me to say it -- and as much as I can logically argue against it in my head (they only need to make up one game a week for the rest of the year!) -- for just the second time in the last eight years, the Cardinals will not be playing baseball this October.
It seems as if October baseball is a bit of an institution in St Louis by now like toasted ravioli, miss pronouncing the word "forty", and having a terrible public transportation system. I for one am particularly spoiled, every year since I moved to St Louis the Perfectos have played baseball in the crisp autumn air. I've gotten used to it and I bet you have as well. So as I began pondering what in the world I will do with myself this October w/out having baseball to distract me (focus on my career? Doubtful. Help plan that wedding of mine in November? Maybe. Play with legos? Probably, yes.), I started to think of all of the things I am going to miss about watching the home nine battle it out in the post season.
I thought of writing out a top ten list of sorts, but that would require structure and I tend to frown on structure unless it's abstract or keeping my head dry at night, so I'm just going to let 'er rip:
I'm going to miss the NLDS day game. It doesn't have the natural tension that the night games in the NLCS or the World Series have, but it has a different type of magic. A sense of joy mixed with a little mischievous adventure; skipping work to head to the ballpark, sitting in the sun, having a beer at one in the afternoon, Look! Bunting! It's like opening day all over again, it seems so familiar but is still new.
I'll miss waking up in the morning with sore hands and a hoarse throat and feeling great.
Listening to "The Heat is On" (and making the prerequisite "The H... is O!" jokes) on the way to the game. Hopefully listening to "Celebration" later on.
I'll miss getting a new playoff sweatshirt; I had gotten a new one three years straight now and my feelings about them run strangely parallel to each year's team: The '04 one is still comfortable and has a real classic look, the '05 one was a bit of a let down, and the '06 was easily the most comfortable one when I first wore it, but it has aged terribly.
Hi fives and hugs. Fist pumps.
Having like 18 pages worth of Cardinals article to pour through in the morning paper.
Strangely, I'll miss those few anxiety filled hours leading up to a big game. The pacing, the tongue chewing, the nervous habits which help pass the time.
A really, really excited Mike Shannon on the radio.
That mix of alcohol and adrenaline that makes doing things like climbing the Musial statue seem like a good idea.
I'll miss a well turned double play, a double down the line, a pinch hitter coming through in a tight spot.
I'll miss Cardinals baseball.
So, that's what I'll miss. That's my list. What's on yours?