I joined Viva El Birdos in 2006. I was 21 at the time, full of all the self-importance and certainty of opinion that age imparts. I could do advanced calculus for pete's sake. How could I be wrong about anything?
On Wednesday, I was reminiscing with some friends from college about the 2006 World Series. I was at college when the Cardinals won, watching the game with some friends at their apartment. The Cardinals won and I started crying.
I don't really remember all of it that well but I'm told that I called my father saying, "I'm so happy. I don't know what to do with myself."
His response, in typical fatherly fashion, "Would you like to come home?"
No father. The Cardinals just won the World Series. I'm 21. I would not like to come home and hang out with you, my mother and my then 5 year old brother. I would like to do stupid things.
My college went wild moments after that call. Horns started honking. Beer cans (both full and empty) were launched from balconies. People were screaming. I didn't know all these people but that didn't matter. We had common cause for celebration. And so we celebrated together.
It was still an innocent age in my baseball understanding. A less accurate version of Baseball Prospectus's WARP was still the premier statistic of the time. Fangraphs didn't exist. No one had really heard of wOBA. Defense was rarely a consideration in the public evaluation of a player's value even on blogs. Larry Borowsky (codename: LBoros) was still writing for VEB.
I was so earnest at that time too. I remember spending hours trying to collect disparate pieces of data to write a piece about re-signing David Eckstein. I sent it to LBoros and was surprised at the warm reception it was met with. LBoros was always generous with his time -- he still is for that matter -- considering he used to write twice daily for a blog about the Cardinals when blogging was still a derisive term. When he decided to publish my humble, poorly written piece, I was privately thrilled. I was much more protective of my psuedonym at that point but I enjoyed the chance to write for VEB. Of course, LBoros followed my writing with a much more extensive and precise takedown of why signing David Eckstein was a bad idea but hey, I was on the front page!
It was around that same time that I began writing for Future Redbirds as well. Erik Manning had started the blog and for the first year I wrote there, the second it was in existence, I wrote four times a week on DFRs and a few other analysis posts. It was a labor of love and still is.
In November of 2007, I started writing here full time. One guess who my first article was about? Yes, Colby Rasmus. That's nearly four years of writing about the Cardinals on VEB; close to six that I've been on the site. Some of the faces change -- though we can't seem to ditch that Fritz guy -- but the site is still an integral part of my baseball experience.
Occasionally, I'll have someone at work or who I know pick out who I am on this site. It happened a few months ago. It's kind of an unusual experience. I watch baseball with friends but I breathe baseball with VEB. We may also discuss skinny ties, flame wars, culinary expertise, books and television but, first and foremost, we will always breathe baseball together.
We talk about UZR and wOBA now. We post win probability graphs. We debate about inverted W and why they don't just call it an M. Viva El Birdos is a part of who I am. I suspect it's a part of who a lot of you are. We're spoiled in a sense. We don't just get to enjoy baseball. We get to enjoy it in an environment that breeds comradery and a more intimate understanding of the game.
The 2011 season was unexpected. Perhaps even more unexpected than the 2006 season. The post season has been filled with heroes and the occasional villain. Once again, I'm thankful to get the chance to joke around and talk about baseball with VEB. Maybe this post-season is making me sentimental. Maybe I'm just a little euphoric because I banned RiverRat again. Who knows. I just know that after one of the most incredible games I've ever seen, I'm grateful to have a place like VEB to talk about it.
Tonight will be stressful. It will be tense. Just one more game. One more win. Here's to the 2011 Cardinals. Do it for Torty!