Monday, October 30, 2006

a sea of red - why we care so much about sports

normally i try to keep my postings short. but today is different. i need to document this, even if it's just for myself. before I can forget.

but this is also for all of you who don't understand why someone could care so much about sports. like an ex-girlfriend who once told me that she feels like she's competing with Indiana basketball for my time (and I told her she is, but normally twice a week and usually only on Tuesdays and Saturdays). maybe this will help explain it. either that or i'll end up proving that I'm way too obsessed with sports. i'll get back to that later, but first i want to tell you about my weekend:

on Friday night after the cardinals finally wrapped up their first world series in 24 years, i was exhausted. it had been two nerve wracking weeks of watching the birds grind through the playoffs, beating teams they were supposed to lose to. to use benny's words, I think I had "set a two week record for most beers consumed during a work week." when you're so nervous you can hardly breathe, you tend to drink beer faster than you realize.

after the cardinals won the world series i was speechless. exhausted. exhilarated. in disbelief. in shock.

benny looks me dead in the eye and says "you know what you need to do...you need to get in your car right now and drive to st. louis." but i had consumed way too much beer to get behind the wheel of a car.

Saturday morning benny and sheikh try to convince me again to go to st. louis. i called my buddy Tim in STL, the man who single-handedly turned me into a cardinals fan when I moved to St. Louis in 1992, and asked what I should do. there was no hesitation in his voice. get your ass down here now, we'll find a way to get into the rally.

I leave at 1PM, arrive at 5:30PM. after taking Jack (their 9-month old) to the "Boo at the Zoo" and then going to a block party in the Central West End, we drive to a hole-in-the-wall bar within walking distance of home to finish off the night. as I walk in there's a band playing "dead flowers" by the stones. could this weekend get any better? then i look behind the bar...

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no matter where you turned in the city was something about the cardinals. even if you hate sports, didn't have a TV, radio, internet access, and refused to read the newspaper, you still knew that the cardinals won the world series. it was EVERYWHERE
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we take the train down to the parade. everywhere you look were people decked out in cards gear
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but once we got off the train there was nowhere to go.
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500,000 people converged downtown to watch the parade.
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in st. louis...not exactly a downtown structured to handle that many people at once.
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we couldn't get close enough to the parade to actually see it
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but we could hear it. half a million people screaming their hearts out
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it's a sound i'll never forget
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there were people as far as you could see
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crammed into every corner they could find. or in this case, every floor of a parking garage

we finally made it into the stadium. the Cardinals had released 50,000 FREE tickets to the rally in the stadium. and we couldn't get our hands on any. thanks to assholes trying to make a buck by reserving free tickets and then turning around and selling them. you could find them on ebay for up to $150 a piece from people in WI, MI, NY, CA, TX...all over the US. we found a set of four for $18.75 a piece. assholes.

for $18.75 we got to see...
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the Budweiser Clydesdales bring the World Series Trophy into the stadium. the dalmation was on the sled too.
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we got to hear the coach and most of the players talk. i know that doesn't sound like a big deal, but when you watch 140+ regular season games on TV/radio and dedicate over three weeks to watching your team almost every night in the playoffs at the expense of your health and waistline...it was pretty surreal to hear them talking to you. even if you're just a face in the crowd, you were there...

the crowd was amazing
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and they capped it off with fireworks.

you couldn't get on a westbound train, so jennifer came up with a simple but brilliant idea. we took the train east three stops and then turned around and came back. poor little st. louis...don't quite have the infrastructure to deal with half a million people trying to ride the metrolink.

at the end of the day we were laying on the couch, exhausted. as we were watching TV, i noticed something in the corner of the screen.
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yup, even though we were watching seinfeld, there was a constant reminder of who the 2006 champions of the baseball world are...

so benny and sheikh and timmy...thanks for convincing me to go. most of you probably won't understand why this is so cool. all postseason people laughed in disbelief at how seriously i took these games. even on the AM radio in St. Louis, talkshow hosts were actually making fun of people like me, former St. Louisans and Cardinals fans who were coming into town to be a part of the city-wide celebration. but i finally had some time this weekend to think and to put it into perspective. so for all you out there who just don't get sports, maybe this will help...

it's not just about the game.

it's about having to upgrade to the "unlimited text messaging" package because everyone you know text messages you after every big play in the postseason.

it's about your mom calling you during the game (one of the very few people who is actually allowed to call me during a playoff game) every time Yadier Molina gets another key hit. she's calling to remind you that six weeks ago, as we all sat in the stands at Busch Stadium, she defended Yadi while Timmy and I grumbled about how awful of a hitter he is. Yadi turns out to lead the whole team in hits during the playoffs.

or when your father, over 300 miles away, lays in bed at night and listens to every game on the radio next to his bed. he can't watch it on TV, but he still tunes in and listens to every game on the AM dial, hoping that the cardinals win. not because he's a cardinals fan, but because he wants his son to feel the joy that comes with saying that your team is the champion of the baseball world.

or how the first phonecall you get after the cardinals win the world series is from 700 miles away - the first true friend you ever had growing up. he's calling to remind you that if it wasn't for him, you would have never even played baseball. to reminisce for a minute about all those summer days almost 20 years ago spent playing pickup baseball in the park or whiffleball in the back yard. the whole time pretending we were playing in the world series. and now those dreams have come true, even if it's just vicariously through a group of 25 strangers.

or when your best friends - who are Cubs fans, mind you - actually root for the team they hate more than any other team in the world because they can't bear to see how heart broken you'll be if this magical season comes up short.

the experience is uniquely personal and different for everyone, but that's what it's all about folks. that's why we watch the game.

2 comments:

Wegerballs said...

omg, i'm crying.

Saad said...

dave - print that out, frame it and give it to ben.