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Take me out to the ballgame

The first Major League baseball game I can remember going to, I was nine years old. We went to a White Sox game every year--my school district had a deal where straight A's got you discount tickets, and even though my dad's allegiance to the Cubs was stronger than my Mom's allegiance to the White Sox, their mutual desire to avoid driving through city traffic all the way to the North Side was greater. That year, my favorite aunt came down from Michigan when the Detroit Tigers were in town, and I was so excited to go to a game at Comiskey with her.

Turns out, it was the day Jack Morris pitched a no-hitter for the Tigers. At the time, I couldn't appreciate the historic importance of seeing a game like that one; I was just mad that my team was on the losing side, and spectacularly so.

Well, this weekend I got the opportunity to see if it stung less as a grown-up.

Every year my parents and I go to a different baseball stadium. Before my dad retired, we were much more limited in terms of when we could go. So it was often a case of seeing two teams we weren't terribly invested in for the sake of crossing a stadium off the list, especially at the time when it seemed like one was closing every year. Now that they're retired and a few hours' drive away from me, we can take our time and pick teams we want to see. As a lifelong Cubs fan, I've always wanted to see them play in St. Louis. Boy, did I get my wish.

I don't think it's sour grapes to say the new Busch Stadium wasn't very exciting...the brick exterior was neat and trim, and the dark metal support structure looked good and solid, and the way they cut the shape of the Arch into the grass of the outfield was neat, but it wasn't a stadium that made me go, "Oh, cool!" What was kind of cool was being in enemy territory wearing bright blue when 90% of the crowd was in red. The best anti-Cubs shirt I saw was the one that had Completely Useless By September on it, or maybe "The official soft drink of the Cubs: Choke" in the style of the Coke logo. Hey, they're both true, what can I say?

We knew that Saturday night's game had ended with Pujols hitting a home run in the bottom of the twelfth. On Sunday, the Cubs scored two in the fourth (or was it the fifth?) on a few base hits, and the numerous Cub fans in the crowd got excited. Then the rest of the game was kind of dull. At least until the bottom of the ninth, when I started to get really nervous, because it's never over till it's over when the Cardinals are playing the Cubs.

Two outs and they tie it up, and my dad pretty much gives up right then. Cubs do nothing in the top of the tenth. Pujols is the first guy up in the bottom of the tenth, and my dad and I agree that they have to intentionally walk him.

They pitch to him. Two balls and one strike later, he lays it out into the left field seats. The crowd goes absolutely wild, and my parents and I just look at each other like, "What did you expect?" It wasn't until the next morning that we found out it was the first time since 1995 that the same player has won two games in a row by hitting a home run to end the game. Thus the historic nature of the game we saw, and yeah, it was easier to appreciate that as a grown-up than as a nine-year-old.

But it still stung to watch that ball go flying out of the park. :(


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 7th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC)
I love your family tradition!

(My immediate family hated sports - everyone but me. But I went to a game in Tiger Stadium with my Uncle Joe when I was little. And my Uncle Pat wrote this book.)

I'm sorry your team lost, but glad it was in record-breaking fashion and you were there to see it!
Jun. 8th, 2011 08:43 am (UTC)
That's so cool about the book! My mom grew up a Tigers fan, and I bet she would love reading that.
Jun. 7th, 2011 11:33 pm (UTC)
Did I tell you what I asked my friend when he was showing off his Cubs Visa card?

"Does it still work after August?"

Jun. 8th, 2011 08:44 am (UTC)
Ha, you're so funny! :p

It's only funny 'cause it's true...
Jun. 8th, 2011 08:47 am (UTC)
Indeed! He laughed pretty hard and admitted it was a good one :D
Jun. 8th, 2011 01:27 am (UTC)
Ah! You were in St. Louis! Haha, how cool, that being where I live and all. ;) Yeah, I agree the stadium isn't that great. The old one was kind of falling apart, though.

Aw, I'm sorry you didn't get a win. Haha, my entire family would shoot me for saying that, as I'm pretty sure all St. Louis babies are told to despise the Cubs from the second they're born, but it's true. The victory would have been sweet. Although it's neat you got to see something historical!
Jun. 8th, 2011 08:46 am (UTC)
*waves belatedly* We were only in Missouri long enough for the game, or I would have tried to say hi.

It seemed like a more good-natured rivalry than others I'm familiar with...maybe that's because all parties involved are Midwesterners?
Jun. 8th, 2011 10:18 am (UTC)
Haha, yeah, I don't pay much attention to the Cardinals or the Cubs, but I feel like everyone I know here gets all riled up about it. Weird, huh? Anyway, I hope you had fun, regardless. :D
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )