Report from the Game
No article from me yesterday. I found out at 7:30 a.m. that I had won the drawing at work for 2 tickets to the game! Of course, that brought about an interesting dilemma, since I was on a business trip in Chicago, which I had driven to, and I had a morning's worth of work to take care of.
I worked until 12:30 and jumped in my car to get back to St. Louis. Thankfully, we had recently bought XM satellite radio - which I highly recommend - so I was able to listen to 4 and a half hours of analysis on ESPN and ESPNews. (Of course, Boston and New York actually got more airtime, but I digress.) I pulled into my driveway at the same time my Father-in-law was arriving to go to the game with me. A change of clothes and we were off to our first playoff game!
Now, I didn't take notes at the game - I was there to enjoy myself, after all. But I can give you a flavor of what it felt like, for those of you that have never been to a playoff game or a Game 7.
When Craig Biggio hit that home run to lead off the game, a couple of things happened around me. One, a lot of people kind of got this weird look in their eyes like "please don't let this be a blow out." Two, I found out that about 12 feet behind me there were 4 Astro's fans, and they weren't afraid to stand up and yell for their team. One of them even had on a Red Shirt that said "Cardinals Suck." More on them later...
The crowd was somewhat out of the game until Edmonds robbed Ausmus in the 2nd inning. I don't know if you could tell on TV or not, but that was when the crowd started getting into the game a little, as if they were reminded that the Cardinals really are a good team.
A note on the general game atmosphere yesterday - I had been to 6 games at Busch this year, and always had fun. But during the regular season you've got tons of Jumbotron animations with games, various contests going on, and generally lots of non-game related stuff every half inning. Not so in the playoffs. Other than Fredbird and the "Cardinal Girls" (whatever they're called) throwing out T-shirts about every 3rd inning, it was all business.
During the early innings, Pujols and Rolen were obviously seeing the ball well. Every time they came to bat, they were driving the ball a little bit farther, and it just seemed like a matter of time until they hit Clemens hard. When the Cardinals finally broke through in the 6th inning? It was the loudest I've ever heard a stadium in a game. Everyone around me was jumping up and down, waving towels, screaming. It was awesome. Two of our Astro friends sitting behind us, "Cardinals Suck" and his girlfriend, mysteriously left the stands about the time Rolen crossed home plate. The other two, both wearing Astros jerseys, managed to put on jackets.
And to be completely honest, that moment was the first time it had dawned on me that the Cardinals could actually go to the World Series. It just didn't seem real until that point. But with Busch stadium rocking, the Cardinals leading, and fans screaming "9 more outs", it just seemed as if nothing was going to keep it from happening at that point.
Sometime after that - 7th or 8th inning, I'm not sure - a foul ball landed in the section next to mine, and was caught by a middle aged African-American gentlemen with a Pedro haircut, wearing a Red Sox jacket. It was the funniest moment of the night near me, as he went nuts. He was lifting up the ball, pointing at his jacket, pointing at his hair. He was getting high fives from Cardinal fans, everyone was laughing. It was a riot.
In the 8th inning, everyone was counting down the outs, holding up the numbers on their fingers and chanting it. And with every pitch, the crowd got just a little louder and a little more excited. "Cardinals Suck" and his girlfriend were back by now, so I have to give them credit for sticking around. I saw one of the jersey guys turn to his buddy and say "This place is LOUD."
When the game ended, the place went nuts. People were high fiving and hugging complete strangers. The party continued for a long time inside the stadium, and outside as well. As everyone walked back to their cars after the game, the walking traffic was really causing problems for motor traffic, including one unfortunate truck driver who was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. But people started walking by his truck, jumping up on his running board, and giving him high fives. He decided that since he was here, he might as well enjoy it. His air horn joined in with the other horns being blown, per St. Louis tradition, as everyone savored the moment.
What else can I say? It was a blast. Game 7's don't happen all that often, so to be able to attend one and see my team come out on top is something that I'll remember to my dying day. It was fun to share it with my Father in Law, who had never been to a playoff game, either. And it was great to experience history, even though as I head to work this morning my ears are still ringing and my voice is shot.
Oh, and did I mention that I have tickets to Game 3 of the World Series?