I actually was fortunate enough to go to Game 6 on Wednesday night, thanks to a friend who got tickets and offered me an extra. ("Well, I'll think about it....") We were sitting 12 rows behind home plate and were so jacked about the game that we got there more than 2 hours before game time - in plenty of time to see the Cardinals take batting practice.
Before the game started, I realized that we were sitting right behind Greg Mathews. I didn't say anything to him all night, as I just kind of assumed that he'd want to be left alone. I will note right now, though, for the record, that no one appeared to come to him and say anything all night (other than his friends, of course.) And I must further admit that I didn't remember him having such a solid year in 1987 - so solid, in fact, that he started (and won) Game 1 of the NLCS that season. So I honestly felt kind of bad for not saying something to him during the game. You'd think that a key part of an NL champion team in St. Louis should have at least been recognized by someone. Whatever the case, you'll see that I'm now sponsoring his page on baseball-reference.com. Call it my small part to help remind people. And if any of you happen know Mr. Mathews, send me his email address. I'd like to say something to him properly.
Anyway, I'm not going to break down the game or the series with much, if any, detail. That's been done to death already. I will, however, say that the game was somewhat surreal last night. When Marquis allowed the 4th Astro run of the game, it was pretty obvious that the Cardinals weren't going to get it done. That's when - at least, in my section - people seemed to shift gears from thinking about 2005 to thinking about Busch stadium. Yes, there was still hope that the Cardinals would come back, but it didn't seem all that realistic, or maybe even important.
Once the final out was made, the entire crowd just kind of stood around in silence. People were taking pictures of each other in the stadium for one last time, saying their good-byes. Many stuck around for the video presentation of highlights of Busch (complete with cheesy music - think NBC and the Olympics.)
The post-game mood in the stadium reminded me of a funeral for a long-suffering relative. Fans knew this day was coming, and had known so for a long time. Once the inevitable had finally happened, they were choosing to remember the good rather than focus on the sadness - not only of the stadium, but of the 2005 season. In fact, my personal impression was that the season being over was minor in comparison to the loss of Busch Stadium, the only home that many of us have known for the Cardinals.
My friend and I left shortly after the video presentation, before the players came back onto the field. It felt like the end of an era - and, in reality, I guess it was.
Look for me to finish up the Walk Jocketty trade series sometime over the next few weeks. Yes, I know - I've said that before. And then we'll start looking at contract situations, free agents, and 2006.