Archive for November 14th, 2011

The Captain Says Ach Ja and Nicht Nicht: World Series Champions Edition

So when I said I’ll be back in a week, I guess I meant 3½.  Whoops.  What can I say; the 2011 World Series required an enormous amount of time from me.  By the time I had fully recovered two weeks later, I promptly caught a headcold for a week and a half.  But I’m happy to say that 25 days later I’m still thrilled to have seen such an amazing run to the Cardinals 11th World Series Championship.  With so much awesomeness packed into seven games over ten days, it’s time for another mega post.

Ach Ja and Nicht Nicht: World Series Champions Edition

Shelling Out Big Bucks For Game 1 – Ach Ja

I’ve wanted to go to a Cardinals World Series game since I was a little kid, but I had missed my last two opportunites.  In 2004 I was a poor graduate student and tickets prices were outrageous.  In 2006 I was living in Florida and unwilling to add the price of a plane ticket on top of a game ticket.  This time around I found myself a working man with a good income, so I threw caution to the wind and overpaid for a standing room only ticket on Stubhub.com.  It was totally worth it.

I took the train downtown an hour before the gates opened to walk around and enjoy the electric atmosphere.  It was breezy and around forty degrees, but I was dressed in layers and rocking my #29 jersey to cheer on my man Carpenter.  I saw lots of crazy Cardinals fans wearing Rally Squirrel costumes, got hit with a t-shirt fired out of a cannon, and I called Curt Schilling a bum when he drove past me in an ESPN golf cart.  I spent some time checking out the Occupy St. Louis camp

 

And the nutjobs from Westboro Baptist Church.

 

The security for the game was tight on account of the First Lady’s attendance, so it took me around 20 minutes to get into Busch Stadium

 

And another hour to find a good place to stand and watch the game.  For those unfamiliar with standing room only tickets, the Stadium designates only certain sections using yellow lines where ticketholders are supposed to stand.

Normally it’s not a problem to find a space, but the Cardinals sold several thousand extra World Series tickets and there was no place to stand that wasn’t already occupied.  A grumpy old lady kept making me and several other people move before the game started, despite there being nowhere to go.  I was milling about the lower deck on the 3rd base side during the opening festivities, but I was still able to catch Michelle Obama’s pregame ceremony, witch featured an amazing on field flag for the National Anthem.

 

Once the game actually started, there was a gang of around 30 of us with nowhere to stand so we just crowded around an exit tunnel until there was too many of us to shoo away.  I ended up with a great view for the whole game.

 

For an even better look at my spot, check out this panoramic picture I found online here.  There’s the Captain clear as day!

The game itself was amazing.  Carpenter threw a hell of a game, and Berkman and Craig both came through with big hits to give the Cardinals the lead.  The hometown crowd was into the game from the first pitch, and most of the crowd stuck around to cheer after the game was over.  It was an amazing nite that I will never forget

St. Louis Weather – Nicht Nicht

For some reason, the Weather in St. Louis decided to get crappy only when the teams played here.  Right before the first two games and right afterwards, the weather was sunny and in the 60s-70s.  But all four games in St. Louis had low temperatures and some spots of rain.  I know some people like cooler weather for the playoffs, but I’ll take the gorgeous weather in Texas for Games 3-5 every time.

On the Tuesday before Game 6 the weather was perfect, and by Wednesday it was so cold and rainy that Game 6 was cancelled hours before the scheduled first pitch.  As it turned out, the rain cancelation pushing back Game 6 by a day allowed for Carpenter’s availability to pitch Game 7, so I guess it worked out for the best.

Game 2 With My Sister and D – Ach Ja

Even though Game 2 was a low scoring game and a loss for the Cardinals, I still had a blast watching it.  I finally got to party at my sister’s new apartment

 

and give her my awesome birthday gift.  Up until the very end it seemed like the Cardinals were going to win, and even after the loss we were still in good spirits.

Watching Game 3 At Home – Ach Ja

My wife isn’t exactly a fan, but she’s very polite when it comes to baseball.  She’s fine with Cardinals games as background noise for 6 months and she’ll even attend a game with me once in awhile.  Up until the World Series, I had watched all of the playoff games either by myself or with other fans.  But I decided that I wanted to watch one of the World Series games with Megan so we could share the memory.  Luckily I picked the slugfest that was Game 3 to enjoy with her.  You can call a 16-7 victory a bit lopsided, but you can’t call it boring.  She made some delicious ballpark nachos and we sat on the couch with the dogs and watched the Cardinals put on their hitting show.  Pujols’ three home run night was a wonder to watch.  Glad I was able to experience it with my family.

Games 4 & 5 – Nicht Nicht

The Cardinals losing 4-0 and 4-2 in back to back nites was difficult to watch.  Luckily for me, I stayed home to watch the games in my basement and save some money.  Game 4 in particular was hard to watch.  I had Texas starting pitcher Derek Holland on my fantasy team, so I had a feeling he might come and shut out the Cardinals.

Ceremonial First Pitches In St. Louis– Ach Ja

For the four games played in St. Louis, the Cardinals picked some awesome past players to toss the ceremonial first pitch.  They were

Game 1 – Bob Gibson, Bruce Sutter and Adam Wainwright

Game 2 – Lou Brock

Game 6 – David Eckstein

Game 7 – Bob Forsch

I thought it was really cool to have the men who recorded the last out of the previous three World Series winning games for Game 1. And even cooler to me was bringing back 2006 MVP Eckstein for Game 6 because I got to wear my #22 jersey in support.  But perhaps most special was Bob Forsch throwing the pitch for Game 7 less than a week before his death.  What a great way to unknowingly honor one of the Cardinals’ greatest pitchers.

Ceremonial First Pitches In Dallas– Nicht Nicht

I know that the Rangers don’t exactly have a long history of championship baseball like the Cardinals, but this list left me kind of puzzled.

Game 3 – Dirk Nowitzki

Game 4 – George W Bush

Game 5 – Roger Staubach

Here we have an NBA player, a former NFL player and a former owner who drove the team into the ground.  Did I miss something?  Why are these men throwing baseballs?

But at least Texas did one thing right by tapping Zooey Deschanel to sing the National Anthem.  I love her voice and I think she did a really classy version of the song.  The anthem in St. Louis was sung by people I’d never heard of, like the country guy from American Idol and an R&B singer named Joe?

Game 6 In NoCo – Ach Ja

I headed back to my roots in North County to watch Game 6 at DJ’s apartment.  Captain Powers even made it out to cheer on the Redbirds, NoCo style.

 

Little did I know I’d be watching one of the best World Series games ever played.  As the game started it looked to be a long night.  Both teams brought out big offense early on and yet forgot to bring defense too.  It was sloppy going through the first half of the game, which made me want to drink.  Then the game got more intense, which made me want to drink even more.  When the Cardinals tied the game in the bottom of the 6th, I felt good about the chances of a victory.  But the two home runs and three spot put up in the top of the 7th made me ready to throw in the towel.  I didn’t think the Cardinals had one more come from behind victory in them.  As it turned out, they had three!

The two out, two strike, two run scoring double by David Freese in the bottom of the 9th sent us into a cheering frenzy which lasted up until Josh Hamilton’s two run homer in the top of the 10th.  Once again, I was pessimistic through the 2 out, 2 strike pitch that Berkman lined for a game tying single.  When the Rangers failed to score in the top of the 11th, I knew that the Cardinals were going to put the game away.  But even I was surprised with Freese’s full count home run swing.  Unbelievable!  Right afterwards DJ’s neighbor came over with his 10 day old son, which led to the strangest picture I took during the whole series.

When the game was over, we were too exhausted to even try going out to a bar to celebrate.  It was truly a game for the ages, one that practically required me to call into work the next day.

Celebrating Outside Busch Stadium After Game 7 – ACH JA!

After sleeping off the exhaustion from Game 6, I headed downtown to Sherriff Tim’s place early on Friday nite to get ready to bring home one more win.  After watching Carpenter’s gem against the Phillies at Sherriff Tim’s place I had the feeling that something great was in store.

 

There was something in the air in St. Louis that night, like everyone already knew the Cardinals were going to win.  After the Cardinals scored two runs from a walk and a hit by pitch in the 5th inning, the win seemed inevitable.  I waited until Molina scored Berkman in the 7th before deciding to rush down to the stadium.

I hoped in my car in the top of the 8th inning and hightailed it from South City to Jack Patricks downtown in under ten minutes.  Luck was with me when I managed to find a parking space across from the bar in a packed downtown.  I hightailed it to JP’s basement in time to watch the bottom of the 9th with my sister and her friends.  When the last out was recorded everyone in the bar hit the streets and headed down to the stadium.  It was absolute pandemonium on the streets, but the horn honking, high-fiving good kind and not the car flipping, trashcan burning bad kind.  We made it to Busch Stadium in time to buy a fresh off the presses Stadium Edition of the Post Dispatch.

There were thousands and thousands of Cardinal fan waving towels, cheering and screaming.  I must have high fived over a hundred complete strangers as I walked around downtown.  It was everything that I had hoped for and more; an amazing end to an unbelievable championship run.

 

Looking back now, I still can’t believe how many times the Cardinals came back against seemingly insurmountable odds to win.  And while I always believed they could make a comeback in any situation, there were several times when I didn’t think they would make a comeback.  It was a magical end to an mind-boggling season, and I’m glad that I was there at every step to watch it.

 

 

 

Ciao,

The Captain

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