It’s the ‘bubble effect’ and, to this day, I can’t explain it.
Sitting in Busch Stadium and seeing the perfect green field, the soaring St. Louis skyline, and the somehow always ephemeral sky, the only explanation for how perfect it all is must be a bubble that the crafty people at Busch have created and now pump out every game to cover the stadium.
I’m aware that this isn’t ENTIRELY realistic but that doesn’t make me any less inclined to believe it every time I enter through those redbird-ed gates.
I went to my first game of the regular season on the 26th to see the Cards destroy the Pirates with a 9-1 win thanks to a 3 home run night. It felt good to be back.
The bubble was, as always, ideal, and the energy of the 44,000+ in attendance made what should be an uncomfortable 53 degrees hardly noticeable. The tumultuous first inning (2 homers, an intentional Craig hit, and 2 ejections) worked to the Cards’ benefit from the start, accelerated by a seemingly confused Pirates’ defense. As if the bubble wasn’t perfect enough, it was SLU’s Senior Night at the ballpark and, in true Billiken spirit, the S-A-I-N-T L-O-U-I-S cheer rang throughout, the players waiting out the chant to bat (this could have been coincidence but I like to think they just wanted to appreciate the moment as much as we did).
When I went Monday, a different sort of game was in the works. Wainwright, as always, impressed me. Even though it didn’t go his way in the end, it could have been a really great, competitive game. Stranding 10 runners, the game was a series of missed opportunity after missed opportunity.
David Freese, as he has admitted, was at the heart of this problem. Going 0-4 that night and, as of right now, boasting a .237 (.163 when I began writing this article, thank you struggling Brew Crew for the boost) batting average on the season, fans are waiting on the edge of their seats to see the reincarnation of Game 6 David Freese. Instead, they keep finding little league Freese when number 23 steps up to the plate.
Despite this, the bubble remains intact.
I like to think the bubble stays in place because it’s stitched together with all the things that make this team different and, in effect, what makes this team great.
The Cardinals have scored 30 runs in the 6th inning this year and, in light of the passing of the great #6, it only makes sense. They lost their ace. Again. But they’re still holding on to the best record in the National League. THE closer–out for the season with Tommy John. Boggs put in to fill the void only to deservedly be sent down along with Scrabble. You worried? Manness. Mujica, Martinez, Rosenthal, etc. are all ready to fill in. It shouldn’t work like this. Or at least no one would expect it to work like this. But here we are, incredibly at 19-11, on track to win 100, with enough talent in Springfield and Memphis to (hopefully) make up for whatever inevitable injuries are already mapped out for the dog days (I’m a realist).
The S-A-I-N-T L-O-U-I-S cheer was more than just an opportunity for nostalgia, though. It was this semi-magical moment where the St. Louis on the front of the new jerseys made more sense than ever. I’m graduating from SLU in two weeks and just finished my senior project which looked at the media representation in St. Louis. The most common representation that people noted? The St. Louis Cardinals. They weren’t talking about the scores or even the players. They were talking about what the Cardinals meant to the city. They said that the Cardinals were obviously not the only thing that tied St. Louis together but it was a big thing. Walk outside on a non-game day and every fourth person would be wearing a Cards shirt. Game day? Every other person. Ask any St. Louisan who their favorite player is? They’ll have an answer, regardless of whether they actually enjoy baseball or not (but they probably do). Mention October 28, 2011? People know that it’s more than just a random date.
After Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, Brian Burwell wrote an article that, to this day, remains one of my favorites.
“And if you never believed in baseball miracles before, what do you think now? The lights still are on at Busch.”
I’m not saying that this will be a season that will be movie-worthy but it’s already exceeded what the expectations should have been.
St. Louis and all of Cardinal Nation, welcome to the bubble. We’ll be here awhile.