It feels good. I’m not going to lie, it feels really good.
It didn’t feel good at the start of Friday night’s Game 4 NLDS between the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals. The Nats battered Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, abusing him for six runs in 2 1/3 ugly innings. The crowd at Nationals Park was bonkers and a little voice inside my head said this was it, this was just too much adversity for the Cardinals to overcome.
I was resigned to the off-season.
I sold the Cardinals short and shame on me.
Slowly, they came back to life. A run, then two. Then another, and another. It was 6-5.
When Washington scored a run in the bottom of the eight to re-gain its two-run lead, that little voice inside my head tried to speak again. But the Cardinals’ duct-taped the mouth of that little devil with an improbable four-run ninth inning, capped by huge hits from Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma.
Descalso and Kozma. Not actually Ruth and Gehrig or Holliday and Pujols.
I watched the game in my hotel room in Des Moines because I’m in Ames today to cover the Kansas State-Iowa State game. My wife is with me on this trip and I think she was taken aback when I switched the channel after the Nationals took the 6-0 lead.
The game ceased to be something I wanted to watch. I needed a little break. If the Cardinals showed any sign of life, I would be back.
Postseason baseball is a killer for die-hard fans, and I’m definitely that when it comes to the Cardinals. I hope I still have my die-hard card, considering I did change the channel. I hope my fellow Cardinals fans understand why I did what I did. I couldn’t bare watching those Nationals fans go crazy. I needed a break. I even went for a walk outside our hotel room at one point, during which I checked my phone three times for a score update.
By then it was 6-2, soon to be 6-3, and I was locked back in. I wasn’t necessarily hopeful, but it was becoming apparent that the Nationals’ pitching staff might not be up to the moment. Starter Gio Gonzalez lost his control. The Nats’ bullpen had been seriously taxed in the series, so getting Gonzalez out of the game early, I knew, could have a huge pay-off.
And the Cardinals did it. Again. They topped their Game 6 comeback against the Texas Rangers in the World Series less than a year later. Most teams never experience one postseason comeback like this; the Cardinals have had them in back-to-back postseasons.
Incredible. I didn’t get to sleep last night until 1:30 a.m. I couldn’t turn off the television as one analyst after another marveled in this Cardinals team.
Whenever I’m watching the Cardinals, I’m thinking of my later father, Ray. He’s the guy who got me started on this team in 1963. The suffering – and there is intense suffering when you’re a serious fan of a baseball team – has been worth every heartache.
I say that after the Cardinals won a dramatic Game 5. Would I be saying it had they lost?
That’s a legitimate question and I honestly can’t say for sure I would. Baseball fans are a fickle lot, in need of constant affirmation.
I’m feeling affirmed today. But there’s a National League Championship Series starting up tomorrow against the San Francisco Giants.
Get back to me.
Now for some musings:
* A very loud thunderstorm moved through the Des Moines/Ames are last night. But we’re assured that today’s football game should be played without any weather delays, unlike those that interrupted the KSU-ISU game last season in Manhattan.
* I like K-State to win today, 27-20. It won’t be easy.
* The Cardinals’ Kozma was a Wichita State signee in 2007, you’ll remember. But the Cardinals took him in the first round of the MLB draft and he’s mostly struggled as a minor leaguer. Given a chance because of an injury to starting shortstop Rafael Furcal, Kozma has been a huge contributor since getting his shot in late August.
* I don’t understand why West Virginia is only a four-point favorite today at Texas Tech. And I don’t understand why that line has stayed the same. I just don’t understand.
* The folks at the University Daily Kansan are at odds with KU football coach Charlie Weis, who mistakenly believes a student newspaper has an obligation to be supportive of the university’s athletic programs. He’s wrong about that, of course. But the whiny, holier-than-thou response from the Daily Kansan is over the top. Can’t everyone just get along?
* I’m ready for college basketball season.
* My son is getting married a week from today. Fortunately for him, it’s a travel day during the NLDS.
* As you can probably tell, I’m wired today. Bouncing off the walls wired.
* Curious to see how Brady Quinn performs at quarterback for the Chiefs tomorrow afternoon at Tampa Bay. I’m sure KC coach Romeo Crennel would love to keep the offense close to the vest for Quinn. But if the Chiefs get down early, how much will Crennel loosen the offensive reins? Interesting game. And with the mediocrity in the AFC West, the Chiefs aren’t out of the mix. Especially given the comparatively soft schedule they’ll encounter the rest of the way.
* I wonder what my son and Jamin Anderson are saying about the Cardinals on today’s “Just Sayin’” show on KFH? I might have to listen to that podcast later.
* How bad will it get for Missouri today at home against Alabama? I’m guessing pretty bad.
* Why do I feel the need to run that in with Missouri fans, many of whom are fellow Cardinals fans?
* Thanks for reading, everyone. We’re getting close to the opening kickoff here at Jack Trice Stadium. I’ll be off this coming week – no columns or blogs. I’m going to miss you terribly.