I was reading this morning an article written about St. Louis and their love for the Cardinals. I can't really explain it, either. You just have to live there to get it. I described it to a friend as, "It's not just a game; it's a Cardinal game!" Somehow, when you sit at the stadium, or at a sports bar, or even just in front of your television in your own home, you know you're in camaraderie with 3 million people. Across the region, more homes than I care to count have huddled around their screens, with one goal in mind. Bring home a winner! I remember sitting in my living room in 1985, watching game 7 of the World Series and thinking, "How can it just be over that fast? Doesn't anyone care that we LOST?" At 8 years old, I didn't realize that 3 million people were thinking the same thing. This year, 150 miles away, I know the joy, the anticipation, and the little bit of fear I'm feeling are just part of the larger family of Cardinal fans scattered from Central Missouri to Middle Illinois to Kentucky, Alabama, Missisippi, and Memphis. The Cardinal love is just a part of who we are. It runs deep, and it is loyal. To watch them play is to watch the family. All the players have nicknames in Cardinal Nation. And the fans all know them. We watch Eck, Hollywood, Prince Albert, Carp, Yadi, and Scotty Ro and we feel they are our brothers. We miss Willie, Ozzie, Vince, and Jack. Those of us who are the "younguns" in the Cardinal family have heard the stories of Red, Stan the Man, Gibby, and so many others. They are heroes to us because we've never seen them miss. No one shows that in the replays in Cardinal Land.
And now, sitting among new friends, I have found the piece of Cardinal Nation here in Kentucky. Tonight I will ask my friends to let their 8 year old daughter stay awake to watch the game. I want her to have that same feeling I had at 8 years old. Already she loves Pujols; she tells me he is her hero. Perhaps tonight he'll give her a memory that will last a lifetime.