Monday, April 6, 2009

Opening Day!

Yes it's opening day here in St. Louis and snow is expected.

But that will not dim the festivities. Opening day in St. Louis is a city-wide celebration -the newspaper calls it our high athletic holiday. At my office we can wear jeans and cardinal red for the day even if we aren't going to the game. That's true at a lot of offices in the city. Lots of people will be taking off work to go to the game even with the bad weather anticipated. People who work downtown will mill around outside the stadium during their lunch hour.

I used to go to opening day every year. When I was a kid I used to get opening day tickets for Christmas. And sometimes it was cold, but the season started later in those days so usually it was no more than chilly.

Ever since they moved opening day earlier (expansion, grrrrrr) I haven't gone to a single one. The weather is just too unreliable. Last year it got rained out. This year they say they will get the game in despite any snow showers. That just doesn't sound like fun to me, so I'll listen from my office. Besides, the Cardinals are always a hot weather club. April is simply an extension of spring training as far as I'm concerned.

Last year I was just not into baseball, which is strange for a fan like me. Everyone knew it was going to be a "rebuilding" year and I just never got interested. I think it partly had to do with the year before when I got to go to the winning game of the World Series. What a high point. It's like I didn't want to watch "ordinary" baseball after that.

This year, though, I'm excited about the season. No one expects the Cardinals to finish first (my sister's Cubs are expected to do that - and then fall apart in the playoffs). But hopefully the Cards will play well enough that we'll all have some fun. Hopefully.

Of course, they have no closer. And the second baseman is a big question mark. And Baby Duncan is only worth what he's paid if he hits (nobody would want him for his fielding). And if Carpenter doesn't come back strong, it's all over.

But watching Rick Ankiel's reincarnation as "anything but a pitcher" is worth the price of admission. And whether they win or not, it's always exciting to watch Albert play.

So, go Cards!

And since it is still National Poetry Month - here is another baseball poem:

The Double Play

Robert Wallace


In his sea-lit
distance, the pitcher winding
like a clock about to chime comes down with
the ball, hit
sharply, under the artificial
bank of lights, bounds like a vanishing string
over the green
to the shortstop magically
scoops to his right whirling above his invisible
shadows
in the dust redirects
its flight to the running poised second baseman
pirouettes
leaping, above the slide, to throw
from mid-air, across the colored tightened interval,
to the leaning-
out first baseman ends the dance
drawing it disappearing into his long brown glove
stretches. What
is too swift for deception
is final, lost, among the loosened figures
jogging off the field
(the pitcher walks), casual
in the space where the poem has happened.