The attraction of sports is the drama. The idea that on any given play in any given game, you may see something that you will never forget.
Good or bad, these moments make up your experience as a fan.
Jim Edmonds' "catch."
Pujols versus Lidge.
"Go crazy, folks. Go crazy."
They happen in an instant, but live on forever—callusing as new memories are formed, but permanent reminders of a specific point in time.
We hope that we get more of the aforementioned than the opposite, but that’s the deal we make with sports; you’re going to get fleeting moments of ecstasy in exchange for much, much more agony.
And sometimes the agony comes swiftly, unexpectedly, and most certainly, sharply.
If Holliday catches a ball that he’s caught 99.9 percent of the time he has been a MLB left fielder, and the Cardinals come home to a rollicking Busch Stadium with series tied 1-1 and denizens of red-clad maniacs willing wins from the back end of a rotation.
But he didn’t.
So they won’t.
People will come. And they will wear red. And they will cheer Mr. Holliday in a way that says, “If I really knew you, I’d give you a hug”. And that will mean something to him, I’m sure.
Yet the realist in me can’t help but very easily see a future that involves a Holliday homecoming in 2010: wearing Met blue, National red, or some other color for some other team fresh off a $140 million contract that Scott Boras masterfully played the Cardinals for leverage with; standing in the exact same batter’s box, receiving the exact opposite welcome home from Saturday.
Last night, the cement was poured and Mr. Holliday made his mark.
Yes, time does remain to change this impression; game(s) to make “the drop” virtually disappear are ahead. But the thing about memories? They’re hard to undo, even harder to forget, and even harder to atone for.
Really, who expected the Cardinal killer to still kill the Cardinals wearing the Birds on Bat?
All I know is this: Sports are no fun today. Talk shows are annoying. News stations that normally give sports 30 seconds are leading with this drop. The Internet is clogged with reaction.
All of it is noise.
Because eventually, the Cardinals will be eliminated. Eventually, someone else will win the World Series. And eventually, people will boil it down to this: What would have happened if Matt Holliday had made that catch?
It’s a new moment. A bond we as Cardinal fans will always share. Eventually, we’ll be at some nameless bar with some nameless friend talking about the upcoming series with some nameless team and remember last night all over again. We’ll chuckle and say things and hope for the best.
Just not today.
Probably not this year.