After slipping away from the pressbox, Geoff had to leave us for a softball game, so we thanked him profusely for the whole experience. Earlier in the evening, he had given us our tickets for the game, so Mike, Nick and I hit the concession stand, then headed down to our seats.
The seats definitely went along with the first-class treatment that we had received all evening long. They were along the third base line, about nine rows away from the field. Close enough to see everything very well, far enough away that foul balls weren't that much of an issue. There were a few that went rows behind us, and Skip Schumaker hit one screamer that, if it had had more elevation, might have been a danger to us, but on the whole, it was a nice area to watch a game from.
It was already into the third by time we hit our seats, but that didn't diminish our enjoyment of the evening at all. By now, with the sun down, the ballpark was a nice cool temperature, with just the hint of a breeze coming through occasionally.
Jake Westbrook picked a great night to throw one of his best games as a Cardinal. Befitting the bipolar status of this team, with the NL West-leading Padres in town, the Redbirds stepped up and played a wonderful game all the way around.
Of course, there was one player I really wanted to see.
It'd been a long, long time since I'd been to a Cardinals game in person. The last time I was in the ballpark, Matt Morris was pitching, the Cards were in the midst of piling up the second best record in team history, and Ken Griffey smashed his 500th home run. (Interestingly, I see Cal Eldred pitched in that game. What a difference six years makes!)
In other words, I'd never been to a game in Busch Stadium III. It was a wonderful experience. The scoreboards were bright, sharp and huge. It was great to see all the information that they had up, keeping track of pitch counts and current averages.
Mike, Nick and I took in a couple of innings in those seats, then Nick, who had family in the St. Louis area, went to find his sister in the crowd. After a little more ball (and texting the rest of the crew to find out where the free Social Media Night seats were), Mike and I took off to find the rest of the UCB that had stuck around.
This is the view from where they were situated. I was pretty impressed that the Cards hadn't stuck them way up at the top of the stadium, but instead in a spot that gave a great view of the game.
We watched the end of the game from these seats, talking with our newly met friends. We talked about a bloggers convention in the winter. We talked about the team. I even got to meet one of the newest Diamond Dolls (if they will pardon the fond appellation), Cadence, and welcome her into the UCB.
As we stood out there, the Cardinals got the last out and, as with all victories, the fireworks went off, signaling the end of a glorious night. At least, the end of the night at the ballpark.
After a stop at the gift shop to buy items for our families (you might be surprised to note we bought nothing for ourselves; then again, if you saw the prices, perhaps you wouldn't be), Mike and I were working our way out of the ballpark when Pip, who was done with his duties in the pressbox, gave us a call and we decided to meet in front of the stadium and head off for Joe Buck's.
Wandering out of the ballpark and over to the Stan Musial statue where, as is the great tradition in St. Louis, we were to meet, I was able to fulfill a wish of my son's and get a picture of the Jack Buck statue as well.
Getting to spend some time with Pip after the game was incredible as well. I'm pretty sure that, every year, I vote for Fungoes for the best individual blog when we do the Cardinal Blogger Awards and there are few, if any, that have higher cache with me. So to be able to talk about blogging in general, what we are doing, things like that was a great way to put an exclamation point on the evening. I only wish we could have talked longer, but all of us had to get to the house.
The whole evening was incredible. I really want to thank Fox Sports Midwest (most especially Geoff) and the Cardinals for making it an evening that those that were there won't soon forget. While it would be tough to single out one specific moment as a highlight in what was a highlight reel of a night, having the opportunity to meet so many of the UCB, to really see what I had started and what, with the help of so many talented people, it had grown into, had to be right at the top of the list. I was extremely proud when these amazing bloggers gathered round, putting the face to the organization we'd been working on for so long.
I can't wait until next year's Social Media Night--I'm guessing that it'll be another smashing success!