For most of us, we are introduced to our sports teams by our fathers. There are of course other influences, but this also serves as a bridge between fathers and sons.
Do you often find other subjects to talk to "Dad" about? "So...how are those shrubs doing?" To me, that just doesn't sound right.
Sports is one thing we all have in common. It is often the bond that bring those of us with differences together. Regardless of race, age, sex, religion, politics, etc....I was hugging everyone after the Cardinals' 10th World Series.
I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the 2006 WS with my father...I was too young in the '80s to appreciate those World Series, but both being adults in 2006, it is something I will never forget.
He will pass one day; however, I will carry on the tradition with my children. Of course, I also treasure those moments with my mother, but the dynamics between a son and mother are different than those between a father and his son.
One of the great stories from this year and last, Rick Ankiel, if healthy, will hit about 35 HRs, hit around .260, and possibly get 100 RBI for the next few years. This is truly an amazing and inspiring story.
I remember sitting down with my father during his meltdown in the playoffs. We were somewhat angry that he was blowing the game with all of his passed balls, but we also felt extremely bad for the "kid."
Coming all the way back and producing like he did—it is truly inspirational. It also shows you what sort of organization St. Louis runs...they didn't give up on him and when he tried, they didn't let him quit. It runs from the front office down in St Louis - they have been called the best fans in baseball and I will second that. Oh, they certainly love their own! However, I have never seen the fans cheer a great play for an opposing player like I have in that Mecca of baseball - that almost magical, Busch Stadium.
With so much bad (pardon the vernacular) going on in the game, we can look at Rick and think: Now that guy...HE IS a Ball Player.
Last year, we drove all the way up to Baltimore to watch the terrible Rams play the Ravens. I believe they were 4-1 at that point—well, the fans were so rude, we ended up leaving at halftime. The Rams hadn't won a game at this point yet.
As Karma often does, it reared its ugly head. I'm not sure they won another game, but best of all—they lost to the Dolphins!
We have had great experiences going to games at Fenway, DC, Georgia Dome, etc....Of course, we all know St. Louis has the best fans in the world, so this was new to us. Even Philly was better than Baltimore!
(Word of wisdom: Do not buy from the opposing team's season ticket holders. Prices are always inflated, plus you are surrounded by people who have already succumbed to the imbibitions, which cost $9.00 a can.)
Starting QB in the Pro Bowl...starting to look old. Tired. To me, he will ALWAYS be a Ram.
Out of nowhere (actually, I believe it was Iowa), this man saved football in St. Louis. Now, there is one thing I never thought my father and I would get to experience—a Super Bowl for St. Louis! Not only that, he brought us to the promised land again in 2001.
My father is not doing well in his health, as you may have guessed, and like many men (and women) out there, there will always be a special connection with sports and our fathers.
Whether it's watching our Rams stop the Titans on the one-yard line to preserve the Super Bowl in '99 (Thanks Mike!), cheering our beloved Illini to the NCAA championship game against UNC, or even last year having the Illini Football team go from zero to Rose Bowl—those moments shared between us will never be forgotten.
However, I have called trump: I get to watch the greatest baseball player of all time. Not only that, I get to watch him do it with class.
Not only that, I have had the distinct honor of watching the only other man - other than George Herman Ruth - pitch for 10 wins in a season and hit 20 home runs.
He taught me natural things that every Cardinal fan should know: to dislike the Cubs, but not hate. Treat every team with respect and every fan with respect. (I will make this an open invitation for all the Cubs fans to come join a team that actually wins. And remember, we gave you Caray, but we kept Buck. The Cubs gave us Gibson for...? Some friendly ribbing.)
This is an open invitation for all of you to watch some bowl games with dad. He might not ask, but he'll probably enjoy it. Unfortunately, men and women, we get one shot at this, then they are gone—but what they teach us we will never forget.
When I was in Little League, I used to get a pack of baseball cards every time I caught three pop flies or three grounders in a row. Out in our backyard, the locusts...the smell of the glove...memories we will never forget.
My current family (who invariably believes we are insane for our sports obsession) will one day soon be popping out little Cardinals and Rams fans. I can't wait to teach my son or daughter what I learned from my father and of course, in her quiet ways, my mother.
Happy Holidays and may your God Bless You,