I had to let it sink in. I had to get over the hangover, the jet laginess of the World Series win before I could post with any semblance of logic or rational thought. I’m still not sure if I can ever think about the Cardinals amazing 2011 season without being overcome by emotion, but now is as close as I am ever going to get. The Cardinals have won 5 World Series since I have been alive. I have solid memories of three of those. I was in college in 1982. I listened to the World Series on the radio. When the last out was made in Game 7, the campus at Mizzou went wild, and there was partying all night long. I stood outside my apartment listening to car horns honking and people driving by and screaming out the window. In 2006, I watched the game alone in my apartment. There was no fanfare, but there was a lot of excitement at work the next day. People were having trouble concentrating on work. But things were more subdued for me then than in 1982. I was happy and excited in 1982 and in 2006 but the memories didn’t linger for more than a few weeks.
This World Series is much different. Perhaps it is the way in which it all unfolded that makes it seem more precious to me. Perhaps it is because I feel more invested in this team in some way. Because of circumstances in my life, I have been able to spend much more time enjoying this team, experiencing the rollercoaster ride that was the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals. I have gotten to know more Cardinals fans through social media, a medium I didn’t have in 1982 or 2006. I have been able to watch all but a few of the games on TV. I hadn’t attended a game in Busch III until the end of the 2010 season. The amount of time I have spent closely following the Cardinals in the last 3 seasons is more than all of the other previous years combined. I have been a lifelong fan, I just haven’t had the time to be a more involved one. So 2011 is more special to me because I feel I have been a part of it in more ways than I ever have for previous championship seasons.
I shared in some awesome moments in this 2011 season. I was present this year at Busch for this and this. I was also there for this and this. I attended my first playoff game ever on October 13, 2011 (my birthday), Game 4 of the NLCS. We didn’t win that one, but it hardly mattered to me at the time. I was at a playoff game. So you see, it all felt so much more real for me, this magical, maddening 2011 season. It is a season where the memories will not fade in a few weeks. I will remember this season until the day I leave this world and go to that big ballpark in the sky. Feel free to ignore that last part if you are an Atheist, but I think you get my drift. The 2011 World Series will go down as one of the most exciting ever played. Game 6 will be talked about for generations. People will remember where they were when the Cardinals pulled off the most improbable comeback in baseball history in a World Series that the “experts” thought would be a dud before it started. How can you not be just prouder than the proverbial peacock if you are Cardinals’ fan?
I am madly, hopelessly in love with this 2011 Cardinals team. If I could I would hug and kiss every one of them and I would still feel unsatisfied because I don’t want it to end. But it will. A new season will begin in the spring, probably with some new faces. Albert Pujols may never wear the Cardinal uniform again. Manager Tony LaRussa will be gone. I was never a fan, so it would be hypocritical of me to claim personal sadness at his leaving, but I am sad for those fans who will miss him. I feel especially sad for those players who will miss him. Sudden change can be brutal and that is a feeling I am all too familiar with. In a short time, 2011 will morph into 2012 and new memories will be created, hopefully good ones. Time stops for no man. The cycle of life will continue.
I will hold onto this 2011 miracle season for as long as I can, however. I will keep it close and spend time in the offseason reliving those memories by watching some of the games again and again. This 2011 season will forever be burned into my conscious memory as the Season To End All Seasons. The season that rose like a Phoenix from the ashes to be marveled at for all eternity. My Cardinals. My team. God Bless America and Major League Baseball.