October 2011 – My Cardinals Are in the Series
On Wednesday, we got a text from our friend teasing us about her son, Shea, going to game 6 of the World Series. Now this wouldn’t be a big deal except Shea is a Cub fan. It’s no secret that seeing Cardinals – live in the World Series is on the top five of my bucket list. Deb could tell it was eating at me. Before I was off the phone, Deb found tickets available for Game 6 on the web. Little did I know that we were in for the treat of a lifetime.
We quickly found some prime tickets on the first-base line for the fall classic. Before I closed on the deal, I had to make sure we could find a room nearby. I knew it would be too late to drive home after the game. So, here I am on Deb’s computer, using my Hilton status to confirm a room next to the park while holding the tickets on Stubhub. It all worked out; got the tickets and the room! Never mind the price. That will be my MasterCard moment at the end of this story.
Thursday afternoon, Sean and I hopped in the car and headed for St. Louis. We arrived in St. Louis after a long – 3 hour 45 minute drive, thanks to construction and traffic. The streets of St. Louis were abuzz. Every where we turned, we saw Cardinal fans; hard to pick out a Rangers fan in the crowded streets. Of course, valet parking at the hotel was full. The hotel staff directed us across the street.
We quickly checked into the Hilton Ballpark and didn’t take any time for dinner or an “inexpensive drink”. Having never used Stubhub, I was apprehensive to say the least that our tickets would work and couldn’t wait to make sure they did. As we walked the short distance from the hotel to the park, I was plotting my backup plan. All I could think of was which of the scalpers looked most reputable and where the nearest ATM was. I’m sure the scalpers wouldn’t take MasterCard. It was about 6:15, too close to game time for those tickets not to work. March forward to the entrance, Rob, and pray they work.
As we passed the entrance, I gave Sean a high five celebrating that we’d made it past the entrance and validating the tickets worked. He had no clue how happy I was that we made it in the stadium. After grabbing a couple drinks and some food, we walked around to our section along the first base line to find our seats. Success! We had prime box seats about 15 rows behind first base. When you see our pregame picture above, the delight you see in my face comes from the satisfaction that we’d made it – Game 6 of the World Series to witness our Cardinals play.
Before the game started, the crowd was treated to a parade of legends, former Cardinal champions Lou Brock,the Wizard of Oz-zie Smith, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst, and Stan “the man” Musial. Reggie the Redbird bowed at the presence of the legends on the field. David Eckstein, the scrappiest Cardinal ever, threw in the ceremonial first pitch in an overt attempt to inspire the team to find a way to pull out another impossible feat after their miserable loss two nights before in Texas, which put them behind 3 games to 2.
This was more like two games than one. The first 8 innings were tight. Texas took a 4-3 lead taking advantage of two fielding errors by the Cardinals’ David Freese and Matt Holiday. We had a chance to tie it but Matt made a running error at third. The Rangers seemed to be marching toward their first ever World Series win and it felt like the wind was no longer blowing our way when the Rangers took a commanding 7-4 lead in the seventh inning on back-to-back homers by Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz against Lance Lynn.
Sean and I were beginning to just be happy that we’d had the experience of witnessing our team play in the World Series when Alan Craig hit a solo homer in the eighth inning. We could feel a sense of hope rise in the crowd after that homer.
Then the second game began and the crowd erupted! It was exciting enough to witness our team in the world series but the game that began in the bottom of the ninth inning became an instant classic and an experience we will never forget.
The Second Game
Let’s set the stage. It was the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 6 in the World Series. We were down 7-5. (One of the disadvantages of watching a game live is that you don’t hear the TV experts tell you the historical facts.) We all knew that being down 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth was bad but didn’t know how bad. You could tell, though, that most of the crowd still had hope because we had the meat of our line-up due in the ninth.
Albert rocked a double deep into center and the crowd erupted. Our hope was rewarded with promise of a comeback. Berkman came to the plate and walked in four pitches. Alan Craig, who homered in the last inning, was up next but struck out. Two outs and two on.
David Freese was up next. We held our collective breath with every pitch. Freese got behind in the count 1-2 but then lined one deep into right field. Nelson Cruz looked like he would get under the ball but in an instant the ball popped off the wall and Freese raced to third scoring Pujols and Berkman. We were tied. Pandemonium!
Then, I get a text from James telling me that no team had come back from two runs down in the ninth inning in like 50 years. (For the TV experts: The advantage of watching the game live is that you don’t hear the TV experts tell you the historical facts taking away hope.) OK. So, now we’ve not only witnessed our team in the World Series but we have also witnessed history. But the game is not over. It’s tied and we’re going into extra innings.
The Second Comeback
Top of the 10th inning and Hamilton rocked a two-run blast on a 0-0 count. Needless to say, the air was sucked out of the stadium as Hamilton trotted around the bases. We were down 2 runs again 9-7. Without checking for a text from James, I was sure it would take a miracle to come back twice down two runs.
Unexpectedly, the Cardinals quickly got two men on and no outs when LaRussa pulled one of his famous moves. He used a pitcher, Kyle Lohse, to pinch hit in an obvious bunt situation. Everyone in the stadium knew Lohse was going to bunt – except for the Rangers somehow because Lohse perfectly advanced the runners. Magically, we then manufactured two runs on a ground out and a Berkman single to center. Miracle delivered and now the Cardinals have made history. No team has ever come back down 2 in the ninth and tenth inning. The crowd is in chaos. Strangers were hugging and high fiving like they had witnessed a miracle. It was – the second comeback.
Bedlam and MasterCard Moments
Even though Napoli gave us a scare in the top of the 11th with a single, the Rangers went down rather quickly. The crowd began to rumble. As David Freese came to bat in the bottom of the 11th, I yelled over to Sean, “Freese is going to have a walk-off to end this game!” Miracle number 2 delivered and we now have total bedlam. Fireworks go off. The crowd has completely gone crazy. Sean is celebrating and I have my MasterCard moment. This was priceless!
See you tomorrow night is right! Game 7 is in the Cards for the Cardinals.
As we now know, Game 6 was the big game and game 7 was just a formality because the Cards won the series the night we were there.
My MasterCard Moment
Last minute tickets to Game 6 of the World Series purchased on Stub Hub with MasterCard… Too much $$ to say
Last minute hotel at the Hilton Ballpark purchased online with MasterCard…. Too much $$ to say
Overpriced food and refreshments, souvenirs after the game purchased with MasterCard… OMG too much $$
Witnessing the best World Series game in history with my son, PRICELESS! See the joy on our faces.