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Archive for the ‘baseball’ Category

If you know me at all you know that I am a fanatical baseball fan.  To be more precise, I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

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My appreciation for the Cardinals leads me to do things that are pretty much totally out of character for me — yesterday I walked up to a perfect stranger wearing a Cardinals baseball hat and introduced myself.  Today I sadly asked the guy behind the counter at the food co-op if he really was a Red Sox fan (he was wearing a Red Sox cap).

Growing up in St. Louis it was hard to avoid becoming a die-hard Cardinals baseball fan.  I remember watching the 1967 Cardinals win the World Series behind Bob Gibson, my all time favorite pitcher; they brought televisions into the school gym so that we could all watch the final game.

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I have attended one World Series game in person.  In 1987, the year the Cardinals lost the Series to the Minnesota Twins* (after winning all three home games they just couldn’t make it work in the Metro dome), I won a pair of tickets in a raffle at work and took my father to see Game 4 at Busch Stadium on his birthday.

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And, of course, while living in New England in 2004 I endured the jeers of Red Sox fans when the Cardinals lost the Series in four straight games.

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After a wonderful 2006 World Series win, the Cardinals had a couple of “rebuilding” seasons and are back at the top of their division this year.  The team is lucky to have “el hombre,” the man most likely to be referred to as the “best player in baseball,” Albert Pujols,

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as well as a remarkably talented pitching staff led by Chris (or Cris) Carpenter who, in his last regular season outing this year, hit his first-ever big league home run, a grand slam, and ended the game with a win — the score was 13-0 — and a total of six RBIs.

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The Cardinals’ ’09 post-season starts on Wednesday, October 7 with a game in LA against the formidable LA Dodgers. It’s a long way from there to the final game of the World Series but here’s hoping there’s another World Championship in the Cardinals’ near future.

*who just now clinched a spot in the American League playoffs with a 12th inning win over the Detroit Tigers.

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the perfect game

It happened last week while I was in New Hampshire.  White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle took the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays for a total of 32 minutes and pitched a perfect game.   It was the first perfect game since Randy Johnson pitched one for the Diamondbacks in 2004.

A perfect game is both a no hitter and a shut out.  In a perfect game, a pitcher faces 27 hitters and retires them all in order.*  In a perfect game, no one from the opposing team reaches the bases on hits, on walks, on errors, as the result of catcher’s interference, or after being hit by a pitch.

A perfect game doesn’t happen often.  In fact, there have been only 18 perfect games in the history of baseball.  Eighteen.  In a sport where 30 different teams each play 162 games during the regular season every year, that makes a perfect game something worth noticing.

A lot of people noticed.  People also noticed that DeWayne Wise, center fielder for the White Sox, preserved Buehrle’s perfect game with an incredible catch at the wall in the ninth.

Today Mark Buehrle will take the mound again for the White Sox.  The chances of his pitching another perfect game are pretty slim.  I don’t think that matters.  For me, nearly every baseball game is perfect.

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*thanks T

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all star break

To my (great) disappointment, the National League lost another all-star game tonight.  There’s not really much to say other than that it was a close game, and that the pitching and defense were very strong.  For both teams.

Even though “my” team lost I loved watching the game being played in Busch Stadium with that sea of red-dressed fans in the stands.  The grounds crew did an incredible job with the infield, cutting the Arch and the Old Courthouse into the grass.  It was really striking, especially for a St. Louis native.

I also got a chill seeing all those former Cardinals on the field:  Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst, Ozzie Smith, Lou Brock, Bruce Sutter, and of course Stan Musial, who handed the first pitch ball to Barack Obama, who then threw the ball, over the plate to Albert Pujols.

So, it was a good night for baseball, and for St. Louis, even if the National League didn’t win.

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