Metro-East Living

Baseball fans can rejoice as the Cardinals’ season gets underway

Baseball season cannot return soon enough.

Like many of you, I need baseball back in my life.

Every day, I need to follow the daily lineups, box scores, injuries, rumors, opinions.

I need to turn on sports talk on my car radio and listen to callers question manager Mike Matheny’s lineups and double switches.

Baseball is one of my favorite distractions, and this year, I’m tired of the chatter about politics, elections, health care, Russia, etc.

Sorry, but hockey’s not enough. I’m ready to debate important social issues like the designated hitter, video replays and automatic walks.

I’m ready to renew the friendly chatter with Cubs fans. But I will take a low profile in that area this year. The Cubs are World Champions. They’re so young and talented. Times have changed. We’re chasing them.

Opening day is a big, big deal in St. Louis. I can’t imagine it being a bigger deal in other cities. But I’ve only experienced it here in St. Louis. Opening Day-St. Louis is an experience every Cards fan should experience once in his or her lifetime. The parade of players and coaches. The Clydesdales. The Hall of Famers in their red jackets. It may be a little overdone. But it’s tradition. We need more traditions.

By the way, they’ll also play a game Sunday night, which is anti-climactic to the ceremonies. Against the Cubs. Just as well, I guess. I may as well get in a foul mood on day one.

I am going to the game. I have not attended an opening day game in many years. As a fan, I’m just as satisfied going to a game on July 1 as I am going on opening day.

But I’m excited about Sunday’s game to start the season.

I need baseball.

I need the distraction. Bad. Real bad.

I went to many opening day games when I was a kid. My grandpa and I sat in the Terrace Reserved at the top of the old Busch Stadium, where the birds nested, noses bled and we looked straight at the loop of the Gateway Arch. My lone treat was a small soda and box of popcorn that came in a cool megaphone-like container. All game, I could yell at the players from on top of the stadium. In my mind, I thought they could hear me. If they could bring one piece of nostalgia back from the old days, I wish it would be that megaphone-like popcorn box.

You can subtract that annoying “Everybody Clap Their Hands” song that plays too much on the stadium’s P.A. system. Come on. This is Cardinals Nation. We know when to clap our hands.

And give standing ovations. I bet ex-Cub Dexter Fowler gets one tonight. And Yadi.

Here are a few other reasons I’m glad baseball returns:

▪  Mike Shannon. I don’t remember baseball in St. Louis without Mike Shannon, either on the field or behind the microphone.

▪  Red Schoendienst. He was best friends with Stan Musial. They were roommates. He wore a Cardinals uniform longer than any other person. Sunday night, this Red’s longest cheer will be for Red.

▪  Baseball Talk. Should we sign Yadi? Can Matt Adams really play left field? Can Trevor Rosenthal start a game? There is not a lack of conversations when it’s baseball season. Strangers. Friends. Neighbors. Relatives. Baseball is our common denominator.

▪  Joe Buck. He reminds me of Jack Buck.

▪  Whitey Herzog. I went to a lot of very bad baseball games in the 1970s. The old Busch Stadium was only half full. Good pitchers like Steve Carlton and Jerry Reuss were traded because of contract disputes. It was fun to watch Ted Simmons hit, though. And Lou Brock run. Herzog rejuvenated baseball here in the 1980s. I will be forever grateful.

▪  Adam Wainwright. There’s not a better ambassador of the game than the Cardinals’ veteran pitcher.

▪  Dexter Fowler. Hopefully, he’ll bring some speed, personality and defense to the Cardinals. They need all three bad.

▪  Stephen Piscotty. He plays the game right, fundamentally. I couldn’t say that often last season.

▪  Yadier Molina. Where baseball and business intersect again. Advice: Don’t think about the past or future. Enjoy 2017. With Yadier behind the plate.

Baseball is not perfect. I liked the game better when all I knew about a player was on the back of his baseball card. The games are too long. There are too few good teams. Fundamentals are lacking. Does anyone know how to bunt? Take a good leadoff?

But baseball is my favorite distraction. The daily box scores. The lineup debates. Juggling injuries. I am glad another chapter is starting.