Cardinals Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, when asked what he did over the
winter, replied that he stared out the window and waited for spring.
I know the feeling, Rajah. And, with only a few more days to go before the start
of the season, I can hardly take any more waiting.
It's been especially difficult the last few winters trying to make it back to baseball
season when all you have to get you through the long, cold St. Louis winters are
the hapless Blues and the clueless Rams. This year we had to suffer through the
seemingly endless Matt Holliday rumors and drama before he finally inked a deal
with the Birds in January.
The business of baseball gets in the way over the off-season when we have to
hear players whine about how $16 million a year over four seasons isn't nearly
enough scratch to play a game for three hours a day. So it is an unbelievable
relief to forget about the players' paychecks and the pain of writing that season
ticket check and get on with seeing some homers, strikeouts and double plays.
Being at the ballpark again after so long seems like a dream come true.
If there isn't something magical about being at Busch Stadium, tell me why hot
dogs taste so much better there than anyplace else. Why does beer taste so
good in a baseball stadium that perfectly sane people will pay $8 bucks -- not
including tip -- for just one of them? And who would believe that yellow goo
from a big plastic bag spread out over tortilla chips in a paper gondola would hit
all the right taste buds in a way Wolfgang Puck never imagined?
I'm not sure that anything quite matches up with opening day in St. Louis. It
brings a sense that all is well again. And, more than the sprouting of flowers and
the growing of the grass, it is a sign that warmer weather is upon us and that it
is time to get outside and have some fun. People have been trying to hit me up
for my opening day seats for months, a good sign when the fan base seems to
have been restless over the last couple of seasons as longtime favorites like
Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen have disappeared from the St. Louis landscape.
The Cardinals enter this season as the favorite in the National league Central for
the first time in four seasons and excitement is high.
Some of the things I most look forward to seeing this season:
* Can Albert Pujols win a fourth MVP award? He has to have a bad season at
some point, right? I can't imagine the disappointment if Pujols hit .285 with
25 homers, numbers 95 percent of major league hitters would kill for.
* Is David Freese for real? We all heard about his negative experiences during
the off-season. But he has handled it like a pro and is spraying the ball all over
the ballpark this spring. The local product will be a huge steal if he pans out
after arriving on the St. Louis roster in the Edmonds salary dump.
* Can Jaime Garcia pitch in April and beyond like he did in March? The Cardinals
have had some great pitchers in the Tony La Russa=Dave Duncan era. But few of
them have been home grown. Only Matt Morris was a Cardinals minor league
prospect who became a consistent performer at the major league level. But Garcia
has shown a lot of poise and great stuff since returning last year from Tommy
We're finally going to be able to stop talking about it and get some answers
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