Well it was wet, cold, stormy, and a whole lot of fun. I rode the train down to the stadium, which is a great way to get to the ballpark, with plenty of Cardinals fans around 10 AM in the morning, I looked at all the statues of the Cardinal greats, Stan Musial, Dizzy Dean, Enos Slaughter, Ozzie Smith, the Rajah and many more.
We walked around the stadium and stopped in a bar right outside for a bit. And then the rain started, and kept going and going and going. Patrick and I decided to have a few beers, try to warm up a little, and go into the stadium to get more cover, because the tent we were under was becoming too crowded. And the rain continued.
We got into the stadium, and decided to go down to the field. Nothing truly looks better than a major league field, prepared for Opening Day. It was beautiful, with its trim, elegantly cut grass and its well-manicured dirt; entirely free of rocks to ensure every hop is comfortable for the infielder. The lines foul lines freshly painted, surrounded by seats waiting to be filled, the St. Louis Arch in the background. But it was raining, and the scoreboard was flashing a delay message, informing us of at least a 1-hour delay in the festivities. And the rain continued.
After the 4th hour of standing in the rain, we made a smart decision. We would head back to Patrick’s house (a 10 minute drive), dry our rain-soaked clothes off get back quickly before the ceremony started. We executed our plan to perfection; drying off, ourselves and our clothes, warming up, and making it back just in time to catch the festivities. I grabbed a delicious bratwurst, headed to my seat, and took in my first Opening Day experience. And boy, was it a treat.
The players were given a miniature parade around the stadium, with each player driven around in a truck, and dropped off at home plate for his introduction. Fans robustly cheered all, saving the biggest for hometown hero David Freese and popular pitcher Adam Wainwright. After introductions, members of the last 4 Cardinals World Series teams came out and threw the first pitch. It was a great collection of Cardinals’ history, with Tony La Russa representing last year’s team, David Eckstein representing 2006, Bruce Sutter for 1982, and Bob Gibson for 1967. Finally, at around 4 pm the game would begin.
The game itself was mostly a one-sided affair. Adam Wainwright struggled with his control, and was tagged for 8 runs. He gave up a grand slam to Bryan LaHair, the new Cubs 1st baseman. Jeff Samardzija was in control for most of his start, except for the 5th innings. The Cardinals treated the hometown crowd in the 5th, scoring 5 runs, which would be their final tally. The rain continued slowly, off-and-on, for the latter innings. We were able to move seats, and get real close to the action for the last couple of innings. The Cubs bullpen was impressive, and the Cardinals didn’t muster so much as a scoring chance following the 5th. The final score was 9-5, and we were cold, and a little wet again. But most importantly, baseball is finally back in St. Louis, which was good enough for us.