Baseball’s Afternoon Delight

It would be an absoute lie if I did not admit that one deciding factor in my attending Saint Louis University, though small, is its proximity to Busch Stadium.

It had been a long time since Cardinals baseball was right at my fingertips. How could I pass up such a great opportunity?

Thankfully, the Redbirds did not disappoint. Since 2001, my freshman year, they made the playoffs three times, twice to the NLCS, once to the World Series. I got my parents' money's worth in an education and my own money's worth in baseball. Should I cringe to think of the car or the kick-ass T.V. set I could purchase with the cash that was instead contributed to Mark McGwire or Albert Pujols' salary? I should; but I won't.

And as much as I will remember any of those playoff games I attended, equally ingrained in my memory will be the few times I bailed out of afternoon class to catch the so-called "businessman's special" at the ballpark.

Possessing an academic conscence, and to save face with any of my professors who may read this column, it's important to note that I cannot recommend skipping class as a general rule. Still, it's not really a bad choice when afternoon baseball is the alternative.

When you get down to it, getting out of school for the ballgame is a pretty time honored tradition. Opening day could pretty well be considered a national holiday. Even in Kansas City, where most would rather tailgate for a football game than actually attend a baseball game, that first home game was a reasonable excuse to get out of class.

Aside from that, by this point in the year, everyone knows the revelry of skipping class. For some, its really second nature.

Cutting is just as easy and perfunctory as actually going. Yet, for those of us dorks who actually go to most of our classes, there remains something rebellious to avoiding your obligations without serious fear of repercussion.

Besides, much can be learned about baseball from an afternoon game. Famed Washington Post sportswriter Shirley Povich often said that one of the most important parts of a pennant race were the September shadows. The pitchers change their game plans so their delivery dances between the light and the shade. The batters must quickly prove their ability to adjust in the midst of a game, an at-bat or a swing.

Those shadows are always moving, like a well-placed cutter. It's how the game was designed to be played. They had the right idea in Chicago by not adding lights to Wrigley until the late '80s. It also makes for an entertaining addition to the curse lure of the Windy City.

Anyway, knowing that six months from now I won't be able to duck out of meetings at my leisure and head down to the ballpark, last Thursday I blew off class, put on a red jersey and took the metro down to Busch for a Cubs/Cards match-up. I won't forget Chris Carpenter and his complete game shutout. I won't forget freshman year, when literally sitting in class, I got up and left moments before the lecture began, rode to Busch, bought a beer with an ill-gotten ID and watched as a rare Mike Matheney home run helped the Cards dispatch the Brewers. Yeah, there are afternoon games every weekend, but what do you get out of by going to one of those? Mowing the lawn? It's not the same.

Really, this being my final sports column for The University News, I was feeling boringly retrospective. For the forseeable future I will be relegated to watching afternoon baseball on the play-by-play ticker from a cubicle. At times like that, I know what I will remember-and it's not my freshman Management Informations Systems class.

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