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Jeff Smith

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The Only Reason I'd Miss My Home Team's Big Game

Posted: 04/11/2012 12:22 pm

You know that feeling -- "I want to get to bed NOW because I cannot wait to wake up tomorrow"?

It's 6:00 PM. You've already eaten dinner, taken a shower, brushed your teeth, placed your slippers at the end of the bed, hung your robe on the back of your door, and set your alarm for 4:29 AM. (Side note: I've never worn slippers or a robe, but I look forward to that day.) (Second side note: I wake up at 4:29 AM every day. There's significance to the 4:29. I'll explain further down.)

My kids have this feeling on Christmas Eve, the night before their birthdays, the evening prior to heading out of town on vacation, the day before the first day of school, the night before going to Six Flags... I could go on and on. When I was a kid, I had a lot of these, too.

Normally, I get this feeling one night every year. That night was last Tuesday night.

Wednesday was Opening Day. Super baseball fans will argue that the Mariners and As had already played "games that count" two weeks ago in Japan. True. But Wednesday was the first "regular season" game in the ole USA. Major League Baseball started this season showcasing the World Champs, St. Louis Cardinals, on the road in baseball's newest ballpark with the sport's only "renamed" franchise in 2012, the Miami Marlins.

It just so happens that the World Champs are my team. The last time I was this excited was late on a Friday night last October, when I danced down Broadway in downtown St. Louis after my team won its 11th World Championship.

This week, the Champs will return to Busch Stadium to open up the 2012 Home season celebrating last season's Championship run. Who would pass up a chance to be at that celebration?

Well, me.

Quick story. A buddy of mine calls last week to say he has two extra tickets for this Friday's Home Opener. Two hours prior to his call, I receive my 7-year-old daughter's softball schedule, and she has a game that same night.

I'm not passing judgment on the majority of those who would rather go to the Home Opener, but that day has passed for this baseball (and now softball) fan. I went to nine straight Home Openers with my Dad when I was a young fan. The best part of going to the game was NOT the game, nor the parade of Budweiser Clydesdales high-stepping into Busch. It was going to the game with my Dad. And, see, the best part of my life now is going to games with my kids -- or even better, watching my two all-stars play. I love it. I live for it. (Dang, this post just threw a curve ball at you, eh?)

So, while I contemplate going to bed right now (It's 4:00 in the afternoon as I write this), I know that I actually have another one of these "nights" coming this week -- not because I'll be looking forward to a Cardinals game, but because I'll be getting ready to watch my 7-year-old shortstop play her season opener. Then there's another one three weeks after that, as my 5-year-old future Major Leaguer has his season opener. (Wow. Maybe I am still a kid. I do have a lot of these "nights" left in me.)

I just glanced at the clock. It's 4:29 PM. I must wake in exactly 12 hours. See, #4 is Cardinal Catcher Yadier Molina; #29 is Cardinal Ace, Chris Carpenter -- best battery in baseball. I wake up every day thinking about my favorite game.

I'd turn back the covers right now, but I have to get to a Little League baseball practice, then over to a Fast Pitch softball scrimmage. Once we've touched those two bases, I have a game of my own. (Yes. I still play baseball.) Then, it'll be time to head for home... to score some sleep before the big week to come. I can't wait.