BY Blake Chambers
Times Herald Columnist
---- — To paraphrase Charlie Brown, another baseball season has come and gone and all I got was a bag of rocks.
For the third time in four years, my favorite team qualified for the playoffs but just as in 2010 and 2012, a deceitful Lucy Van Pelt yanked the ball away at the last second, and with another late season “Aauugh”, the under achieving blockheads commonly known as the Cincinnati Reds, plopped to the ground, embarrassed and ashamed, unworthy of advancing.
Similar to Violet’s Halloween party (for the uninformed, Violet’s was the first party a proud and surprised Charlie Brown was ever invited to) there were apparently two lists for the 2013 playoffs: one to invite and one not to invite. And as Lucy accused Charlie after the invitations went out, the Reds must have been put on the wrong list.
Looking back, I wonder if perhaps it was entirely my fault. Could it have been that I simply wasn’t sincere enough? Maybe the Great Post Season knows that I often angrily turn off the TV or the radio when the team performs badly and falls behind. Maybe it knows when I badmouth the team to friends, family, and in this particular instance, total strangers! Yes. I was curt and disrespectful for much of the year. That must be the reason.
Next year I promise to be more sincere! Even in the face of generally lethargic, uninspired play, walks and errors, failing to get a run in from third with less than two outs, looking at strike three with runners in scoring position, I will keep the faith and shall at all times glorify and adulate them! You can look around next year and not see a sign of hypocrisy in me, just sincerity as far as the eye can see! Yes! Next year I will be the most sincere Reds fan in the whole world! And if they make the playoffs…
Good grief! I said “if” not “when” they make the playoffs! I’m doomed. One little slip like that and the Great Post Season could pass you by. Oh great Post Season where are you!
Turns out “It” is in St. Louis.
And that’s another rock in the trick or treat bag. You see I’ve never liked the Cardinals, a sentiment dating back to my childhood when, if my parents were away, I would have to stay at my grandparents’ house in town and was forced to spend time with a die-hard Cardinals fan that lived nearby.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s okay to be fan – even of the Cardinals. But this guy was obnoxious. It was during the early and middle 60’s that he and I were often thrust together – during the later stages of an era many consider the “Golden Age” of baseball – and yet the guy knew nothing of the sport in general nor did he care to. And that angered me.
His problem, one that I easily perceived even as ten year-old, was the guy was not a baseball fan; he was just a Cardinals fan. Period. Consequently he was blind and deaf to everything happening within the great American Pastime outside the limited sphere of old Busch Stadium. Try to talk to him about Mays, or Mantle, Clemente, Aaron, or Koufax, and he would either ignore you, or interrupt you and resume his strident praise of Stan the Man and Bob Gibson, with an occasional nod to Harry Carrey.
I was never so happy when I finally came of age and could stay at home when my parents left town. But in all the years hence, I have maintained a dislike for the Cardinals.
Still, I’m enough of a man, and enough of a fan, to congratulate them on yet another championship season. And yes, I wish them well in the World Series. As a baseball team, they are head and shoulders above the rest. Pitching. Defense. A gifted mix of young and veteran talent. Once again, the St. Louis Cardinals can do it all, and they do it better than anyone else.
Notwithstanding, they will forever be the Beagle in my pumpkin patch.