Snatching Agony from the Glove of Victory

I write to you as a broken blogger. Tonight’s game was absolutely gut-wrenching. If you found it painful on TV, think about me, one of the few Cardinals fans, so lonely in the Dodger Stadium bleachers.

I was thrilled that the Cardinals would face the Dodgers in the NLDS – I’d get to see them! And, boy, was it easy to get tickets. I went on Ticketmaster and easily scored tix for Game 2 and Game 5. Obviously, that would not be the case with tickets in St. Louis.  There are definitely passionate Dodger fans in LA, but I often feel the city overall is busy taking advantage of the great weather and playing their own personal sports such as surfing or tennis to really follow the pro teams.

I had a work event last night that prevented me from attending Game 1, but I watched the second half of it on TV, disappointed that Carpenter didn’t have his good stuff.  So I was nervous going into today’s game, yet confident because we’d have Wainwright on the mound.

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My boyfriend Dave took off work early to go to the game with me. Since we were sitting in the bleachers, I figured it’d be good to have his 6’3″ self for protection. He even donned a Cardinal cap for the occasion, although he is a Yankee fan (something I try to overlook about him :). We were in the All You Can Eat pavilion which is a pretty good deal. You get unlimited Dodger Dogs, popcorn, nachos, peanuts, and soda with the price of admission. 

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We arrived as the first inning was getting underway. It was clear Wainwright was on his game, as the Dodgers couldn’t get a hit. In the 2nd inning, Matt Holliday hit a solo homer to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Our hero!

Wainwright pretty much had the Dodgers’ number. We had a good view of his pitches as we were almost centered in the bleachers, and it was inspiring to watch. He threw 70% strikes. I couldnt see the scoreboard behind us, so I made the mistake of uttering out loud: “I don’t think the Dodgers have a hit yet.” Sure enough, Andre Ethier smacked one out in that same 4th inning. 

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I was a nervous wreck. The Cards kept stranding base runners, and I know that always comes back to haunt you. There were only a few Cards fans in my section, including one particularly obnoxious but amusing guy in front of me. He brought out new accessories for each inning. I asked him if he had the whole clubhouse store in his bag. He waved boxer shorts like they were a flag, and got yelled at (deservedly) for wearing a Cat in the Hat hat that blocked peoples’ view, including Dave’s (but Dave didn’t ask him to take it off for fear of jinxing us). Dodger fans were hating on this guy. Yes, there was obnoxiousness on both sides. At one point, security even came over to ask if we were all being treated okay.

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The Cardinals added a run in the 7th, but my stomach was still in knots. Wainwright had a rocky bottom of the 8th, loading the bases before finally getting out of the jam. I was glad to see Tony pull him out for the ninth. 

Everyone was standing. Emotions were running high. It seemed like Ryan Franklin had things well in hand, as the Cardinals had two outs. Then a routine-ish fly ball was hit to left field. Matt Holliday lost it in the lights, bobbled it, dropped it. We could taste the win, and it was yanked away. I knew the momentum had shifted there, and 50,000 screaming Dodger fans in my ear only reinforced it. You don’t really get a second chance when you mess up that big. Franklin couldn’t quite regain composure and the Dodgers tied the game and then got the go-ahead run.

“Let’s get out of here,” I told Dave. I couldnt stand to be around the celebrating fans who were jeering us. I didn’t even say goodbye to the Cardinal Superfan in front of us. I felt tears welling up in my eyes and knots in my stomach. And the stomach pain wasn’t from the 3 dodger dogs and nachos I’d consumed.  I can’t remember ever being so emotional over a sports event before, but it was something about being there in person, tasting the win, and then having it ripped away. It was just gutting.

The walk back to the car wasn’t fun. Dodger fans taunted us. One fan screamed at us to get out of their house and go back to St. Louis. Another fan yelled out that we looked like we’d had too many Dodger Dogs. Great – it’s not bad enough to lose a heartbreaker, now I have to get called fat too? Stay classy, LA. 

It’s been a long time since I lived in St. Louis, so I’m used to supporting my team at other stadiums. I wear my colors and cheer quietly. I don’t brag or gloat when we win. I try to be respectful. I can’t say the same for a lot of the Dodger fans tonight. Now I know many fine and upstanding Dodger fans…unfortunately, I didn’t happen to run into any of them in the bleachers or the parking lot today.

I feel terrible for Matt Holliday. Imagine going from being the hero to the goat in the course of a game. We can’t make him into a Bartman or a Buckner. I don’t think the Cardinals would even be in the NLDS had they not acquired Holliday. He’s been such an offensive boost and usually – usually – reliable on defense. This was just the absolute worst time to make an error. And I keep replaying it in my head. And it hurts.  Physically.

Fandom is like love. Sometimes it’s euphoric. Sometimes it bites. Here’s hoping the Cardinals can dig deep, take it one day at a time as the baseball cliche says, and just get a win on Saturday.

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10 Comments

Dodger fan here, I kind of stumbled on this blog by accident, but I have some things to say. First, you already know you have a very good team, it just has not been playing well, same thing with my Dodgers last week. So keep your head up. You know you would not be where you are without a great player like Holliday. Second, keep in mind there were 2 playoff games going on in the area yesterday, something St. Louis would not have the problem of competing with, and as you know by going there, it is a hell of a lot harder to get to Dodger Stadium than it is to get to Busch, with virtually no public transportation. Another thing you can’t really compare about St. Louis and L.A. is, L.A. is made up largely of transplants from other parts of the U.S. and other parts of the world (some from countries where baseball is not even played or followed). So for the amount of people who are from here, there are I’m sure as many diehard fans as there are in St. Louis. L.A. is truly a baseball town, we send more players to the Majors than anywhere else. We love our baseball. Unfortunately, we do have some goofballs and jerks who make it hard for visiting fans to enjoy a game and I’m sorry for that. I have experienced rudeness on the part of fans when visiting other cities, too (sadly I have to include St. Louis in that list, my son and I attended games there in 2007), and I can say it is not fun either. Much of the same stuff you described: “Go back to Smogville, L.A. sucks, you ******, etc.” Not exactly classy either, if you ask me. I know Cardinals fans have a better reputation than that. It was not what I experienced, though. One thing I didn’t realize was that so many St. Louis people seem to be so anti-Asian. We got called ****, ******, etc., (we’re of Thai heritage).

I think I can tell how you feel about such a hard loss because I know how I would have felt if it was me and my team on the losing end of that game. Last though, I would like to say we know this series is far from over. We know your fans and team will be up when they get to St. Louis. Take care and I hope your next game experience in Dodger Stadium is not so bad.
~Kelly

Hi Kelly, thanks for writing. I am sorry you were harassed in St. Louis. Too much beer brings out the worst in fans, and yes there’s definitely a lot of xenophobia in the midwest. I have been to Dodger stadium for Cardinals’ games a few times and this was the first bad experience. I do know you have many awesome, respectful fans – I’m friends with some even :)

It’s just hard to get taunted when one is already feeling so devastated by a hard loss. It really stung. I had to blog it out.

I love living in LA. I think there’s a lot going on in this city, whereas in st Louis its less exciting and we focus all energy on our sports teams. But there are certainly many devoted baseball fans in this city. I’ve never heard them so loud as they were last night. And nobody left early!

I agree we both have terrific franchises, and i hope we will have a great game on Saturday.

Oh boy. That does not sound good at all, I’m so sorry! It must have been so tough to watch that terrible error right in front of your eyes. I know there are some good Dodger fans, but it really seems that the bad are the majority. As a Padres fan, I really, really hope your guys can get it together and get the Dodgers out of the playoffs. I really think the Cards have a chance for the World Series. Hope you feel better soon.
http://kaybee.mlblogs.com

I don’t think Julie was really trying to compare the 2 cities but just stating what her experience was. Yes you do have 2 baseball teams but your population is more than twice as ours. We have less than 300,000 in our city limits. I know there are bad experiences at every ball park. I have to say though I have been to hundreds of Cardinal games and have never seen anyone being taunted. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but it is few and far between. As for Asians we have a good population here and have never noticed it. But people will say whatever to hurt someone just like the fat comment Julie got. I have been to Dodger Stadium too and just got the usual fun ribbing from fans but nothing I could not handle or took personal. Just like you don’t want us to judge Dodger fans on Julie’s one time bad experience I would hope you would do the same for us. Every team has their rude fans. Good luck to you and I hope your next visit is better.

Cardinal Girl – thank you for your response. I didn’t know if you would see my post. Again if you visit the stadium again I do hope you have a better time. stlred82 – Maybe you didn’t read my whole post but your comparisons about city populations, once again, are apples vs. oranges since again, 80% of our population is from somewhere else. Those people do not care about the Dodgers or even the Angels for that matter. As for my visit to Busch of course I do not judge everyone based on that. And I also didn’t when I visited other cities either. (Philadelphia and N.Y. were much worse- throwing stuff at us. I can handle taunts better than that but I felt bad for my son having to put up with it.) As for the Asian slurs I know the Asian population in St. Louis is very small (2%) so maybe some people are just afraid of those they aren’t familiar with. It is a lot different here, where there are so many different groups. Kind of like that throughout history, people have fear based on ignorance. Not just there, but in a lot of places. But I digress. I liked reading some of the other posts here, good baseball info, so I enjoy your blog even though I was sorry to read what happened. Glad to hear the All you can eat section is worth it. I haven’t tried it yet.
~Kelly

First off I would like to say I am extremely sorry and sad that your son had to deal with that situation. We have biracial children and I understand how hurtful things like that can be to a child especially. I did read your post and I do realize that their are a lot of transplants like Julie there. As for the Asians in STL I don’t know the percentage I was just going by the area that we live in and it is like a melting pot with people from all nationalities which is why I like it. Like Julie said both our clubs have a lot of great history that we should both be proud and celebrate. In fact Julie and I met thru Dodger fans. We both have several Dodger gals that always treat me to a good time when my husband and I come out there. We all cheer for each others teams except of course when we are playing each other.lol My good friend Emma has a wonderful Dodger blog that I enjoy reading and have learned much from. You should check it out. I think it is under crzblue. We all need to not be side tracked by the ignorance of anyones fans and enjoy the great game of baseball.

I’m retired military born in LA and settled in San Diego and before and during my career I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy many games in various parks around the country. i usually don’t fly my “colors” for the fact that i noticed the people who do, usually get harassed by the locals who have had too much alcohol. Not a fun outing for anyone. I will still root for my team in a polite and respectful manner and i usually strike up conversations with those around me.
So Kelly I’m sorry you had the bad experience but through my experience especially with a game of so much at stake, you should have expected the verbal abuse….I’m not condoning it as a matter of fact I hate it…but there are jerks everywhere.
On another note: Sorry your team could not come back from such a dreadful lose (Well not really, big Dodger fan and you guys have owned us through the post season) but we will see you again next year. Have a good off-season and hope your team resigns Holiday..he’s a good player who made a mistake. (a lot of the blogs were caaling for letting him go away during free agencey)

Hi Julia,
I am sorry for the experience at Dodger Stadium. I should have contact you that work was selling two(they have four) of the company tickets for the Thursday early game at face value. They are in the field level aisle 30 so is the visiting side. I did not get them since you know I have my season tickets.
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It was hard for some fans to be able to take the day off for that early game. I also have friends that have lost their jobs since the beginning of the year and could not afford to purchase their postseason tix.
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Stlred,
Sorry for the pain of the loss. I know how you feel. Been there. Thank you for the shout here.
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Kelly,
I am sorry for your bad experience. I have met wonderful Cardinal fans like Julie from this blog, Stlred that is posting here. Also Sandi and Amy that I first met in St Louis. In one of my posts, there is a picture of Stlred, Sandi, Amy, Linda and I having a great time at a Spring Training game last year in Florida.
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There are all kind of fans and unfortunately sometimes we encounter some bad ones.

Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/

Hi, I am another Cardinals fan in the L.A. area. I hate to hear of one of my brothers or sisters having a bad experience like that! I’m really sorry you had to go through it. What a nightmare. The game itself was bad enough. I have to say, though, I was at Game 1 and experienced none of what you described. Dodger fans were friendly, playing around, ribbing with me about the Cards, but generally fine as far as visiting fan treatment. We lost but my kids and I had no rudeness towards us. The worst we’ve had was in Philly and Wrigley!

sltred82, it sounds like you have never lived in L.A., but you have a lot of friends here? I have to say this, the melting pot you describe there, is nothing really compared to L.A. I lived in St. Louis for several years, and most of what you have there is European-based culture. In Los Angeles, there is an entirely different feel, it is a true melting pot with people of all countries, not just European, but from all over the world, and many groups which you don’t encounter in the Midwest. Here you have Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Samoan, Guamanian, Filipino, Polynesian and many others in large numbers. People here know the difference between them, but people back in MO usually do not even encounter this many Asian ethniciities. L.A. is like the true melting pot of the world. Just to describe to you why the other poster had a good point I could understand about fear of other groups they have no awareness of.

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