First, let me say I am ecstatic the Cardinals once again were able to make my post irrelevant. Anyone who watched last night’s baseball game between the Cardinals and the Reds was treated to the most intense, action-packed baseball game the Cardinals have played all year. Start off with a 1st inning 7-minute delay for a benches-clearing brawl, add in a home run response from Yadier Molina and the tension of a postseason rivalry gone bad. That was a baseball game to keep us talking for months. Hopefully this will be the game that turns the tide for the Cardinals. The club has needed a momentum change, and I think they just found it.
However, if enthusiasm wanes after this blood-pumping series with the Reds and you find yourself struggling through August – as I was struggling, until Brandon Phillips opened his mouth and all hell broke lose – then come on back and read what I have to say about the dull point in the baseball season.
I’m guessing your hand didn’t move there, did it?
Baseball fans grow weary this time of year. The newness has worn off, and baseball may temporarily take a backseat to end-of-summer rituals like family vacations and back to school preparations. Sure, we still love our baseball, but maintaining enthusiasm can be as difficult as the feigned happiness children attempt upon receiving socks for Christmas.
We are out of fresh topics. Good games, bad games, good news, bad news, trade deadline over without anything to celebrate. Collective sigh.
The obvious topics of discussion in Cardinal Nation were covered weeks ago. Players, teams and strategies have been picked apart by every journalist and armchair manager. Midseason trades and potential player upgrades have been heavily scrutinized. The young kids from AAA Memphis have come and gone and come back again. The disabled list has taken a few prisoners, and almost every Cardinal player has fallen victim to a performance slump. (Thankfully, most have also recovered.)
August baseball is not yet the white-knuckled pennant race of September, but just the hard work of day-in, day-out, battle-weary midseason baseball.
So how do baseball fans stay focused in these dog days of summer when the season begins to drag?
1. Savor the moments.
Ignore that lawnmower. It’s too hot outside and the grass is probably brown and crackly by now anyway. How about a cold drink and some web gem watching instead? The weekly highlight reel is still pure gold, full of those awe-inspiring plays that leave fans hungry for more and renewing their belief in baseball magic. This season may not be the highlight-packed adventure we expected from this Cardinal club, but the boys are still out there digging in at the plate and diving for baseballs in the outfield. Case in point: Skip Schumaker hit a grand slam homerun in Monday’s game. Now that was magical.
2. Go see a game.
“Good seats are still available.” Why? Because it is HOT, a fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk, so-hot-you-melt, type of hot.
I just unpacked the suitcase from my trip to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals. Buying those August tickets seemed like a grand idea back in the pleasant month of May, but the heat index of 118 in St. Louis last week was nothing short of oppressive. Even with the Cardinals losing both games to Houston (including that 18-4 embarrassment), being there in my seat at Busch Stadium renewed some of that baseball spirit that dwindles in late summer.
It was worth the heat. Great friends, cold drinks, live baseball played right in front of me. Heaven. If you need a baseball booster shot, I recommend the trip.
If you decide against the see-it-live-but-roast-while-doing-it route, then by all means bring friends and beverages into the air-conditioning and have yourself a baseball watch party. Tell your stories, share the nachos and hope for that Brendan Ryan grand slam. (You know you would love that – and you better be watching when it happens!)
Whatever you do, please do not… I repeat, DO NOT succumb to the temptation of switching over to football. That f-word popped up last week – in the middle of summer. A football game on tv during August baseball is the perfect reminder we need to enjoy baseball while we still can. After all, baseball will be over well before we can say “pass the turkey.”(Football can have Fall — leave summer to baseball!)
3. Tune in for the countdown.
You love the game. You know you do. So, don’t give up. The season’s not over and the Cardinals are not finished. 112 games down, 50 more to go. Yes, a mere 50 games left. We have passed the point where clubs can comfortably make excuses by saying “it’s a long season.” In these last 50 games, mistakes are magnified and every run counts. The sweltering August schedule may actually be the perfect time to tune in for a daily baseball fix. The boys are buckling down, and now is the time to win.
August affords the perfect excuse to take a break from those outdoor projects and reward yourself by kicking back to enjoy some baseball. So, grab that big foam finger and your Sonic Blast ice cream. The Cardinals have a pennant race looming and baseball is heating up!
Erika Lynn writes about the St. Louis Cardinals for i70baseball.com and BaseballDigest.com. You can find her blogging at Cardinal Diamond Diaries or on Twitter at username @Erika4stlcards.