Sure, the official start to the 2014 Major League Baseball season was last Monday. Or last Sunday night, or March 22 in Australia — take your pick. Yes, it’s true the St. Louis Cardinals have played six games so far. None of that matters.
Today is when the season officially begins, for this afternoon is the home opener at Busch Stadium. Real baseball, at last.
Photo by Kelly
There’s nothing any of the other 29 teams do for their opening days that comes close to how the Cardinals kick off the home season. Now, I haven’t been to one everywhere (although that sounds like an amazing addition to my goal of getting to a game at all the big league ballparks, doesn’t it?) but I’ve caught bits and pieces of highlights and games, plus have been to several Cubs opening days in the past. And I’ve attended two Cardinals opening days.
St. Louis just does it best.
The Clydesdales, the Hall of Famers, the parade of players around the track and just the overall atmosphere — goosebump-inducing, each and every year. Whether you’ve been to Busch Stadium to experience it in person or just watched on television, you know what I mean.
When you think back to the 2006 NLCS between the Cardinals and the Mets, chances are you recall Game Seven. Which makes sense, as it was a tremendous and intense game — to stroll down memory lane: the Mets took a 1-0 first inning lead, the Cardinals tied it in the second, the score remained 1-1 until the ninth inning although the Cards would have taken the lead if not for Endy Chavez catching Scott Rolen’s homer. The ninth inning was epic just in itself as Yadi homered after Rolen singled to definitely put the Cards on top 3-1, then rookie closer Adam Wainwright gave up two singles and a two-out walk to load the bases before Carlos Beltran stepped to the plate and Waiwright threw just three more pitches …
Game Seven’s majesty wouldn’t have happened, however, without So Taguchi’s heroics six days earlier in Game Two at Shea Stadium.
After winning Game One, the Mets took a 3-0 first inning lead thanks to a rough night from Chris Carpenter — he gave up five earned runs and walked four in five innings pitched. The Mets led 6-4 in the seventh inning and David Eckstein and Chris Duncan quickly grounded out and flied out to start the inning. That Guy Who Used to Play First Base then singled and Jim Edmonds walked, bringing up Scott Spiezio and his little red facial hair thing — starting at third base for the game instead of Scott Rolen. The Speez launched it very deep to right, off the top of the wall, and ended up at third with a game-tying triple.
The game remained tied 6-6 until Taguchi, who entered the game as a defensive replacement for Duncan in the eighth, stepped to the plate. He was facing Mets closer Billy Wagner, who had 40 saves during the 2006 regular season. And Taguchi had two homers during 2006 (although he hit one in Game Three of the 2006 NLDS, his only at-bat of that postseason thus far). The count went full. And then …
Continuing our stroll back in recent Cardinals history from last Thursday, the 2005 St. Louis Cardinals followed up their 105-win-National-League-pennant-winning season by winning 100 games, the NL Central and making it to Game Six of the NLCS against the Houston Astros.
That’s a walk-off winner on Aug. 19, 2005 – thanks to Jim Edmonds.