I couldn’t take it any longer. Fatigued at the end of the work week and convinced my St. Louis Cardinals would not survive game six of the World Series, I turned the light off and was fast asleep by 11:15 p.m.
Early the next morning, Lori asked me who won.
“Oh, the Texas Rangers did,” I mournfully informed her. “I stayed with the Cardinals until they left the bases loaded and fell behind 7-4.”
I didn’t go into detail because she is not a baseball fan, but the Cardinals weren’t playing well, I thought. Not only had they left the bases loaded and blown a chance to take the lead, they had also committed three errors - something they hadn’t done in a World Series since game three of the 1943 Series. I had tried to help my team by repeating my baseball mantra, “Get a hit, get a hit, get a hit, get a hit,” or “Strike out, strike out, strike out, strike out,” but the baseball gods weren’t listening. Our pitchers were getting hammered and even Albert Pujols was hitless. So assured was I that the Cardinals were dead, that I had not even bothered to turn on the TV and check the score, just in case…
Just in case of what? That they would win? No way.
I was pouring myself another cup of coffee when I heard Lori shout from upstairs: “David, your team won! They made a comeback and beat the Rangers.”
I raced to the TV and incredulously watched the 6 a.m. sports summary of the Cardinals’ victory. I couldn’t believe it, but it happened: they had miraculously won.
I had missed one the greatest World Series games ever.
There was a lot of baseball left after I had called it quits. The Cardinals rallied behind the bats of Pujols, Lance Berkman, and Allan Craig, as the game went back and forth and into extra innings. Twice the Rangers were one strike away from winning the game and the Series. (The last time a team blew a lead with only one strike away from the championship was the 1992 Blue Jays in Atlanta.) Then Cardinals David Freese, who would be named the World Series MVP the next night when the Cards won the Series with a 6-2 win over the Rangers, homered in the bottom of the 11th to force the first game seven of the Series since 2002.
It was described as “one of the best (World Series) games ever,” by sports columnist Jeff Passan.
And I missed it.
Later that morning, as I was smiling at the thought of their victory, and a bit remorseful at not having cheered them through it, I think I had a tiny inkling of what the followers of Jesus must have felt three days later, after they had turned off the light of hope and cried themselves to sleep, convinced that the stone covering the tomb was a permanent fixture, wondering why they had spent three years following someone who wasn’t the Victor after all.
They missed it too.
“You had to be here to believe it,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “We never quit trying. I know that’s kind of corny, but the fact is we never quit trying.”
And said Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, “Those two [game-saving] at-bats were epic and historic as far as Cardinal lore. No matter what, if we’re down to our last strike, we don’t quit.”
I understand gentlemen; I’ll keep swinging, too.
And most of all, I’ll keep the light and one eye open until He returns in victory.
I won’t miss that one.
Contact David B. Whitlock, Ph.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website, davidbwhitlock.com.