There’s something about that first love. Or maybe it’s that first loss.
I remember a girl I loved, and the spark of hope that burned in me until the day I found out there was no chance, that she would be with someone else. And I grieved the loss of something which had never come to pass.
It was a time of intense sadness and lament. But I suppose old hopes must die, so that new hopes might live — and be fulfilled.
New joys come, years pass, life transforms but in some long-forgotten place, that loss lingers. A sensitive place. A ticklish place that gets a reaction if you touch it.
In my case, music does it. I’m a sucker for really good break-up albums and songs. It’s not that they resurrect a memory. Rather, the raw pain of the songwriter resonates with me, taps into my own little vein of sadness. I empathize and feel their righteous anger.
Does it work that way with baseball, too? I guess that it does.
Just as someone can remember their first love, I can remember when I first followed the St. Louis Cardinals of my own accord. When I began to collect and trade baseball cards, clip out newspaper articles, memorize stats. It was the early 1990s, and the Cardinals were not very good — but that never matters.
Then came 1996. The year the Cardinals hired Tony La Russa as their manager. The year they got back into the playoffs. The year they were one win away from reaching the World Series.
But then the unthinkable happened. The team unraveled with successive losses — 14-0, 3-1, 15-0 — and missed their opportunity.
As a kid, you grieve. But with baseball hope arises again each spring. There would be false starts along the way, but ultimately the Cardinals did get back into the World Series. Three times. They won it twice, including last year’s mind-blowing comebacks.
This year, the magic somehow seemed to be continuing. A miraculous Game 5 comeback in the division series made me believe it was meant to be. I was excited because my kids were getting into it. Jadzia was beginning to get the arcane rules of the game; Joseph was swinging any bat-like object he could find. Ludi was drawing circles on papers and pretending to keep score.
So when the Cardinals went up 3-1 in the NLCS, just one win away from reaching the World Series again, my heart soared. This was my team, on the verge of winning it all. Destiny.
But tonight it came crashing down. The Cardinals lost their third straight game to the Giants, and their opportunity is gone. It was painful, physically painful to watch. The churning in my stomach would not stop.
I had seen it, lived it before. It was 1996 again, and I mourned the loss of something that never happened. The loss of a dream. It was listening to a breakup album, feeling a resonance with past pain.
A girl. A team. Young loves. Young losses. You get over them, even forget them.
“It’s just a game.” “She’s just a girl.” “There’s always next year.” “There’s plenty of fish in the sea.”
Yes, yes, yes, and yes. My heart has already moved on to next spring.
But there’s something about loss. “I need my pain,” a wise fictional character once said.
Maybe we do, Captain. Maybe we do.
This has been a crazy month on all fronts:
- Our house has been under construction, and is nearing completion. We had thought that it might even be ready to move in by the end of October. That didn’t happen, but we will be moving in soon.
- At work, I had a special news project that I designed. That was a big deal on its own … but then the Cardinals made a little playoff run that became a World Series championship.
- World Series Game 7 was played on International Josh Day Eve. That was a long night, which meant festivities for International Josh Day were delayed in order that I might nap.
- I had a couple opportunities for public speaking: talked with a college class on design, and taught some preschoolers the sunday after the World Series.
In case you are curious about some of the projects I worked on for the P-D this month, here are some links:
Deadly Day Cares
Deadly Day Cares was a three-day series focusing on the inordinate number of child deaths which occur in unlicensed Missouri day cares. It has provoked reaction from the public and politicians, which is good. I designed all of this series in print and online. Check out these links to explore some of the series:
- Part 1: Children die as dangers ignored
- Interactive: 45 children who died
- See the entire series: stltoday.com/daycares
Cardinals scouting reports
As the National League Division series began, I produced an interactive scouting reports for the Cardinals and the Phillies. For each successive round, we produced reports for the Cardinals’ other opponents. Take a look at how they turned out:
Pujols’ 3-HR game
I worked late the night of Pujols’ amazing performance in Game 3, putting together a compilation of videos showing 3-home-run performances in the World Series by Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols.
Cardinals 11 championships
Finally, after the Cardinals won the World Series, I put together an interactive look back at all 11 of the Redbirds’ championships. It includes recaps, photos, and videos.
The World Series is in full force! The girls have been following excitedly (except when the games are actually on at night. They would rather watch “Angelina Ballerina” instead) and I have been hard at work at the Post-Dispatch.
I have prior experience working at the P-D during the World Series and the Super Bowl. October becomes a fun yet frenetic and fatiguing month.
The girls know nothing of this of course. All they know is that they see less of their Papá (since he comes home very late and takes naps to make up for it), and that the Cardinals might be champions!
So what about those masks? Well, they are called “Face Cards” and they were created by some of my colleagues at the P-D. Numerous players are available, and you can download them from stltoday.com. Yoli and the girls cut them out and assembled them. The only modification they made was to glue the papers to cardboard cereal boxes for reinforcement before cutting them out.
For her participation in the Ferguson Library’s summer reading program, Jadzia received two free tickets to a Cardinals game. Actually she has gotten these tickets for the last few years, but has never been able to use them (or know of their existence). This year we decided she was finally big enough to try sitting through an entire baseball game.
Tuesday night my mom came over to watch the girls so that Yoli, Don Hector, Doña Lucila and I could go to the Cardinals game.