This is what I wore to work this morning, and not because it’s Halloween. If that were the case, to paraphrase an unnamed St. Louis fan from facebook, I would be invisible–just like the Cardinals’ offense. But I don’t have the energy for such snarky humor today, and it’s not a costume anyhow. Rather, I wore m Cardinals gear because that’s what I do at the end of the baseball season. It is a symbol with the dual purpose of celebrating the past year and looking forward to that glorious day in February 2014 when pitchers and catchers will report to spring training.
This throwback jersey fits both purposes, and with special significance. It is from the 1982 season, the first World Series I can remember and the reason I became a Cardinal fan. That year, a rookie named Willie McGee wore No. 51 and stole the show. McGee went on to an impressive career despite personal struggles with substance abuse. He’s 55 years old now–far from the rookie phenom he was in 1982. But time goes on. I’m not the same kid I was thirty-one years ago either.
Except that I still am that kid, at least in so many ways that matter. The day I picked up my Willie McGee replica jersey, I got to see the Cardinals play the Pirates. Michael Wacha, this year’s rookie phenom, pitched a two-hitter for St. Louis. I screamed and cheered until I was hoarse, completely forgetting for nine innings the troubles and complexities of adult life.
So why should I be depressed because my team lost the World Series–an outcome, I might add, that I had absolutely no influence over to begin with? This season, my favorite team worked hard, won a lot, and were an easy group of guys to root for. They didn’t get the biggest prize, but so what? Life rarely hands us everything we want. But life is still deeply good and gratifying.
And so closes another season, and so begins my season of waiting. For the past eight months, baseball has been my escape, my metaphor, my way of marking time. It’s been good to me. So thanks, 2013, for some good memories. And here’s looking forward to next year!