Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Uphill both ways in the snow
I'm concerned about the future of the nation.
I've got four kids: two boys and two girls. The boys are 11 and 6; The girls are 7 & 8, and we are, without a doubt, a "baseball family". Those of you who keep up with me via social media have seen evidence of this from time to time. The kids are all Cardinals fans, and even at six, the youngest includes, "Well, you like the cubs!" in his modest arsenal of insults for his siblings.
But these kids today don't know how good they have it. They've seen their Cardinals get to the World Series in '04, '06, and '11, including winning it twice. When I was a kid you didn't win the World Series every few years. Getting there in '82, '85, and '87 was a rarity...and we were taught to show respect and reverence for that.
In my day, if you were down to your last strike ONCE, you didn't come back and tie the game, let alone win. And you sure didn't come back if you had gotten down to your last strike twice. You lost those kinds of games when I was their age. But today's kids don't know any better. With their new-fangled At-Bat apps, and their pitch trax.
When I was growing up, we had to suffer through those 1990's teams. Those were lean years, only making the playoffs in the '96 season, and the way that one ended against the Braves would leave the worst of bad tastes in our collective mouths for years. If you don't remember it, you can google it or just take this summary to heart--The Cards were up 3 games to 1 on the Braves, and lost the NLCS by being outscored 3,100 to 2 over the last 3 games.
From the time the Cardinals walked dejectedly off the field in Minneapolis, after having lost game 7 of the World Series to the Twins to the time they made the 2000 playoffs, that 1996 postseason appearance was all we had as Cardinals fans. And we might not have been happy about it, but that's the way it was.
Kids today have grown up seeing the Cards make the postseason in 2000, '01, '02, '04, '05, '06, '09, '11, and now '12. That's 9 playoff appearances. Counting backwards, starting before this run, you don't get to the 9th playoff appearance until 1943. Now, I realize there are more rounds, more divisions, more opportunities...etc. But that doesn't change my point.
My dad was lucky enough to see the '64, '67, and '68 teams get there. But, as I understand it, he had to save his nickels and get a ride to see a game at Sportsman's Park. His alternative was to listen on the radio, or maybe watch it on television, though he'd do so on a black-and-white set, and be glad to have it that way. Color TV wasn't nearly as common in households, and this may come as a surprise, but HD wasn't even a thought yet. His dad before him saw Cardinals teams in '42, '44, and '46 win the World Series, but only after walking up hill in the snow both ways.
Of course, dad had to suffer through those sucky 70's teams, which never made a single postseason appearance. Which, incidentally, was the first time the team went an entire decade without advancing beyond the regular season since...well, since grandpa endured the lousy decade of the 1950's.
So, Grandpa saw the teams of the 1940's win over and over, then had to watch those 50's teams get stomped on a regular basis. Dad saw the franchise turn it around, and go on an absolute tear in the 60's and win multiple times again, before suffering through the lousy teams of the 70's. I grew up enjoying the success of the 80's teams that Whitey ran, but endured the painful 1990s. Kids today have seen the teams of the 2000's get off to a great start, and I'm hopeful their passion & loyalty to the team is being built strong enough today to stick with them, in the event of some down years ahead.