I was born in St. Louis. This information might get me kicked out of Astros County, but its true. We moved to Houston in 1990. As a result, for my first 8 years I was a Cardinals fan. Ozzie Smith was my favorite player. His homerun in the 1985 NLCS was one of my earliest memories. When Jack Buck said “Go crazy, folks, go crazy,” I did, along with my Dad.
I am not a Cardinals fan now. It did not take long for Biggio, Bagwell, Caminiti, etc. to steal my heart from the Cardinals. The Astros were on every night in my house, and they were good. Ozzie Smith was replaced by Jeff Bagwell. My Dad adopted the Astros as his own too. He cheered for them, and was heartbroken for them, and we watched them together.
For a while it was easy to still like the Cardinals. Especially when they weren't very good in the late 90’s and the Astros were winning the division nearly every year. Then they started to become rivals. The division started to go through them. Then 2004 happened. That was a fantastic series and I lived and died with every pitch. And my formerly beloved Cardinals broke my heart in game 7. A year later, one strike away, a Cardinal ripped my heart out. That story had a happy ending. When the Astros made their first World Series, I called my Dad. We celebrated for our new team.
My feeling towards the Cardinals had shifted. It started happening earlier, but in 2004 and 2005, there was a clean break. The Cardinals were no longer my other team, the team I held on to for Ozzie’s sake. They were the enemy. I actively rooted against them, and began lumping them into the same category as the Yankees.
Thing is, my Dad was also born in St. Louis. Only he didn't leave when he was 8. His favorite player was also Ozzie Smith, but before that it was Lou Brock, and before that Bob Gibson, and before that Stan Musial. That’s a lot of history. When the Cardinals began their improbable (impossible?) runs in 2006, 2011 and now 2012, I greeted it with frustration. My Dad, however, is still a fan. He cheered. When the Cardinals pulled out that ridiculous comeback against the Nationals last Friday, I got a text message the next day from my Dad saying “How about those Redbirds.” I did not share his enthusiasm.
My Dad is sick. We found out this weekend, just a couple days after the Cardinal's comeback. We don’t know how sick, but the news is not good. Baseball is so unimportant right now. There are so many more important things that bind us together. Our faith. Our family. But, baseball still means something. My Dad and I have enjoyed so many baseball moments together. Baseball comes up in nearly every one of our conversations. I can’t root against the Cardinals right now. If my Dad is rooting for the Cardinals right now, so am I. I hope you can forgive me. I am not really rooting for the Cardinals. I am rooting for my Dad.