For Cardinal Nation™, Opening Day is like senior skip day in high school, except this time around the cops laugh and pat you on the back when you're wasted in the street. We've all been planting the seeds of a family emergency or illness at work, and we'll be reaping the benefits today.
You know how it goes: Your granny's health takes a turn for the worse this time every year, but she makes a miraculous recovery. You have an endless supply of great uncles who die, most tragically, each spring. You think it's just an innocuous rash, but your doctor says it might be scabies.
Last night a friend told me her throat was sore. Mmm hmm. Heard that one before, sister.
But here's the deal: If you're lucky enough to have tickets to the game, then sun or snow, you're going to figure out a way to be there. And if that requires a little hooky, no one -- not even the bossman -- is going to blame you*.
In honor of the start of the 2011 season, let's look at the Top 5 traditions of Opening Day in St. Louis:
FORDS: In what has to be the longest running pre-game endorsement in history, the St. Louis Cardinals shamelessly plug Mustangs and F-150s for Ford. The players start the year with a lap around the field, loving life because they’re in a Ford!
In 2009, Mike Shannon accidentally bellowed “Heh, heh, heh. Take a look at those bee-utiful Chevrolets. What a truck!” His people were quickly in his ear to correct the mistake -- and he apologized over the PA system to the crowd, which, of course, Chevy took umbrage with.
The moral of the story? Buy German.
EASY-DRINKING BUSCH LIGHT: You’re not drinking, huh? Been on the wagon for a while, eh? You might want to sit this one out.
This city likes its brewery and its baseball. And on the day when America's pastime is renewed again, it likes to blow 0.15. After all, what’s more American than getting a public urination ticket when you’re 45?
CUBS-TAUNTING SHIRTS: You're good and beery, it's a dreary March Thursday, and you're a little bummed about the fake uncle you killed off this morning. How to cheer up? Maybe T-shirts making fun of the Cubs?
Count me in!
Over the years, the set-ups for these T-shirt vendors have become more elaborate, and the shirts themselves have become, well, more offensive. (Zambrano mows my lawn, anyone?) But 100-plus years of futility makes for a good time no matter which way you slice it.
CROWDS: The weather in the Midwest during late March doesn’t lend itself favorably to outdoor day-drinking. But if you think that is going to stop St. Louisians from celebrating -- or every bar from breaking the fire code 15 times over to make some cash -- you’re insane.
Chances are you’re going to get mugged later, so do yourself a favor and blow all your money on strippers and booze before those dirty thieves make out with your unused cash.
CLYDESDALES: Oooooh, look! Horseys!
The absolute best part of Opening Day is the Clydesdales. So big. So powerful. So able to carry a metric shitload of beer in one cart!
Every single year the famous Budweiser icons get trotted out so St. Louisians can rhythmically clap to a song that was made to shill beer. Meanwhile, everyone in the stadium looks at around and coos about how baseball is back, and they are so much happier for it.
We're so predictable: Pathetic, but endearing.
* Full disclosure: The bossman might actually blame you. Play hooky at your own risk.