ST. LOUIS — Put down those bats and gloves. Drop those box scores. Just for today we’re talking mood. Color. Flavor. For all you unfortunate souls who can’t be here at this All-Muh-ZU- rah World Series, and you don’t know what you’re missing — but then, how could you know what you’re missing? How could anyone know what they’re missing, come to think of it? — I am here to capture some of the sights and sounds and smells. A Day in the Life of an I-70 Classic. Spanning the streets. Leaving no Bud can unturned. The thrill of the foam, the agony of the hangover. This World Series moment brought to you by Anheuser- Busch. Head for the mountains. Urrp.
Wake up call: 7 a.m.
Actual wake up: 11:07 a.m. There is no point rising any earlier. Some people are just rolling in from the parties about then.
Down to the lobby. There you see six dozen people with cardboard signs around their necks (“NEED TWO TIX. PLEASE. MOTHER IS ILL.”) They do not look happy. It’s no fun sleeping in a lounge chair all week.
IMPORTANT CONVERSATION OVERHEARD IN HOTEL:
“Hey, Frank! Frank! Is that Vince Coleman?”
“That guy there?”
“No. That other guy.”
“That’s not Vince Coleman, you moron.”
“No. You shut up.”
“Just shut up, all right?”
“You shut up.”
OK. Let’s walk across the street to Busch Memorial Stadium, where the Cardinals and Royals will do battle this evening. There’s the statue of Stan Musial. Very big. And there’s I-70, which, for those of you living in flotation tanks, is the now- famous highway that connects St. Louis and Kansas City. And look. There’s someone dressed in red tights, yellow slippers, a bird mask and a red batting helmet. Very nice. That may be the mayor; I’m not sure. THE AFTERNOON:
Ah, the Arch. A must-see for the World Series vistor. The Gateway to the West. The tallest monument in America. Awesome. Inspiring. Actually, it looks like a giant hat pin stuck in grass.
(IMPORTANT CONSUMER TIP: The arch will not fit in one photograph from less than 1,000 feet away. It is possible to waste 34 rolls of film before you realize this. Be wise.)
Oh. Hear that? That’s the official St. Louis Cardinals fight song, “The Heat is On,” from the movie “Beverly Hills Cop.” You hear it once every 26 seconds here. What a break, since when the song was a hit a few months ago, you only got to hear it once every 36 seconds.
A noteworthy banner:
“Neutralize ’em, Red Birds!” (Hung outside the Tums factory.)
Of course, no trip through St. Louis would be complete without a stop at the Bowling Hall Of Fame. Cost: $3. You can rent shoes or go in your socks. The first exhibit features a prehistoric man holding a rock. The sign reads,
“Who was the first bowler? We think it might have been a caveman. What do you think?”
You don’t really want to know what I think.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT CONVERSATION OVERHEARD IN THE HOTEL:
“You know somethin’? The way he pitched Tuesday, Joaquin Andujar is a dead man.”
“Yep. A dead man.”
By the way, perhaps you’re wondering what a Kansas City fan does here in ol’ St. Louie. A good question. Mostly he hides. THE EVENING:
Game time is approaching. You can hear it. The sound of bands playing. The sound of horns honking. The sound of those easy opening cans.
Outside the stadium are several 30-foot inflatable Budweiser beers. Red placards are distributed to everyone, reading “Cardinals, This Bud’s for You!” Inside, the moment they’ve all been waiting for, the Budweiser Clydesdales, eight of them, hauling a stagecoach around the field, driven by 86-year-old August Busch Jr., whose brewery owns the Cardinals.
The World Sudsies.
The national anthem is played. The cheering begins. Look at those folks in section 115. They are smiling. They are singing. They are swaying. They are drunk.
And I would like to tell you more about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer and how St. Louis is a leading national producer of aspirin pills, but the game is begining. Do you have the mood? The flavor? Good. Tomorrow, we can return to actual baseball.
By the way, who was the first bowler?