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The Real Story About Game 5 of the NLDS…

So…the first thing you should know is that I’m a fairly superstitious – but not extremely superstitious – baseball fan. I think perhaps the best way to say it is that I am agnostic. I don’t necessarily believe in superstition…but I’m not gonna’ mess with it when it comes around either. Here…let’s talk about a few examples…

Example number 1: I have “knocked on wood” so many times during the postseason that I’ve lost count. Every time I lay out a possible scenario, I have to say “knock on wood” and rap my knuckles on the nearest tree-like substance to avoid jinxing something. My family finds it quite hilarious.

Example number 2: During Game 1 of the NLDS, I wore my home Matt Holliday jersey. You all know how that game turned out. I retired it until pulling it out again – against my better judgement – in the 7th inning of Game 4. Werth ended that game with a walk-off home run. I haven’t worn the jersey since.

Example number 3: During last year’s playoff run, I started growing a playoff beard. Of course, playoff beards continue to grow until the team loses and is eliminated. That never happened…so I still have the beard. Yes, I trim it up, but no, I’m not shavin’ that baby until the Redbirds are eliminated this season. That’s a full year of itchin’ and scratchin’ for the Cardinals. You’re welcome.

Example number 4 (and the relevant example for this post): I have a lucky stress ball. During the 2006 World Series, I was so stressed out that I stood and threw a stress ball (the kind that looks like a globe of the Earth) against the wall during every game. I retired that ball, but I found another one exactly like it for this postseason. I now stand up during every game and throw that new stress ball against the wall.

Okay…so…now that you have a handle on all my eccentricities, let’s talk about what happened Friday night.

The Cardinals were losing and losing bad, despite the fact that my “lucky ball” – as my 3 year old daughter likes to call it – was in full play. My daughter loves the Cardinals and even watches some of the games when she’s interested – and especially when “my Jon Jay” is on TV. That night, she was playing in the living room floor with her Doc McStuffins doctor kit.

In case you don’t know, Doc McStuffins is a cartoon character that fixes broken toys on Disney Junior. My daughter, of course, was giving all of her toys a check up just like Doc. The Cardinal game was in approximately the 6th inning and the good guys were still behind by a significant margin.

Suddenly, my daughter walks up to me, puts out her hand, and says, “Can I fix your lucky ball?”

Now, there’s an interesting little rule that goes with the lucky ball. Whenever one of the children asks if they can play with or hold the lucky ball…I have to say “yes.” So…even though I was riddled with anxiety and desperately in need of some baseball-related luck, I relinquished my good luck charm.

My little girl carefully took the ball, carried it to her check up center located in the middle of the living room carpet, and went to work. About five minutes later, she returned the ball to me and said, “Here you go! I fixed it for you.” This was the 7th inning.

Lucky ball in hand, I continued watching the game as the Redbirds gradually chipped away at the lead. Eventually, we found ourselves in the 8th with Jason Motte on the mound. I picked out a place on the floor to watch the end of the Cardinals’ season just about the time the Nationals scored their 7th run. We were down by two with only 3 outs left in our season. On to the 9th…

As the 9th inning started, my daughter waddled up to me with baggy eyes and said, “I’m tired…can I sit on your lap?” After a bit of negotiation regarding the proper position of my legs, she curled up and began to fall asleep as the Redbirds came to the plate. I leaned down, kissed her forehead, and said, “Are the Cardinals going to win tonight?” She said, “No…well…yes but just a little bit. Can I hold your lucky ball?” And then she was out, asleep on my lap, freshly repaired lucky stress ball in hand.

The Cardinals promptly scored 4 runs to win the game.

I always thought the fate of the Cardinals’ season rested in the hands of a rookie manager and 25 or so players lucky enough to make the postseason roster. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the hopes and dreams of Cardinal Nation in 2012 are nestled comfortably in the tiny hands of a three year old little girl.

Seems to be working so far.



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