The Reuters global sports blog
The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series this year. Or, to be more accurate, they won four “World Series” this year, at least that is how it felt to many in Cardinal Nation. Oddly, the final victory – the actual Commissioner’s Trophy winner – was in a sense the least thrilling because it meant the, at times surreal, run was over and it was time to return to the bleak reality we as Americans have become accustomed to.
As exhausted as Cardinal Nation was by the end, our adrenaline spent on improbable hits and strikeouts and our bank accounts drained on tickets and memorabilia, no one wanted this historic run to end — ever. No one wanted to go back to talking only about unemployment, war and other miseries. You see, St. Louis is a microcosm of the United States – we haven’t had much good news lately.
Making it into the playoffs on the final night of the regular season, the Cardinals began the improbable journey that surprised – nay, amazed – even the most loyal of fans. A city that bleeds Cardinal red once again had a chance to enter the post-season fray.
After a World Series and San Francisco Giants triumph that fittingly capped a Major League Baseball campaign known as the Season of the Pitcher, the sport has barely skipped a beat before quickly beginning its next chapter — open season on free agents.
License to begin the hunt in a season of big spending has been granted 10 days earlier than in the past due to rules changes intended to make the wheeling-dealing easier.
Passion for sport is no greater or less in North America than in other countries but there is a difference. The focus here is unashamedly on the domestic, with an ambivalent attitude among many fans about what the rest of the sports world is doing or thinks.
On the same day that Woods held his first media conference before this month’s US Masters at Augusta, an event that was streamed live around the globe, the hottest topic of conversation in North America was who would win that night’s college basketball final between Duke and Butler.
The story goes that shortly after baseball great Babe Ruth had settled into the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo while touring Japan in 1934, there was a knock on the door. He opened it to see a Japanese man in a kimono. ”Sign baseball,” the man said.
As soon as the Babe autographed that baseball, the man pulled another out of his kimono. Then another. And another. And another.
Sportswrap is back with a bang, as we take in Hideki Matsui’s heroic performance for the New York Yankees, Usain Bolt bottle-feeding a creature that will one day outrun him and Rafa Benitez trying to invoke the spirit of You’ll Never Walk Alone only to come a cropper in the Champions League.
It’s 2 a.m. as I enter the subway car at the nearly empty Yankee Stadium stop at 161st Street when a man who looks like he could be homeless proclaims: “They don’t look fat this year.”
I refuse to make eye contact although he’s sitting directly opposite me. We’re two of five people on the car and the only ones awake.
Then again, the Yankees’ last championship in 2000, dubbed “the subway series by New Yorkers, was derided almost everywhere else as a contest between “payroll #1 (the Yankees) and payroll #2” (the Mets). Where did that leave smaller markets?