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And one from the New York Times

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  • And one from the New York Times

    Thanks for the Memories. Let's Make More.

    ST. LOUIS, Oct. 18 - Among the love letters, the marriage proposals and the tearful tributes scrawled on the side of Busch Stadium came a memo Tuesday that was written in bold black marker and punctuated with three exclamation points.

    For the past month, St. Louis fans have been penning goodbye notes to their favorite ballpark - on their favorite ballpark. The most affectionate pieces of graffiti include: "I Love Buschy" and "Welcome To Baseball Heaven" and "The Best Nest Ever." Dedications are offered to fathers, sons and Mark McGwire. Curse words are crossed out with red pens.

    As the Cardinals showed up at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, a new message had been added to a white pillar in front of Gate 5. It was a reminder more than a reminiscence: "Pujols Brought Us Back Here!!!" - Doug 10/18/05

    In a few weeks, regardless of this season's outcome, a wrecking ball will demolish Busch Stadium, wipe away the graffiti and send the Cardinals into a chic new ballpark next door. But Monday night, his team facing playoff elimination with two outs and a two-run deficit in the ninth inning in Houston, Albert Pujols basically stood in front of the wrecking ball and pushed it back.

    His three-run homer, which sailed over the train tracks at Minute Maid Park, saved the Cardinals' season and preserved their stadium, at least for another day. The locals, who first started writing their Busch recollections during the final homestand of the regular season, will have more material at Game 6 on Wednesday. And the organization, which has not prohibited any of its followers from expressing themselves, will not start censoring now.

    "Look at all the memories we have here," said Red Schoendienst, who started playing for the Cardinals 60 years ago and is still a part-time coach. "I'm just glad we get to come back for some more baseball."
    Pujols has, in essence, reopened the stadium doors for everyone. With one swing, he went from All-Star to icon, from local hero to local legend.

    Before Monday night, Pujols was most famous for his statistical accomplishments - he batted over .310 with more than 34 home runs and more than 115 runs batted in in each of his five major league seasons - but he did not have a singular moment to define him. He was viewed as a great hitter but not necessarily a compelling performer.

    Never was that notion more clear than in the final regular-season game at Busch Stadium, on Oct. 2, when McGwire was invited back to St. Louis and received a louder ovation than Pujols. McGwire's single-season home run record, despite all the steroid allegations surrounding it, seemed to overshadow Pujols's myriad achievements. It was as if fans were waiting for Pujols to deliver the same kind of home run drama that McGwire did.

    "There's no question that this gives Pujols a moment," said the broadcaster Bob Costas, who began his career at KMOX Radio in St. Louis in the 1970's. "You've got a moment here that's more than just a game-winner. It's a reprieve from death row. It's a call from the governor. This is more than just an excitement moment. It's the despair he helped them dodge."

    When Pujols is introduced Wednesday night, the ovation alone may blow up Busch Stadium. If Pujols had entered through Gate 5 on Tuesday, he probably would have noticed the first signs of change. His name was positioned above McGwire's, in larger letters. Other messages read: "Pujols is a God" and "Viva La Pujols" and "Marry Me Albert."

    "Forever now, as long as baseball history is repeated, that home run is going to be part of history and Albert will have his place in it," St. Louis Manager Tony La Russa said.

    La Russa did acknowledge, however, that the outcome of the series could determine how history looks back on the home run. If Kirk Gibson's Dodgers had not beaten La Russa's A's in the 1988 World Series, if Dave Henderson's Red Sox had not beaten the Angels in the 1986 American League Championship Series, and if Steve Garvey's Padres had not beaten the Cubs in the 1984 National League Championship Series, their game-winning home runs would not be as significant.

    "It doesn't mean anything unless we win tomorrow night," outfielder Jim Edmonds said.

    Should the Cardinals take Games 6 and 7 to advance to the World Series, Pujols will give Busch Stadium a magical send-off. If not?

    "It will just be a footnote," Houston outfielder Chris Burke said. "Then maybe we won't have to see it replayed for years and years and years."

    Most of Burke's teammates stayed away from Busch Stadium on Tuesday, as if they were still in a mourning period. The Cardinals, on the other hand, wore uniform grins.

    Players promised to tell their grandchildren about the Pujols homer. David Eckstein asked if it was real. Mark Grudzielanek wondered if Houston would ever pitch to Pujols again. A pet dog ran circles around the clubhouse. Some Cardinals even signed their lockers, taking a cue from their sentimental fans.

  • #2
    "It will just be a footnote," Houston outfielder Chris Burke said. "Then maybe we won't have to see it replayed for years and years and years."[/b][/quote]

    Then again, if you somehow manage to win Game 6 or 7, your premature celebration in Game 4 and then in Game 5 won't be a footnote.


    • #3
      Nothing new from the overconfident Burke...then again, his team has the 3-2 lead...

      "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
      Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
      -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy


      • #4
        "It will just be a footnote," Houston outfielder Chris Burke said. "Then maybe we won't have to see it replayed for years and years and years."[/b][/quote]

        Mighty cheeky talk from a rookie. Maybe we'll also be replaying when Mulder puts one in your fucking ear tonight.