By Matt Osborn
Budweiser in hand, I’m mingling amongst the rag-tag band of pedestrians assembled along the warning track at Jim Patterson Stadium. We don’t know each other and come from walks of life as different as they are disconnected, but a distinct commonality make us a we on this brisk Saturday morning: we’re all Cardinal fans, and all of us have foregone the other endless possibilities that Possibility City lends to its citizens on weekends to watch the University of Louisville play baseball today.
I remember when I started going to UofL baseball games. I was still an undergraduate student at the time. The stadium was nice and new, the beer was cold, and sold, the hot dogs were warm and, on the right night, dirt cheap, and a valid student ID doubled as a voucher for general admission: glass half full, students got free tickets, glass half empty, renting a seat at Jim Patterson for an afternoon ran me around five grand. But that’s a conversation for another day: the fact of the matter was that I had every reason to go watch the Cards play the great American past time, except, of course, a desire to watch Louisville baseball.
My University was a football powerhouse, a national contender in basketball: baseball was a side show, a season between seasons, an excuse to skip class and drink beer on weekdays with the fiery New England Equestrian girls who, for some reason, saw it fit to hang out with me and my undeserving friends.
Fast forward a decade, and I’m impatiently waiting on an opening pitch with an eagerness normally reserved for a tip or kick off. I study batting practice as furiously as the folks at the Brandeis Building doing bar preparation. I had done some bar preparation of my own at the Granville, which has been a pre-game tradition of mine since the days I enjoyed the company of those infamous horse ladies from Connecticut. Ten years have gone by since this ritual was first inaugurated, and both myself and the baseball team have enjoyed a considerable amount of growth and maturation in that time. I look on as the second baseman for Boston College takes a cut at a fairly decent curve ball, which he rockets foul down the left field line. I’m taken back a couple of Junes ago, when David Olmedo-Barrera sent a similar pitch in a similar direction. A call was subsequently made from a television monitor in Atlanta that could have been decided from a ladder on Third Street, and the Cards’ season was over. The following year, a shocking walk off grand slam was given up by power closer Zach Burdi after loading the bases with a three run lead: once again, what seemed to be a date with postseason destiny became a stunning loss, ending a season defined by excellence and success with a question mark, in lieu of the exclamation point the Cardinal faithful hope for and, at this point, expect.