Edition No. 17
June 22, 2006
Meet Me in St. Louie
There are only two words to describe the recent annual HSL junket to St. Louis on Father’s Day weekend:
Okay, maybe more than two. The weekend was such a smashing success and great time, it’s hard to know where to begin.
It all kicked off on a picture perfect Friday morning with the assembly of the trip participants in the airport coffee shop. After discussing the current state of baseball over a cup of joe, the league members reached a consensus that the only current players not amped up on androstendione or HGH are those who have not yet been able to find a pusher. One may be prone to wonder about Jamey Carroll, Magpie’s newest pickup. This light-hitting second baseman seems to have experienced some expansion of his skull plates, resulting in his eyes lodging approximately 33 inches apart. Think of a hybrid Dante Bichette/Andre the Giant, and you’ll have a visual of Jamey’s twin.
Unfazed by the prevalent cheating and potential ruination of our national pastime, we boarded our Southwest bird for the short flight to the holy city. In keeping with HSL tradition, Jim Ed set the tone for the trip by barking out his order for a barley pop before the flight attendant could finish her tutorial on how to work the seat belt extender. Once the drinks were served, we were “on our way” in more ways than one.
We arrived in St. Louis on time, and not so quickly purchased our tokens for the scenic ride downtown on the Metro Link. After realizing that we were probably the only rubes gullible enough to actually buy a ride pass, we decided that all future use of rail transportation would involve gate crashing the train like the rest of the normal people do. Worked like a charm.
We checked into our lavish digs at the Embassy Suites, with the tallest league member from Kansas City first in line. Stretch secured his room key and turned around to say “let’s go, roomy,” only to find that 9 others in his traveling party had all curiously vacated the lobby at the same time to use the facilities. Due to the unfortunate fact that 9 men can only hide in a bathroom for about 45 minutes, Underbelly was eventually overtaken by the stench and succumbed to his urge to exit. Stretch instantly hog collared him, and just like that he had his bitch. After the first night of seeing Underbelly in his purple mesh Speedo, Stretch has received approval under the league by-laws of his motion to designate UBob as his permanent roommate on all future HSL trips. That works for us. It sounds to me like he found someone with a fitness for a particular purpose.
Upon leaving the hotel, we established nearby Sundeckers as our base of operations moving forward. Although we were torn on whether to stay at Sundeckers to watch the Togo/Paraguay World Cup match or head to the ballpark, we opted for the latter. We boarded the Metro Link once again at our newly discounted HSL rate, determined to hook up with Shamu’s St. Louis connection to secure our ducats for the night’s Cards/Rockies tilt.
This ticket exchange meeting went down at Mike Shannon’s restaurant, just a stone's throw away from the new stadium. After exchanging pleasantries with Shamu’s “peeps” and acting like we actually cared about how they were doing, we grabbed the tickets and informed them that we needed to be on our way, posthaste. Thanks a lot, gotta go. We then proceeded to grab a quick bite at a quaint little Italian restaurant, surrounded by 500 of our closest friends adorned in A.Pujols/ S.Rolen/S.Taguchi jerseys.
Bellies now full and tickets secured, we headed for St. Louis’ new jewel and the night’s activities. Once at the ballpark, we were greeted at the front door by a disfigured Stan Musial. I am uncertain how Stan the Man could have had such a wonderful career wearing a 30 pound hat and swinging a 7 ounce bat, but apparently he did. I might suggest they ask the sculptor for a refund on that one.
Once in the stadium, four of the league members took their seats in their luxury suite, and four others about an arm's length from the third base coaching box. Very nice, for you. Skipper and I wandered over to our seats in the fat people section, and let the usher know that we were ready for him to hit the “on” switch for the sauna. He complied. The only benefit of those seats was the close proximity to the turkey leg vendor, a tradition so strong at Busch that it was carried over from the old stadium to the new. We tolerated three innings of the “sitting by fat people eating turkey legs in a steam room” section, then decided to wander around the venue a bit to see the rest of the stadium.
Clearly, each and every usher in the place has had extensive Turk training, and my guess is that they are actually generating commissions based on their number of evictions per game. The “turking” also extends to the standing areas in the concourse, as any steps outside the yellow lines of the designated viewing areas will result in a stern rebuke and threat of violence from the ticket Nazi’s. A word to the wise: Sit in your assigned seat at Busch, and DO NOT deviate from those orders.
After the game, we decided to let the crowd clear out a bit before heading home. We ducked in a little Irish pub for a quick thirst quencher, and it was here that the first Jager Bomb of the trip was detonated. Stretch indicated that he was game for a little “pick me up,” and eventually Magpie seemed to develop a fondness for this cool refreshing drink (or as Underbelly so succinctly put it, “licorice and battery acid”). After that, it was Katie bar the door. There was another “bride to be” stalking of yours truly in this establishment, and a “Jager trade” executed between Magpie and Itchie, and then we moved on to conclude our evening at base station. It was here that one of St. Louis’ fine young bachelorettes dropped the bomb on us that knocked Vatterott College off its lofty pedestal as an institution of higher learning on the level of Rice, Stanford, Northwestern, and DeVry. Her midnight confessions of her intimate relationship with David Vatterott led us all to conclude that anyone that would have sex with an inked up, body pierced, hard drinking endocrinologist is probably not running a reputable institution of higher learning. This revelation has thrown me into my own personal tizzy, as I must now amend the educational plans that I had previously cast in stone for my three known offspring.
Saturday brought a new day, and another opportunity to pursue my elusive goal of having fun for just once in my life. However, the angel on my left shoulder kept telling me to slow down a bit. Friday night had been a bit tough on my 48 year old body, and Sunday’s flight was going to sneak up on us all pretty early. Just take it easy tonight, angel said, and slow down and enjoy the moment. The devil on my right shoulder said “let’s get after it tonight. We’re not going to slow down, and as a matter of fact, we’re not even going to hit the brakes.” As usual, logic prevailed. The devil won.
The early part of Saturday started with a brief foray into the nearby casino. We were greeted by a cheerful bunch that was not only committed to Compliance, they were, in fact, Gung Ho on Compliance. After being lavished with Chamber of Commerce level courtesy, we paid the entry fee that bought us the right to have the casino separate us from our money. We proceeded to the gaming area to take our chances. Fearful of bankrupting the casino and putting those hard working employees on the street, we limited our winnings and quickly decided that a mix of Bloody Mary’s and tumbling dice was not going to accelerate our retirements, so we agreed to move on.
Saturday night’s game required that we acquire some additional ducats, so we headed toward Mike Shannon’s to align ourselves with some of the brother’s currently working “supply side economics” in the ticket biz. We were immediately hooked up, and the transaction went down without incident. After introducing ourselves to the “supply side employees” in Shannon’s alcohol market, we headed to the stadium once again. If Alan Greenspan had been on the deck at Shannon’s, he would have immediately raised interest rates on Jagermeister and Red Bull, sensing that future demand was going to be strong to the point of irrational exuberance. Smart man, Greenspan.
Saturday’s game was great, with my only regret that my family wasn’t with me. I just know if they had been, I would have been afforded the opportunity to stand in line for 55 minutes to spend $60 on a “Fredbird” Build-a-Bear. Maybe next time.
After the game, we reconvened at Shannon’s for our final night out. We re-acquainted ourselves with the wait staff, building such rapport that we were eventually on a first name basis (with adjectives included), even from 50 yards away. At this point, I’m finally starting to have some fun. After several hours of consuming various forms of alcohol (shots, beer, liquor) and multiple sources of carcinogens, we headed back to Sundeckers for our swan song. It was here that Magpie put on a magnificent imitation of a post lobotomy Jack Nicholson in Cuckoo’s Nest, staring blankly ahead into space and mumbling incoherently about a Pamela Anderson look alike. Once again, age kicked in and reason prevailed, so we cut short the festivities to ensure that we would be spry and chipper for the gifts and adulation that surely awaited each of us for Father’s Day.
Sunday concluded our annual trip, with the only excitement being Screech’s forging of a lifetime bond with Skeezix on the train back to the airport. Sitting next to each other on the crowded Metro Link, they struck up a conversation and within minutes it was clear that they were long lost brothers, sharing an affinity for tattoos, bad smells, smokes, and CC Sabathia hat wearin’ style. Screech has submitted a motion to include Skeezix on all future HSL trips. His plea was reminiscent of Jimmy Chitwood’s appeal to keep his coach in Hoosiers. “Skeezix goes, I go. Skeezix stays, I stay." Enough said, Screech. It’s clear he is one of us.
In all sincerity, thanks to everyone for the arrangements, the excellent tickets, the camaraderie, and the memories. I think for once in my life, I finally achieved my goal.
Good luck the rest of the way, and I’m so glad we all agreed over the Jager Bombs to remove the innings cap.