It was one hell of a run and for long suffering Mets fans, we were thrilled to see our depleted pitching rotation holding up as it marched into the playoffs. It was the morning after New York lost to the Cards in Game 5, but the series was returning to Queens. I held a Game 4 World Series ticket in the event that the Mets made it that far so I thought it only fair to let Kevin Howard, organizer of my recent South Dakota hunt and a diehard Cardinals fan know that I might have to cut my trip to S.D. short by a day.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the Cards and Mets went all the way to a dramatic Game 7 in their series. I have to admit, I was feeling pretty confident. Card-killer Carlos Beltran stood at the plate with bases loaded, two outs and his team two runs down in the bottom of the ninth, the dream drama scenario of every childhood ball player. It was his time to be a hero. The wind was still rushing around his face (and the confusion still in his mind) from Wainwright's third-strike curveball and already my cell phone started to ring.
I was in the upper deck of Shea Stadium with 50,000 other stunned and hacked off fans. It was so quiet, I actually heard my phone ring in my pocket.
"You don't have to worry about changing your flight now," Kevin gloated on the other end. As I took the verbal abuse, Winchester Ammo's Jason Gilbertson, with whom I had originally discussed betting the names of our soon-to-be born children (both of our wives are pregnant), but settled on a case of local beer instead, beeped in. I let Kevin get his jabs in and then checked the voicemail.
"Mr. Howlett, you have no doubt just watched Carlos Beltran strike out watching..." Jason's voice rambled. I'm not sure what else it said after that as I think I deleted it there.
I would have been disappointed had they not called and tormented me as you can bet, I already had them in the quick dial had Beltran come through.
To help rub salt in the wounds, Kevin wore a Cardinals NLCS Champion t-shirt (I couldn't believe he already had one. That took real planning.) each night after our hunt at Prairie Sky Guest and Game Ranch as we watched his team mount an improbable winning run against the favored Detroit Tigers.
I had honestly hoped that Detroit would slaughter the Cards and clinch the Series in St. Louis so that the fans there could suffer the same pain all of us had felt at Shea, but alas, it was not meant to be. For that, I offer my reluctant congrats to all the hunters last week who believed in their Cards even when the rest of the world rightfully doubted them. Besides the sight of a sky full of ducks and the staccato sound of a sky-bound ringneck pheasant, my most vivid memory from last weeks hunt will be Kevin's big, silly grin every time he walked by in that blood red Cards shirt. I'm glad the baseball season is over. Now I can concentrate on my hunting.
Oh, and Jason, your winnings are on their way!