Yes, I've become a cranky codger, I suppose, because I refuse to concede that baseball can be played properly in the rain. This revelation came to me as I sat with Eileen and a friend of ours at a game in one of baseball's most traditional settings, Busch Stadium in St. Louis. I know--it's not the old Busch Stadium, nee Sportman's Park, but aside from the fans remaining fervent and most wearing Cardinal jerseys or shorts or something red, this remains a great baseball town.
It used to be known as the southern-most outpost in baseball, too, which came to the fore in the famous incident where Enos (Country) Slaughter tried to eliminate Jackie Robinson from the sport physically, most recently recaptured in the wonderful movie, 42. But though the city of St. Louis has changed a lot -- like Washington, D.C., it was segregated back then -- and is even restoring some of its almost-totally wrecked downtown area, the baseball mania that has been accentuated by the Cards' 11 Series wins--second only to the Yankees--continues.
Nevertheless, this repository of baseball tradition in a sport that still pretends to revere tradition--a reality that ended for good in 1957 when the Giants and Dodgers caught the last flight to the coast but began to end in 1953 when the Braves abandoned Boston--was the right place to see yet another change for the worse. They started the game while it was still drizzling. There had been a rain delay and the tarp was finally rolled up while the drops still fell. I was surprised but even more surprised when they just started playing under the rainfall.
I'm willing to concede that too much wasn't affected--there were no obviously messed-up outfield plays but there may have been some hits that wouldn't have been hits without the wet grass slowing the fielders. The Cards did have the basepaths swept after every two innings but I still couldn't get away from thinking that this isn't how the game is supposed to be played. I am ignoring our own use of umbrellas to protect both heads and clothing from the continuing precip; if I needed a good reason to pass on having a beer--guess which brand they sell even if A-B no longer owns the club?--it was the chill accompanying continued drizzle.
One reason for playing--and this was Major League Baseball, not the Cards or the umps, making the call--is that visiting teams outside the division only visit once and the last game with the Diamondbacks was the next day, so that would've meant a double-header with rain checks on getaway day. If it rained again, the game likely would only be replayed if it turned out to be crucial at season's end. So the game went on and there were wonderful histrionics--Arizona's star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt popped a grand slam--and this was definitely one time I was rooting for the visiting team, the Cards being my example of the "other team" I could never support.