Itís all sort of fitting that the Cardinals are in town beginning tonight at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox will also honor the NBA champion Boston Celtics prior to first pitch.
Itís the Greatest Era in Boston Sports History. The least we can do is pay tribute to St. Louis, which has for sure played such a large role in making this town the most feared, loved, and despised athletic Mecca in the nation.
Tonightís game will mark the Cardinalsí first appearance at Fenway since Game 2 of the 2004 World Series, when Curt Schilling showed off Round 2 of the Bloody Sock legend, en route to a 6-2 victory. Three days later, the Sox were World Champs for the first time in 86 years, a night when ushers at ye olí Busch Stadium were kind enough to allow a stream of unpaid Sox fans into the park come the ninth inning to witness history.
It might not be quite the same, but in winning their first trophy in 22 years, these Celtics kicked off the playoffs by sneaking past the Atlanta Hawks, formerly of St. Louis. Yes, itís sort of like considering the Atlanta Braves still a Boston-based team, but with such a rich NBA playoff history between the two, the shoe still fits.
If it were up to us (and where are ye, Charles Steinberg?) tonightís pregame ceremony would involve the Patriots and some old-time Bruins too, if only to celebrate this townís whipping post history over St. Louis.
Two of the six titles this decade came courtesy of our friends in the Midwest, the Sox in í04 and the Patriots over the Rams, which kicked off New Englandís recent streak of athletic dominance. The last time the St. Louis Blues were in the Stanley Cup Finals, they lost to a certain hockey team led by Bobby Orr, one that currently has a lot of work to do to catch up with its championship brethren.
Apropos of nothing, here are the current title droughts for Boston sports teams:
Celtics: 0 years.
Red Sox: 0 years.
Patriots: 3 years.
Bruins: 36 years.
We can only pray, hope, and yearn for a 2009 Stanley Cup Finals between the Bruins and Blues. Any doubt who would win that one?
It wasnít always the case throughout history, of course, this prevalence over St. Louis. Back when the Hawks called the Gateway City home, they took the 1957-58 NBA title by beating the Celtics in 6 games, Bostonís only season without a title over a 10-year stretch. The Cardinals downed the Sox in the World Series in 1946 and again in í67.
Since The Impossible Dream came to a halt, however, Boston has been in the heads of the aw, shucks fanatics from Missouri.
St. Louis tried to steal New Englandís football team, and then was forced to sit back and watch the Patriots beat the team they stole from Los Angeles. Two years later, the Red Sox reaffirmed the lesson by denying the Cardinals the World Series trophy for which they would need to wait two more years.
To be fair, theyíve had a pretty good run themselves out there; one of each a World Series and Lombardi Trophy over the past 10 years. But two isnít six, and the pair of swing games in New Englandís favor came courtesy of St. Louie.
The St. Louis Dispatchís Bernie Miklasz, for one, has had enough:
Enough with the preening and gloating and this nonstop Boston "Me" Party.
I'm a big guy, so it pains me to say this, but I'm tired of seeing those chunky, pink-faced white guys wearing Celtics throwbacks, straight out of that stupid House of Pain video ("Jump Around") shouting "We're No. 1" at TV cameras with distorted faces.
Hey, Sully ó I didn't see you kick the field goal. That was Vinatieri. So quit rolling around in the end zone. Yo, Murph yeah, you in the Bird jersey, bum-rushing the floor at the Garden on Tuesday night when the Celtics destroyed the Lakers to win the NBA championship. Yeah, you. That's right. You aren't even Eddie Bird (Larry's brother), so get off the basketball court and let the Celtics players celebrate.
They should rename Boston's "Big Dig" and call it "Dig Me."
Miklasz goes on to remind us more of how generous his town has been to Boston: Ben Kerner trading the No. 2 pick, which turned out to be Bill Russell to the Celtics in 1956, which Miklasz calls, ďone of the all-time dunderhead transactions in the history of sport.Ē Revolution stars Taylor Twellman, Steve Ralston and Pat Noonan are St. Louis natives.
Boston-area teams are a combined 6-3 over St. Louis in title series throughout history (Red Sox, 1-2; Patriots, 1-0; Celtics, 3-1; Bruins, 1-0), but since 1970 itís a clean 3-0, two this decade. Call it the Curse of James Busch Orthwein.
Thereís some debate as to which Celtic throws out the first pitch tonight. The easy money is on Paul Pierce, but a Big Three on the mound probably isnít out of the question. Hereís a better idea. Howís this for a first-pitch foursome:
Orr, Russell, Tom Brady, and Manny Ramirez.
Just a little way of saying, Thanks, St. Louis.