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Keeping up with the Cards: The perfect game day

Tom Ratts | Contributing Writer

The MLB regular season started this Friday, and as most Washington University students know, the St. Louis community thrives during the summer for one reason in particular: the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite St. Louis’ small size compared to most major sports league markets, Busch Stadium (home to the beloved Cards) continually hosts packed crowds in an electric venue that is a must-see for every Wash. U. student before they graduate. However, if not prepared, Cardinals games can be a harrowing ordeal. St. Louis is a baseball city and Cardinal fans don’t hold back when showing their appreciation for the Birds by any means possible. Anything could happen when you take a trip downtown, so I’m here to inform you of a couple of things you might want to know before you go out to a ball game this spring.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 2.06.04 AMIllustration by Brandon Wilburn

It will be unbelievably crowded

When taking your average trip to downtown St. Louis, it may compare to a Scooby-Doo ghost town because nobody appears to be walking outside. It is true; smaller cities like St. Louis do not have tremendous amounts of foot traffic compared to New York or Chicago. However, if you end up at Busch Stadium, odds are it will feel like the 1904 World’s Fair (except without the minstrel shows). Simply entering the ballpark can be claustrophobic experience. At times, you will be snug between a family of suburban St. Louisians decked to the teeth in Fredbird memorabilia and a group of die-hard Cards fans wearing acid-washed blue jeans (even though it is probably 90 degrees) and sports radios on their way to the nosebleeds. Indeed, it might seem like all of the St. Louis metropolitan area is congregating around Busch stadium. So if you get uncomfortable in large crowds and you are old enough to purchase, I suggest that you…

Pregame (or don’t, if you’re under 21)

Those of us who are above the age of 21 love a good excuse to day drink, and going to a 12 o’clock Cardinals game is a perfect reason. In order to get the most bang for your buck, you might want to avoid throwing away cash on $10 lukewarm beers. Thus, pregaming is your perfect solution. If you’re underage, worry not, because the atmosphere by itself should be more than enough for you to have a good and sober time.

Go to Ballpark Village

This is especially a must if you plan on attending a night game. Ballpark Village is an upscale and surprisingly hi-tech hub for night life entertainment by Busch Stadium that makes Wrigleyville look like Francis Field (deserted, underappreciated, dated, old news, etc.). With venues like Howl at the Moon (a rowdy piano bar) or Drunken Fish (maybe the best sushi in STL), there are endless options for whatever you are feeling would make a great night in downtown.

Take St. Louis transit

Wash. U. students have a bad reputation of taking our amenities for granted, so let’s put our UPasses to good use and take the public transit to Cardinals games. Yes, the St. Louis train and bus systems are not the cleanest in the world, but it’s good to take a break from our upscale, tidy, res halls and catch a disease from a train seat every once in a while. Plus, you will get opportunities to meet and mingle with St. Louis locals (especially if you really succeed with number two on this list). A colorful cast of characters will occupy every Metro™ you take. And if they’re sporting Yadier Molina jerseys, you know they’re your friend.

Be prepared for a mediocre season

The past couple years, the Cardinals have failed to make the playoffs due to a combination of middle-of-the-road play and being in the tough National League central. It is hard to meet expectations when the culture surrounding your team is built upon championships, so don’t be surprised if fans are upset with close wins or hard-fought losses against tough teams this season. Also, if you happen to catch a game against our infamous rivals, the Chicago Cubs, be prepared to bring tissues to quell those prideful tears because they bested us to get into the playoffs last season. But don’t be discouraged, every year is a year to compete when you have one of the greatest fan bases in sports history. Ultimately, three things are certain in life: Death, taxes and that Cardinals fans will be rowdy and rally around their team no matter what. Go Birds.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 2.07.28 AMGraphic by Brandon Wilburn