After arriving and settling in with the laptop that wouldn’t connect, I looked at the clock and saw that it was already almost 6pm. The Cardinals game was starting at 7:15pm and I decided…food be damned because I had only eaten a slice of pizza all day…that I was going to see myself a major league baseball game.
I talked to the concierge, who proceeded to inform me that I could easily jump on a shuttle back to the airport and then jump on the metro straight to Busch Stadium with plenty of time to spare (the trip would take 30-45 minutes).
So the shuttle driver talked with me during the entire two minute drive back to the airport and told me which metro line to take (and which one to come back on). He…along with the rest of the staff of the Marriott Airport St. Louis…was phenomenally friendly and made me feel about as welcome as I possibly could be.
It was buying a $7.50 24-hour pass for the metro (quite reasonable, if you ask me) that I ended up learning something about the United States that I had never known before: You have a dollar coin.
Hey Canucks…think I’m making this up? Check this out:
What the frack?
I had NO idea. I mean, Canadians get made fun of repeatedly for our coin-based one and two dollar denominations (called the Loonie and the Twoonie, respectively). But yet, as I popped a $20 bill into the ticketing machine, I cannot begin to tell you my surprise as I ended up getting over $12 in coins. At first, I thought I got royally screwed with a handful of quarters. But low and behold, here were these gold-colored coins with $1 on them. Not only that, but one of the coins was actually a Loonie…leading me to wonder just what in the heck I had encountered.
View from the metro - Lambert exit
I hopped on the right metro line…the red line to Shiloh Scott (I can remember that not just because of the picture on the left, but because the driver mentioned that at least 20 times repeatedly before and after every stop). I had left my iPod back at the hotel and was really in a place where I was a bit uncomfortable. You ride these metro lines and you encounter the “outskirts” of a city that isn’t normally considered the “suburbs”…and when you’re by yourself and you’re from out of town, you can feel a bit on the nervous side.
Luckily for me, three or four stops later I saw about 20 senior citizens waiting to hop on the metro…all wearing their Cardinal colors. Regardless of the “unsavory” characters that got on and off the train over the next 30 minutes, I felt at ease around these laughing, jovial, red-from-head-to-toe Cardinals seniors…and that made the rest of the ride a bit more fun.
As told to me by Joe the shuttle-bus driver, the metro stopped right in front of Busch Stadium. I literally went up some stairs and walked across the street. Awesome!
Ticket booth - Busch Stadium
I wasn’t planning on staying for the whole game…where I still had a lot of work to finish for the next day’s meeting. So I casually walked up to the ticket booth area. As I was surveying the situation a man walked up to me and tapped me on the shoulder.
“Hey man…you need some tickets?”
“Fifteen bucks…come with me.”
I told the guy right away that I was from out of town and didn’t want to get in any trouble. I just wanted to pick up a $22 bleacher ticket and continue on my merry-little LEGAL way. He told me that the guy standing in front of me had a book of tickets that he needed to get rid of. They were for a section normally reserved (don’t really know why) at a price of $16, so it’s not like he was trying to make a huge profit or anything.
“I won’t get arrested for this, will I?”
“F*CK no, buddy!!”
For whatever reason, I believed him. Good lord…I was thinking about a worst case scenario.
“Yeah Dad? Can you wire down some bail-out money? I got arrested in St. Louis, Missouri because of $15.”
That would SUCK.
Anyway, I handed over $15 and he handed me a ticket. I was a little skeptical that it would even be a legitimate ticket…but figured for $15 it was worth the risk. I then realized that I was wearing blue…ALL blue (jeans, striped shirt, jacket) and was sticking out like a sore thumb. I saw the stand outside and figured I needed a cheap Cardinal cap to make sure I wouldn’t stand out any more than I felt I did already.
For $16 I picked up a solid-blue cap with red “SL” letters on it. I hated the way it fit on me. Meh…it’ll do.
View from the bleachers
I was on the roof…which, to me, is just an amazing place to be for these ballgames. I’ve never sat closer than the bleachers so I don’t know how different the experience is from a closer perspective. But I figured I could see everything that was taking place…the food and beverages were the same up top as they were down below…and I ended up getting a pretty sweet pic of the Gateway Arch, which was just a couple of blocks over.
Gateway Arch, St. Louis - 04/08/09
I then decided it couldn’t really be an all-American experience unless I picked up a beer and a hot dog. The toothless women serving me were quite friendly, which made me feel a bit better about seeing their gap-filled smiles as I asked for a receipt (hey…if my company wants to pay for my meals, then you better believe that they’re going to cover my $13.75 hot dog and beer). Of course, I just had to document my “experience” once I found my seat.
Hey...holding a hot dog, a beer, AND a camera ain't easy!
Ahhh yes…my seat. When I made my way to my seat I had to really sit down and take in the amazing view. Really…as much as I hate heights, this was an incredible experience for a small-city guy who rarely ventures out to see his local hockey team play in front of 4,000 people in the local coliseum. I think a couple of these pics turned out rather well:
Cards vs. Pirates - 04/08/09
Cards vs. Pirates - 04/08/09
Cards vs. Pirates - 04/08/09
Busch Stadium scoreboard
Albert Pujols stats on Busch Stadium scoreboard
Then, as the game started and it began to get a bit darker, the cold wind picked up. Now, I’m Canadian…I KNOW cold…but for whatever reason, this wind was blowing right through me. I’m sure being eye-to-eye with rooftops in the area probably didn’t help that situation. By the end of the 4th inning, the Cards were getting trounced and I was freezing my ass off.
I decided to head back to the hotel…grab a late-night dinner…and try to finish everything I needed to finish for my meeting the next morning. As was waiting for the metro, I just thought the night-time view of Busch Stadium was quite spectacular. Of course, maybe that was just the dork in my coming through.
The trip back seemed a lot quicker than the trip there. We seemed to be flying in some areas. And other than a bare-footed man carrying on a conversation with himself (creepy), I made it back to the airport without incident.
I got back to the hotel just at 10:02pm. Guess what time the restaurant closed?
So I made my up to my room and decided to not order anything in. It was late…I still had work to do…and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to catch a Shawn Cassidy biography on the Biography Channel. Seriously.
I finished everything up and hit the pillow at 12:23am…which was 2:23am my time (AST). Man…was that 5:30am wake-up call going to suck.