October 09, 2009
The next they were down 2-0 and learning what it was like to be Cubs fans, obsessing over a single moment that had been instantly committed to a memory they hadn't asked for.
OK, so there have been thousands of deflating plays over the long history of baseball — ask St. Louis about Jorge Orta — but I'm not sure if one ever mirrored the exact feeling that it gave its fans.
By that I mean that when a sinking liner from James Loney(notes) hit Matt Holliday(notes) in the groin and bounced to the Dodger Stadium turf, it also hit the groin of every red-clad fan who was one putout away from cracking a Bud and toasting a NLDS victory.
The only difference, of course, was Holliday was presumably wearing a cup, whereas Cardinals Nation had to watch all that followed — Holliday stress eating sunflower seeds, Ryan Franklin(notes) predictably not being up to the challenge, Mark Loretta(notes) becoming the day's hero with a fisted bloop to center field — in excruciating pain.
Now, hours later, you can hear the collective muttering of Redbird fans as they wonder where they go from Thursday's 3-2 loss. Holliday, for his Bill Buckner part, said he lost the ball in his lights and that he feels "terrible." The Cardinals, meanwhile, will fly home and try to become the first National League team to rally from a 2-0 LDS deficit.
As for Cardinals fans, I have no idea. One day, Matt Holliday was one of their biggest superstars, an Albert Pujols(notes) bodyguard who they hoped Scott Boras would allow to stick around for six or seven years. The next he was still that same guy, only now he was the sole figure in one of the worst highlights in Cardinals history.
Because St. Louis fans are a generally knowledgeable and forgiving Midwestern bunch who know that one error does not a MVP-type slugger make, they'll eventually reconcile his role in the Game 2 groin punch. If they're smart, they'll even greet him with an ovation on Saturday and maybe get a hometown discount of a few million come contract time.
But right now, that's easier said than done. This is the type of pain you just don't walk off.