Florida can be lonely if you’re a Cardinal fan.
Sure it’s gorgeous by the ocean, the ebb and flow of waves breaking on the beach, palms waving in the breeze. But on the Treasure Coast, Spark and I miss the fall colors in St. Lou, the white snap and swirl of rally flags in a stadium awash in a sea of red. Right about now, Clydesdales and a cold Bud, trump seahorses and Holy Mackerel beer.
We had our vacation to my parents’ condo on Hutchinson Island on the calendar long before the Cards began their victory march. Late October was the only time we could get away. As the hometown team racked up win after win, it became clear we’d be cheering them on from Jensen Beach, which is about 45 minutes from Jupiter, where the Cards have spring training.
Before we left, we wanted to buy Redbird gear, but we ran out of time. “No biggie,” we thought. “We’ll pick some up in Florida.” That was as improbable as spotting a manatee in the Missouri River. Thank goodness for the nice gal in the kiosk at the mall, a young woman who embroiders golf shirts with everything from cheetahs to swampland gators in orange hats.
“You don’t have a Cardinal logo, do you?” I inquired, explaining that my husband and I were from the St. Louis area and wanted shirts to wear to watch the World Series. She was excited to wait on me, having just moved to Florida from St. Louis.
An hour later, and $60 poorer, I exited the mall, happy as a clam to be going back to the condo to show Spark the shirts. He was tickled, we put on our shirts and headed for a sports bar in Stuart with great food and multiple TVs. But we were worried when we arrived. The streets were crowded, and we worried about even being able to get into Duffy’s.
No worries. There were tables and eight TVs. Four of them were showing Boston Celtics pre-season games, two had on NASCAR, and two were tuned to the World Series. The sole positive at Duffy’s was the water boy, who noticed our shirts. “I’m with you, but I’ve got to keep that quiet,” he said.
The Cards took a nosedive in game one, and we slunk out of the bar, hands shielding our logos in shame.
We stayed at the condo to watch game two and three. Our plan was to go to Carsons, a tavern with really good food for game three, but when I called to see if the series was going to be on, the man who answered the phone said it probably would be, but we might want to watch the game elsewhere — they had a Halloween party in the tavern that night.
A bit depressed, we stayed at the condo and made plans to drape the sixth-floor balcony with a banner to let people know that the Cardinal nation was infiltrating the Sunshine State.
The next night, we forgave Carsons, and opted for a spot at the bar. We didn’t wear our matching shirts; humiliation knows its limits. As game time approached the bartender turned three TVs on to the game, and Spark swung around in his seat to watch one, calling my attention to something he saw on the wall. A huge digital sign hung there counting down the days until St. Patrick’s Day. Boston — Irish — Red Sox fans. We were doomed.
We sat next to one, a burly, grizzly-bear of a guy with a mop of curly hair. He blogs sports copy for four publications and had a way with words. “MY dog could grow a better beard than that guy,” the man quipped, referring to a Red Sox pitcher with greasy locks and wanna-be facial hair.
Grizzly left before the game was over, and we parted buddies. It was hard not to like him; he was only one of three people at Carsons even remotely interested in the game.
“In Florida, we’re not really into baseball,” I overheard the bartender tell him before he left.
You can say that again. Back to work on that banner.