The Major League Baseball World Series is an annual reminder that sports fans can be dedicated to the extreme, enduring all sorts of inconveniences and discomfort to cheer on their teams.
The opening game of the 2011 Series will feature beefed up security and chilly, windy, wet weather, all at exorbitant prices for admission, food and refreshments. And diehard fans will gladly endure the personal and financial pain just to be there.
Of course, a team's followers have no idea if their squad will be in the next World Series or any of the next 10. Appearance in the fall classic is a rarity for most teams, although the Texas Rangers are playing in their second straight Series and the St. Louis Cardinals are appearing in their 18th (the last in 2006).
First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, will be in attendance. They are urging Americans to donate time and money to veterans groups and causes. This trip is in conjunction with Major League Baseball's Welcome Back Veterans support group. They will introduce a new ad campaign on veterans' problems.
The First and Second ladies and their cause will, no doubt, be well received. But the added security means that fans will need to arrive an hour or so early to go through TSA-like security procedures, including a stroll through the magnetometer.
This is, after all, the fall classic. And the weather is likely to be very fall-like. The forecast calls for temperatures in the upper 40s with a chance of rain and wind. The wind chill is expected to drop into the upper 30s as the opener progresses.
The day before Game 1, teams took batting practice at Busch Stadium with temps in the mid-50s. Some players wore ski caps.
I'm a longtime fan of one of the teams — the Cardinals — and I'll be following the Series from my recliner, with refrigerator, microwave and a supply of snacks nearby.
When all of the pre-game hoopla begins and the first pitch is thrown, I'll wish I were there in person. But as I watch fans all bundled up, observe the flags snapping in the wind and notice the first few raindrops, I'll grab a bag of microwaved popcorn and settle back contentedly in my recliner.