The fact that I have been a St. Louis Cardinal fan since before I was born — it's in the genes — has not been lost on my grandsons Chase, 9, and Caleb, 6. They know I like to watch every game I can on TV, and that if I am traveling by car, I am listening to the Cardinals broadcast. Occasionally, we attend a game together.
To my delight, these grandsons, who live in central Illinois, are St. Louis baseball fans, too. They don't have the patience to watch a complete game on TV, but they have Cardinal decorations in their bedrooms and they recognize several players. They know I am pleased by their loyalty.
At Christmas, it was no surprise that I received a 366-day 2012 team calendar with a bit of interesting Cardinal trivia on each day's page or that a pair of birds-on-the-bat house slippers emerged from another gift box. By the way, the calendar has 366 days because 2012 is Leap Year and contains Feb. 29 this year.
Chase and Caleb's grandmother and I listened with interest to their conversation in the back seat of our car. The 9-year-old was commenting on the latest Cardinals news, wanting to make sure I knew he was in the know as a fan. The conversation went something like this:
"Grandpa, did you know that Albert Pujols quit the Cardinals and joined another team?" Chase asked.
"Yes," I responded. Albert was a free agent and decided to accept an offer to play for another team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in California.
Chase had been keeping track. The Angels had been willing to pay Albert more money than the Cardinals, he explained.
Caleb soon caught up to our conversation and reacted with alarm.
"What? Albert Pujols quit the Cardinals!" he exclaimed in 6-year-old disbelief. "But Albert Pujols is my favorite player." My little grandson-fan was momentarily crushed by the flight of his favorite player to California. Say it ain't so, Albert.
Actually, all three of us were disappointed at Pujols' decision. It was fun to watch him help the Cardinals win, especially the most recent World Series. He is an outstanding player, certainly destined for the Hall of Fame someday. After 11 years, it is hard to imagine him in a different uniform.
We'll get over it. While we all have been Pujols fans, we're first fans of the team. The reality is that players come and go these days — baseball is a business, we are regularly reminded — but the teams to which we have grown loyal remain, albeit with different talent and different heroes from year to year.
What will the 2012 season bring? We have no idea.
What will the 366-day new year hold in store for us? Same answer. The year 2012 will brings its own disappointments and its own joys. But whatever comes our way, we will manage.