Tuesday, October 31, 2006

With the Cards' win, does St. Louis stand a chance? - 31 Oct. 2006

ST. LOUIS – Nothing brings home together like a World Series win.

Nothing like St. Louis’ underdog victory last week breaks down divisions of social status, race and wealth.

Nothing – because after the Cards won Friday, everyone in the streets not from Detroit celebrated with each other: businessman and bum, black man and white, paunce from the box seats and brasher from the bleachers.

Aside from living in the same city, they all had another connection of the heart; they were Cards fans.

Baseball’s popularity is declining, but everyone’s a fan when his or her team makes postseason play. It happened with the Sooners, the Red Sox and every major league football team who wins the Super Bowl. It happened with me last week, too.

The last time I followed baseball with any conscious effort, Nolan Ryan still played for Texas. For some reason, however, I watched St. Louis nearly sweep the Mets to win the National League pennant. Then, I realized the World Series would be in town during my visit to a journalism conference.

My hotel was within a few block’s distance from Busch Stadium and after Adam Wainwright struck out Brandon Inge in the ninth inning, fans poured out of bars, hotels and downtown restaurants to swarm the stadium. The game ended at 10:30 p.m., but five hours later, fans still shouted from the sidewalks, drivers still honked loudly and the Detroit Tigers had all but cried themselves to sleep.

Cards fanatics now know their team is the best. In some way, that means the city is best. It also means the citizens of this city are better than most. For a few hours that night, they were all equally better.

STL natives will be lucky if the cohesiveness lasts more than a week. Even though everyone here is on the same page now, the challenges of living their socioeconomic status will come creeping back soon.

Maybe too soon.

Numbers released yesterday rank St. Louis as the most dangerous city in the United States. The report, compiled by Morgan Quinto Press, looks at 371 cities and their crime data as reported to the FBI. St. Louis was at the bottom of the list of safest cities, Tulsa was 335 and as a comparison, Broken Arrow listed at the 20th-safest.

And according to USA Today, St. Louis has pumped millions of dollars into urban renewal projects – even the building of the Gateway Arch was hoped to bring the city together – and even still, crime keeps rising.

There is a lot of pride in this city, though. People here know who they are and what they want – probably from the Midwestern mentality dug deep into the slums that echo neighborhoods in New York and Chicago. To the west of St. Louis is conservative rural America, and towns to the east quickly become metros of the East Coast.

I guess expecting this city to now rebound and work together is pie in the sky. A simple sports victory, in all its complications, is still just a sports victory. A few people get richer, a few more get bragging rights. But the rabid crowd gets no substantive reward, no trophy to take home besides maybe a red hat. They have no reason to better their lives. And with no reason comes no hope.

No comments: