Iraq was all everyone wanted to talk about in my family the summer of 2004. I much rather wanted to talk about how St. Louis was putting together one of the greatest regular seasons in my lifetime.
But as most things work out, the war effort did get most of the attention no matter how much I persuaded my parents to give me Cardinal updates. We were able to set up a computer cafe next to our barracks, and I resumed my nightly ritual of checking in on MV3.
Whether that meant setting the alarm for two AM or staying up after duty thanks to caffeine, most of the time a computer was reserved for me that had speakers. I was able to bring a little of home with me overseas, and it calmed most of us during those early months. Fast-forward into October, and the MLB Playoffs were non-stop action on both sides.
Houston proved to be a worthy adversary while New York and Boston stole most of the spotlight. The Astros gave me some sleepless nights/early mornings while nearly every one of the seven-game series was a nail-biter. I wondered what Pujols and Co. would have left after the grueling NL Championship Series but couldn’t wait for the World Series.
Fortunately AFN carried most of the games but unfortunately I was surrounded by every last Red Sox fan in the Fallujah area, go figure. Even after getting a broom in the mail, nearly half of my deployment was over and the rest was downhill from there. When I think back to that time in my life and also the 2006 run to the title, I really don’t know what I would have done without baseball.
For those overseas now or about to deploy, keep a part of you available for the Cardinals or whatever team you root for — it helped me more than words can express.
Now that my service is over, I can look back fondly on some very tough times and smile. Thanks to everyone still pushing hard out there for our Freedom and know that we all have you in our prayers.