Game 5 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox and Monday Night Football between the Rams and the Seattle Seahawks are both scheduled to start within an hour of each other tonight in St. Louis. And despite the two stadiums close proximity on Broadway St., the two organizations couldn’t be further apart.
The Rams may very well be playing for a half-empty stadium tonight as fans understandably focus on the World Series. But it’s not like the Rams were exactly jamming the Edward Jones Dome before the scheduling conflict. With a 3-4 record, St. Louis has been middling and inconsistent on the field, and that was before quarterback Sam Bradford was knocked out for the season with an ACL injury. Compare that to the roaring crowds that have packed Busch Stadium for the Cardinals throughout the postseason.
This has long been the case in the Gateway to the West. No recent NBA team, a pattern of NFL franchises coming and going, and a rich, successful hardball history has combined to make St. Louis arguably the best baseball city in America. Their fans are knowledgeable, passionate, and engaged, and Busch Stadium has been consistently ranked among the best stadiums in the MLB.
Compare that to the Rams. Since moving to St. Louis from Los Angeles in 1995, Rams fans have marveled at the Super Bowl-winning “Greatest Show on Turf” and not much else. They haven’t had better than a .500 season since 2003 and went a truly depressing 15-65 from 2007-2011. And their future in St. Louis remains uncertain after the organization that runs the Edward Jones Dome rejected the team’s call for $700 million in stadium improvements, allowing the Rams the option of breaking their lease with the dome following the 2014 season.
This year’s World Series appearance exacerbates the contrast between the two organizations in other ways as well. After winning their 11th World Series two years ago, the Cardinals best player, Albert Pujols, left to sign a historic contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Yet through a combination of savvy free agent moves and the continued development of homegrown talent, the Cardinals find themselves back on the big stage just two years later.
The Rams, meanwhile, were caught flirting with Brett Favre last week after Bradford suffered his injury. Even though Favre admitted that the gesture was “flattering,” he too seemed to understand what a ludicrous proposition it was, telling a radio station that “there’s no way I’m going to do that.” Instead, the Rams will play Kellen Clemens at QB, who will be getting just his fifth start in the past six years against the NFL’s toughest and most well-rounded defense.
Perhaps the best illustration of the disparity between the teams comes with simple economics. A search of StubHub on Monday afternoon revealed that Rams tickets could be had for as little as $8.50. The cheapest World Series seats were over $200 — for standing room only.
Win or lose tonight, the World Series will be over next Sunday, and the Cardinals season will be done. They’ll go into 2014 the same as they do every year; backed by a loyal and enthusiastic fan base with realistic expectations of another World championship. The Rams will go into 2014 with the possibility it could be the team’s last in St. Louis.
In other words, completely opposite directions.