Our Rick Ankiel Weekend

It really has been bizarre to watch the reaction to Rick Ankiel's triumphant return to St. Louis as a power-hitting outfielder. We understand that it's an inspiring story — obviously — but it's still odd to see a guy we've been quietly stalking following for seven years now suddenly leading newscasts. As we mentioned on Friday, it's like turning on CNN and seeing a Breaking News Alert: "Mattoon, Illinois to open second Hardee's store." We're touched that everyone suddenly cares ... but Rick's ours, you know?

Not for long, as the guy above shows: By Friday's game, people were writing Ankiel's name on the back of their shirts, and by Sunday, we actually saw our first legitimate "ANKIEL 24" jersey. We are glad the gift is being shared with the world ... but this kind of intense media attention is kind of what started this whole mess in the first place.

That said, we can't help but contribute to the problem. By pure happenstance, our yearly visit to Busch Stadium coincided with Ankiel's first games as a Cardinals outfielder. After the jump, a mostly incomplete and fuzzy report of our trip, specifically Saturday's game, in which Ankiel hit two homers and a middle-aged woman nearly stuck her finger in our anus.

Our Rick Ankiel Weekend

This is the second season for the new Busch Stadium, and we're now getting used to it enough to stop calling it "the new Busch." But for all the supposed downtown revitalization it was expected to inspire, downtown St. Louis remains a dump. There's some alleged "ballpark village" that's going in next door, but they haven't made an inch of progress on it since we were last back in October for the World Series. The highways are too bunched together, the stadium is surrounded by gravel and dust and you're perpetually one wrong turn away from fisticuffs. St. Louis could have a gorgeous downtown. Why doesn't it?

Our Rick Ankiel Weekend

Inside, though, the crowd was awash in Ankiel madness. Much to our relief, the majority of Cardinals fans were fully aware of Ankiel's history and didn't just think he was some rookie who came out of nowhere. Also: The ladies and those with alternative lifestyles love him. We informed some young woman that Ankiel was married, and she nearly punched us. See? Our man crush isn't that severe.

Our Rick Ankiel Weekend

It's difficult to overstate how surreal it is to see "ANKIEL RF" in the lineup and on the scoreboard. We have seen every game Ankiel has played in the outfield so far, and we still aren't used to it.

Our Rick Ankiel Weekend

A friend pointed out that now-injured Cardinals second baseman looks like Bill Simmons. We agree, and note that, the way Kennedy has been hitting this season, it's clear they both know an equal amount about the National League.

Our Rick Ankiel Weekend

Anyway, you saw what happened: Ankiel homered twice, and we're really not gonna say much more about it. We did not have an erection — thank you very much — but yeah: Good day. We're not gonna go into too much more detail about it, because we kind of want you to still like us.

Our Rick Ankiel Weekend

After the game, we headed to Paddy-O's, which is St. Louis' cute equivalent of a Wrigley Field bar. Cardinals broadcasters Al Hrabosky, Mike Shannon and Joe Buck all have similar establishments, but Paddy-O's is the most successful, because if you stand close enough to the DJ stand, he pours shots in your mouth. This is not to be underestimated. Also: This is a bar that's much more likely to play "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy" than "Ayo Technology." Obviously.

Our Rick Ankiel Weekend

You might think this guy is another one of those idiots who puts his own name on the back of his jersey, but you'd be mistaken: He's actually honoring Baldus de Ubaldis, an Italian jurist who was, in fact, a cardinal. He also invented the notion of turning your baseball cap backwards in order to look more dope.

Our Rick Ankiel Weekend

See, now here's a definitive problem with having your bachelorette party at Paddy-O's after a Cardinals game: Some asshole's gonna take a picture of you dancing with your "Blowjob Bib" and put it on the Internets. You'd think that if she'd go through all this trouble, she'd find somewhere to put her purse.

Our Rick Ankiel Weekend

Fortunately, we found our fun in less conventional places. Namely, with this group of oppressively drunk middle-aged women, one of whom came to us, seeing our Ankiel jersey, and pinched our ass. They offered our father and us a few beers, and we asked what the special occasion was. (They were, after all, dressed up like cheerleaders.) "Whaddya mean? It's Saturday. It's the Cardinals! IT'S THE CARDINALS!" They then hugged each other and, defying the laws of physics, jumped up and down and started a cheer.

Our father suggested we take a picture. They obliged. The woman to our left appears to be trying to grab our package with a lunch box, and the woman on our right literally tried to stick her finger down the back of our jeans. We kept it together for the picture. It was, after all, Saturday, and it was the Cardinals.