Longing for Emotional Intelligence, Loving the St. Louis Cardinals

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

Over the past year I’ve picked and skimmed through Primal Leadership, a book that encourages leaders to strengthen and utilize their emotional intelligence. I realize that emotional range is not my strong suit and would like to be more empathetic towards and more prepared to collaborate with people who have a far richer emotional life. I often find myself in awe of people I know and love who can remain open to an almost infinite range of emotions without sacrificing self-control or failing to accomplish their goals.

Unfortunately my preliminary pursuit of emotional intelligence has been an utter failure. Many times when I try to move beyond my two-tone range (anger & fear) in order to be more open to the emotions of others, I experience a profound disconnect between emotion and response. For instance, there have been numerous occasions when I have sat down to share really difficult news only to find my mouth smiling. Even more troubling, I have occasionally felt so emotionally numb that I almost want something somewhat tragic to happen. I know someone has said that tragedy is essential because we don’t learn much from happiness, but my head knows damn well to avoid the former at all costs.

In sum, I’ve found that I cannot trust my emotions. Maybe that will change over time without recourse to expensive therapy. I certainly hope so, because as much as I desire emotional intelligence it is a characteristic for which I will spare expense.
My emotional poverty is just one of the reasons that the Eucharist, my family, and the St. Louis Cardinals (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) are so vital. I’ve written about the Eucharist before, prefer not to post too much about my family, and today is the Cardinals World Series parade. So I’ll focus on the latter for just a moment.

This postseason the Cardinals delivered me from rage to ecstasy in the most unexpected ways. Unlike the regular season 2006 Cardinals who fell of the cliff in September and I openly hoped would finish out of the money in order to spare us the embarrassment (yeah, I was wrong there too), this team tripped into September as an annoying curiosity. I was pissed that Mo traded Rasmus in a win now move for a club unlikely to win anything at all, in the weeks that followed failed to see I’ll Buy A Vowel record a high leverage hold, and I was convinced that if all else went right the middle infielders would do us wrong.

Thus, you can imagine my surprise when the Cardinals stormed into the playoffs – for my money, the final night of the regular season was the most exciting of the season spare World Series game 6 – and I stumbled through October in something of a daze.

I gave the Cardinals a 25% chance to defeat Philadelphia, only to see them come from behind to defeat a team that won more games in the regular season than the Cardinals won total. I am terrified of Roy Halladay and gave them a 20% chance to win game 5, so you can imagine my surprise when I finished a Kupenda meeting only to find the Cardinals in the same position they were after the first – leading 1-0. I still have not seen that game, so it is still standing – scantily clad in torn Carpenter jersey – before me, far more eagerly expected than Christmas.

After the way the Cardinals played the Brewers in August and September, I knew we had a shot at winning the LCS. However, after a tarp machine failed to fulfill my request to swallow Morgan, and we were obliterated by Braun and Prince in a high scoring game 1, I certainly had my doubts. Fortunately our stupid rally squirrel bested their even stupider beast mode to win us a ticket to the big event.

By the time the World Series arrived I was so mystified by the Cardinals run that I felt almost overwhelmed during the games. Although assisted by Twitter – which as someone said is “the best sports bar in the world” during the World Series – I didn’t even realize how stupid it was to let I’ll Buy A Vowel face Napoli in game 5. However, I wasn’t so brain dead that I didn’t simultaneously realize that it would be stupid to put Craig in motion in front of Pujols and predict that the Cardinals would do just that. When we headed back to St. Louis down 3-2 I wasn’t all that upset, since I never expected the Cardinals would come this far anyway.

As I mentioned elsewhere and earlier, the last two games reminded me why I invest so much life in the ups and downs of the soap opera that we call the St. Louis Cardinals. I invest because the potential payoff is ecstasy. Watching your team grind through 162 games and prevail over serious playoff competition and random debilitating chance to win the World Series is sublime.

For that reason, I physically trembled when the Cardinals outdid the 1986 Mets by surviving their last strike not once, but twice. When Freese finished the game with a laser to dead center I (virtually) joined the jump pile in my living room. Then, on Friday night, I got to do what I had been longing to do from the start of the Rangers series. I went downstairs shortly before the top of the ninth, woke up Preston, and took him upstairs to celebrate the World Series with me a and a few friends.

Dreaming to celebrate the World Series with your kid, who is almost exactly the same age that you were when the Cardinals beat down Harvey’s Wallbangers in 1982, can kill you. When the walls collapse on those dreams, as they almost always do, you are blinded by Bart Giammatti’s admonition that baseball “breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart,” and wonder how you forgot that wisdom along the 162 game way.

Fortunately that did not happen this year. The Cardinals won it and in less than 50 minutes the Clydesdales are going to clop and tape is going to ticker through the St. Louis streets. Although I couldn’t get to the Lou, my heart will certainly be oriented in that direction and I’ll be following online alongside of Lydian, the kid I hope to wake up next time.

One of my friends says that I get downright bi-polar about the Cardinals. I don’t know if that’s true, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was so. What I do know is that when the Cardinals win, especially in as unlikely a way as they did this year, the world feels more alive than it does most other times.

Maybe that’s a mark of my superficiality. I don’t know. In all honesty, I don’t even care. However, I’m going to keep reading Primal Leadership – actually just went back to recheck it when I had to take a crying and screaming break just a few moments ago – and hoping that someday the ecstasy and emotions of the Cardinals seasons (especially ’82, ’06, & ’11) take up residence in other rooms of my life.


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