By Art Holliday
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - St. Louis' favorite son, Yogi Berra, famously observed that "90 percent of the game is half mental." That's true for the Cardinals and their fans, as the NLCS versus the Dodgers gets more tense.
Like the rest of Cardinal Nation, Frontenac police officer George Koch is riding the post-season roller coaster. Wednesday night during the Cardinals Game 5 loss, 6-to-4, a newspaper photographer caught his suffering at a sports bar. If he hadn't been wearing a Cardinals jersey, it could have been a photo of a man with a migraine. The photo's one word headline: CRUSHED.
"I was about to cry, needless to say," said Koch. "I'm a pretty big Cardinals fan and 'crushed' pretty much sums it all up. They captured the epitome of what I was feeling and I think what everybody else was feeling, too."
Part of that Game 5 feeling for Cardinals fans involves some unpleasant history. A year ago, the Redbirds had a 3-to-1 series lead over San Francisco, only to watch the Giants win three in a row, eliminate the Cardinals, and go on to a World Series victory.
Cardinals third baseman David Freese and his teammates were repeatedly asked if last year was on their mind this year.
"We're not going to San Francisco," said Freese. "We're going home."
Avoiding negative thoughts will be one more challenge for the Cardinals.
"All indications from the interviews I've seen they seem to be staying in the present moment and deemphasizing the past," said Joe Mannion, a sports psychology consultant at AllWorldPerformance in Chesterfield.
Mannion says the ghost of 2012 could be a factor if the Cardinals and Dodgers play a Game 7.
"It becomes a lot more similar in Game 7 this weekend to what happened last year, than if they can clinch it tomorrow night," said Mannion.
Officer Koch doesn't want to remember what happened a year ago.
"I try to block it out of my memory," said Koch. "Hopefully we won't have to do that again."