It's the kind of thing you notice, but wish you hadn't.
The local FOX affiliate had just ceded coverage over to the network at 6:30 central time.
As with most big sporting events, the introduction to the pre-game show was slick. Amazing sweeping shots of Fenway Park, graphics that a whole team of designers had probably worked on for weeks.
Then I saw it.
Mike Wacha. Turning furtively towards the camera. Giving his best 'come get some' mean mug. The shot lasted maybe 2 seconds.
But it was right then and there that I knew the World Series was over.
This wasn't game footage rendered in a sepia tone. No, this was produced. At some point between his last start during GM2 of the World Series and Wednesday afternoon, a producer pulled Mike Wacha away from team activities.
Made him put on his game jersey. Spent time getting him to pose for the camera just so. And after what was probably anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes of work, FOX got their 2 second intro bumper.
Boston got a World Series Championship.
Before GM6 Mike Wacha was 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in his first 4 postseason starts. Astounding. Amazing. Put whatever superlative you want in this space and you'd be right. I'd agree with them all.
But the degree of confidence that Cardinal fans (not all, but a vast majority) had in Wacha going out and getting a win in GM6 was honestly astounding to me. The same guy that wasn't on the big league roster most of the summer was now supposed to stop the bleeding?
Oh, and while you're at it, please do it against a crowd that might be the most jacked up in the modern era of baseball. 1918? Don't care. "Wacha, Wacha!"
Most of you didn't see that clip at the beginning of the broadcast. By agreeing to play along with the FOX people, though, Mike Wacha got a seed planted.
A seed that said 'this isn't a normal game'.
It's hard to make a case that between the time he shot that tease and the time he took the mound that seed had grown into doubt. But Mike Wacha looked liked a rookie. Living on the edge. And when Shane Victorino finally broke through with a 3 run double in the 3rd inning… Wacha was done.
The moment had finally caught up with him.
It took him much longer to succumb than most of his teammates. But it happened. And when we gain some perspective on this series, we'll probably remember Wacha's stone cold previous 4 post season starts among the brightest highlights.
For the moment all St. Louis has is another smell of a cigar. They were close, but ultimately too feeble of bat to give the Red Sox any sort of legitimate scare and actually taste it.
The positive amongst us will remind those that will listen of a bright future ahead.
This is true. No one can dispute that the Cardinals are poised for a significant 2014 season. Still, coming this far, and leaving without a fight is tough to swallow. Many bright futures have gave way to what the heck happened. Ask a Braves fan, if you'd like.
If you're reading this, you've no doubt will be reading or have read all about the weak bats, the decline of David Freese or just why Mike Matheny stuck with Wacha before going to (!) Lance Lynn.
I'm just wondering what would have happened had Mike Wacha told that producer no.