It's Homecoming at Missouri, which means it is time for rich traditions: the parade, campus decorations, tailgating, Mums, a spirit rally, the football game and ... a flock of Cardinals fans?
Three hours before Missouri and Ole Miss kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday, the Cardinals play host to the Washington Nationals in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series nearly 125 miles east across I-70. It's a big day for sports in the Show Me State, one that likely will divide the attention of many a fan in Columbia.
The onlookers at Saturday morning's Homecoming Parade, for example, weren't all decked in black and gold. A few wore Cardinals red.
One of those was Scott Strawn of Kansas City.
"We'll have the (Cardinals) game on at our tailgate," Strawn said.
Strawn, wearing an MU hat and a bright red Cardinals jacket, graduated from Missouri in 2006. He's from Columbia originally, which probably explains the Cardinals (rather than Royals) fandom.
Nick Broughton made the trip from Shelbina, Missouri, and was at the parade with his family. He will be in attendance at Faurot Field, but he, too, will be closely tuned into the NLCS at his tailgate.
"Hopefully, we can get the bats going today," Broughton said.
The Cardinals only managed one measly hit in their 2-0 Game 1 loss on Friday night. Saturday's game is crucial for St. Louis; going down 2-0 and losing the first two games of the series at home could doom it. Broughton said that if only one of his teams can win today, he'd have to go with the Cardinals.
"They need it more," Broughton said.
Broughton and Shawn Grishaber of St. Charles are in agreement. It is the playoffs, after all.
"It's a bigger game," Grishaber said.
Grishaber will be watching the Cardinals game on his phone.
Even though it is 'just' a regular-season game, Saturday is also big for the Tigers. A win would put them at 5-1 at the midpoint of their season, and could potentially get them ranked (No. 20 Virginia lost on Friday and No. 24 Texas A&M plays No. 1 Alabama). It's a big opportunity for Missouri, and fans seem to recognize it. A big crowd is expected against Ole Miss for the primetime game.
"(A 6 p.m. kickoff) gives you a lot more time to tailgate, and I think people really enjoy doing that," Broughton said.
The NLCS is good competition for a Homecoming football game, but Grishaber still made the hour-plus journey to Columbia, as he has every year for the past 12 seasons.
"(Homecoming) is really a great way to celebrate Mizzou's heritage," Grishaber said. "It's all-day festivities."
There will be another homecoming of sorts at Busch Stadium. Washington's starting pitcher, Max Scherzer, is a Chesterfield native and an MU alum. Scherzer is also a huge fan of the Tigers. Doesn't mean he will show any mercy against his hometown team, of course.
"I don't think he's going to give us any breaks," Grishaber said.
If there are any Missouri/Cardinals fans who are torn with Scherzer on the mound, Strawn is not among them.
"Unfortunately, he went to the wrong team," Strawn said.
Supervising editor is Michael Knisley.