I have lot of affinity for the town of St. Louis.
My grandparents were born there, raised there and died there. My mom grew up there. My dad went to grad school there. I spent every vacation in grammar school jumping on a plane -- by myself -- to meet my Grammy and Poppy at Lambert Field for a weeklong visit. They lived in an apartment five minutes from The Sporting News, which I thought made the town the center of the sports writing world.
The first hockey game I went to? Blues (my grandmother made me get dressed up because we were going out somewhere other than a park). The first World Series game I went to? Brewers at Cardinals. Second? Royals at Cardinals (my grandmother knew everyone and she was seriously fierce; requests were not denied). I met a girl on spring break in the Bahamas my senior year in high school. She was from St. Louis -- actually went to the same high school as my mom (relax, it was many years later). The magazine's previous editor-in-chief, the guy who recommended me for the job, is from St. Louis.
Having been on the East Coast for so long, St. Louis has often felt like my little secret. When people talk about it, I don't think of clichés -- it's a baseball town, try the frozen custard, eat the toasted ravioli, visit the Arch -- I think of Spiro's restaurant, where my grandparents took me on special occasions. I think of the Winchell's on Lindbergh Boulevard, where we always stopped at on the way to the airport. I think of the engagement ring my grandmother left me when she died, the nicest thing she ever owned, which I eventually gave to the agreeable lady who became my bride. (The dough I saved helped us buy an apartment. Two-fer!)
I get a very strange feeling that at least during the next week, from the moment the NCAA tourney seeds are announced until the Saint Louis Billikens tip off, I am going to be overdosing on damn nostalgia. Because I am going to be hearing a lot about SLU. On Thursday night, when I asked Sal from madduxsports.com to give me his list of teams that could potentially be undervalued in every game and make a run in the tourney, Rick Majerus' team was the first one he mentioned.
To read the full blog about where to find value in March Madness, sign up to become an ESPN Insider.