If the St. Louis Cardinals' insistence on demolishing a perfectly good baseball stadium in the name of progress has soured you on attending games, you're not alone. But it sure feels that way, doesn't it? Your self-imposed boycott of the National Pastime may be keeping your butt out of a Busch Stadium seat, but it's not keeping the love of baseball out of your heart, is it? You find yourself dreaming about the smell of mown grass and a crisply turned double play at odd moments, especially now. Fourth of July weekend. America's birthday should be celebrated with America's game and with you in the stands. But Americans have principles, so you must stay away, for the sake of integrity.
Ah, but there's a way to satisfy your need to see the game in person and to honor your principles: the Crosstown Clash between Frontier League rivals the River City Rascals and the Gateway Grizzlies. And like so many urges, this one can be satisfied by just heading over to the east side.
This Sunday through Tuesday, July 4 through July 6, the Rascals play the Grizzlies three times in the Grizzlies' home stadium (Goose Lake Road, just off Sauget Industrial Park Drive in Sauget, Illinois; 618-337-3000). Sunday's game -- the big one -- is at 6:05 p.m., and for $5 you can take advantage of the grassy seating areas along either base path and enjoy baseball the way the Founding Fathers intended: cheaply, and from a reclining position (or you can pay $8 for the reserved seating area). The Grizzlies' stadium also boasts two hot tubs, so if the smell of pine tar makes you feel truly sybaritic, you can indulge that fantasy too. And because it's Independence Day, fireworks wrap up the evening on the Fourth. This is why we beat up the British. -- Paul Friswold
Serving up Sand
Bump, set, spike. Volleyball sounds rhythmically simple when stated like that. Oh, but it's not. There's a lot of jumping and diving, and the latter really stings when your exposed skin scoots along the wooden gymnasium floor. Why don't you let your gym-marks mend this summer at Steinberg Skating Rink in Forest Park? Although the ice usually covering the rink would be helpful for healing, you'll have to bring your own -- sand volleyball courts are this summer's version of ice. Play as long as your Band-Aids can stand it for $15 an hour beginning at 4 p.m. every Tuesday and before and after leagues the rest of the week (except Monday). Call 314-361-0613 for reservations or visit www.steinbergskatingrink.com to learn more. -- Alison Sieloff
Fourth of July Overdrive
Sure, there's that big Fourth of July party downtown, but if you're looking for something similar yet different in your Independence Day celebration, head to the Ozzie Smith Sports Complex (Tom Ginnever and T.R. Hughes boulevards in O'Fallon, Missouri) for the City of O'Fallon Heritage and Freedom Fest. Admission is free, and there are tons of family-friendly events on Saturday and Sunday, July 3 and 4. You can thrill to the Chainsaw Woodcarvers, get woozy on the carnival rides and take care of business with Bachman-Turner Overdrive (they play at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday). Of course, this being the Fourth, fireworks will be in full parti-color effect on both nights. Call 636-379-5502 for more info. -- Paul Friswold
Bicycling is boss in the summertime with the warm wind's full-body embrace and your tires' lulling tick-tick-tick. Riders longing for the sense of "being there" that their gigantico SUVs can't provide will enjoy the Fair Saint Louis Riverfront Bicycle Ride. Meet at 8 a.m. at Washington Avenue and Memorial Drive (beneath Interstate 70), and let your legs choose one of the mostly flat 14-, 26-, 39- or 48-mile routes. The longer options take you over the old Chain of Rocks Bridge into Illinois as far upriver as Alton. But no matter how long your journey, the tariff is $5 for adults and $1 for kids under thirteen. Visit www.trailnet.org or call 314-416-9930 for more info. -- Alex Weir