By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
11/02/2004
For a couple of weeks in October, baseball fever made it all the way out to Rams Park in Earth City. Even Rams players who are relatively new to St. Louis, or who don't consider themselves baseball fans, found themselves rooting - and rooting hard - for the Cardinals.

"Even though I'm not a big baseball fan, I watched the World Series on TV," offensive guard Tom Nutten said. "I suffered like everybody else from St. Louis, I think. I don't know the history behind everything, but just living in a town, you want the team in your town to succeed."

Although out of football last season, Nutten has been with the Rams for six of the past seven seasons. So he has seen the Cardinals in the postseason before - although not the World Series - and was here for Mark McGwire mania in 1998.

But for linebacker Trev Faulk, in his first full season with the Rams, this was his first exposure to Red October. Faulk said he wasn't much of a baseball fan, "but I kind of got into the Cardinals making it to the World Series, and how big of a baseball town it is. There were 'Go Cards' signs everywhere I turned. So I kind of got into it. Boston came up with some huge pitching performances."

Offensive tackle Grant Williams and defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson witnessed that Red Sox pitching superiority up close while attending Series games last week at Busch Stadium.

Jackson attended Game 3, when Pedro Martinez mowed down the Cardinals 4-1.

"That was depressing," Jackson said. "I know what it's like to be a fan now. You talk about feeling helpless. Every Cardinals fan knows that wasn't the team that dominated the league the whole season. So I just feel bad for them, because I know what that's like - to play a game, and not be yourself."

Jackson said he doesn't see as many Cardinals games as he would like over the course of a normal baseball season.

"But there was no way I was going to let the World Series come through St. Louis without being there," Jackson said. "I just wish that the memory was a little bit more fun."

Timing was everything for Williams, who originally had tickets for Game 5, but made a late switch to Game 4 tickets. "So I'd be sure to catch a game," Williams said. "The Cardinals had a great season, but the Red Sox, it was just their year."

Kind of like the Patriots in 2001, when they defeated the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

Taylor is fined for hit on Bulger

Miami defensive end Jason Taylor has been fined $7,500 by the NFL for unnecessary roughness on a fourth-quarter hit of Rams quarterback Marc Bulger.

The play in question probably occurred after Bulger released the football on a touchdown pass to Shaun McDonald in the Rams' 31-14 loss to the Dolphins on Oct. 24. Bulger complained about the hit to referee Johnny Grier after the play. After the game, he complained about the hit to the media, something he had not done in his brief NFL career.

Bulger suffered an AC joint injury in his throwing shoulder on the play in question. But following the bye week, he was back on the practice field Monday and took his regular turn with the offense.

On Tuesday, a league official did not confirm the specific play that caused the fine, but said the fine was levied because Taylor slammed Bulger to the ground on a fourth-quarter pass play.

Business goes on as usual for Martz

Unlike Rams players, coach Mike Martz said he didn't get away from football during the bye week.

"There's so many things to do to get ready for the rest of the season," Martz said. "You really don't have time to get away."

So he didn't even go for a drive in his Porsche convertible?

"Did not," Martz said. "We were pretty busy."

Trip to the art museum?

"Didn't go to the art museum," Martz said. "Where is it?"

When informed that the St. Louis Art Museum was in Forest Park, Martz replied: "Where's Forest Park?"

Martz's predecessor, Dick Vermeil, once used part of a Rams bye weekend to visit Cahokia Mounds. And Martz has gotten away before on the bye weekend. He watched his son Tim play a football game at Western Illinois University last season. In 2000, when Tim was a freshman at Colorado State, Martz and wife Julie attended Parents' Weekend festivities there.