Stop pretending that the Cardinals aren't insufferable

There aren't any letters after Z, Tony.

This article happened, and I'm still kind of in shock by it. It was published in something called The Federalist, which apparently is not a document from 1788. It's incredible how misguided this woman is regarding her favorite team.

Let's delve in, shall we?

When I told him I’m a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, the mood shifted. "I loathe the Cardinals," he said. "That’s impossible," I replied. Nobody hates the Cardinals.

*raises hand*

No matter how you put it, this is as insanely close-minded as it gets. Holy crap, this woman is delusional.

We’re a well-run organization with strong values.

Well-run organization? Absolutely. The Cardinals have the success to back that up. No argument here.

Our fans are the best in baseball.

Ahem. I can't believe this isn't ironic. Normally, even Cardinals fans are like "yeah, that label is a bit overblown".

Hating the Cardinals is like punching your mother. Even if you were tempted, you just wouldn’t do it.

I can assure you, this comparison is false. How is hating the Cardinals something "you just couldn't do"? Has this woman ever met a fan of another baseball team before? How does that work?

But that Sunday at our church in Virginia, I was talking to the kindergarten teacher at our Lutheran school. She’s a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan. She introduced me to a new mother at church whose allegiance to the Cards was showcased on the diaper bag she was carrying around. As we all chatted about the Pirates series, the kindergarten teacher’s husband (a Nationals fan) interjected that he hated us and the Cardinals.

I found it jarring. Two people in the same week saying something I’d never heard in more than three decades of being a Cardinals fan.

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN, PEOPLE.

Then she goes on to quote Drew Magary's excellent Deadspin piece that you should have printed out and put on your fridge by now. Her response?

Well then! Now don’t get me wrong. We all find East Coast elitist sneering to be persuasive, lacking in any sort of insecurity, and totally charming.

"Gee golly gosh! We're just simple Midwestern folk, and it's just dern adorable how you all take this stuff so seriously!"

However, while the Cardinals aren’t hurting in the payroll department, we’re not actually a top-10 payroll team. The Los Angeles Dodgers raised their spending to $236.8 million this year (for perspective, that’s just about $100,000 behind the Yankees, who spend more than anyone else in baseball). St. Louis spends about half of the Dodgers, coming in at $119.3 million. Whether spending $117.5 million less than the Dodgers slightly disadvantages us doesn’t matter. We took the first two games in the National League Championship Series despite the disparity. We lost the third due to fielding mistakes and silent bats, not payroll differentials. But let’s not pretend that these are equivalent payrolls.

Still. It’s clear that there’s been an uptick in Cardinals hatred. What’s going on?

First off, despite your "modest" payroll strategy, you still have the highest payroll in the NL Central, and the 4th highest in the NL overall. "Not actually a top-10 payroll team" is technically accurate, but you left out the part that to start the 2013 season, you were 11th on that list.

She then goes on to argue about "legitimate vs. illegitimate negativity", which is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Why do you get to be the judge of the legitimacy of why people don't like you?

Still, though. She could definitely mention the whininess that happened after game 3, where the Cardinals players were whining about the Dodgers having too much fun beating them. I think that's a perfectly legitimate reason.

What? Your "legitimate" reason was because the Cardinals win elimination games and beat long-suffering fan bases?

These clutch Cardinals wins sting all the more for those fans that thought this was their year. It wasn’t just the Pirates’ first winning season since 1992 (and one for which the amazing center-fielder Andrew McCutchen has a very good chance at the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award), but one that lifted the city’s spirits and transformed the organization.

"Clutch" isn't a thing. Also, it may be in poor taste to kick a fan base while it's down.

And you know how some teams are always the victims of bad calls? While you could never make up for what happened in the 1985 World Series — literally the worst call in sports history — the Cardinals have been on the receiving end of some good fortune in recent years. They wouldn’t have even made it to the playoffs last year if MLB commissioner Bud Selig hadn’t added a second Wild Card slot. And then in that one-game playoff against the Atlanta Braves, they benefited from the hotly disputed "infield fly" call. Well, that and the Braves made multiple costly defensive errors, even though they were the best defensive team that year.

So are they clutch or are they lucky? Pick one.

The Cards lost their mystical and magical manager Tony LaRussa in 2011 and still made it to the playoffs the next two years. With a brand spanking new manager Mike Matheny. They lost Albert Pujols and barely noticed the difference.

Truth. Nothing wrong with this, this is true.

But being good — which is really what we’re talking about here — is not sufficient reason to dislike an organization. You have to have some other factor, such as that your team has insanely deep moneybags to chase World Series rings. The Yankees are a good organization, albeit one that didn’t make it to October this year. But any organization topping Major League Baseball’s salary chart should be. Being able to throw money to get all the best position players might make you a World Champion. It also makes you hated by the fans of those teams with fewer resources.

Also, true. Yes, let's acknowledge that the Cardinals winning isn't really why people don't like them. I'm on board.

(While we're here, you just said that a team can be hated by fans of other teams with fewer resources, which means that fans of 19 teams should hate the Cardinals. In an article about how nobody should hate the Cardinals. I digress.)

She then goes to quote a bunch of dudes, including our SBN counterpart Grant Brisbee, about how good the Cardinals development is. This was never really in question, and does nothing to prove her point. Moving on.

The Cardinals and their fans certainly have not been tested too hard in recent years. And because of the, um, unfortunate situation of the Chicago Cubs, the Cardinals don’t even have a great rivalry going, even if the National League Central is a competitive place.

No rivals?

Kicking_medium

If you say so.

And yes, the rally squirrel era was somewhat unfortunate. You don’t have to love the Cardinals for the enthusiastic, passionate, loyal and civil fans (with surely one of the larger diasporas out there). You don’t have to appreciate Cardinals uniforms — the best looking in baseball.

Ugh. That last line. Ugh.

(Also, this is obligatory.)

And, yes, it is frustrating to see a team play as well as the Cardinals do, with such a great team relationship as they have, year after year — if it’s not your team. No one says you have to love them. But you can’t hate them. It just reflects poorly on you. If the Cards were cheating their way to these victories, if they were buying them, if they were rude on and off the field … then fine. But in the absence of that, hatred is not a healthy option.

"Sure, they might be insufferable pricks. But they don't break any rules and they're just so gosh durn nice, so YOU MUST LOVE THEM."

If you hate the Cardinals because you need a few more months to recover from them beating your team, that’s fine. But if you hate the Cardinals because, like Drew Magary, you hate Midwesterners and their casseroles and churchgoing, you may want to reconsider.

I imagine this being written on the highest of horses. I'm wondering how this woman thought her article would go down.

And look, Mollie. Can I call you Mollie? I feel like I can because of how passionate, loyal, and civil you are as a Cardinals fan. I was raised in the Midwest, and am now an Ohioan, which is pretty close. There's a lot of similarities in the demographics of our respective fan bases. I assure you, nobody who hates the Cardinals just irrationally hates all things Midwestern. There isn't a huge hatred in baseball for the Royals, right? I find the Brewers pretty tough to hate.

Bringing churches and casseroles into it isn't really helping your argument, either. Is it possible that some Cardinals fans are completely oblivious as to why people don't like them?

Sports teams should not be idealized extensions of ourselves. We should not lose ourselves in them. They are mostly just money-making enterprises with the millionaire athletes, taxpayer-funded stadiums and offensive beer prices to prove it.

"Look, I'm going to distance myself from 'sports fans'."

But the organization and community of St. Louis does aim to promote good sportsmanship, a value the club has spent many decades cultivating. There’s a reason why Stan Musial’s statue at Busch Stadium is inscribed as it is.

In a world with O.J. Simpson and Aaron Hernandez, it may be harder to uphold sports as an outgrowth of American values. But just because there’s been a breakdown in some places doesn’t mean that ball clubs that at least try to uphold values should be loathed.

Being "good sports" isn't why people hate you. Writing articles about how great your sportsmanship is why people hate you.

You're saying this like the other 29 teams in baseball are absolute morally bereft scum. Sure, baseball has its unsavory characters, but the guy you worshipped above has a drunk driving arrest and your hitting coach probably won't get into the Hall of Fame because of steroids that happened when he was playing for your franchise. You aren't special, Cardinals.

And they won’t be. No matter how much Deadspin or others try to make Cardinal hatred a thing, it’s not going to happen. Stop trying to make Cardinals hatred happen.

*puts fingers in ears*

LALALALALALALALALALALA

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