Meadville Tribune

National Sports

October 17, 2013

The most insufferable fans in sports live in St. Louis

America has turned on the St. Louis Cardinals.

The backlash started, more or less, with last week's Drew Magary takedown on Deadspin, which featured these memorable lines about the team's fans: "You are poorly disguised Yankees fans in ugly Christmas sweaters carrying a Jell-O mold to your neighbor's door. And your constant attempts to turn every October into an extended production of Our Town makes me want to hang myself with a extension cord."

The Cardinals are a very good baseball team. Their fans have every right to be happy.

You can't blame the rest of us for not sharing their joy, though. Familiarity breeds contempt; people are tired of seeing the Cards in the post-season. Also, fans need someone to hate, and the Yankees are more likely to inspire pity at the moment.

Here's another theory for the backlash: People are finally getting nauseated at the pious gloss that's endlessly smeared across this "storied franchise." Just before the Dodgers series got underway, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch transformed it, predictably, from a handful of baseball games into a morality tale: "This isn't just a clash of cultures, but of architecture. Bankrolled vs. Built. The Best Team Money Can Buy vs. the club now being called The Best Organization in Baseball. One of the teams was built from the draft up, the other from the pocketbook down." Guess which team was which? (Hint: The story was accompanied by a cartoon featuring Rich Uncle Pennybags of Monopoly fame in a Dodgers top hat, clutching a big sack of cash.)

If we needed another reminder that this was a team that plays the game the right way — The Cardinal Way — we got it after Game 3, when Carlos Beltran criticized the Dodgers' young Cuban star, Yasiel Puig, for inappropriately showing emotion when he hit a triple. (Imagine!) Of course, Beltran is a Cardinal, so he didn't want to sound mean about it. "I think with time," he said of Puig, "he will learn that you have to sometimes act a little bit more calm."

The reality is that for the last 15 years or so, we've been fed a narrative about this special team and its special fans by a number of Cardinals-loving broadcasters and writers, including Tim McCarver (a long-time Cardinal), Joe Buck (who grew up in St. Louis and is the son of legendary voice of the Cardinals, Jack Buck), Bob Costas (who started his broadcasting career in St. Louis) and Buzz Bissinger (author of the Tony La Russa love letter, "Three Nights In August").

We've heard all about the "down-to-earth" Stan Musial playing his harmonica in overalls on "Hee Haw." And about the radio station, KMOX, which has been carrying Cards games pretty much since the team's 1926 World Series against the Yankees. We've been told, repeatedly, that Cards fans are so humble that they applaud opposing players when they make great plays — that they are the best fans in baseball.

The Cardinals are, evidently, a first-class organization with a rich history and loyal fans in a great baseball town. (Never mind that St. Louis is otherwise not so great: The nation's third largest city at the turn of the 20th century, it is poverty plagued, racially polarized and has lost more than 60 percent of its population since 1950.)

I'm not disputing this. The trouble is, we are constantly being told to admire them. Holding up the Cards — and their fans — as some sort of baseball ideal doesn't just make them annoying. It implicitly denigrates every other team in baseball and their respective fans. That includes Dodger fans, who kept coming out to the park to watch their team during some pretty dark days over the last 10 years. It's one thing for Cardinals fans to celebrate their organization's values. It's another thing for those values to be inflicted on the rest of us, especially when all we really want to do is watch a ballgame.

1
Text Only
National Sports
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg One-sided ruling against Rodriguez makes statement for clean baseball

    Alex Rodriguez's team of lawyers and public relations people portray him as the victim of a conspiracy. Regardless of the defense Rodriguez offers, the New York Yankees star isn't believable.

    January 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why do pro athletes recover before you do?

    It's a mystery: When we twist our ankle playing tennis, it can take weeks to heal, but when a pro athlete does it, he often misses barely a beat.

    November 15, 2013

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Changes to NCAA foul rules could lead to free-throw marathons

    I attended a Big Ten basketball game in Bloomington, Ind., a few years ago where I was seated so close to the floor that I had to keep my feet pinned under my chair so I wouldn’t trip the referee as he raced up and down the court. The view from courtside left me with one shocking reaction: I no longer had any idea what was a foul.

    November 5, 2013 1 Photo

  • Coaches grapple with line between discipline and abuse

    The outrage was visceral last spring when ESPN aired the damning video showing Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice shoving his players, hurling gay slurs and throwing basketballs at their heads.

    November 1, 2013

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Is the NCAA a sinking ship?

    The daily flow of bad news chronicling the NCAA seems to fall somewhere between damaging and defeated. By comparison, the NCAA’s myriad problems make the Obama Administration’s roll out of the Affordable Care Act look smooth.

    October 30, 2013 1 Photo

  • spt_cardscelebrate.jpg VIDEOS: Memorable MLB postseason celebrations

    Some of baseball's most enduring October memories are punctuated by jubilant celebrations. Take a look back at some of the most memorable expressions of joy in Major League Baseball's postseason by players and teams after the final out.

    October 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • spt_siegrist.jpg The most insufferable fans in sports live in St. Louis

    The Cardinals are a very good baseball team. Their fans have every right to be happy. You can't blame the rest of us for not sharing their joy, though.

    October 17, 2013 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Maybe we should rethink the post-game handshake

    The Kentucky High School Athletic Association has advised educators to rethink the long-standing tradition of teams shaking hands after athletic events. Is sportsmanship dead in the Bluegrass State?

    October 16, 2013 1 Photo

  • Turner Field Dangerous, deadly falls from sports stadiums A 30-year-old man fell about 65 feet to his death at an Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field Monday evening. Details on what caused the fall are unknown. There have been several other deadly or dangerous falls in sports stadiums in recent years.

    August 14, 2013

  • FBN-INJURE211.jpg NFL injury risk has Hall-of-Fame dad concerned for rookie son

    Kyle Long is going into the family business. "Some people are third-generation carpenters, and that's what they do," his father says. "Well, we hit people."

    July 23, 2013 2 Photos

Business Marquee
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks