(Image: Bill Greenblatt/UPI)
We can all agree hate is not a healthy emotion, but as Darth Vader famously observed/recommended, sometimes it’s hard not to give in. As I write this, the St. Louis Cardinals are up 2-0 in the NLCS against the Dodgers. Like a lot of Brewers fans, I’m not rooting for Los Angeles as much as I’m rooting against the Cardinals.
I realize I’m basically rooting against the Cardinals not because they are bad people or don’t play the game the right way, but because they are successful. I’m not necessarily proud of that, and I have a feeling I should be above it somehow. But the Cardinals and some of their fans make it all too easy…
Brewers fans don’t need much temptation to give into our hate. Last week, Brew Crew Ball’s Fred Hofstetter expressed what many of us were feeling after St. Louis’ Game 5 NLDS win. The Cardinals’ consistently superior performance, year after year, becomes tiresome for fans of less-accomplished teams. Even if we acknowledge public displays of self-pity are best kept to a minimum, it feels worth making an exception in the Cardinals’ case, no?
It helps to believe we are not alone in thinking the Cardinals are insufferable. Deadspin’s Drew Magary wrote a similarly cathartic piece last week called Why Your Cardinals Suck, which nicely encapsulated the essence of Cardinals hate, in particular the unbearable conceit that characterizes a vocal portion of St. Louis fans. As a fan of an underperforming team who feels sorry for myself, I can’t claim any kind of moral superiority…but like Magary I can call into question how Cardinals’ fans somehow got elevated above the rest of us.
Type “st. louis cardinals fans” into Google, and it auto-completes to “best in baseball.” By contrast, if you type “milwaukee brewers fans” into Google, it auto-completes to “eat free.” I mean…goddammit.
I have nothing against Cardinals fans per se, and let’s stipulate it’s not fair to judge an entire fan base by an obnoxious minority – but WHAT an obnoxious minority. Magary was obviously inviting criticism with his rant, and Cardinals fans responded. Not surprisingly, most of it was petty and included predictable word choices. Hofstetter was likewise able to find tweets by Cardinals fans that were in, shall we say, questionable taste. Of course, it would be easy enough to find offensive tweets by fans of any team, but only one team’s fans have been appointed by the Google gods as the best in baseball. Wouldn’t they want to be held to a higher standard?
What possible reason could any Cardinals fan have for being petty? St. Louis has won two World Series in the last decade, and very well may be on their way to another in a few short weeks. If anyone trolls them, shouldn’t they just shake their heads and quietly relish their opponents’ contempt? Nothing anyone says to a Cardinals fan should hurt them or be worthy of response. One would expect the best fans in baseball to be the epitome of grace.
As the kids say these days, haters can be reliably anticipated to hate. Hating the Cardinals accomplishes nothing and is probably childish – but having a relatively harmless outlet for negative emotions is a big part of being a sports fan. In that sense, Cardinals hatred might not be as unhealthy as it feels. Surely, the best fans in baseball should be able to shrug it off. Go Dodgers.