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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fan Up! Unconditional Love or Realistic Expectations? Both?

Give a Cheer for Ole Mizzou
As most of you know, I grew up loving sports. I was a fan of four teams. The St. Louis Cardinals and Blues, The Mizzou Tigers and The Pittsburgh Steelers. All of these were chosen due to the fact that family was involved. I’ve documented my grandmother’s love of the Cards. We were also huge Mizzou fans. Various family members including: grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and parents as well as my brother and I went to Mizzou. So I grew up making the trek from the Lake to Columbia most every home game Sat. 

Back then my grandfather would donate whole sides of beef to the Mizzou football team table. This enabled our family to buy great season tickets and park in Lot A right next to the stadium. You don’t want to know where my grandfather told Mizzou Athletics to stick put their tickets after they asked for more money just to have the chance to buy the season tickets he’d had forever.  We park in lot G now. It’s across from a nuclear reactor. But I digress. My Steeler love came from the fact that I had relatives in PA that were huge Steeler fans.  Also because they had colors similar to Mizzou. And it didn’t hurt that my older brother was a Viking fan. I was not gonna like the same team he did. 

I’ll always remember the warning my father gave me when he saw my burgeoning love and loyalty to ‘my teams’. “Being a fan will give you enormous joy and memories that last a lifetime. Being a fan will also yank your heart out of your chest, stomp on it and grind it in the garbage disposal. In other words it ain’t all rainbows, Suzy Q.” That was his nickname for me. I like to think it came from the Stone’s song. But I think it came from the fact that I have black eyes like a Black Eyed Susan. I may or may not have told a large percentage of people, it was the Stones.  

I mention all this to show my bone fides in fandom. Been a fan. Been around fans. My whole life has been spent as a fan. I know fans. There are dozens of types of fans. They run the scale from casual to diehard to just this side of insanity. They are all legitimate. There is no one right way to show your fandom. There is no wrong way to be a fan.

Lately I have seen something that is troubling. Card fans are arguing about who is a real fan. Fans are arguing with those they see as giving up and/or criticizing our team or players. Fans are calling out those they perceive as na├»ve Pollyannas. Those-diehard, with the team no matter what, never give up until the bitter end-fans. Fans and media are arguing about whether we are ‘the best fans in baseball.’ Others have brought out the fact that we are not the loudest cheerers found in fandom. That’s for sure. But oy vey and bullocks. Come on, people, we ain’t Northern Ireland.

A fan. With a lot of Card stuff.
We have enough “troubles” that arguing amongst ourselves about who’s a fan is rather a waste of time. Now, I am not a judgmental person. I’m an easy- going, to each his own, kinda person. I HAVE DEFINITE OPINIONS. But I always usually believe that others’ opinions are just as valid as mine. My family and friends say I’m the perfect diplomat or liaison. I can see multiple points of views at the same time. Doesn’t mean I agree with them all. But as long as you’re not harming anyone or committing a felony, knock yourself out. 

It’s okay to criticize a player or the efforts and play of the Cards. Being critical of the Cards when there is merit to the criticism is fine.  As long as we’re tawlkin amongst ourselves, we can say what we feel. It’s ok if, for the sake of your sanity, you just can’t take it anymore. You just had to stop believing this team is finally gonna ‘get it together’. We all know the Cards are so head scratchin schizophrenic, there are a million things to “discuss” about this team. That’s a legitimate point of few. Doesn’t mean you don’t support the team or that you’re not a real fan. 

It’s also okay to hang in there with the Cards and nevah surrendah until the math gurus tell us we have crossed the rubicon of loserdom. We can hang in there and not believe it’s really over until Bud Selig sings. This too is a legitimate way to express your fandom. Doesn’t mean you are a total schmuck and gonna go put $1,000 bucks on the Rams to win the Super Bowl. Maybe $25 bucks, but never over $100. 

What do those people in Nevada DO?
What really broils my lobster is all the brouhaha over the term ‘best fans in baseball’. Cardinal Nation is just that. A nation of fans. Because of the fact that the Cards were the first team west of the Mississippi and the huge reach of KMOX, our fandom reaches far and wide. Add to that, the fact that, besides the Yankees, the Cards are the most successful franchise in baseball; Cardinal nation is a force to be envied. Our fan base extends east to Ill. and Ind. west to Okla., south to Tenn., Ky., Ark., La. and Ms. and north to Iowa and Neb. It’s much much more than the St. Louis area and Mo. Only the Yankees have won more World Series. Only the Giants have more players in the Hall of Fame. The Cardinals are a class organization. Most every player in baseball would love to wear the Birds on the Bat. 

Most of our fans are astute and knowledgeable about their team and baseball. They appreciate all out effort and dedication to the game and to the Cards. They know an outstanding play when they see one. They generally possess what I call Midwest Nice. They rarely boo a Cardinal. For that matter they rarely boo another team or player. Now…kick one of our players in the head until they’re out for the season and we’ll get our boo on. If they loved a player when he wore the Cardinal uniform, they’ll cheer their hearts out when that player comes back wearing another. They spend their hard earned dollars coming to Busch or buying replica Cardinal jerseys and other paraphernalia. They listen or watch every game they can. They religiously read the in depth coverage provided by the Post Dispatch. They blog, call in to radio shows, tweet, comment and comment and comment on websites and any other fan forum they can find. 

No comment necessary.
Now… are some of them batsh^t crazy slightly eccentric, irrational and illogical with some wild, out-there ideas? YES! Do some of them still believe in mullets and mall bangs? YES! Do some of them drive our local media to gambling and drink? YES! Small sample size and all that. But they’re still part of our Cardinal nation. Just in the last couple of nights in the midst of division and wild card races, the Tampa Bay Rays vs. Yankees drew around 26,000 in Tampa. The Reds drew just 12,000 in Cincy. The Braves, in ATL, had fewer than 27,000. The Cards drew their normal 40,000 or more at Busch. 

Know how ya feel. Sorta.
Are there other great fan bases? Of course. The Cubbies, Red Sox, Dodgers, Phillies, Mets, Giants and Yankees are all equally loyal and knowledgeable. The only difference is, they are more likely to boo their own players as they are the opponents. Also they use colorful language. Also they are rowdy and LOUD! I wish we were as well.

Those wild Canadians.
Best Card tattoo. Ever.
So let’s save our fights discussions to whether the pitcher should hit eighth, the management style of TLR, who’s gonna play third base, is being a clutch hitter more than luck, who should we pursue this winter, is someone really tipping pitches, Dunc?, whether trading Luddy was the root of our downfall, should we get red uniform jerseys, and whether you are allowed to do bodily harm to anyone who starts the wave. Ya know…important stuff like that.

2 comments:

  1. I'm choosing to not go to any more games and not give this team any money.

    Will it make a difference? No chance.

    Will it make me feel better about 2010. Slightly.

    ATH

    ReplyDelete
  2. Understand completely. How we can be swept by the Cubbies and then come back and defeat the Padres who are in the middle of a close race to win the NL West is beyond my comprehension.Thanks for your comment, Aaron, and for your continued support.

    ReplyDelete

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