Oblivious and self-righteous Cardinals fans vs. desperate-to-play-the-victim Red Sox fans: WHO YA GOT?
If you happen to cross paths with any media members who write about either of these teams anytime in the next few months, kick them in the crotch for me. I'm not 100% sure which side is worse, although I am leaning strongly towards the Cardinals. At least loudmouth moron Red Sox fans are pretty honest about themselves: they're loudmouths, they're morons, and they're OK with that. Their other most annoying flaw is their obsession with climbing up on their crosses and portraying themselves as victims (as seen most recently in the way many of them donned tinfoil hats and briefly insisted that the NFL changed the "pushing your teammates into the line of scrimmage" rules specifically to screw them, or more generally in every tweet Simmons has ever tweeted after a Boston team loses). And that flaw is insufferable. HOLY SHIT, THE WORLD IS NOT AGAINST YOU, AND IT SURE AS SHIT HASN'T BEEN PARTICULARLY CRUEL TO YOU IN THE REALM OF SPORTS FANDOM FOR THE PAST 15 YEARS. But mostly, Boston fans just love their teams, and think their teams are better than your teams, and FACK YOU if you disagree. I have a modicum of respect for that. Cardinals fans? Oh boy, here's where it gets much, much uglier.
The whole "Best Fans In Baseball" thing has been a vomit-inducing and out of control myth for a long time now, perpetuated by mouth-breathing commentators (both national and regional) who bring it up EVERY FUCKING TIME you're watching/listening to a game that's taking place in Saint Louis. The Bob Costases of the world trip over themselves to point out the fact that the fans clapped for their starting pitcher who came out of the game mid-inning after a good start, or cheered tepidly for a nice catch made by an opposing player in the bottom of the 2nd, before the game gets tense. Essentially every example some retard might try to give of Cardinals fans being the best around can be put into one of two categories: 1) something that all fans of all teams everywhere do (classic example: cheering for former players who come back as members of other teams) or 2) things that are not true (classic example: being super "classy"--counterpoint, see the Twitter feed linked above, or the way they handled the Pujols departure).
But the real cherry on top of the shit sundae is how oblivious they are. Most Red Sox fans, if asked to evaluate whether Red Sox fans are obnoxious, will at least consider the possibility. Most Cardinals fans, if asked to evaluate whether Cardinals fans are obnoxious, will act like they are being asked to evaluate whether the earth is flat. If you didn't hate Will Leitch before (and Jesus, how could you not? Will Leitch is a huge piece of shit), you will after this.
All right, we need to get something straight, and we need to get something straight fast. I have never, ever, ever ever ever ever ever, heard a Cardinals fan refer to him or herself as "one of the best fans in baseball." I'm sure it has happened. I've just never seen it. And I hang out with a lot of Cardinals fans.
This notion, that Cardinals fans are always walking around patting themselves on the back, telling everyone they run into, "Hey, did you know that I'm part of the best fans in baseball? Well, I am," appears to have secured its place in the public consciousness.
Opposing fans or media members saying so derisively;
Players on the field describing the experience of playing in St. Louis.
The last 24 hours have unleashed a torrent of disdain for the Cardinals and their fans, most notably from Drew Magary at Deadspin,
So Cardinals fans don't think they're the best fanbase in baseball, or at least not any more than every fan thinks they're part of the best fanbase in baseball.
Because Cardinals fans could probably use an antidote to all the bile yesterday, and because Game One of the NLCS kicks off at Busch Stadium tonight, this is how one might make that case.
10 Reasons Why Cardinals Fans Might Be The Best Fanbase In Baseball
1) They really do cheer opposing players when they make a great play. This actually happens. You'll even see it in the NLCS. If Hanley Ramirez makes a diving stop to throw a Cardinal out, or Clayton Kershaw loses a no-hitter in the eighth inning, Cardinals fans will give them standing ovations. Now, you can mock that if you want. You can call that "fake classiness." But you cannot deny that it happens, all the time.
2) They love their players even when they leave. When Dodgers centerfielder Skip Schumaker or infielder Nick Punto are announced any time in this series, they will receive huge ovations as well, probably even if they get a base hit. Both were pivotal parts of the 2011 World Series team, and the Cardinals fans will never forget it. Eventually this is even going to happen to Albert Pujols.
3) Everyone just wants to be Stan Musial. Want to know where this whole notion of The Cardinal Way -- winning, and doing so with class, dignity and reserve -- came from?
4) The Winter Warm Up. Every year around MLK Day, the Cardinals have a big Winter Warm Up event at a hotel downtown. It's basically just a bunch of Cardinals signing autographs, but Cardinals fans attend this event like a dying man crawling through a desert being offered water. (You can actually buy tickets to this event three months in advance.)
5) They always, always come out to the games. Busch Stadium is at the center of everything in St. Louis, and is always, always full. Season capacity this year was 94.6 percent, second-highest in baseball. Last year? 91.6 percent, fourth. Every person within 200 miles of Busch Stadium spent the last 48 hours -- since the end of the Pirates game -- desperately scrambling for tickets to the NLCS. (If you can help my dad, who's still searching, out, let me know.)
6) They travel as well as any fanbase in the country. If you've ever been to watch your team play the Cardinals in your home stadium, you know this. Cardinals fans have a way of turning whole sections of opposing stadiums bright red. It has become a tradition in September, when the Cardinals are often playing teams out of the pennant chase, that opposing stadiums because de facto home games. We sort of just cheerily invade.
Players are family here, and they know it. In 2004, the Cardinals traded for Larry Walker late in the season. As he came to the plate for his first at-bat, he received a standing ovation. He struck out on three pitches. He then received another one.
The last home game of the season, when everybody sings the National Anthem. It's a tradition: The team doesn't have an anthem singer for the final home game. The whole crowd does it, and it's deeply moving, every year. Here's the last one at the old Busch Stadium.
The fans are the reason the Cardinals can compete. The Cardinals don't have a wealthy owner willing to spend billions on whatever player he wants.
But this idea that there isn't anything special about Cardinals fans, that this has all just been made up as some sort of self-aggrandizing exercise, is ludicrous. The Cardinals have a loyal, devoted fanbase, and it is one that has had a direct effect in the success of their team.