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.