I am a St. Louis Cardinal fan, plain and simple. I have been a Cards fan through thick and thin for all of my life. I can recall where I was when key events happened in Redbird history and how they related to my life. When I was playing little league baseball the players of the day defined my position. If I was catching I was Darrell Porter. When I played first base I was Jack Clark. When I was in the outfield I was Willie McGee or Andy Van Slyke. I often wore the number 28 as a nod to one of my all time favorites Tommy Herr. Even though I never made it to the majors I was a Cardinal.
I often have to edit my posts to remove “we” from the text when referring to things about the organization and team. As fans we identify with our teams so zealously that we become part of them. I had the opportunity to attend church on Easter Sunday with my brother in law and sister in law. It is a country church miles from where we live. It feels like home even though we are there a few times a year with them. The pastor yesterday began her sermon with references to the Cardinals and their championship run last year. She spoke about how invested we were in the games and how we lived every pitch. She related it to the Easter story and did a masterful job of it.
As we are prone to do after attending a sermon several things stuck with me when we left. She was unequivocally right. We become a part of the team. Whatever team it is. This is why players from outside of St. Louis want to play here and the phrase “baseball heaven” has been coined. This is why it still stings that someone who we loved so dearly left us, and this past weekend made comments about our town, our team, our Cardinals. As fans we have trouble separating ourselves from the reality that we don’t get to make the decisions that John Mozeliak and the organization makes. We embrace those who are ours even if they have to leave us via trade or even free agency. WE are the best fans in all of baseball. We have an understanding of the game that other organizations wish their towns had.
This understanding and passion can sometimes be to our detriment. We have been spoiled. We are winners. The Cards are attempting to win their 12th championship this year. Most other clubs except the New York Yankees (27) and the Oakland Athletics (9) can not even begin to understand. Our boys have done it without many of the advantages enjoyed by those teams. The boys of summer are our heroes. Our St. Louis Rams have been to the top and have spent so much time at the bottom as fans we struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel (hopefully that is all about to change). Our St. Louis Blues have their best chance in forever to win it all. We love our hometown teams but our Cardinals are our pride and joy. We are Cardinal Nation.
This Saturday our Cardinals are going to receive their World Championship rings in a ceremony before the game. In a cruel twist of fate (which I happen to LOVE) this will occur while the Chicago Cubs are on town. Their long-suffering fans will at least get to see a ring. As fans we hung on every pitch during the playoffs. Players often remark about the advantage fans give them. When our team may not have believed they had a chance to win, we still hoped. We still believed. We root for our guys even when they are new and we don’t fully know them yet. We root for the underdog on the team to break through and contribute. We even rooted for a squirrel and the magic he brought to Busch Stadium. Crazy, huh? While he will never replace FredBird that Rally Squirrel is forever a part of our history.
We root for our Cardinals and when they win we win in many ways. The business, restaurant owners and vendors in the city all win when the town is bustling with Cardinal fans. That success increases the revenue in the city coffers. This leads to improvements and a sense of good feeling throughout the city. When they win we all win. I guess it is only fitting that all fans in attendance at Saturday’s game will receive a replica of the World Series Championship ring our Cardinals will proudly wear for the rest of their lives. I hope to witness this scene over and over again throughout the course of my lifetime. I love to win and look forward to watching the new look Redbirds do just that!