As I sit here, still stunned after my NY Giants choked away first place yesterday, I find it hard to have positive thoughts. Holiday cheer has been replaced by a big old “bah humbug!”
Usually when my football team puts me in a sour mood, I try to focus on baseball. Some pre-spring positivity can usually do the trick. Unfortunately I’m just too bitter today.
In an effort to channel my anger, I’ve decided to put together a list of the St. Louis Cardinals’ top villains. Something of a “naughty list,” if you will. So, who do St. Louis Cardinals fans hate?
Don Denkinger – Much has been said and written about Denkinger’s infamous call. Just as I keep watching highlights of the Eagle’s punt return yesterday, I’ve often go back to that play at first base and watch it over and over again. It never feels any better. Yes, the Cardinals still could have ended that inning anyway. Yes, they still had another game. But what would have happened if Denkinger had gotten the call right?
Johnny Cueto/Brandon Phillips – It will be interesting to see how these two are received in St. Louis in 2011. It was Phillips’ mouth that started it all. It was Cueto’s kicks that ended Jason LaRue’s career. And I think it’s safe to say that some players share in the fans’ hatred for these two.
The Chicago Cubs – Classic rivalry. Enough said.
The New York Mets – The hatred has worn off quite a bit since the 1980s, but this team still gets some fans blood boiling. Not long ago, Jack Clark called those Mets, “a bunch of cheats and showboats.” I once had the pleasure of talking to Danny Cox about the 1980s teams. He said, “People like to talk about Cubs-Cardinals. When I played, the Mets were the real rivals. We [expletive deleted] hated those guys!”
The Tarp – That damn outfielder-eater altered the 1985 postseason. Another instance of “what if” regarding that World Series: what would have happened if Coleman had a chance to run wild in that series? Has a group of fans ever had more hatred for an inanimate object than Cards fans do for that automatic tarpaulin?
Jeffery Leonard – Ten hits and four home runs in the 1987 NLCS was enough to get Cardinals fans riled up. But taking an hour and a half to round the bases after those home runs that earns Leonard a spot on this list. The Cardinals won that series, but I still have nightmares about that guy.
Dusty Baker – Dusty always seems to be in the other dugout when things get ugly. Whether it was dust-ups with the Cubs or the ugliness in Cincinnati, Dusty seems to take pleasure in sticking it to Tony LaRussa. His players usually share his passion.
I always think an exercise like this will make me feel better. Of course it doesn’t. The above list just gets me more upset. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow. Or maybe this list will grow tomorrow. That’s part of being a sports fan isn’t? If we didn’t have villains, our heroes wouldn’t seem as special.
So Cardinals fans, who else is on your list?