The state of Cardinals' fandom in 2024

The storied franchise has seen a change in demeanor among its loyal fans.
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

Let me start this article out by touting the achievements of the St. Louis Cardinals since the turn of the century. They have the 2nd-most playoff appearances since 2000 behind only the Yankees. They have the 3rd-most division titles in that time span. They are tied with the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers with 4 National League pennants. The icing on the cake would be the team's 2 World Series Championships in 2006 and 2011 since 2000, the third most behind only the Giants (2002, 2010, 2012) and Boston Red Sox (2004, 2007, 2013, 2018).

The Cardinals stand among the greatest teams in the last generation of baseball fans. If one were to go back even further, they would find a total of 11 World Series Championships, second most, 19 National League pennants, and 12 division titles since 1994, twice the amount of the second-place Chicago Cubs.

The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the best teams in baseball history. It's not hyperbole to say that the fans are lucky to be able to cheer on such a historic franchise.

However, recent sentiments surrounding the team have become noticeably dispirited. A 71-91 season in 2023 suppressed the sectionalism that the fanbase had developed in recent years. Mind you, this was the first losing season for the franchise in 16 years.

A rollercoaster of a start to the year has only magnified those emotions that are leftover from last year. The previous series against the Arizona Diamondbacks is evidence of this development. From a purely fanatical standpoint, observers of the "Best Fans in Baseball" saw the full spectrum of supporters.

Game 1 was a battle; Lance Lynn made it through 5 tough innings and gave up 3 runs. The bullpen held serve, allowing the sleepy offense to step up. After not hitting a single home run in 8 games, the slumping Paul Goldschmidt was able to hit a solo shot in the 7th to tie the game. Nolan Gorman was the other hero with a walk-off home run. The Cardinals had all facets of the game working that day against the National League champions.

Game 2 was a microcosm of the 2023 season. The pitching was abysmal, the offense was anemic, and the stadium was empty early. The Cardinals ended up losing 14-1 and the narrative on social media was that the season was over already. Fans were fully fed up with the lackluster performance on the heels of an embarrassing season.

The series finale was full of malaise. The Cardinals ended up winning the game 5-1 thanks to Kyle Gibson's quality start and timely hits against Jordan Montgomery in the 7th innings, but the vibes after the game were muted among the fans.

Cardinal fans have appeared to become more fickle in recent years despite the organization's storied history. Other fanbases like Houston, Chicago, and Detroit have had to toil through rebuild after rebuild. Big-spending organizations like the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, and New York Mets had equally disappointing seasons last year as the Cardinals did. However, the St. Louis faithful are singing doom and gloom and calling for heads to roll after a slow start.

It's only April. We aren't even 20% of the way through the season. The Philadelphia Phillies in 2023, one of the best offenses in baseball last year, started as slowly as the Cardinals have this year. Even the mighty Houston Astros, owners of a 7-year stretch of being in the ALCS, are off to a terrible start.

It could be much worse; the Chicago White Sox are off to a historically bad start; the Miami Marlins are performing far below expectations, and the Colorado Rockies have been toiling at the bottom of the division for nearly a decade now.

Meanwhile, St. Louis fans have been able to worry not about which top draft pick they'll have to choose but rather about who they'll end up facing in the playoffs each season.

Fans are right to be frustrated; it's never fun to see a team you love and show support for lose, but to act as though the organization is rife with incompetence, lethargy, and apathy is preposterous. John Mozeliak is not a "lame duck". The DeWitt family is not preparing to sell the team. Oliver Marmol is not resting on his laurels and counting his dollars after a questionable extension. The players are not giving up.

Be irked. Be sorrowful. Be vocal. But also be grateful. 13 months of baseball does not define a franchise. The Cardinals have Hall of Fame candidates on the roster. Enjoy the game that we all love for what it is. Winning fixes everything, but support for the team goes a long way.

In the end, it's just a game.