So the Tigers beat the A’s 3-0 last night. Sigh. Another day, another likeable team gone. And now I’m down to one.
The NLCS begins tonight around 8, with my newly adopted Los Angeles Dodgers traveling to St. Louis for game one against those loathsome Cardinals.
You all know I hate the Cardinals. Many of you suspect that it’s solely because my Reds can’t beat them, that we are locked in a division that St. Louis continues to win 80 percent of the time, that we are jealous of their success. That’s partially true.
But there is so much more to my hatred, which before Deadspin writer Drew MaGary’s column yesterday, I had found hard to put into words.
The Cardinals are a giant sucking red hole of good old-fashioned Midwestern piousness, with a fanbase that does “classy” things specifically so that it can humblebrag about doing classy things.
As Exhibit A, MaGary points to this example of “horrible head-patting” from St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Bernie Milaskrzyzewski after the Cardinals closed out the Pirates.
It was all too much for the Pirates, who are talented, tenacious and endearing. They are poised to stalk the Cardinals as a worthy rival for the foreseeable future, but most teams need postseason scar tissue – the kind that forms in the pain of defeat – to evolve into champions. This experience will only make the Pirates stronger going forward.
Seriously?! How condescending can you get? This is like thanking the Pirates for putting up a decent fight, but that putting up a good fight is all they will ever be good for against such a pedigreed champion Cardinal organization. Even the St. Louis journalists – those whose careers are supposed to be rooted in objectivity – can’t seem to get over themselves as Cardinal fans.
I think Yankees fans are horrible people: selfish, arrogant, profane, and miserable at all. But at least they don’t try to hid their repulsiveness. At least there isn’t deliberate, “Oh, we’re not like those OTHER fans” fakeness that OOZES from Cardinals and their acolytes. Wanna know who you really are, Cardinals fans? You are poorly disguised Yankees fans in ugly Christmas sweaters carrying Jell-O mold to your neighbors door. And your constant attempts to turn every October into an extended production of “Our Town” makes me want to hang myself with an extension cord.
And for those of you who think MaGary is way off base, consider his prophecy from a day ago when he wrote that “somehow, the Cardinals and their fans will brand themselves as lovable underdogs to LA despite boasting a top-10 payroll” and just take a look at the cartoon that ran in the special section of this morning’s St. Louis Dispatch.
St. Louis, get over yourself; you have a top-10 payroll too! This is the true Cardinal Way. Game, set and match, MaGary.
Which makes their success even more sickening. No matter what move this organization makes, it works. No matter how disastrous the same move would be for any other club in baseball.
For example, the Cardinals let first baseman Albert Pujols walk after he led the team to two World Series championships. Pujols had been the heart and soul of that lineup for nearly a decade before taking his walking papers from St. Louis and signing a 10-year $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Cardinals made a qualifying offer to Pujols, so they got a first round pick when he signed elsewhere. Who did the Cardinals take with said first round pick? Starting pitcher Michael Wacha, who is already in the Majors, who in his last regular season start nearly pitched a no hitter, and who in his last postseason start nearly pitched a no-hitter in an elimination game against the Pirates.
Then St. Louis plugged Allen Craig into the first base slot formerly occupied by Pujols. Craig instantly became one of the most dangerous hitters in the National League, before going down this season to an injury. Then St. Louis plugged Matt Adams into the first base slot formerly occupied by Craig. Matt Adams instantly became an RBI machine.
The Cardinals continue to somehow find the fountain of youth with retread signees like Lance Berkman, Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran. The continue to somehow get All-Star performances from never have beens like Kyle Lohse and Edward Mujica. Those types of acquisitions would have been utter disasters for any other club. Don’t believe me? Look at what Lohse has been for the Brewers this year. Look at what Berkman’s performance with the Yankees prior to being picked up by the Cardinals, and then with the Rangers after he left St. Louis.
This is not just a recent past thing, either. Amazing fortune has smiled upon Busch Stadium for the past decade. The Cardinals have made it as far as the NLCS eight of the last 14 seasons, dating back to 2000.
Why the baseball gods continue to reward this obnoxious, self-righteous, smug-looking and ignorantly indignant fan base is beyond me. But I will continue to pray. Not so much that the Dodgers win, but that – as MaGary closes his column – that the Cardinals lose. And lose badly.