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“What it means to be a Cardinal”

Oct 21, 2013, 5:45 PM EDT

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If you’ve already had enough of “The Cardinal Way” and the whole idea that they do things better and classier and everything than everyone else, by all means DO NOT go read Bernie Miklasz’s column in the Post-Dispatch today, because it’s gonna make you crazy:

“Cardinal Way” isn’t the name of a city street near Busch Stadium, but it does represent a path that the 2013 team followed from the beginning of spring training … The Cardinal Way is an organizational model for success. Scouting players, drafting players, developing players and shaping their personalities to fit into a winning environment. But the Cardinal Way is also an attitude. And more than anything, it is about people, and the bond that forges professional and personal relationships …

… The Cardinals’ old-school persona and dedication to professionalism was mocked as being haughty and arrogant. By believing a team should compete in a way that respects the game, the Cardinals were said to be out of step with modern sports culture. And that’s exactly what’s wrong with sports and our culture at large: The team that tries to do things the right way is somehow seen as abnormal. The team that plays hard but doesn’t try to embarrass opponents is portrayed as the bad guy.

I love Bernie, but he’s missing the point here. No one — at least that I’ve come across — hates the Cardinals for any of these things. Indeed, most folks don’t hate the Cardinals at all unless the Cardinals have recently beaten the tar out of their own rooting interest.

Indeed, I bet if you asked most people to evaluate the way the Cardinals play and the way they’ve built their team, they’d give the Cardinals ace ratings. Who wouldn’t want their team’s farm system to be producing such talent? Who wouldn’t want to have the kind of depth this team has? Who wouldn’t want to root for a team with players who — as far as we can tell from the outside looking in — seem to be pretty good guys.  Sure, we’ll mock a bit when some unwritten rules violation comes up, but I really don’t see anyone truly bent-out-shape at the Cardinals themselves for this stuff.

What people DO hate, however, and what DOES drive people absolutely crazy is when it is insisted that The Cardinal Way is the only way. Or — and this is the one that really gets people nuts — when Cardinals fans or partisans (and that can include a columnist from time to time) takes smug, vicarious satisfaction from the manner in which the team with whom they are aligned operates.  When “the Cardinals do things well” transforms to “the Cardinals do things better, always.” When “we love our team” becomes “we love our team better than you love your team.” When “our team is lovable” becomes “our team is so much more worthy of love.”

That doesn’t come from the Cardinals themselves. That comes from Cardinals fans on message boards and the commentariat. It’s akin to finding another parent’s bragging about their kid’s accomplishments and character distasteful, not hating the kid themselves.  If anything we feel a bit sorry for the kid for having such insufferable parents.

That’s what people are reacting to with St. Louis. It’s not about the Cardinals going about their Cardinal Way. It’s about everyone else getting off on them doing it so darn much.

112 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. wardmanone - Oct 21, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    Bernie article was written for STL fan base, not national fan perspective. Or course those that take exception to Cardinal way are going to find it obnoxious, big surprise. Let’s put it this way it’s easy to go off on rants See anger bitter Brewer fan really you all have enough in your back yard picking Braun do do and why or why would fare weather dodger fan have time to discuss baseball when they get their during 3rd inning and leave during 7th. Also to author my recommendation to you would go back writing a blog in your basement for your Mom.

    • koufaxmitzvah - Oct 21, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      Fare weather Dodger fans? Well, parking did get as high as $15 during Frank McCourt’s days, if that’s what you’re talking about, Champ.

      Here’s an idea, Chest Thumper. If you don’t like people making fun of you, stop being obnoxious. If that means don’t leave disparaging comments about other fanbases you know jacksquat about, then maybe go that route. As it is, you are a joke, and your team had to crack someone else’s rib in order to get as far as they have.

    • veraarnold - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:18 PM

      Do you like acting as inhibited as you are at work in your own house,
      and having future work evaluations reflect how well you entertain as well as how well you do your job?
      Then by all means invite people from the office.
      you have to try at least once,
      I assure you will know the meaning of success….. ℬ­­­­A­­­­ℛ­­­1­­­7­­­.Ⅽ­­­­­O­­­­­­Ⅿ

  2. jhaegs - Oct 21, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    Cardinals fans hate Kozma…

    • cardsfan123 - Oct 22, 2013 at 6:36 AM

      Actually we don’t. He is a great glove man, having a tough year at the plate. What we hate is people who speak for us.

      • bfunk1978 - Oct 22, 2013 at 8:49 AM

        Kinda like Brendan Ryan, only now there’s not Tony the Manager there to kick Kozma around. All-glove, no-hit shortstops tend to “play” well in St. Louis. One guy did it for something like 15 years fairly recently.

  3. marteshoes1326 - Oct 21, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    I’m a die-hard Pirates fan an every time I go to St. Louis for a game, I’m decked out in my McCutcheon shirt and 1979 Square hat and I’m treated with nothing but respect, good-hearted ribbing, always treated to a beer or two and converse throughout the game with almost all the fans around me with educated banter and well wishes. They’ll cheer a great play by Barmas for no reason.
    When I go to Wrigley, the guy next to me curses me and the guy on the other side usually has a bong which he partakes in every half inning until he thinks the Cubs are winning the pennant. Cincy is all about Cincy how they’ll be in first in a few weeks. The Brewers fans are blotto from the parking lot before the game. I’ll bet half don’t know Braun is suspended. The Cardinal way I think is just jealousy from everyone else because they are always in contention. A guy pointed out to me they have 13 players left from the 2011 championship roster from 2 years ago. So they turn over and still win. Amazing.

    • jeffbbf - Oct 22, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      smoking is prohibited at Wrigley Field. You so much as light up an idea and you’ll have 3 security guards on you. And, yeah…we have been so intimidated by the Pirates and Pirate fans over the past 20 years, that we have no choice but to try to harass you. Maybe you’ve missed the Cub/Cardinal rivalry over the past 30 years. Lots of blue in STL, lots of red at Wrigley. Still have yet to hear either side complain they have been treated poorly at a game or felt threatened.

  4. Uncle Charlie - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    Summary of the comments here “Why don’t you like us, we’re great people… you suck, Craig… why do you only write negative stuff about us… Yes these are the only articles I comment on.”

  5. savior72 - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    So your best player was out with a cracked rib, ours was out with a sprained ankle. With Craig in the lineup, I doubt that series even makes it back to St. Louis

  6. Uncle Charlie - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    It’s a blast watching St. Losers get trolled time and time again.

  7. jhaegs - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    @koufax

    Again, the loss of ONE player is the reason you lost the series? If that were the case, Cardinals shouldn’t have made the playoffs with all the injuries they had. Matt Carpenter was one of the best hitters in the league (if not THE best) during the regular season. He struggled mightily and we were still able to win. It’s a team game- we had the better team.

  8. therealtrenches - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    At first, I thought that between St. Louis’ holier-than-thou fans and Boston’s contingent of Mass-holes, this World Series is damn near a wash.

    But you know what? “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” I’ll root with the Mas-holes over the St. Louis high-handers every day of the week.

    Bernie’s idea that the Cardinals stand for everything that’s right with America while the rest of the world’s jealousy of it represents where this country went wrong is a perfect example of Cardinal fan arrogance.

    I’ve been to stadiums all over the League, Busch stadium (old and new) several times, from the late 70s to the present. Yes, the fans there are very nice, but not exceptionally so; they’re not any nicer than fans in Minnesota, SF, or Arizona. They’re also the only fans I’ve ever encountered who will sermonize to me about proper baseball watching and rooting. And when they applaud a good play by the opponent, they actually *note what they’re doing for you.*

    We don’t mistake their BS as haughty arrogance. It IS haughty arrogance.

    It’s un-friggin-bearable.

  9. happytwinsfan - Oct 21, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    ” The team that tries to do things the right way is somehow seen as abnormal. The team that plays hard but doesn’t try to embarrass opponents is portrayed as the bad guy.”

    amen.

    it’s only maddeningly to me in that my twins can’t seem to grow a brain and be more like them. baseball goes back to 1880 or whatever and unlike the other “sports” it doesn’t base its marketing appeal on the spectacle of men-children doing spama bama slam dunks or silly shit end zone dances.

    if you manage to hit a home run you look at the ground when you trot around the bases because you know that that the guy throwing the pitch that you hit was trying his heart out too, and just maybe next time when you’re going back to grab some bench instead of trotting the bases, he’ll show you the same decency.

  10. jhaegs - Oct 21, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    @therealtrenches

    SF fans??? I guess putting people in comas and stabbing people constitutes as “nice” to you.

  11. chrisernst82 - Oct 22, 2013 at 12:50 AM

    Ive been a loyal fan of this site for years, I check it everyday multiple times. And how do I get rewarded? With crap like this, I can tell you this much the writers on this site have lost any respect I had for them. Trying to turn this site into some anti cardinal propaganda site. NBC should be ashamed that they cut hacks like you a check to do this. Why would any website intentional try to alienate its readers? That to me proves your ignorance. First the fall of PFT because Florio is to concerned with makeup and TV shows. Now my favorite baseball blog try’s to turn the world against my team. What a bunch of tools. Im glad you are not a Cardinal fan because I would have to be ashamed as well.

    And to the guy who said we had to hurt Hanley to win is idiotic at best, your team played like crap and your arrogant way riled the Cardinals up. Celebrate every hit that’s cool, we get to celebrate a trip to the World Series. I don’t have to say the Cardinals do it the right way, but I will say the Dodgers did it the wrong way. Bought a team and look where it got you. We didn’t hurt Hanley baseball hurt Hanley. We hurt your feelings, I would say pride but you don’t have any. Maybe you should teach your arrogant rookie how to act like a man, maybe he wouldn’t have looked like an arrogant piece of trash and learned how to play baseball. Don’t worry though Magic will throw a bunch of money at the team and again the baseball gods will smite you. Why haven’t I heard a story about teams like this doing it the wrong way?

    • cardsfan123 - Oct 22, 2013 at 6:41 AM

      Amen to that!

    • skeleteeth - Oct 22, 2013 at 7:39 AM

  12. jhaegs - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:05 AM

    @chrisernst82

    *applause*

  13. cardsfan123 - Oct 22, 2013 at 6:34 AM

    I am a lifelong cards fan. I love the game. I love the fact that the cards play the game right. They don’t add on runs to humiliate a team. They don’t throw at other players out of pettiness. They don’t taunt other players. They don’t talk bad about themselves or others. They play hard all 27 outs and try to win no matter what. They teach young players to be professionals both physically and mentally. If this is the cardinal way, I like it. If this is the Pirates was I like it, or Reds or anyone. It is the way you play the game. With respect. Stan the Man is the only retired player to never be ejected from a game. We like that stat. Bash us if you must, but we like the way we compete. I guess it’s a Cardinal thing.

  14. louhudson23 - Oct 22, 2013 at 7:43 AM

    There is more to the “Cardinal Way” than a farm system ,depth and “good guys”…They are also one of the most fundamentally sound and well drilled teams in the game. Situational baseball is on display for all to see and apreciate. And no,every team does not value,understand or execute the same way. And that fundamental difference was a key element of their NLCS victory. It clearly sticks in the craw of a great many to give even the smallest lip service to the idea that game play matters ,instead it is the all about the incessant recitation of a players production and numbers . Defense and fundamentals may not win Championships,but bad defense and poor fundamentals will damn sure lose them….I am not a Cardinals fan and never have been,but I do appreciate a well schooled team.

  15. kavika6 - Oct 22, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    The Cardinals are the San Antonio Spurs of MLB. Great organization, great fans and it’s players are unselfish, friendly, hard working, law abiding stand-up guys. They’re probably not the only team with all those atributes but certainly among the best.

    • thomas655 - Oct 22, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      kavika6, you beat me to the punch. I was going to write basically the same thing about the Cardinals and the Spurs. Both are high class acts. Neither of these teams have coaches or players that are attention hounds or that get into trouble. They are both very professional organizations that draft, train, and retain their players. I am very fortunate, as I live in San Antonio, Texas and I am a lifelong Spurs and Cardinals fan. How many professional teams in any sport can say that they have as many players that spend their entire careers with the same organization as the Cards and Spurs? Why does that happen? The players respect the teams, and the teams respect the players.

      • ducksnort13 - Oct 22, 2013 at 5:02 PM

        I’m not disagreeing at all with the Spurs/Cards comparison. I think that it’s pretty spot on. But I’m not sure I agree with the sentiment that lots of players spend their entire careers in the Cardinals organization. Sure, there’s Musial and Gibson back in the day, but that wasn’t so unusual at the time. Recently though, I don’t know that there are that many–especially when it comes to the big name/impact players. McGwire, Edmonds, Rolen, Walker, Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Holliday, and Beltran all came from or went elsewhere. Wainwright came from the Braves in the JD Drew trade. Even Ozzie Smith, although he’ll forever be thought of as a Card, came from San Diego. I know there are guys like Molina, Freese and Craig currently on the team but their careers aren’t over yet and could end up anywhere. I’m not saying that the Cardinals don’t develop talent well; they absolutely do. I’m just don’t think that they’re unique in the number of players spending their careers in the organization.

  16. steeldominance - Oct 22, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    There is obviously something to the “Cardinal Way” when many fans from other teams seem to say the same positive things about them. If Craig wasn’t an obvious Cardinal hater, he would probably write articles supporting the Cardinal Way. If the Cardinals all used steroids, he would write articles defending “The Cardinal Way” Of all of the sports sites here, PFT HBT CFT and even inside the irish, Craig is by far the worst writer. I think Chris Chase of Yahoo has competition now.

  17. dponzar - Oct 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    First of all, hello everyone. This is my first time to write a blog, don’t normally take time to do this kind of thing, but now i have some time on my hands due to being laid – up from having knee replacement surgery. I have been a Cardinals fan since 19964 when i went to my first ballgame at age of 9 to see cardinals win the pennant on the last day of the season, was a miracle comback that year, went on to beat yankee in ws. We have been blessed to have a proud heritage and great ownerships through the years. This ownership is just trying to honor the winning tradition this team has had since early 1900s by playing a certain way. You have heard of Stan musial i presume, he was a unassuming personality, quite humble and respectful person, i think this is how the organization trys to emuilate. he played hard and was successful. he was always respectful. I believe the cardinals try to be respectful, maby not perfectly but mosty.

    Some of the post i see here are very disrespectful, not in keeping with the musial way(better said than cardinal way). The fans in st louis are very proud of our team, we are mainly a baseball town, we don’t have other franchises that have done so well. I personally wish to say to all the other teams fans, we are all just baseball fans. Its like in all places in life we should be respectful
    of each other, I respect the pirates organization, their team, and fans, Andrew McCutcheon(great player). Cubs fans are great fans, mostly fans are fans. The media however kinda likes to stir stuff up, Let me just say, we fans in st louis have high regard for boston redsox team and fans, expecting a great well played and respectful competition. Media wants everything to be smash mouth these days. This is not what sports should teach, but respectul competition. times have changed, and in this case not for the better. I really hate to see some of the blogs and response here, why do people all thing they have to be in your face tough guys all the time now. anyway, thought i would weigh in, enjoy the world series everyone.

  18. perryt200 - Oct 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    If you are a Cards fan it is just time to get used to the hate. It really doesn’t matter what happens this WS because next year is just gonna be more of the same.

    Because the Cardinals have that most terrible of problems. To much talent.

    Come next Sept., probably earlier; get ready for the hate. The Cards will be in the hunt for post season again and the articles about the “Cardinal Way” and “Best Fans” will just be recycled.

    • dponzar - Oct 22, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      people seem to love to hate,,,oh boy.

    • cardsfan123 - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      Well said, and true.

  19. jhaegs - Oct 22, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    @dponzar

    So the Cards will STILL be good in 19964? That’s great to hear, but too bad I’ll be long gone by then! I appreciate you traveling back from the future to share that with us though. ;)

  20. jhaegs - Oct 22, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    Fair enough, but they seem to know when it’s a good idea to let someone go (Pujols). Everyone couldn’t believe they did it, but now they look like geniuses. That gave them the cap space to sign Molina to his deal, and invest in talent down the road. Know when to hold em, know when to fold em.

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