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The politics of “The Cardinal Way”

Mar 5, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT

I feel like the inner workings of Cardinals politics are really complicated. Two stories from the Post-Dispatch in the past couple of days:





I think Bernie Miklasz is one of the best around, but I’m with McClellan on this one. Especially with this:

I don’t remember hearing much about the Cardinal Way until last postseason. The series against the Los Angeles Dodgers was framed as a morality play . . . Some of it was hard for me to understand. For instance, when a Dodger hit a double and stood on second base pounding his chest, it was because he was an egotistical show-off. When a Cardinal hit a double and stood on second base pounding his chest, it was because he was happy for his team. He was pounding his chest because he believed in the Cardinal Way. In truth, I couldn’t tell the difference.

That “Cardinal Way” stuff is just nuts.

The Cardinals are going to be good for a long time. But one day, when they are not a very good team, will they still be lauded for The Cardinal Way? Or is The Cardinal Way just another one of those post-facto explanations for winning baseball?

  1. karlkolchak - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    I guess “The Cardinal Way” must have decided to take an early golf vacation after the NLCS.

    • 18thstreet - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:18 AM

      Or maybe they were just playing another professional baseball team.

      I wish I understood why fans think the losing team didn’t try hard enough.

      • karlkolchak - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:58 AM

        Just responding to the arrogace to the whole silly concept.

      • natstowngreg - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        If you ever achieve that understanding, award yourself a PhD in psychology.

      • metroplexsouthsider - Mar 5, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        I am totally, totally with Craig on this, and I’m a Cards fan, long and deep. Bernie’s column made me barf. Let’s also not forget that the Cards were making Jesus fish signs on the mound last year and claiming it was a “6” tribute to Musial:

      • metroplexsouthsider - Mar 5, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        Also, note to Miklasz? Is the “Cardinal Way” Carlos Martinez and his magic Twitter?

    • bfunk1978 - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:10 AM

      It’s actually a book given to players in Spring Training:

      • perryt200 - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM

  2. halladaysbiceps - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    My definition of the “Cardinal Way” is 19 NL Pennants and 11 WS titles. Seems like the media likes to beat down great organizations in the 21st century because they can’t think of anything else negative to write about them. Manufactured nonsense.

    • karlkolchak - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:59 AM

      If you’re truly “great,” you don’t need to brag about how great you are.

      • paperlions - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:25 AM

        Sure, sure…but the Cardinals don’t brag about how great they are….other people do it, including the Philly phan you responded to.

      • kyzslew77 - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        Of course the Cardinals themselves don’t brag about their accomplishments, no team’s players do. But are you implying that Cardinals FANS don’t brag about how great their team is? If you think that, you must have become a baseball fan five minutes before posting that comment.

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:06 AM

        You are 100% on point Kojak.
        Which is precisely why I was brainwashed as a young kid to despise Pete Rose.
        My Father used to say…”if you want to know how good Pete Rose is just ask him.”
        And he would usually follow with…”who the hell is he trying to convince?”
        “Himself…or us?” And to this day…I can’t stand the Pete Rose.
        But I would still start my team by picking him first. Cause’ the dude was a baseball player.

  3. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    What I imagine Craig felt like this morning:

    • supermanium - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      Church: awesome.

      • ltzep75 - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        I second this. Laughed at my desk.

    • fearlessleader - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      Heh. I’m not sure Craig and others realize, too, that Bill McClellan is a lifelong Cubs fan who loves writing gently satirical columns about the Cardinals from the assumed perspective of the sour-grapes sore loser. He’s not nearly as serious a troll as some people around here….

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      He did say he had some spare time on his hands…

  4. woodenulykteneau - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    Well, it’s not like organizations have a habit of entitling their player manuals with the
    “The [Team Name] Way” to help reinforce “That’s the way we’ve always done things around here.” (See: Orioles, Red Sox, Phillies, Cubs, etc.)

    • Francisco (FC) - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      I really like “NEVER argue with a guest.” Jayson Werth never saw that bullet point I gather.

  5. blues1988 - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    you are obsessed.

  6. proudlycanadian - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    I thought that “The Cardinal Way” was the name of a street in The Vatican.

    • karlkolchak - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      Now you’re just blowing white smoke…or is it black?

      • proudlycanadian - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        Good question.

      • baberuthslegs - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        One time gray smoke came out of the Vatican chimney. No one knew what it signified, until someone pointed out that the Cardinals were having a barbeque.

    • dexterismyhero - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      I took a left on Cardinal Way and found a great rib joint on the right.

  7. joshfrancis50 - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    As “Team Chemistry” goes, so goes “The Cardinal Way”

  8. paperlions - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    The Cardinal Way is just being used by the press as the basis for a stories when they can’t think of anything useful to write about….both in StL as the moral high ground silliness and from other cities mocking the moral high ground silliness (which, IMO, is far more justified than the local crowing). The players don’t help by playing up “The Cardinal Way” when talking to reporters, but really, the players recognize that it is just means “work hard, be professional”, which isn’t particularly unique to the organization.

    • spudchukar - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      Well, yes and no. Two areas of dissent. Stress of fundamentals and knowledge of the game. Not all organizations are alike. Add an offensive approach that encourages solid contact and discourages striking out over home runs and you can see some differences. Many of the youngsters the Cards now employ in St. Louis, come up light years ahead of their actual age and that isn’t accidental.

      • paperlions - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        Over the last 10 years, the average age of Cardinal rookies when they debut has been among the oldest in the league. Obviously, every team has different processes that are stressed in coaching and development, but most of The Cardinal Way boils down to acting profession, being responsible, and working hard. I agree that all organizations likely don’t stress those things in equal measure, but you’ll be hard pressed to find an organization that doesn’t say they do it.

      • natstowngreg - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Good point. Back when I started seriously following MLB, in the early-mid ’60s, there was a Dodgers’ Way and an Orioles’ Way. They were about playing good fundamental baseball and winning with pitching and defense. And, about teaching it throught their organizations.

        It was about playing baseball “the right way.” Of course, it was considered “the right way” not just because it appealed to “old school” types in the media, but because it was pretty successful. Just as the Cards’ “right way” is successful now.

      • hep3 - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        The Dodgers way ended after Walter Alston. The Orioles way ended after Earl Weaver.

      • paperlions - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        It is so nice to have baseball back, when the day games have been available online, I’ve been firing them up just to put the sounds of the game (and yes, even the call of the game) into the background at work. It’s relaxing.

      • spudchukar - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        Yep, as I watched Angel Hernandez butcher one call after another behind the dish, the reality that Baseball was back, warts and all.

      • paperlions - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        Haha….see, that is a benefit of listening but not watching.

      • spudchukar - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:35 PM

        Yeah, nothing like “listening” to the Cards TV announcers, I might prefer Hernandez.

      • paperlions - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:38 PM

        Tough Idaho winter?

      • spudchukar - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        No actually it has been mild. Hardly any snow until February, and most of that has melted. But since the knee replacement, skiing is tough, so yeah, I’m ready for Spring.

      • anxovies - Mar 5, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        The St. Louis Browns Way ended when Eddie Gaedel retired.

      • spudchukar - Mar 5, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        He had a good eye though.

  9. perryt200 - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    well, i guess i am wrong. I always thought it was being competitive with a payroll still one hundred million dollars less than the Yankees…

    • tedwmoore - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      Yes, you are wrong. 8 teams make the playoffs, 10 if you count the play-in game (or whatever they call it), and only two play with Yankees-Dodgers money. The Cardinals are not unique in their payroll constraints relative to the biggest spenders, and are well positioned compared to the 15 teams they outspent by $25 million or more last season, including playoff teams Oakland, Pittsburgh and Tampa who all operate among the six lowest payrolls in baseball. Stop it, just stop it.

    • kyzslew77 - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      Everyone give a big hand to the spendthrift Cardinals for succeeding with only $116 million committed to players in 2013, 4th most among NL teams! Take THAT, Dodgers, Giants and Phillies! I bet you guys feel pretty stupid for losing the pennant to such a penny pinching organization!

  10. gibbyfan - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    I never had the impression that ‘the cardinal way’ had anything whatsoever to do with any moral high ground. Imean of rone thing they went out and paid big $$ for a SS who had just been suspended for a rules infraction. I don’t thinkthey are any more or less moral than most teams.
    I thought it had to do with how the organization’s ability to pick and develop players within somewhat constrained budgetary parameters. In other words, their management competence over the past few years –which is not really unique to them, but nevertheless impressive

  11. cohnjusack - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    Yeah, the Cardinal way stuff is stupid, BUT, I will defend Wainwright on the Adrian Gonzalez thing. If, in fact, Gonzalez was taunting Wainwright from third base as was claimed, that’s juvenile and deserves to be called out.

    But crapping on a player because he’s shows excitement over hitting a double is pretty ridiculous considering the Cardinals themselves do it as well.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      Considering Pujols is still walking to first base after crushing that HR against Lidge in the playoffs (that I think still hasn’t landed yet), I think the Cardinals have no right to go after others for taunting.

  12. sfm073 - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    I like you craig, but I don’t understand your obsession with certain topics. Yes the whole “cardinal way” thing is silly but the fans like it and the sportswriters and anyone associated with the cardinals know this. Bernie is just trying to get people to read his article and the cardinals are just trying to get people in the seats. It’s all a marketing ploy.

    • happytwinsfan - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      and it’s a marketing ploy only to be used when the team is winning. we were endlessly told about the “twins way”, which was “respecting the game”, “doing the little things right” blah blah through 2010. they don’t dare use it now, but if the team enters an up cycle i’m sure we’ll be hearing how the “twins way” deserves the credit and how proud we should all be.

      dumb, dumb, dumb, but part of the fun.

      • spudchukar - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        No matter what “way” a team employs, doing so without talent will not be fruitful.

    • gostlcards5 - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      sfm, I agree with you about Craig’s obsession for certain topics (this being one of the primary ones), but I agree with Craig that the whole thing with “The Cardinal Way” is getting waaaaaayy overdone by everyone. Everyone just needs to shut up about it.

  13. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    Bill McClellan is A die hard Cub fan. He could have written a much more entertaining story about the Cub Way!

  14. chiadam - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    I always assumed the Cardinal Way involved falling asleep at a stop light.

  15. schmedley69 - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Chest pounding has always been the Cardinal Fan Way, so it looks like the players are finally catching up.

    • gostlcards5 - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      Totally disagree with you. Not all fans are like that, from ANY team.

      • schmedley69 - Mar 5, 2014 at 3:29 PM

        Sorry, I forgot that stereotyping fans was frowned upon on this site. Unless it’s Phillies fans, in which case it’s encouraged.

  16. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    When Cub hits a double and pounds his chest it means he missed first base. The Cub Way!

    • recoveringcubsfan - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      This is the whole reason I’m recovering.

  17. sportsfan18 - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Part of the Cardinal way was not bidding the most for Pujols. He wasn’t just very good, he had been great in his years with them. One may easily argue that his first 10 seasons to begin a MLB career were the best first 10 seasons to begin a career ever.

    He’d already won some titles with them and had he remained there and won another WS or two before retiring, he was going to possibly replace Stan Musial (or at least be his equal).

    Yet, while still offering too much, they stopped at some point.

    Carlos Beltran is a very good player and he produced for the Cardinals these last couple of seasons. But, Father Time is undefeated and they let him go, which they should have.

    The Yankee way is to sign players like these (no, they didn’t sign Albert but over the last several decades it IS what they have done).

    Another thing about the Cardinal Way is that they care about scouting, drafting and it shows by how many on their team are their “own” so to speak.

  18. eagles512 - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    It is true. Molina would be ripped for his antics if he were on the dodgers.

  19. pipkin42 - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    The only “Way” that I ever subscribed to was “Pitching, defense, and three-run homers.”

    • happytwinsfan - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      sounds like the earl weaver way

  20. blovy8 - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    The Yankee Way is to beat the other team like it’s a day at the office. The office is on the top floor of midtown Manhattan office building though.

  21. yourcubreporter - Mar 5, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    McClellan grew up a Cubs fan, and has been trapped in St. Louis for some 30+ years. His humor is dry, his writing is good, and he can have some pretty good observations once in a while. Check out his piece on Tony LaRussa from 2 weeks ago. He hit the nail on the head with this Cardinal Way nonsense. An excess of morality does not win baseball games or divisions.


  22. umrguy42 - Mar 5, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    Craig’s surefire troll topics:
    – Phillies fans on *anything*
    – Cards fans on “the Cardinal Way”

    (What, the others above made my points – McClellan the die-hard Cubbies fan, Cardinal Way is about the baseball fundamentals they want exercised rather than some morality play, etc.)

  23. anxovies - Mar 5, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    There was a Cardinal Way long before it became a front-office slogan and a media buzz word. I lived in St. Louis in the 1980s and was fortunate enough to attend a lot of home games at (old) Busch Stadium. The fans were quite knowledgeable about baseball and on the whole were surprisingly courteous to visiting players and their fans. From visits to the city over the years since I lived there, I haven’t noted much of a change in the fans or their attitudes. I suppose ,this must be the basis for the “Cardinal Way” stuff. Too bad. The old Cardinal Way would be to not get hubristic about it.

  24. mikhelb - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:21 AM

    There will always be two ways of watching something:

    A player stares at his homeruns, turns and throws the bat while slowly trotting towards first base.

    – If it is Puig or Alex Rodríguez then they are showing a lack of respect.
    – If it is David Ortíz… he is showing his respect.

    A relief pitcher strikes out the last batter of an inning while pounding his chest or yelling.

    – If it is Joba Chamberlain he’s a punk who loves to show off rival batters.
    – If it is Papelbon he’s doing it to burn his adrenaline and is praised for his intensity.

    A catcher picks a fight versus a batter/runner who disrespected other players or ‘unwritten rules’.

    – If it is Brian McCann he is defending the game’s integrity and is praised by for his vigilante attitude.
    – If it is Brian McCann he is a punk who should not show a vigilante attitude… because he now is a NYY.

  25. stevequinn - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    The Cardinal Way just means things are done exactly the same at all levels of the organization. Every one of the Cardinals’ minor league teams teaches and coaches its players on the fundamentals of the game and they way the parent team plays on the field. It’s nothing grandiose at all.

    Now if you real want to harp on something Cardinal, try the BFIB. That would be the “Best Fans in Baseball” moniker that everyone and their brother use to describe Cardinal fans. That’s the one that irritates me and I live 20 miles outside St. Louis.

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