Wednesday, June 07, 2006

St Louis Dispatch

If the Cardinals get pounded again today by the Reds, I guess you can call me the Robbie Rist for Red Birds.

Wow, you'd have thought Eric Milton won the Cy Young last year and not Chris Carpenter the way they looked last night.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering how the Yankees were able to pound Beckett but this Pauley kid almost shuts them down. It looked like a great win last night. I'm pissed off that none of the ESPN highlights showed Bernie's homerun that tied it up, but they all showed Big Papi's that gave the Sox a 1-0 lead. ESPN saying that they don't have a bias versus the Yankees is like saying FOXNEWS isn't conservative. It doesn't what you are what you do.

Initially, I was going to where some neutral jersey into the park because I didn't want to antagonize anyone. But then I thought, wait a second, the Reds are playing not the Yankees. If someone has a problem let them say something. Being a big black guy in Busch who wasn't selling peanuts or leading people to seats made me stand out enough (definitely in the trifecta of the whitest parks I've ever been to...along with Wrigley and Fenway). Wearing a Yankee cap and a Yogi Berra Minor League Newark Bears jersey....well, now I know what Worf felt like serving in Starfleet.

The Cards have done a great job with the new Busch Stadium. It's a beautiful BASEBALL park. It has all the amenities the new parks have, but the focus is still on the game. They honor the history of the team without making you feel like you're being sold something.

A lot has been said about Cards fans being the best fans in baseball. They are great fans to be sure. There was nothing but a sea of red everywhere you looked. The best shirt I saw, was a Retire 51! T-shirt, in reference to the effort to get Willie McGee's old number retired (I'm sure that would please Mets fans to no end). They are for the most part, a very knowledgeable, very polite and friendly group. They almost never boo and only occasionally groan when their team gets shelled or make a bad play. Cards fans even applaud when the opposition make a great play!

One sad note: Cards fans hate Tino Martinez. With a passion. Replacing a Yankee great is one thing, replacing a Cardinal God (albeit an artificially enhanced one) is something else entirely. Particularly when you try to do it when you're three years past your prime. The fans I spoke to couldn't wait for him to be gone.

They love the game and pay homage to the history. I had several great baseball conversations with some of them and had drinks with a couple of them after the game. I was a little disappointed that the downtown area wasn't a little busier after the game. Apparently, Cards fan aren't in the mood for libation when the team loses. I've never heard that one before. But there was enough going on to get yourself in a little trouble.

But I would hold off all the "Greatest fans" proclamations. They're great fans for sure. But so are Yankees fans and Red Sox fans. I would say they're at least as loyal to their team as the Cards fans are to theirs. Go on a roadtrip where the Yankees and Boston are the visitors and you'll see what I'm talking about. They have fans everywhere. And while their Northeast brashness and angst will prevent them from ever winning the "most polite category" (Cards fans win that hands down), they're every bit as knowledgeable about the games as anyone else. Who says that being polite and not booing makes you a better fan?

I think the three fanbases are the best in baseball, with the Cubs, Dodgers and Giants just a notch below. But I don't think it's fair that any of the three are better than the others.

More when I get back to NYC....


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