Sunday, October 14, 2012

Self Appointed Best Fans in Baseball

Two weeks ago, Miguel Cabrera stood in front of the Kansas City faithful as they gave him a standing ovation. As we are all aware, Cabrera had just accomplished the incredible feat of baseball’s Triple Crown. Despite doing so in front of an opposing crowd, it was awesome to see the fans at Kauffman Stadium give him his due.

Unfortunately, the national media, instead of patting Kansas City’s fan base on the back, will choose to continue to perpetuate the idea that Royals fans unfairly booed Robinson Cano for not selecting a Royal to take part in the home run derby. The same national media members won’t take the time to understand that Royals fans weren’t booing that evening because Billy Butler had been left out by Cano; Royals fans were booing because Cano outright lied about including Billy Butler in the Derby.  If you believe that isn’t a booable offense that is fine, but at least provide the rest of the country with an accurate depiction. I don’t think that is too much to ask, after all it is your job.

Fast forward to Thursday night in Oakland, when another awesome gesture was put forth by the home crowd.  If you were watching the game, you’ll know what I am talking about. Following the final out of a 6-0 game 5 loss to Detroit, what appeared to be virtually every A’s fan in attendance began chanting ‘Let’s Go A’s!’.  I may be wrong, but while the camera panned across the stadium, there were only a handful of people making their way toward the exits.

It isn’t that uncommon for a team to play its final game of the season and the home crowd to give a courtesy clap as they walk on the field, but what happened on Thursday in Oakland was special. The Oakland crowd clearly knew that they were playing with house money. Did they want to win the World Series? No doubt. But were they able to stand back and truly appreciate what they had just witnessed? Yes, probably better than any fan base I’ve ever seen.  It was an incredibly classy gesture put forth by a fan base that is often spit on by those around baseball including people within the A’s own front office.

Of course, what made the A’s fans’ class even more noticeable was the timing. Just a few hours prior to the A’s defeat, the Cardinals had fallen on a walk off home run by Jayson Werth. Now I may have a poor sample of the Cardinal Nation, but it was amazing how harsh Cardinals’ fans were on Lance Lynn. Let’s just be blunt, without Lance Lynn’s spectacular first half there is the possibility that the Cardinals wouldn’t have reached the postseason, but apparently the self-appointed best fans in baseball have short term memories.

We also shouldn’t forget about the ridiculous manner in which the Cardinals’ fan base attempted to vilify Albert Pujols last offseason. Instead of wishing him well as he took what was clearly a better offer in Los Angeles, they acted as if their wife had just cheated on them. I understand the frustration, but do not act like he was obligated to stay in St. Louis. Baseball was a business, is a business, and will always be a business. Oh, and if you are going to root for him to fail, keep it to yourself. The antagonistic, self-interested vendetta isn’t a good look on anyone, let alone an organization that low balled the best player in baseball and then acted as if he was the party at fault.

There may have been a time when St. Louis Cardinals fans attended games and supported, not just their team, but the game of baseball with the utmost class. There may have been time when their fan base didn’t rub their success in the faces of the rest of the baseball world. There may have even been a time when Cardinals fans were humble and proud of their success but also aware that it wasn’t a given. If these days did exist they have long since passed.

Instead, an entire generation of Cardinals fans have been socialized in a different way than their predecessor. I don’t blame their arrogance on the fans themselves. Baseball has socialized the Cardinals fan base to be who they are. We may have to accept it, but let’s not continue passing along the notion that Cardinals fans are better. We can at least do this for their own good.

Imagine trying to raise a child while the entire world told them that they were not only the best, but that they were more intelligent than anyone else and that they could never be outclassed as well. Of course that child is going to grow up to pretty much be the opposite of all those things. This is the exact socialization process that Cardinals fans have undergone. It should be no shock to anyone that the youngest part of the fan base is arrogant, entitled and looks down on every other fan base in baseball, preaching about the game to others.

Even on top of the socialization aspect, it hasn’t helped that over the last two decades, the Cardinals have lived an incredibly charmed life. It is as if the Baseball Gods determined that after enduring Don Deckinger’s call in 1985, every pivotal moment forward would go the Cardinals way. I think that the last twelve months have been evidence enough, and I can’t help but wonder how long before the pendulum swings the other way.

Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely jealous of the Cardinals success. Every time they reach the postseason, I can’t help but envy the feeling of getting to root for my team in October. Do I root against the Cardinals in most situations? I will admit that I do, but I will also applaud them when Jon Jay makes a spectacular catch or David Freese does his thing in crucial situations. But let me be perfectly clear, I love Kansas City, I love the Royals, and I love our fan base. We don’t need a self appointed title to love our team and to love the game of baseball with class.  

No comments:

Post a Comment