MLB Playoffs 2011: 5 Reasons to Not Root for the St. Louis Cardinals
In the Autumn, MLB fans begin to change their colors.
October begins with only eight teams remaining on the lonely branches of the baseball season. And as the weather cools and the daylight dwindles, baseball fans slowly change their colors, too, until eventually only two teams are left dangling.
And that brings us to the Fall Classic.
With each round of the playoffs, certain fans end up losing their favorite team. As a result, the World Series features two separate teams’ fans bases, along with additional viewers who now desire to cheer on a team other than their first choices.
For this year’s World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers, many casual baseball fans will opt to root for one of the two based on their preferred allegiance or general positive attributes. Maybe they like a certain player; or one league over the other; or even a city or state.
On the flip side, other fans instead decide on a team to cheer based on which one they dislike the least. Not necessarily choosing to have a particular team win, but rather wanting so bad for the other team to lose.
Here are five reasons not to root for the St. Louis Cardinals.
They Are Lucky to Be in the Playoffs
First and foremost, the St. Louis Cardinals are quite fortunate to be in this year’s postseason. In fact, it's almost a miracle.
On August 23, the Cards were 10.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the wild card race, with the San Francisco Giants 9.5 games behind. The chances of St. Louis overtaking two teams with five weeks left in the season was slim to impossible. The Braves were comfortably in the driver seat, a well-rounded team that had a .600 record at the time; meanwhile the Cardinals were a mere five games over .500. The Giants were the defending World Series champions; and not many people would think that another miraculous run behind their esteemed pitching staff wasn’t at least doable.
But in the wildest of all playoff races, the Cards ended up with the final spot in the National League on the last day of the season when the Braves were shockingly ousted by the Philadelphia Phillies. Though there was a tremendous amount of talent on the team to do so, and a great deal of belief in themselves, there was also definitely some luck in the Cards' postseason berth.
St. Louis did play good baseball in September but it’s surely a situation of Atlanta losing a playoff spot rather than the Cardinals winning it. Still, the Cards will not object to a seat at the table, or the hand they were dealt. They haven’t folded one bit this postseason, stifling the mighty Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series.
Yes, the Cardinals have earned their way into the World Series. They have played extremely well.
Nevertheless, given the miraculous good fortune, many people would say that having the Cards playing with house money is undeserved. And for baseball fans, maybe they’re choosing not to bet on red.
The Cardinals Have Already Won Before
The St. Louis Cardinals are quite a storied franchise. Founded in 1892, the Cardinals franchise boasts 10 World Series titles, 18 National League pennants and dozens of Hall of Famers who are considered to be some of the greatest players and contributors in baseball history. In fact, behind the New York Yankees, the Cardinals have won the second-most World Series championships in all of baseball.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Texas Rangers, a team who just last year reached their very first World Series in their 50-year existence. That’s a tough percentage. Furthermore, of the MLB teams that have not yet won a World Series title, the Rangers have been around the longest.
Needless to say, the Texas Rangers are due. Moreover, the entire state of Texas is due. Neither the Houston Astros nor the Rangers have won a baseball championship, a combined 101-year drought.
That said, the St. Louis Cardinals are not going to win any hearts of non-baseball fans, especially given that they did win a title most recently in 2006. Most casual viewers should mark their allegiance to the organization that has yet to reach the pinnacle of baseball.
The Cardinals have been there, done that. Now it’s time for the Rangers to experience being World Series champions.
Tony La Russa
Speaking of which, there is one man who has been there and done that more than any other active person in baseball—Tony La Russa.
A managerial legend, La Russa has stood the tests of time for more than three decades. As skipper for three different franchises in his revered career, La Russa has won his fair share of games–his 2,728 wins ranks third on baseball’s all-time managerial list. He has won the Manager of the Year Award on four separate occasions and in both leagues. And he has now reached six World Series, winning twice—again, once in each league—a distinction shared by only one other manager in baseball history.
As such, La Russa will go down as a winner through and through. No matter where he’s gone, who he’s managed, which league, or against which teams, La Russa will always be considered a winner.
However, he also could at times be deemed a whiner. Though he has always been considered a player’s manager—especially if the player is a superstar—La Russa has been known to rub certain people the wrong way, be it opposing managers, the media or MLB officials. Part of what makes La Russa so good is his intensity and desire to win, and his loyalty and support of his players and team.
Unfortunately, his strength becomes a flaw when he harangues anyone about anything when he feels crossed. During this year’s NLCS, La Russa complained about the mid-afternoon start times of the Cardinals’ games. He’s always finding something to bemoan.
In general, La Russa is good–great–as a manager, with a great baseball mind and IQ and the ability to formulate new schemes and stratagems to win ballgames. But it’s his greatness that irritates fans; and if there’s a strike zone complaint this World Series, those fans will no doubt root against La Russa and his Cardinals.
There’s something that’s amazingly consistent with athletes. If they are invariably and supremely great, there is a larger portion of fans who incredulously dislike said athletes than those who like them. For every fan of Ryan Howard, there are probably two (or more) who hate him. Same goes for Kobe Bryant. And Tom Brady. And so on.
It’s practically a universal tenet that fans loathe athletes primarily because of their greatness. Part of it is jealousy. Part of it is annoyance. Whatever the case may be, it’s hard to explain exactly how great athletes have such a large anti-fan base.
No superstar is excluded. Even the steady and personable Albert Pujols has his haters. Which, again, is hard to fathom given how great he truly is. His stats speak for themselves. But what’s interesting is how relatively modest and level-headed Pujols is. In an era that relishes social media and embraces self-promotion, Pujols steadily goes about his business game after game, year in, year out, putting up some of the gaudiest numbers as one of the most clutch hitters baseball has ever seen. He’s never egregiously showy, not overtly ostentatious—he just is the best hitter of his generation.
Because he doesn’t endearingly showboat like, say, Dwight Howard; or have the gimmicks of Chad Ochocinco; or is the SNL celebrity of a Derek Jeter, Pujols is sort of the quiet superstar. A machine, if you will. You know what you’re gonna get. You know what to expect. Almost to a point of tedium. A droll ennui. He lulls you to sleep with his awesomeness.
And that is why people hate him. If you want to root against greatness, root against Albert Pujols. He’s so amazing, it’s boring.
If there is a reason to not root for a team, it’s a team’s adopted mascot—the endearing and adorable character that fans rally around to the point of irritation.
It all started with the rally monkey, who penetrated the hearts and souls of the Anaheim Angels’ fan base during their remarkable 2002 World Series championship run. Somehow these false idols become so annoying, especially to baseball fans who are not supporters of that respective team. Watching stuffed monkeys on television during the playoffs came to be maddening.
This year’s version is the St. Louis Cardinals’ rally squirrel, so adopted after a loose squirrel invaded Busch Stadium during this year’s National League Division Series. Amazingly, the squirrel became immortalized, and, nauseatingly, already has its own Wikipedia page. It is so deplorable and inanely revered by fans across the nation, particularly Cardinal fans who believe the diminutive rodent is some good luck charm.
Watching fans twirl little stuffed squirrels around in unison as a form of solidarity is unbelievable. The team is the Cardinals. Let's get that straight.
It almost makes you want to boo them.