I am from St. Louis, therefore I am a Cardinals fan. It’s that simple.
You see, there is this amazing fraternity – scratch that – family created by loving a sports team with your whole heart. And as far as I’m concerned, Cardinal Nation does this best.
Yes, I’m aware that there are plenty of amazing teams with amazing fans, and that not everyone will agree with me, but they don’t have to. Those of you who are with me know why.
I have long since tried to define what makes St. Louisans the BFIB (Best Fans in Baseball, of course). In the past, I’ve chalked it up to the facts that we are seriously apt to grow attached to the players on our team, that we are always classy, and that we watch with our emotions and our heads. But why are all of these true? Some things have been brought to my attention with the Redbirds’ recent NLCS berth that seem to help this all make a lot more sense.
There are few cities in the United States that receive the recognition they deserve. Every time you turn on the TV, you generally watch people living in New York or California because apparently those are the only interesting places to live (this coming from someone who has recently moved to the Bay Area). Sure, we learn the state capitols growing up, but other than that how is it that the “fly-over” states put themselves on the map? Sports.
And when your team is as historic and successful a franchise as the St. Louis Cardinals, this is huge. Each and every player to ever put on the Birds on the Bat with the exception of a choice few (*cough* Rasmus *cough*) are pretty much considered gods for the rest of their lives. Their pictures are hung in every household, girls cry when they walk by, and yes, they each get their own restaurant. But most of all, thousands and thousands of people hang on their every action, on and off the field, breathlessly waiting to see what gratification they will bring to the city next.
I understand that this is perhaps just another day in the life of a pro athlete. But if you poll a group of St. Louisans and ask them what their city is known for, most will probably list the Cardinals before the St. Louis Arch or the Budweiser Brewery. An entire chunk of the Midwest largely considers this team – this group of 40 or so guys – to be the main reason that they’re proud of where they are from, even in the bad years.
To us, the Cardinals are home. And not watching them every day makes us feel a little lost.
I’m not going to apologize for my team having “too much” success. No matter the outcome of this series with the Giants. This is a special group of guys with a special chemistry and they’re teaching thousands of kids the power of perseverance.
My favorite part about being in the playoffs are the stories – not only the stories I hear from the players, but the stories I hear from the fans. This is our time to shine and represent as well, and I’ve read about some pretty amazing and dedicated individuals.
So this is my love letter to you, Cardinals fans. And I want to thank you for caring as much about this team as I do (which is saying something). We may be getting some crap from the remainder of MLB’s fans, but we know what makes #12in12 mean something big.