Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tough Enough To Be A Cardinals Fan?

This past week I have read vicious, bitter comments from Cardinal fans ranging from total outrage to personal attacks on players.  While there may be a rising sentiment of general disgust for the way this team is playing, do not count me among the malcontents.
These players have become like family to me.  I cheer their wins and my heart breaks for their struggles.  Just as I would no sooner put my children at the curb when they frustrate me, I cannot turn on my team just because games have been lost and errors made.
This past series in Denver has challenged us all. A pair of crushing walk-off losses and being swept by the Rockies has knocked Cardinals Nation to its knees. Our boys gave up substantial leads.  We had the win in our sights twice, only to have it ripped away. Many have fittingly used the phrase “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.” Yes, losing is tough, but how we respond to the loss speaks volumes.
Frustration is building.  Sportswriter Bernie Miklasz has tagged this Cardinals team an ‘embarrassment.’ Cardinals fans on Twitter have been demanding trades and roster moves on par with cries for ‘abandon ship.’ Everywhere I look, scribes are posting gloom and doom.
The obvious comparison is Cubs Fans.  Those poor baseball fans have not celebrated a World Series win since 1908.  Their drought has been well-documented and understandably the fanbase displays a different attitude about the game and relationship with their team.  Cardinals fans – the “best fans in baseball”- may have been a little spoiled.  We are used to winning, used to MVPs and Gold Gloves.   When the boys are playing well, Cardinals Nation are exemplary fans  However with a team that just cannot seem to get it together, many of those same fans are angry, cursing and even booing the team.
With all the complaining and huffing about rosters and management decisions the fortitude of true fans has gone MIA.  Baseball is a game of wins and losses.  Lately the losses column has been filling faster, but the sky is not falling.
Let’s take a step back and assess this situation. The Cardinals have been carrying a short starting pitching rotation of THREE capable arms, filling in the remainder as well as can be expected.  Two HUGE contributors – outfielder Ryan Ludwick and third baseman David Freese – are both on the disabled list. Our starting shortstop is in an unbelievable funk and yet we are in 2nd place.  Not terrific, but not beyond hope.  The injured will return and there is much baseball yet to be played.
The Cardinals sit in 2nd place in the NL Central, 3 games behind the Reds but 7 1/2 games ahead of 3rd place.  The remaining season is yet unwritten and the race is far from lost.  This week’s games should be a testament to the fact that nothing is a foregone conclusion in baseball.
Teaching children to be good and gracious losers is a challenge.  Being disappointed is understandable.  Being courteous takes some practice.  Grownups may need to be reminded of those playground principles.  Nobody likes a sore loser. 
I started out this blog questioning if I were tough enough to be a Cardinals fan – implying that losing streaks or disappointing plays may be too much for me, but honestly I wonder if I am tough enough to maintain the joy I have for this team and the game when surrounded by others spouting such negativity.
Is the difference in my being a female fan or possibly a “young” fan that hasn’t experienced enough history to be justifiably angry?  I sure hope not.
 
Naturally fans will dissect decisions made in the dugout and plays made on the field.  That is part of the beauty and right of baseball fans.  I do thoroughly enjoy reading thoughtful, relevant critique of our team, but a line is crossed when comments angrily blast players and the manager. 
Let us not forget that while these players are paid exorbitant amounts of money to hit or catch a little ball and entertain the masses, they are human.  They will make mistakes and have bad days – and fate may string those events together for much too long.  True fans stay the course.  We may not be happy with an unproductive team, but we can have faith
Baseball is beautiful – and a winning baseball season would be glorious – but I will love this team through thick and thin.
Go Cards!

4 responses to “Tough Enough To Be A Cardinals Fan?

  1. Chris July 9, 2010 at 6:10 AM

    >Bad stretches challenge everyone as a fan. This one just seems particularly ugly, reaction-wise. I'm not sure if it's because of the instant emotional responses you get on Twitter or e-mail, or just the building of all the frustrations from watching a team that has been — realistically — underachieving for a couple months, but it's not just the games themselves that haven't been pretty this week.

  2. Susan July 9, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    >I'm disgusted by all those Cards "fans" who are ready to give up on the boys! I tell my sister, who is a rookie fan, that it's a loooong season, this is a good team and they'll come around. The boys are like family and friends and it's important to stand behind them and continue to cheer them on, no matter how disappointed and frustrated we sometimes feel.

  3. nancy July 16, 2010 at 5:55 AM

    >I get frustrated by people who "know" more than the managers, coaches, and players who are paid to make the decisions and put in the work to get the job done. It's very easy to sit back, watch, and criticize when things are going poorly, but staying the course and battling through the low points is what makes a true fan a TRUE fan. Being disgruntled is fine when we give away games like last week, but laying out negativity pulls everyone down, including the team, and I will always support the team! These are the same guys that were tearing up the bases before, and with our disabled list roster as big as it is, it's understandable. Stay the course, Cards fans! Go REDBIRDS!

  4. Erika July 16, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    >Appreciate the comments and it is great to hear from other fans who support the boys through bad times as well!I am looking forward to the Cardinals' 2nd half! Starting out good so far! Thanks for reading and Thank you for your comments!GO CARDS! =)

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