St. Louis Cardinals – Relationship between Team and Fan

Today is about my baseball team, yes, I said it, “my team”. I don’t own them. I don’t make any personnel or management decisions. But, the Cardinals are my team and they will be until the day I die.

The question I ask today is what motivates me to call them “my team”. What motivates sports fans the world over to reference their team in the same way and why this is a good thing?

There are many great fans out there who root for their team. I’m even willing to concede that their might be some, semi-rational, people who feel that way about the Chicago Cubs. A sports team gives us something to passionately cheer. We hurt when they lose, darn you Don Denkinger, we go mad when they win, hurrah Pete Kozma. We have memories that last a lifetime.

I was born and raised in St. Louis and my mother is a huge Cardinal fan from her own childhood. My earliest memories are sitting around the living room listening to the games. I think many a fan has a history not dissimilar from that. They grow up rooting for a team and never change allegiances. There are others who come to sports later in life and find a team to cheer but it’s all relatively the same. In the end, whatever the team, whatever the town, it’s “my team”.

The reason I think it’s a good thing is because as much as I dislike the Chicago Cubs and their fans; I recognize that they are just like me, fans, not enemies. Sports is war without the death and maiming. That’s a good version of war as far as I’m concerned. I’m quite certain there are Washington National fans out there who are pretty angry with my Cardinals right about now but I don’t think any of them are going to do anything violent. They’ll cinch down their caps and think about next year. As a Cardinal fan I’ve been fortunate these last few years but I’ve tightened up my Rams cap and Blues cap many, many times. I know the pain. All fans do.

I’ll go to work next week and teach class to someone who roots for the Cubs or Nationals and I’ll do my best without reservation, without hesitation. I’ll help them accomplish whatever they need to do. Our team at work will build a website for a San Francisco company. Our network engineers will solve a major problem for a company owned by a Yankees fan.

We cheer for our team but recognize that life, unlike sports, is about trying to get that win/win scenario. If we all work together we can achieve amazing things. Sports gives us that black and white outlet and then we can return to the normal, shades of gray, daily routine.

I guess I’m just saying that if a Cubs fan and a Cardinal fan can get married, can’t Republicans and Democrats try to pass legislation that will help us all? Can’t we root for our team during the game but work together afterwards?

But, I don’t want to slip too deeply into politics because there is something much more important going on … Cardinals v. Giants!

Tom Liberman

79 thoughts on “St. Louis Cardinals – Relationship between Team and Fan

  1. Go Cards! Yeah, you know, we root for our team regardless of logic. As you note, even some rational Chicagoans will pour out on opening day of the baseball season shouting Cubs Number One! Despite the fact that the Cubs are never number one. And unfortunately it is the same with party politics. People hold to party loyalty over everything, even when (as is increasingly the case) their parties are destroying the fabric of our society. But to them it is more important to self identify as a Democrat or Republican than to say I just want what is best for the country.

    • The Cubs did win the World Series in 1908! So they were number one at one point. The political analogy is good as well but I’d like to think I can recognize that the Cubs have had great players even though I don’t root for them. Maybe Democrats and Republicans can recognize good ideas from one another. At least, that’s my hope.

  2. Congrats on your Cards. My team is the Mets. Remember the 80’s? We both had great teams then, great rivalry. I disliked those Cards, but the fans were awesome. I always admire when ‘enemy fans’ come out to enjoy a game in my home stadium, it makes it even more fun.

    • Oh boy, do I remember those Mets! the “Pond-Scum” we called them. I was there when Darryl Strawberry hit a ball off the scoreboard in the right field bleachers that went from his bat to out of the park in the blink of an eye. What a talent. And Gooden, Darling, Mookie, and the rest. We hated them so much. That year Pendleton hit one into the Apple at Shea! Good memories and bad. Thanks for the comment and reminding me of those times!

  3. Go Cards! Born and raised in St. Louis means birds fly though our veins and October is a month-long baseball holiday. The Cards are my team too. Everyone in Cardinals Nation belongs to the team as much as those who get paid to be on the team. It’s what makes us so great.

  4. Loved this post! I watch more football than baseball, but I totally get it. It’s the same principle. Both of my sisters watch baseball. My baby sister and her family are huge Cardinal’s fans. They live about two hours away from St. Louis, in Marion, IL. I live way down in Southeast Georgia. So, me and my girls are big Georgia Bulldog fans. That’s where my daughter just graduated from, The University of Georgia. I am cheering the DAWGS on, no matter what, every game. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed : ) I really enjoyed reading it.

    • Thanks, Sheri. I was at Columbia (University of Missouri) for the Georgia – Mizzou game earlier this year. We met a number of Georgia fans and they were really nice. Looking forward to a trip to Athens one of these years! Hopefully the Tigers will be more competitive.

  5. I also call my teams (Let’s Go Mets!) “my team”, and dislike when people quickly retort “wait, you play for them?” or some other nonsense as if they’re the first person to call me out on it. No, I don’t play for them, I don’t own them, I don’t fall into any other category where (logically), I could call them mine. But being a sports fan isn’t about logic, it’s about heart!

    • I agree with this, too. What would these same people say if you asked them, “You like baseball? Who’s your team?” And they answered, “Yankees” without missing a beat. Would we say, “oh, you own the Yankees?” No…. there is not and shouldn’t have to be logic behind thinking we are part of a team (unfortunately mine is the Brewers).

      • Brew Crew put on a good chase this year. The small-market teams really have an uphill struggle in baseball. People always say, you’ll get them next year but the truth is we never know. It could be 100 years before the Cards or Brewers ever wins a World Series. But, as you say, we keep rooting against all logic. Thanks for the comment.

        • As a “baseball fan” I really admire the Cardinals for their consistency and way they play. I agree that small market (less capital) teams are at a disadvantage, but many have broken through because they stick to their guns from Rookie ball through the big leagues. Oakland, Tampa, and Minnesota have been mainstays in the playoffs because they know who they are and don’t try to act like big market teams. That’s all I’ve ever wanted from the Brewers, but instead it has been 30 years of new directions and false hope. Baseball is the ultimate level playing field sport. It’s by far the most humbling and fickle. If you build the right chemistry and system into your culture, you can play with anyone… Even if you don’t have a guy like Albert. Good luck!

  6. The reality be the people dictate the team / if a player is not giving the effort
    or the team are not giving such effort that expected of them they will be held
    to account / if needed then players will need to be removed / if the stadiums
    empty because the fans see their players as born losers / then they will refuse
    pay for such a poor performance / thus its for all in both managment / players
    that they give their best / or all will join the increasing unemployment queue.

    With politics / political parties such is not the case / politicians now bought as
    sold to the highest bidder / to advance on the political stage one needs such
    funding of the wealthy / and in accepting their funding one then serving the
    private agenda of wealthy the wealthy whom owning as controling all media
    outlets TV Radio Newspapers. Thus its the most wealthy whom betwixt them
    hold over 80% of the nations wealth / they own as control the federal reserve
    bank / they control which party will be in govt whom shall hold what position
    in govt / as control the opposing party / and their position in govt opposition.

    You will have the chance of bettering your baseball team as applaud where
    in doing well yet in such political arena your an small fish in a pool of sharks.

    BARACK broke every election promise he made / another election upon the
    horizon and BARACK repeats the same formula / his election strategy / ever
    more empty promises / his flagship empty promise being HEALTHCARE he
    out of the air produced a HEALTHCARE BILL which funding but only exists
    in the TWILIGHT ZONE the Healthcare Bill nothing but a gigantic fraud to
    get enough votes thus Barack able spend another term of govt in serving his
    wealthy backers / his wealthy backers whom have stripped the people of all
    rights / whom through political corruption as fraud they having brought the
    nation to bankruptcy as moral decay in fighting illegal wars where countless
    have faced death destruction suffering / international law as domestic law
    having been abandoned /the weathy now having placed themselves above
    the law where able behave as do they pleaae / the nations people’s having
    no means holding or bringing them to account for their grave criminal acts.

    In supporting your choice team they’ll never let you down as do politicians
    that you wish to bring justice fair play into politics /is to your credit however
    it being a awesome task / politics having become so corrupted. Such in all
    not that all pliticians bad / it that in surviving in politics one need become
    bad as be willing to be bought as sold to the highest bidder / such now the
    powrer of wealth it as cancer having spread throughout the whole political
    arena where politicians the political system is now a formula of destruction.

  7. Try being a diehard fan of a sport that’s locked out, and of a team whose players are currently burning up the ice in Germany. >_< Early life programming is indeed a powerful thing.

  8. I totally understand your point here. The Phillies are my team, and we hate the Mets and after this year, the Nationals. Phillies fans are probably the most hated fans in all of baseball, as crazy as that seems to be because we’re just like everyone else. The stuff they say about us is so blown out of proportion, but yet the media says the same thing about us over and over again and people across the country believe it. I have to tell you, I’m still in shock about game five of the St. Louis and Washington series. Makes me think the Cards will win it all … again!

    Thanks for the good read…

    • You Phillies fans do have a reputation. Personally, I think Santa Claus needs a snowball thrown at him now and again to keep him lively. The Cards were very fortunate to win last year in game 5 of the playoffs. That NL East with a healthy Philly, Washington, and Atlanta, is going to be a beast next year. The Cardinals are sitting good right now but it can change fast. Thanks for the comment!

      • Tom, you might be interested in knowing that the Santa incident occurred in 1968. And it wasn’t an actual Santa hired by the Eagles… It was a drunk guy in the stands dressed up in a Santa suit. Interesting that after 44 years that old tale is still talked about…

        • Lol, Looked it up here! I had no idea it was way back in 1968. Read the whole article, they actually tracked the guy down! Interesting story indeed and in a snow filled stadium of a 2 – 12 team on the last game of the season I’m not sure any group of fans could have resisted such a jolly target!

    • Yeah — Flyers fans have the same reputation, so do Igs fans and SiXers would as well, if they had any visibility at all. The media is NY-based, so they have to spit on the nearest east coast city. Phila draws the short straw.

      Oderint dum metuant. Let them hate us as long as they fear us.

      • I have many friends who agree with the “let them hate us as long as they fear us” statement. I just get sick of the crazy things they say about Philly fans…

        • Yeah … when they are still repeating 40 year old lies, the game’s pretty fixed. Ticks me off, too — but there’s not much to do about it. We’re NY’s ugly stepsister as far as the media is concerned. 😛

  9. Your right about about fostering a spirit of cooperation in life, a sense of goodwill and community, but at the same time being able to interact with a team and remain competitive. My company tries to teach children how to stay in the game longer to be able to develop interpersonal skills. Your story of childhood nostalgia in St. Louis really appeals to what we are trying to create for kids.

    • That’s really awesome to hear! Cooperation is key to success but healthy competition is important as well. There’s no reason we can’t compete hard and cooperate as well. Thank you for the comment it really made my day!

  10. Being a transplant to STL from Ohio, the Cards have become “my time” I never liked baseball much growing up, so I never picked either Reds or Indians like most Ohioans, but it’s hard not to love the Cards when you’re living out here. My other sport allegiances still lie in Ohio though and I am a die hard Buckeye fan (arguably the most hated fan base in all of sports 🙂 ) But I digress… GO CARDS!!

    • I’ve got a few Michigan alumni friends, a Wisconsin alumni friend, and and Illini alumni friend, I would say that the Buckeyes are probably not as hated as you imagine but in this case … you might be right! 🙂 Go Cards and thanks for the comment!

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  12. I have to say…Birds! Funny, because we are metro St. Louis (IL living), but we identify St. Louis as our sports teams. I have to say, and maybe I am wrong, Cardinal fans are different than most other teams fans. You will never see a Cards fan waiver…never. Good story (as I watch our Cards losing. We Believe!).

    • Southern Illinois is rabid Cardinal territory. Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and other places as well. Getting clobbered tonight but I believe also! Thanks for the comment.

      • True. Seems to be split with Chicago fans (more Cards fans, no doubt). Funny though since it is such an intense rivalry. And, they still have an 2 innings to turn this around. Stranger things have happened (Friday), but there is something different in the air tonight….Keep believing.

  13. Over the past two years, I have become a Nationals fan (and attended both the Thursday and Friday games in D.C.). It’s an amazing feeling (and fun, especially when they’re winning!) to have a local team to root for. Growing up in a state that had no pro sports, I cheered for the college teams, but it is NOT the same as having a Major League Baseball team in your town, or even your state.

    • Being a fan has its rewards and its tribulations! One of the best things is being at the game with the crowd and experiencing the highs and lows, the agony and the ecstacy from one moment to the next. You have many years of excitment ahead. 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

    • Hey Tom. I don’t mind you promoting your blog here but at least comment on mine! :). Tom’s blog is about sports in Australia. Rugby, Cricket, Australian Rules Football, etc. I love AFL and have become a Collingwood backer thanks to ESPN3 showing the games. Last year it went to the Fox Soccer channel and I didn’t get to see any games. 🙁 I am watching the Cricket T20 Champion’s League on ESPN3 and it’s a fun sport to watch.

  14. Really enjoyed this post. As a former (and maybe future!) Montreal Expos fan I watch the Nationals play with a bittersweet feeling. Your post hits home regarding the selection of “my team”; as a Montreal Canadiens fan there have been some lean years recently and looking back at the great past doesn’t help a whole heck of a lot – but they’re still “my team”. Go Cards!!

  15. Great post! I ALWAYS refer to the St. Louis Rams as “my team”. When soemone asks who they play next week I respond with, “Well, we play the Packers at the Dome”. If you are a fan, you are the team! haha I’m glad to have some back-up with this. Although it isn’t tough to claim the Rams, not many will, I’ll stick by them! haha Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!!

    • Go Rams! I’ve been a season ticket holder since day one. Lots of lean years for us die-hards. That Miami game was brutal. They were so good and yet they lost. I’ll be there cheering for us against the Cheeseheads this Sunday! Thanks for the comment.

    • lol, hey bburt1. Thanks for the comment. The only thing I don’t like about the A’s is that they gave us Mark Mulder in exchange for Danny Haren. I’m still mad about that!

  16. I’m a Cards fan from birth (my mother even went to the Word Series in 82 pregnant with me) and I married one of those pesky Cubs fans. Your point is well stated. All of it. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment! I was in college, University of Idaho, during the ’82 series and watching from the television lounge in my dorm. Far from any Cubs or Cardinals fans in Moscow, Idaho. I was so happy. Then, the despair of ’85.

  17. I guess I’m just saying that if a Cubs fan and a Cardinal fan can get married, can’t Republicans and Democrats try to pass legislation that will help us all? Can’t we root for a our team during the game but work together afterwards?

    Because, unlike sports, where one can blame the ref or the mascot or a personal assistant that messed up the order and thus your starting player couldn’t complete his pre-game ritual, in politics… where does one even start? Strip away the philosophical emblems that serve as “product differentiation” and you’re left with similar operational parts.

  18. It is rather amazing how many people (not you, but sports fans generally) invest themselves in sports teams and particular players but can’t read one Op-Ed in the WSJ or some equivalent publication. As to the relationship between team and fan, we cannot dismiss vicarious living. Everyone has their escapes, after all.

    • You make two interesting points. If I understand your first point correctly, and please let me know if I’m wrong, you’re saying that sports fans have detailed knowledge of their teams but a lack of knowledge about current events. And that this focus is more intense than non-sports fans. My own personal, and thus completely unscientific and invalid, experience is that sports fans are no more or less knowledgeble about current events than other people. Your second point is the enjoyment of sports is a vicarious one. That we fans of a team or player are experiencing joy and triumph through the exploits of our athletic heroes. It’s an interesting idea. I don’t think I agree but I’m going to think on it a while. Maybe I’ll blog in the future.

      Thank you for the thought provoking comment and come back anytime!

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  20. I’d like to know your viewpoints on alma mater teams vs say, a grad school team. I went to Notre Dame for ugrad and Michigan for grad school. Needless to say, it was a lot harder for me to root for Michigan compared to my Cornell alum friends. Is it even possible to root for both schools?

    • I didn’t go to grad school but I think, generally, your first love is always the most profound. It’s even more difficult when your second is a rival of your first. If I moved to Chicago for the rest of my life I can’t imagine ever becoming a Cubs fan. It’s an interesting question. Thank you for posting it!

  21. Tom, I’m love the fact that this “sports” blog post touched on so many things I promote in the workplace. I’ve seen so many elements about shared interests, passion, compassion, dedication, commitment, and teambuilding. Most importantly, TEAM SPIRIT. If we could inject more of your views in the workplace. We’d have some much more healthier organizations. Great stuff.

  22. As a life long Cards fan, even through the bad times, I think fans are fans no matter what and that positive, “go get em” attitude would be great at work and even at home. Root for you “team”, rally in the 9th inning, do what needs to be done. Let’s try positivity in all aspects of our lives!

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