Friends, we’ve won.
Let me back up.
About 6 weeks ago, I moved to Chicago. Spring Training was in full swing and not a small part of me was ready to get in the belly of the beast and start talking baseball with differently minded people.
If we’re being real honest with ourselves, the conversation about Mark Ellis’ tendinitis and how that could effect the 3rd spot on the Cardinals bench if Kolten Wong didn’t get off to a good start wasn’t exactly meaty.
But in Chicago?
These people have to HATE the Cardinals, right? I had my Wacha stats from last October memorized. Any talk of farm systems would get a healthy injection of Oscar Taveras. Oh, Wrigley is turning 100? Ballpark Village was baseball’s new crown jewel. (I know, but still…)
Then I got here and I heard the following 3 things in order of frequency when I brought up the upcoming baseball season.
1) I really respect the Cardinals organization and what they’ve done. It’s an amazing franchise. Hopefully we’re like you one day. Good luck this year.
2) Man the Cubs really suck. If these new prospects don’t pan out, I’m probably going to have to find a new team… actually, I’ll probably just stop watching baseball. Maybe I’m already out. I don’t even know who they’re playing.
3) Dude, the NHL/NBA playoffs are coming. Who cares?
Respect? Quitting? Apathy? Um, guys, you know that we’re supposed to be rivals right? I’m not supposed to feel bad when your team is in the valley and mine is on the peak. I’m supposed to be gleefully rubbing it in at every opportunity. Just like I’d expect you to do to me if the situation was reversed.
(Side note: HA!)
But friends, I have to tell you – this is a beaten fan base. I suspect you’re going to encounter the same feelings this weekend at Busch Stadium. And you’re going to want to pounce. Talk about 1908. Show off your NL Champion replica rings. Talk about how it’s disappointing the Cards don’t have more than 1 World Series to show for the last 3 seasons.
I’m going to encourage you to not.
Cubs fan is on the edge. They need to be talked down, not nudged over. They are ready to quit on their team. The promise of ‘next year’ comes with the caveat that they might or might not be interested in watching it.
The Cardinals are going to win this series. I’ve watched more Cubs baseball in 2 weeks than I have my entire life (sans when they play the Cards). And I can report that I have no idea how they have 3 wins. They might sneak a win in somewhere over the weekend, but probably not.
Knowing that, I encourage you to do as I have. Take a broken fan and put him under your wing… OUR wing… and let him know that these youngsters will be up from the minors in no time. That you can really build from within. That though we don’t know the pain of an actual ‘re-building process’ per se, that we’re rooting for the Cubs to be good again so we can root for them to be bad again.
It won’t feel natural.
But this rivalry wasn’t built on hate. It was built on two cities that freaking love baseball. And if one of those cities decide that they’ve got enough going on that they don’t need to pay attention, then what?
You want to take weekend roadies to Pittsburgh?
Cubs fans, after this weekend (of course) we’re going to be rooting for you. We want to get it back to the old days.
You know, when you had zero chance of beating the Cardinals… but were still convinced you did.
Photo: Big Shirtless Rob