America has turned on the St. Louis Cardinals.
The backlash started, more or less, with last week's Drew Magary takedown on Deadspin, which featured these memorable lines about the team's fans: "You are poorly disguised Yankees fans in ugly Christmas sweaters carrying a Jell-O mold to your neighbor's door. And your constant attempts to turn every October into an extended production of Our Town makes me want to hang myself with a extension cord."
The Cardinals are a very good baseball team. Their fans have every right to be happy.
You can't blame the rest of us for not sharing their joy, though. Familiarity breeds contempt; people are tired of seeing the Cards in the post-season. Also, fans need someone to hate, and the Yankees are more likely to inspire pity at the moment.
Here's another theory for the backlash: People are finally getting nauseated at the pious gloss that's endlessly smeared across this "storied franchise." Just before the Dodgers series got underway, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch transformed it, predictably, from a handful of baseball games into a morality tale: "This isn't just a clash of cultures, but of architecture. Bankrolled vs. Built. The Best Team Money Can Buy vs. the club now being called The Best Organization in Baseball. One of the teams was built from the draft up, the other from the pocketbook down." Guess which team was which? (Hint: The story was accompanied by a cartoon featuring Rich Uncle Pennybags of Monopoly fame in a Dodgers top hat, clutching a big sack of cash.)
If we needed another reminder that this was a team that plays the game the right way — The Cardinal Way — we got it after Game 3, when Carlos Beltran criticized the Dodgers' young Cuban star, Yasiel Puig, for inappropriately showing emotion when he hit a triple. (Imagine!) Of course, Beltran is a Cardinal, so he didn't want to sound mean about it. "I think with time," he said of Puig, "he will learn that you have to sometimes act a little bit more calm."
The reality is that for the last 15 years or so, we've been fed a narrative about this special team and its special fans by a number of Cardinals-loving broadcasters and writers, including Tim McCarver (a long-time Cardinal), Joe Buck (who grew up in St. Louis and is the son of legendary voice of the Cardinals, Jack Buck), Bob Costas (who started his broadcasting career in St. Louis) and Buzz Bissinger (author of the Tony La Russa love letter, "Three Nights In August").
We've heard all about the "down-to-earth" Stan Musial playing his harmonica in overalls on "Hee Haw." And about the radio station, KMOX, which has been carrying Cards games pretty much since the team's 1926 World Series against the Yankees. We've been told, repeatedly, that Cards fans are so humble that they applaud opposing players when they make great plays — that they are the best fans in baseball.
The Cardinals are, evidently, a first-class organization with a rich history and loyal fans in a great baseball town. (Never mind that St. Louis is otherwise not so great: The nation's third largest city at the turn of the 20th century, it is poverty plagued, racially polarized and has lost more than 60 percent of its population since 1950.)
I'm not disputing this. The trouble is, we are constantly being told to admire them. Holding up the Cards — and their fans — as some sort of baseball ideal doesn't just make them annoying. It implicitly denigrates every other team in baseball and their respective fans. That includes Dodger fans, who kept coming out to the park to watch their team during some pretty dark days over the last 10 years. It's one thing for Cardinals fans to celebrate their organization's values. It's another thing for those values to be inflicted on the rest of us, especially when all we really want to do is watch a ballgame.
America has turned on the St. Louis Cardinals.
North grad fuels OCU
Oklahoma City University clobbered St. Gregory’s 12-3 on Sunday at Jim Wade Stadium supported by three runs batted in by freshman Jared Baker out of Edmond North High School.
Ryan Wright, a junior from Fruitland, Idaho, drove in four runs while going 3-for-5 with a double and his first home run with OCU. The Stars, ranked fifth in NAIA baseball, improved to 14-3, 6-0 in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
Deer Creek boys make state; Bulldogs eliminated by Owasso
The Deer Creek Antlers made a run on Durant in the third quarter of a Class 5A area consolation championship game that thrusted Deer Creek into the state tournament for the first time since 1997.
The Antlers, 18-9, got up on the Lions by six points in the third and then held the ball, thus forcing Durant to come out of its zone en route to a 54-45 win.
Led by Conner Avants’ 26 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots, Deer Creek got some easy scores going against the Lions’ pressure in the fourth.
Antler Tyler Haddock added 16 points and five rebounds and teammate Brett Valentine contributed eight points.
UCO fights to MIAA championship; falls to Missouri Southern
A spirited postseason run came to an abrupt ending for Central Oklahoma in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Tournament finals Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, Mo.
The depth-challenged Bronchos played just six players and fatigue played a factor in the second half as Missouri Southern claimed an 84-72 victory to capture the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division II national tournament.
Fifth-seeded UCO, playing for the third straight day, fell to 20-10 and is doubtful to earn an at-large bid into the playoffs when the full 64-team field is announced late Sunday night. The Lions improved to 24-5.
The Bronchos led 40-39 at halftime, but missed five straight shots during a key second-half stretch when Missouri Southern stretched a 45-44 lead to double digits at 54-44 with 14:21 remaining and UCO never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
Putnam North fires back in second half
The Lady Bulldogs of Edmond Memorial kept their heart beating by downing Bartlesville 48-42 Thursday night in an area consolation contest, but the momentum came to an abrupt stop Saturday afternoon in the consolation championship at Catoosa High School. Putnam North ended Memorial’s season with a 46-31 decision.
Deer Creek loses nail-biter; Memorial boys fall to Tulsa Union
The Deer Creek Antlers were just seconds away from entering the Class 5A state tournament, but Del City’s Brett Cannon scored on a reverse layup on a back-door move with one second left to down Deer Creek 47-45 in overtime in an area championship contest at Catoosa High School.
“We’re playing really well,” Antler skipper Matt Bailey said following the nail-biter. “They got us with the last shot in overtime.”
Deer Creek will face the winner of the McAlester/Durant game Saturday at 6:30 at Sapulpa High School in the area consolation title game with a trip to the big dance on the line.
After impressive road series, OC’s Coats receives NCCAA pitching honor
Oklahoma Christian’s Shea Coats was honored Tuesday as the National Christian College Athletic Association’s softball pitching student-athlete of the week.
Coats, a freshman from Tuttle, was honored for her performance as the Lady Eagles won two of three games last weekend at Texas-Permian Basin. Coats threw a complete-game 1-hitter to lead Oklahoma Christian to a 3-0 win in the series opener, then threw two perfect innings in relief to earn the save as the Lady Eagles took the series finale 6-2.
In her nine innings of work, Coats struck out 11 batters while walking four. She currently ranks fifth in the Heartland Conference in strikeouts with 46, in 43 innings of work.
She is the first OC softball player to win a NCCAA weekly award this season.
Broncho Gibbs stacks up honors
Central Oklahoma’s Josh Gibbs was a repeat first-team selection on the All-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Team that was released by the league office Tuesday.
The 6-5 senior forward is averaging 20.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals a game .
Gibbs, who leads the league in rebounds and ranks third in scoring, has had 17 double-doubles this season. He’s also second in the MIAA in 3-pointers per game with 2.4, having made 66 treys while shooting 38.8 percent from beyond the arc.
SLIDESHOW: Lady Wolves win Area basketball title
The Edmond Santa Fe Lady Wolves won the Area basketball title with a win over Norman North at Choctaw Thursday evening.
Santa Fe thwarts Norman North offense
The Edmond Santa Fe Lady Wolves added another plaque to their collection and took one more step toward a gold ball Thursday night.
Edmond took down a feisty Norman North squad 64-47 at Choctaw High School to win the Class 6A west area tournament and advance to the state tournament that begins March 13.
“We’re going to enjoy that for tomorrow and now we’ve got to go find who we play on Saturday and we’re going to focus,” said Paul Bass, Santa Fe head coach. “It’s one game at a time. We’re 24-1, but that really doesn’t matter because now we’re in the third tournament of the year for us. This is the one that’s most important — get to state and try to get that gold ball.”
Defensive battle falls in favor of Deer Creek
A pair of defensive teams coming out on each other, both 20-5 Deer Creek and 20-5 Collinsville played to a 20-19 score after three periods with the Lady Antlers on top Thursday night at Owasso High School in a Class 5A area championship game.
The final panel wasn’t much different, as Deer Creek used two mammoth defensive plays by Dakota Vann to stave off the Cardinals 31-28 and advance to the state tournament beginning March 13.
“Last week at practice, I told the girls that the road to get back to the state tournament was that somebody was going to have to make a play,” defending state champion Deer Creek coach Totsy Manning said after the victory over Collinsville. “I told the girls to go out and make a good play.”
Vann, a 5-10 junior, did just that — twice.
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