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Why Do You Hate the Cardinals?

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Why Do You Hate the Cardinals?

Postby JTWood » Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:13 am

No matter your thoughts, you have to admit that this is an interesting observation.

Slate wrote:Cardinal Sin
Why is everyone so annoyed that St. Louis is in the World Series?

By Larry Borowsky
Posted Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2006, at 2:21 PM ET

The St. Louis Cardinals reached the World Series thanks to the worst hitter in the National League. Yadier Molina, whose .216 batting average was dead last among NL regulars, launched a tie-breaking blast to beat the Mets in Game 7 of the NLCS, joining Bucky Dent and Francisco Cabrera as the unlikeliest of October heroes. How fitting that such a lowly player should lead these Cardinals to victory. With a regular-season record of 83 and 78, St. Louis is the second-worst World Series participant in history. Now, after their 5-0 victory over Detroit in Tuesday night's Game 3, they're two wins away from becoming baseball's weakest World Champion ever.

Americans love an underdog, right? Not this time. On message boards and in the newspapers, the sentiment about the Cards' NLCS victory ranged from eye-rolling disdain to outright disgust. In one chat room I frequent, somebody posted "Tigers in 4" before Molina had finished circling the bases. "Wow, is the National League pathetic that it could produce this team as its representative," cringed blogger Scott Long at the Baseball Toaster. USA Today's World Series handicappers were equally scornful, suggesting that the Tigers' biggest challenge against the Cardinals would be "keeping a straight face."

Improbable championship runs inspire delight in other sports—think March Madness—but not in baseball. That's partly because upsets are so at odds with the game's tradition. In its first 70 or so years, before the advent of divisional play, baseball produced only two real postseason shockers: the New York Giants' sweep of the invincible Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series, and the Chicago White Sox's upending of the 1906 Chicago Cubs, whose .763 winning percentage remains the best of all-time. In nearly every other year, the series paired two pretty evenly matched teams, and since each boasted the best record in its league, none could be characterized as a huge underdog. Flukes simply weren't possible, and a championship won on the field was inherently credible.

Today, the postseason tournament consists of eight teams of varying degrees of quality. Nondescript ballclubs crash the bracket every season, and once inside they're apt to make trouble. At least one of the wild card teams has made the World Series five years running. The Cardinals are a division winner, but their presence in the World Series is still a fluke.

St. Louis' surprising run seems particularly galling now because this era of playoff randomness coincides with the height of baseball's statistical age. While random chance governs the sport from game to game, the opposite is true on a season-long level. The gradual accretion of outcomes—pitch after pitch, at-bat after at-bat, game after game—yields a deep body of evidence about which teams and players are the best. By the end of the season, we know not only who's more valuable, but by how much. And Yadier Molina isn't valuable.

Stat-centric analysis holds such sway over fans and sportswriters that when it clashes with the outcomes on the field, we tend to sneer at the outcomes. Next to the rich trove of data we've acquired throughout the season, a seven-game series seems like a ridiculously crude instrument for determining the best team. The Cardinals' October accomplishments, however stirring, don't seem as believable as those recorded by better teams over the long haul. I'm a huge Cardinals fan, and I still can't convince myself that they're the best team in baseball.

But there's another way to look at this. We could view the Cards as a bunch of guys who made themselves better than their numerical profiles—who surpassed their limitations when it mattered most. That's how we viewed George Mason last spring, when it beat a vastly superior UConn team to make the Final Four. All but the sourest fans embraced those upstarts.

The "underdog" storyline may fly in the face of baseball tradition, and it may violate every principle of sabermetrics. But ballplayers are people, not Strat-O-Matic cards. They have the capacity to make adjustments, and—even if only for a few games—raise their level of play. The results might not be reproducible, nor sustainable over the long haul. But this isn't the long haul. This is October, the month when random chance beats certainty into submission.

Besides, don't we watch sports in the hope of seeing something unexpected? The St. Louis Cardinals may not be the best team in baseball, but if they can overcome their own foibles and beat the Tigers two more times, they will be the most improbable World Champions of all time. If you can't find something to celebrate in that—well, there's always Strat-O-Matic.
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Postby mak1277 » Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:29 am

This really smells like the roto vs. head-to-head arguement, doesn't it? Anyway, as someone who openly hates the Cardinals, I'll weigh in.

Does it really matter if they would be the "worst" WS champ ever? I don't think so. I mean, someone has to be the worst, right? And as annoying as I find Cardinals fans, they are indeed passionate. As a baseball fan, I'd much rather see a team like the Cardinals win the series than a team like the Marlins, with no discernable fan-base to speak of. I also think it's a very positive thing that the Cards haven't really gone crazy publicly with the whole "disrespect" ploy. Even my beloved Steelers got on my nerves with that during their super bowl run this year. The Cards could have legitimately whined about not getting respect, but they really haven't (unless I've missed something).

There are a lot of things about the Cardinals that annoy me (Eckstein, LaRussa, Edmonds, Eckstein, the fans, Eckstein)...but you can't take it away from them if they win.

As a fan, the only real problem with this WS has been the complete and utter lack of anything that would pass for "greatness". Commissioner Bud considers parity his greatest achievment, but I think that's simply an excuse for mediocrity. There aren't any real heroes being displayed this year...no Schillings, Johnsons, 8-o Jeters...no, Eckstein does NOT count.
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Postby dyuen87 » Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:45 am

I dont mind seeing the Cardinals there. They've more than proven to me that they're a contending team. 2004 WS appearance and a 2005 battle in the NLCS with the Astros. Right now they deserve it more than the Tigers, who just managed to get hot at the right time and had a few blown umpire calls go their way. They have the best hitter and a top 5 pitcher. They're just as deserving as anybody else and the way they're playing shows it.
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Postby thomasps3 » Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:16 am

I wonder if some of it stems from the fact that so many of us(present company included) had them pegged as the far inferior team, which I still believe that they are.

Or possibly is it because the overwhelming belief in the cafe, and rightfully so, is that the American league is the far superior league, talent wise, and the disappointing display by the Tigers is not indicative of said difference?


**My aim here is not to inflame the fans of the National League style of play. I am simply looking at the statistical evidences and offering an interpretation
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Postby J35J » Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:26 am

Not a big fan of the city, even less a fan of there fans............and I'm a KC Royals fan and area resident! !+)



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Postby slomo007 » Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:26 am

I think it's largely because they keep outproducing what most of us thought they would do. Well, that and David Eckstein.

Yes, I know both of these reasons have been mentioned, but I've simplified it and found the real problem and this is it. Who honestly likes Eckstein, besides Cardinal fans. He's the most annoying hitter there is. :-P
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Postby RAmst23 » Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:36 am

Good article and I hadn't really thought about these playoffs in that way. I think fans are angry at the Cards right now because they keep thinking 'why not us'? The Cardinals had the 13th best record in baseball, so I'm sure many fans think the Cards aren't deserving and their team is.

On that note, i do feel bad that more people can't embrace this situation. I don't mean embracing the Cardinals, just that a team has barely scratched it's way into the playoffs and now is defying all odds to make a run and achieve a World title. This is what sports are about, and here we have most people bickering, complaining, whining etc. Last nights ballgame was a classic, and while I bet it actually got decent ratings (Ratings for Game 2 were actually alright), this should be more of a story. Instead of hearing about the WS though, I tune in and hear about mid-season football games.

IMO, and I know this has been said many times, but ESPN and MLB itself do a terrible job of self-promotion. I know Jeter is great and the Yanks should be talked about, but you're shooting yourself in the foot. A Red Sox or Yankee team shouldn't have to enter the postseason for it to be counted as a 'success' (Which makes me actually feel bad for Yank and Red Sox fans, as they have to feel the backlash of this tunnel-visioned press.)
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Postby wrveres » Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:04 am

RAmst23 wrote:Good article and I hadn't really thought about these playoffs in that way. I think fans are angry at the Cards right now because they keep thinking 'why not us'? The Cardinals had the 13th best record in baseball, so I'm sure many fans think the Cards aren't deserving and their team is.

On that note, i do feel bad that more people can't embrace this situation. I don't mean embracing the Cardinals, just that a team has barely scratched it's way into the playoffs and now is defying all odds to make a run and achieve a World title. This is what sports are about, and here we have most people bickering, complaining, whining etc. Last nights ballgame was a classic, and while I bet it actually got decent ratings (Ratings for Game 2 were actually alright), this should be more of a story. Instead of hearing about the WS though, I tune in and hear about mid-season football games.

IMO, and I know this has been said many times, but ESPN and MLB itself do a terrible job of self-promotion. I know Jeter is great and the Yanks should be talked about, but you're shooting yourself in the foot. A Red Sox or Yankee team shouldn't have to enter the postseason for it to be counted as a 'success' (Which makes me actually feel bad for Yank and Red Sox fans, as they have to feel the backlash of this tunnel-visioned press.)


great read ..
even greater post ;-D
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Postby Madison » Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:25 am

mak1277 wrote:This really smells like the roto vs. head-to-head arguement, doesn't it?


Was my first thought too. :-D

Anyway, I'm not a fan of either team. I will admit I like the Tigers more than the Cards, because Pudge is my favorite player and I'd like to see him win another World Series ring. ;-D
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Postby acsguitar » Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:27 am

I hate the cardianls for a few reasons:

I think they are to red.
I think Pujols is way to cocky.
Larusa wears sunglasses all the time.
Yadier Molina annoys me when he thinks he walks on every pitch and throws his bat towards the dugout.
Belliard's hair

So yea not good reasons. I just don't like them. They bore me in every aspect of the game.

I do like Eckstein though he's the man ;-D

BTW every team I've called the Yankees (The mets and the tigers) Seem to now be losing. So I'm gonna call the cardinals the yankees now.
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