Once the Cardinals were cut out of the playoff picture by a Giants’ win over the Dodgers on the last day of the season, I decided to take a rooting interest in the Baltimore Orioles this fall.
They were the St. Louis Browns for 53 seasons, after all, which gave me a legit reason to wear my ugly orange and brown “STL” cap and matching Satchel Paige jersey.
Plus, if ever there was a post-season tailor made for the bandwagon fan, this is it — even if it’s not the same bandwagon as mine.
There are, as of Friday’s National League Division Series opener in Chicago, more Cubs fans in the universe than there were on Thursday. They have suddenly discovered hidden concerns for the plight of those poor, loveable Cubbies and those long-suffering fans who have endured the most renowned championship drought in all of sports.
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Some already have chastised me and my beloved Browns ... err ... Orioles, who, typical of the way this season has gone for St. Louis teams both past and present, were quickly bounced from the playoffs in the wild card game.
“Come on,” those bandwagon fans will tell you, “The Cubs deserve it.”
Awwww, go fish.
To be clear, I do not endorse any hatred of the Cubs. In fact, I wrote positive things about them during last season’s NLDS against the Cardinals, even as I watched them celebrate a victory from the Busch Stadium press box.
You have to admire manager Joe Maddon and the easy way he’s led this team to its current level of success. These young Cubs also have been resilient, even with the weight of the Billy Goat Curse and Steve Bartman bearing down on them.
Their 103 wins in 2016? Objectively, it’s impossible to not be impressed.
But, in the spirit of a great baseball rivalry, it is a St. Louis Cardinals fan’s duty to reject any suggestion that they owe the Northsiders some kind of loyalty.
I can tell you from experience — having lived among Cubs’ fans in college and being a frequent visitor to Wrigley Field — that the so-called “Friendly Confines” are anything but. Seriously, do you believe for a second that Chicago baseball fans rooted for the Cardinals in any of their many recent postseason visits?
Of course not. And that is totally cool. Like cats and dogs, Red Sox and Yankees, oil and water, cranberries and milk, it’s written into the order of the universe.
And that’s why they call it a rivalry. If fans didn’t have a team to villainize at every turn, beating them just wouldn’t be as much fun. This is especially true when both sides are actually good.
So I’m curious, Cardinals fans: Do any of your feel differently? Will you be rooting for the Cubs this postseason?
Send me an email or drop a comment on Facebook to explain your position. There are rules, though: Keep it clean and be respectful. This is all in fun, OK?
And, finally, don’t tell me you’re root for the Cubs “because they deserve it.”