It’s a great time to be a St. Louis sports fan, regardless of the efforts of a certain National Football League owner who shall remain nameless.
It’s not only awesome to see the beleaguered St. Louis Blues make it to the Stanley Cup playoffs after being in last place as late as early January. But it’s also wonderful that the St. Louis Cardinals roughed up their NL Central rivals the Milwaukee Brewers in a sweep that carried them into first place with the best winning percentage in the National League.
And let’s not forget that things are looking really positive as far as the potential to add Major League Soccer to the St. Louis sports menu soon.
I was particularly moved to see members of the Redbirds including stars Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright in Blues sweaters, cheering their team on in the deciding game against the Jets. After the NFL left town, the two remaining local clubs banded together to show some community spirit. But the sentiment has remained long after the coordinated pep rally died down. When they showed the Cardinals in a suite at the hockey barn, it was obvious they weren’t faking their enthusiasm.
The relationship between St. Louis sports teams and between the teams and their fans is special. The Cardinals and Blues both punch above their weight when it comes to support from an alleged “small market.” They have loyal audiences through thick and thin as proved by the way fans kept coming out to see the hockey club after that nameless NFL owner’s brother burned the team to the ground. Cardinals fans fill Busch Stadium season after season, even when the team hasn’t made the postseason three years in a row. People put up with that football team for years when it was, as we now know, tanking a la the Major League movie in order to drive down attendance and make a case to relocate the team to a more lucrative setting.
Seeing the hockey arena filled to the rafters and hearing the ballpark roar when the Cardinals take the field is a great advertisement for the community spirit that remains in the St. Louis area despite the narrative some are pushing that it’s a dying city. It warms my heart and it makes me hope the NFL is watching and realizing it made a mistake by abandoning the best, most loyal sports fans in the country.
I don’t know if it has anything to do with the Blues relationship, but the Redbirds players sure seem to be a lot more enthusiastic toward each other this season than they were last year. You can really see the team come together and sense a rally when it’s about to happen. I think a big part of that is the fact that everyone on the roster is contributing right now in one way or another. In fact, the team has more contributors right now than it has roster spots.
St. Louis Cardinals getting hot
A couple of hot weeks hasn’t convinced me that Dexter Fowler has turned back the hands of time. But I’m going to enjoy the way he is playing right now, however long it lasts. Fowler deserves a tip of the cap for batting through his struggles at the plate to push his batting average over the .300 mark for the first time at any point of a season dating back to 2016. He’s also playing decent defense after being drummed out of his preferred center field to play right.
Marcell Ozuna looked like he was hopeless early in spring training. He looked like a pensioner playing catch with his grandson throwing in the outfield during spring training and he couldn’t generate anything better than an occasional single at the plate. Suddenly he’s whacking home runs like they’re going out of style and running the bases with abandon.
Paul DeJong, who has always concerned me because of his penchant for failing to make contact, has been on fire, raising his on base percentage from his career number of .319 to .398. He seems as if he has a much better idea at the plate than he has in the past, especially last year when he was trying to come back from a broken hand suffered when he was hit by a pitch.
Kolton Wong is playing brilliant defense and using the whole field when he’s at bat. Jose Martinez doesn’t seem like he remembers how to make an out. Rookie Lane Thomas is daring the Cardinals to send him back to the minors with a .400 batting average following a home run in his first major league at bat.
These sorts of good times when everything goes right can’t go on forever. But I’m going to sit back and enjoy it for as long as I can and try to remember this team’s potential when things even out later.