Cheap Seats

When the Cardinals play the Giants, it’s baseball as it was meant to be played

In an era where a lot of lot of made for TV fluff obscures the beauty of the baseball, it’s nice to see the St. Louis Cardinals have a constructive rivalry with the San Francisco Giants.

Although there are those who like to vilify the Cardinals because of their winning ways over the past 15 years, there is no team in the National League that has fought more big battles with St. Louis than San Francisco. Yet the Cardinals and Giants seem to play the game with mutual respect. And their fans seem to get along, too.

(At least since former Giants skipper Dusty Baker was sent down the road a few years back.)

Maybe it’s because of their positive history that Giants players and fans, like those associated with the Redbirds, act as if they have been there before.

While the Los Angeles Dodgers employ their bubble machines and flip their bats (even on fly outs) and the Milwaukee Brewers had their beast mode gestures and alter egos, the Giants and Cardinals are filled with solid -- instead of flashy -- ball players who work together as a team and who know how to play the game.

They don’t need to knock down others to glorify themselves. Players on both sides have the jewelry to prove how well they can play.

It’s a lot more fun to watch teams like that go toe to toe. And, win or lose, you can tip your cap to them for a battle well-fought.

It’s a similar relationship to the one the Cardinals shared with the Houston Astros before that team was relocated to the American League. Frankly, I miss it.

The sideshow antics of some of the other clubs don’t lead to good baseball. They lead to bench-clearing brawls like the one between the Cardinals and Cincinnati after Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips bad-mouthed St. Louis players in the media or the recent dust up between the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Baseball was always a game with understood unwritten rules about respect and not trying to show up the other team. But somewhere along the line the preening and showboating went beyond what we see on Sundays in the National Football League and more resembles antics of professional wrestlers.

Hopefully, the Cardinals and Giants will have a clean, respectful and hard-fought series... and it will be a preview of another epic playoff battle.