Cheap Seats

Opposing fans way out of line when griping about Cardinals Way

It drives me a little bit nuts to see fans of other teams continue to harp on the St. Louis MLB franchise as being pretentious for using the words the “Cardinals way.”

While I, and surely the majority of longtime baseball fans, know every franchise in the history of the major leagues talks to its players about doing things that team’s own special way, I guess these complainers haven’t been hipped to that concept.

Now that St. Louis is in the playoffs again the Cardinals haters are spouting off about why they hate the Redbirds. And the “Cardinals Way” is at the top of the list.

So, in the interest of spreading a little knowledge, I decided to look up a few examples for them as we wait for the Redbirds to begin their last regular season series of 2015.

▪ Here is a 2012 story from detailing how the Chicago Cubs, at the direction of Theo Epstein, wrote an entire manuel on how to do things “The Cubs Way.”

“You can't sum it up in one or two sentences,” Epstein said of the guide. “Everything there is about the game, how we're going to approach it the same way as an organization from the Dominican Summer League to [Class] A ball, Double-A, Triple-A and up to the big leagues. Playing hard is a big part of it; playing the game the right way and teaching it consistently is important.”

Hmmmm. That sounds familiar. But they say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Especially when it comes from your arch rival. So thanks for the compliment, Cubbies.

I guess current Cubs skipper Joe Maddon didn’t know about the Cubs Way when he mocked the Cardinals Way a few days ago. But he wasn’t there yet when the Cubs penned their book. So maybe that’s the problem. Theo should have handed him a copy of the Cubs manifesto when Maddon signed his contract.

(I wonder if the Cubs Way says anything about not burning themselves out by winning the World Series too often.)

▪ Longtime Yankees player and coach Willie Randolph wrote the book detailing The Yankee Way in 2014. But the Yankees have been teaching their Way since at least the 1950s.

Here is a story from the Wall Street Journal detailing how Brett Gardener is the official keeper of Yankee Way following the retirement of Derek Jeter last year.

If you don’t want to read the whole piece, here’s how it ends:

Gardner’s contract runs through 2018, with a one-year option. By that time, new players may not even be able to imagine a Yankee club where 10-year-vet Brett Gardner wasn’t showing new arrivals the right way to be a Yankee.

▪ Here is a Washington Post story quote in which a player on their local team bemoans that the franchise preaches the “Nationals Way” -- but it doesn’t show loyalty to the guys who buy into it:

“We thought we were building a clubhouse here with players who were going to do things the Nationals Way,” one player said. “But then they don’t keep some of those guys, and they bring in others who haven’t come up that way. What does that teach you? How does that breed loyalty?”

Washington is the newest team in baseball, if you don’t count their Montreal Expos days. But even they have their own way. Have they been around long enough to develop a Way?

▪ Of course, the grand daddy of Ways is the Dodgers Way which was committed to paper in 1954 by Al Campanis. You can even get it on VHS or DVD on Amazon.

Anybody who was alive in the 1970s and 80s surely remembers how Tommy La Sorda prattled on for years about the Dodgers Way and bleeding Dodgers Blue.

It’s amazing LA ever lost a game with their perfected, ideal brand of baseball.

The Cardinals weren’t the inventors in having a sense of team pride and an organizational philosophy. But its paid off for them bigtime over the years in building prospects who eventually become cornerstones from Bob Gibson and Key Boyer to Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina.

If opposing fans are going to hate the St. Louis Cardinals, at least do it for the right reasons. They can be jealous of the Redbirds’ success. But it would be nice if they at least knew a little something about what they’re talking about.