Thursday, February 5, 2009

Resisting the Card Side

I'm looking forward to the weekend because I get to get away from the city for a bit, which will be relaxing, and I get to visit with my girlfriend's nieces, which will be fun.

They are the cutest little girls ever, in my opinion, and its always fun when they can visit from St. Louis. Unfortunately, being from St. Louis makes them pre-disposed to growing up into Cardinals fans.

Historically, I have disliked Cardinals fans the most because I have had to deal with them the most. Before the Cubs played the White Sox in meaningful games, there really was no reason I would intermix with Sox fans. Even if I did meet them, they didn't have much more going for them than the Cubs did. If they wanted to hang their hat on winning the World Series last in 1917 versus the Cubs in 1908, that was fine. At some point, the time lines become so long the difference in 9 years was hardly a tick that mattered. But then 2005 changed all that and I began to hate the White Sox with the intensity of a thousand suns.

So the Cardinals come in second now.

The Cardinals have always been our division rivals. When I was growing up, the Cardinals were always good and the Cubs were usually not. It was not uncommon to have Wrigley Field filled with more red than blue during a Cardinals series because the tickets were not as difficult to come by back then. So they would fill up our ballpark with a smug confidence in seeing a Cardinals victory.

That pissed me off something awful.

I hate that Cardinal fans are portrayed as the "smartest" baseball fans, but there they were filling a stadium to see Mark McGwire hit steroid-driven homeruns on a lousy team, but then ridiculing the Cubs fans for only showing up to see Sammy hit homeruns. I have sat in both Busch Stadiums and the vast majority of people who are keeping score are the ones wearing the Cubs hats. But they are smart and we are dumb, beer-swilling morons.

I also don't understand the animosity towards the Cubs. Is it because everybody associates Harry Caray with the Cubs instead of the Cardinals? Did it grow from the downstate Illinois' rivalry with all things Chicago?

I have no idea why they hate us so much when we have really done nothing to them. We don't knock them out of the playoffs. They win more divisional titles than the Cubs. They obviously win more championships than the Cubs. They even have a higher profile superstar right now in Albert Pujols.

But I go down there and I have little kids jumping out of a pool to mock my Cubs hat. Seriously. A little punk jumped out of a pool and ran up to me and my girlfriend:

Kid: Are you Cubs fans?
Us: Yeah
Kid: Do you know what Cubs stands for?
Us: Comp....
Kid: (interrupting): Completely Useless By September! (jumps back into the pool)

I go to a mall around Christmas time wearing my festive Christmas Cubs hat, and multiple people walk by me and say, "1908." Come on! Its f---ing Christmas! Give it a rest!

So I obviously don't want these sweet little girls to become part of that culture if I can help it. So I have slowly been introducing the Cubs to them as a viable option, with varying degrees of success.

The eight-year old is already fairly well on her way to being a Cardinals fan. She knows a lot of the players on the Cardinals and watches a fair number of games, but she doesn't yet know about 1908. Also, she now will say that she roots for the Cubs when they are not playing the Cardinals. So that is a minor win for me.

The five-year old doesn't really care about baseball, but she knows that I like the Cubs and I wear my Cubs hat all the time. She says she also wants a hat and when I ask her if she wants a Cubs hat or a Cardinals hat, she whispers to me that she would like a Cubs hat better. Big win.

The two-year old doesn't even know what baseball is yet, but she loves to take my hat and put it on. I also gave her a Cubs pacifier shortly after she was born. I like to think that it made her familiar with the Cubs and will make her more likely to accept them, but I fear that she will just associate the Cubs with sucking.

But when I think about it further, maybe I should be focusing more on protecting them from becoming Cubs fans. Why would I wish lives of torment and pain for these three innocent little kids? What have they done to me?

They should live happy lives where they believe that good things can happen. They should have confidence that unseen forces will not yank away their happy feelings in an instant. They shouldn't have to grow up peeking around corners and constantly waiting for impending doom.

Maybe they would be better off as Cardinals fans.

But then I remember that I am now an optimist. That I now am grasping the concept that being a Cub fan will pay off in the end, and that the victory will be that much sweeter. Those kids deserve to experience that kind of euphoria.

Maybe this weekend I'll teach them the lyrics to "Go Cubs Go."


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