Let me get the disclaimer out first. I am a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan. I have lived in the city, off and on, for the past 25 years. I typically attend about 20 games a year and rarely ever miss a game on TV. I follow the team religiously and pour over their stat sheets daily during the season. Nobody could call me impartial when it came down to the Redbirds.
That is why it pains me to write this article today. I have to call out my beloved team for not just hypocrisy, but for falling into the old ‘play the game the right way’ trap we’ve seen overtake MLB this season. Following Monday’s loss to the L.A. Dodgers, members of the Cardinals complained to the media about the ‘Mickey Mouse stuff‘ from some of the Dodger players and their celebrations. The Cardinals’ players are now taking over the position of Keymaster of Baseball’s Unwritten Rules.
St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright is the one who made the ‘Mickey Mouse’ comments. He made it in reference to Adrian Gonzalez, who hit an RBI double in the 4th inning and was excited afterwards. Wainwright took exception to his antics and made the comment. Later in that inning, Yasiel Puig hit a triple to score Gonzalez and make it a 2-0 game. Puig reacted right after hitting the ball as he thought he had a home run. After righting himself, he made it into third standing up and played to the crowd, trying to pump them up.
Cardinals’ outfielder Carlos Beltran took exception to this. When asked later about it, he had this to say: “As a player, I just think he doesn’t know [about how to act]. That’s what I think. He really doesn’t know. He must think that he’s still playing somewhere else…He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that — great ability, great talent. I think with time, he’ll learn that you’ve got to act with a little bit more calm.”
A couple of points need to be made here. First off, it isn’t exactly like the Cardinals play the game all stoically and never get excited on the field. If you look over the past two or three seasons, you can make a whole DVD of St. Louis players celebrating and acting demonstrably after a great play or a game-winning hit or a big strikeout. Heck, in Game 2, one need only look at Yadier Molina pumping his fists while on his knees after a big play at the plate. It just comes across as hypocritical to whine about other teams reacting on the field when your team isn’t exactly known as being low-key.
Another point is why do the Cardinals’ players feel they have to comment on this at all? What is it lately with the uber-sensitivity of major-league baseball players? Why is it that once we see a player act a little excited or admire a home run a little too long, we have to deal with The Code and opponents getting all butthurt about being shown up? When did MLB players get to be such whiny little bitches? Sheesh.
Outside of the St. Louis area, the Cardinals have found themselves more and more hated among baseball fans. Perhaps it is the air of haughty arrogance when fans discuss the ‘Cardinal Way.’ Maybe it is the way the fanbase describes St. Louis and Busch Stadium as ‘Baseball Heaven.’ Heck, it could just be the sustained success the franchise has enjoyed, leading the team to go from being respected by baseball fans to being hated. Whatever it is, I just know that these recent comments don’t do much to endear others to the Cards or their fans.