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Posted on January 9, 2009 at 9:16 AM
Filed Under: Cardinal Nation | St. Louis Cardinals
I saw a Facebook note yesterday.  Actually, I was tagged in it, which is why it came to my attention even though I was only tangentially involved.  In it, the writer basically renounced her Cardinal Nation status, with shots at ownership on the way out.  While this wasn't a big surprise--the person in question had been more of a "player fan" than a "team fan" by her own admission for some time--it got me thinking about this concept we call fandom.

First, let me qualify.  All opinions are really that--opinions.  I know other people define fandom in their own way and feel differently about their loyalties.  Fandom, like religion, can be a personal thing and, also like religion, can rile people up if you start questioning it.  So I want to make it clear I'm not questioning things, just putting it out there the way I see it.

For me, fandom really isn't something you put on and take off like a shirt out of the closet.  It's not something you give up on when things get rough and then get back to during the good times.  I guess casual fans are like that, but once you start devoting time to a team, you are invested in my book.  I mean, I've been following the Cardinals for 20+ years, with close to 10 of those on-line debating, commenting and blogging.  I'm stuck, folks.  I'm not going anywhere.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that fandom means you go along with everything.  You can argue, you can vent, you can complain, but at the end of the day you are still a fan.  There's nothing that will turn you away from the team.  The Cards could go 0 for the upcoming decade and I'd still be a Cardinal fan, probably still posting and blogging.  (Sorry, I know you were thinking you'd get rid of me.)  I wouldn't be a happy one, I'd be more frustrated than Albert Pujols taking his third intentional walk of the night, but I'd still count myself a Cardinal fan.

This led me to thinking about the fan protests of not buying tickets or merchandise.  I guess if it's on principal, fine and good, but if you actually expect things to change, all you are doing is punishing yourself. 

It reminds me of all those "gas out" e-mails that you get, saying "Don't buy gas on this day."  Of course, the fact that it'd take the whole country not buying gas to even register and the fact that the next day you have to buy it, thus delaying the gas company's profit by a whole 24 hours don't seem to make a dent on the people that take these things seriously.

It's the same way with sports teams, at least in strong markets.  Matthew Leach twittered that his mail ran close to 50/50 positive/negative.  Let's assume that happy people don't e-mail in as much and say for every disgruntled fan, there are two relatively gruntled ones.  So if you don't renew your tickets, someone else will likely buy them.  If you don't purchase merchandise, chances are someone else is going to come along and buy it.  As I said, I understand doing things on principle and if that's the case, more power to you.  But don't be shocked if Cardinal policy doesn't bend to your will because they aren't getting your $300.

I guess what I'm saying is that, in my mind, fandom is like a good marriage--death do you part and that's it.  You work through the spats and difficulties, if only because that makes the good times so much better.  Heck, I've been invested in the Cardinals longer than I have my marriage and I expect to have both of them on my deathbed.

Obviously you can follow more than one team, but I don't know that you can be a real strong fan of more than one.  Maybe people with more time, energy and brainpower than I do can.  I mean, my wife likes the Indians and my father-in-law is a big Reds fan, so I keep tabs on those teams and try to follow their news and seasons.  But I don't know what the topics are that fire up their fan bases or how close their top prospects are to the majors.  I'm a casual fan of those teams.  I'm a fan (in the true fanatic meaning of the word) of the Cardinals.

Sorry for the rambling.  I'm still not sure I expressed that the way I wanted to, but it was bugging me and I had to get it out.

Some discussion about Tony LaRussa's future in Rick Hummel's Q&A blog.  Some people think this front office conflict of vision will keep him from returning.  I don't know about that.  He signed his last contract after Walt Jocketty left, so he knew things would be different when he did that.  If he doesn't return in 2010, I think it's because he's retiring to California.  If he stays in baseball, I expect it'll be with the Cardinals.

And LaRussa gave some more love to Colby Rasmus, boosting the idea that he'll be in the bigs at some time next season, probably starting if John Mozeliak can ever get a good deal on one of his outfielders.

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4 Comments | Leave a comment

When other teams have cuter players, there isn't much you can do.

BrewCards- WHO has cuter players than the Cardinals??? :)

C70- (1) Right on. It's definitely okay to be a casual fan, but Cardinal Nation is special because of the invested fans, not the casual ones. (2) I obviously need some projects to keep me busy. :)

Well said, C70.

We won't always be able to control the fringe fans - people will always think enough isn't being done, or find fault in places they create it themselves.

I'm not always enamored with the performance of the front office, and the decisions that are made. But at the end of the day, once that first pitch is thrown, that's the team I have to support for this season. I will root for them to win just as hard as I would if the team was full of all-stars at every position.

It's just what a fan does.

C70, I think its simple. The cards belong to the fans ad infinitum, but different people have the responsibility of running the franchise from time to time. If they don't run it as the "true' fans want, then they should expect some commentary. The present group has no history of success ion the avowed new direction, which makes folks a bit more anxious than usual. The lack of activity, regardless of cause, at the trade deadline last year contributes goes to make the natives restless. The fact is they have addressed their needs in a minimally creative and effective way. I guess they can't tell the truth, i.e., Carp costs so much that he either pitches or we are also rans because we don't have enough money to compensate for his loss unless prices come way down. Hence, we wait and hope for the best.

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