I can't stand the Cardinals. After the Reds 6-5, bottom of the 10th inning walk-off (thanks Joey Votto) victory over them last night, my hatred has become crystal clear in my mind.
Living in Cincinnati, we are groomed to hate the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns. But it's hard to hate the Cincinnati Bengals' main rivals, as the Bengals are never competitive, and the Browns are never a factor. My Dad is from Western Pennsylvania and I lived in the Pittsburgh area for two years (not to mention my two brothers live there, and my daughter Mallory will be going to grad school at Pitt in the Fall), so I actually kind of like the Steelers. Plus the Steelers are the model NFL franchise and always seem to be in the playoffs.
On the other hand it's easy to find reasons to hate the Reds' rivals. In the 70's, the Reds competed in the National League West, and the Dodgers were their main competition. I hated those guys. Steve Garvey was pompous, Ron Cey ran like a penguin (duh) and Davey Lopes was a pain in the ass on the baselines. Their fans had no commitment to their team, arriving for the games late and leaving early.
Spin forward to now. I remember not liking the Dodgers back in the 70's, but I can honestly say I hate the Cardinals today. I get pissed when they beat the Reds. Last summer, when the Cardinal came to Cincinnati and swept three games in early August (including winning the infamous brawl game) I was sick to my stomach. But my beloved Reds used that sweep as a catalyst for the rest of the season and played well enough to win the Central Division by 5 games.
Why are the Cardinals the target of my wrath?
- They are successful, one of the model franchises in the National League, with fans who are loyal, passionate and with outstanding baseball intelligence. I hate hearing that (although it's probably true).
- Since the National League Central Division was formed in 1994, the Cardinals have won it seven times, more than any other team.
-Albert Pujols. I started out liking him. But my wife Tammy hates him. She thinks he cheats. I have to go with her, as life in my house would be miserable if I don't agree.
-The Brawl. OK, Brandon Phillips stoked the fire prior to the infamous brawl last summer when he fired off this ditty prior to the series:
"I'd play against these guys with one leg," Phillips told Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News. "I hate the Cardinals. All they do is bitch and moan about everything, all of them, they're little bitches, all of 'em."
And of course the over sensitive Cardinals decided to take it personally. So when Phillips led off in the second game of the series and customarily touched Yadier Molina's shinguard with his bat (as he has done for years) the fight was on. Oh, by the way-the Reds kicked the Cardinals asses in that fight! (coverage: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100810&content_id=13276098&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb)
- They are managed by the "Great" Tony LaRussa. I have already commented on his gamesmanship in a previous post. Is there any manager more overrated than LaRussa? He has been managing for over thirty years, yet only has two World Series victories. He only has two National League Pennants in 15 plus years with the Cardinals. Hell, if I managed that long I could have walked into two pennants with the talent the Cardinals have had over the years. His biggest accomplishment is that he has built up wins over a long period of time. Congratulations on your longevity, Tony.
Tony LaRussa has conveniently turned his back to the PED (performance enhancing drugs) abuse that took place on his teams over the years, and presided over two of the most infamous teams (The Oakland A's and the Cardinals) in the PED era.
Dusty Baker and Tony LaRussa don't like each other (it goes back to the 2002 National League Championship series between the Baker Managed Giants and the LaRussa Managed Cardinals). This article from September 2010 provides a good history of their rivalry: http://network.yardbarker.com/all_sports/article_external/inside_the_tony_la_russa_dusty_baker_rivalry/3161081
But it's LaRussa's arrogance that really grates on me. Red's Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman summarizes my feelings the best. On Feb 7th, 2011 he made this comment at an event at Marshall University in West Virgina:
“I'm not a big St. Louis fan, because I'm not a big Tony LaRussa fan. I refer to him as ‘Mr. Baseball' on the radio, because he acts like he invented the game.”
If it's good enough for Marty and Dusty not to like LaRussa, it's good enough for me.
This afternoon I'm going to the Cardinals, Reds game at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. I would like nothing more than another Reds victory over the hated Cardinals. Too bad Tony LaRussa won't be there (taking some days off due to shingles) to enjoy the drubbing.
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