Fans are shown as they enter Busch Stadium before the start of play between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of MLB's World Series baseball championship in St. Louis

You should love the Cardinals because they uphold “strong values”

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The one thing that sorta sucks about the playoffs is how much downtime there is between games. And with downtime people kill time. And a big way to kill time in the playoffs is for fans of one team to hate on fans of another team and all of that garbage.  We see it every year.

The Braves were the early object of hate, but the Cardinals are clearly out front now. Which is not a new phenomenon. Hating on the Cardinals and their fans rarely goes too far out of style thanks to (a) their ubiquity in the playoffs in recent years; (b) the whole “Best Fans in Baseball” thing; and (c) the recent “we play the game the right way, Yasiel Puig is unprofessional” thing currently sweeping the baseball nation.

There are laughs to be had with all of that stuff and we have had our share of laughs. But it’s all kinda meaningless. It’s bad enough when people judge themselves or others by how good the team they root for is. Judging yourself or others based on your team’s fans is a step further into lunacy. News flash: someone, somewhere, hates your team and thinks it’s dumb. And maybe thinks you’re dumb for rooting for them. It’s just part of sports even if it is, well, dumb. Fact is, if someone hates you or your team it’s more likely than not because your team has done well at some point recently, so rather than get bent out of shape about it, just own it like Cartman owned Scott Tenorman’s tears.

Yet, to some folks, it’s still jarring that anyone could possibly dislike their team. Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist is a Cardinals fan. And she’s shocked, frankly:

When I told him I’m a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, the mood shifted. “I loathe the Cardinals,” he said. “That’s impossible,” I replied. Nobody hates the Cardinals. We’re a well-run organization with strong values. Our fans are the best in baseball. Hating the Cardinals is like punching your mother. Even if you were tempted, you just wouldn’t do it … In a world with O.J. Simpson and Aaron Hernandez, it may be harder to uphold sports as an outgrowth of American values. But just because there’s been a breakdown in some places doesn’t mean that ball clubs that at least try to uphold values should be loathed.

Go read the whole thing. She really and truly wants to tell you why something that is inherently irrational (i.e. sports fandom and the biases it fosters) is irrational. You are wrong to hate the Cardinals, you see. She’ll explain it to you in terms of the Cardinals’ values.

Which, if you didn’t hate the Cardinals and their fans before you read that, you sure as hell do now.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.