“What it means to be a Cardinal”

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If you’ve already had enough of “The Cardinal Way” and the whole idea that they do things better and classier and everything than everyone else, by all means DO NOT go read Bernie Miklasz’s column in the Post-Dispatch today, because it’s gonna make you crazy:

“Cardinal Way” isn’t the name of a city street near Busch Stadium, but it does represent a path that the 2013 team followed from the beginning of spring training … The Cardinal Way is an organizational model for success. Scouting players, drafting players, developing players and shaping their personalities to fit into a winning environment. But the Cardinal Way is also an attitude. And more than anything, it is about people, and the bond that forges professional and personal relationships …

… The Cardinals’ old-school persona and dedication to professionalism was mocked as being haughty and arrogant. By believing a team should compete in a way that respects the game, the Cardinals were said to be out of step with modern sports culture. And that’s exactly what’s wrong with sports and our culture at large: The team that tries to do things the right way is somehow seen as abnormal. The team that plays hard but doesn’t try to embarrass opponents is portrayed as the bad guy.

I love Bernie, but he’s missing the point here. No one — at least that I’ve come across — hates the Cardinals for any of these things. Indeed, most folks don’t hate the Cardinals at all unless the Cardinals have recently beaten the tar out of their own rooting interest.

Indeed, I bet if you asked most people to evaluate the way the Cardinals play and the way they’ve built their team, they’d give the Cardinals ace ratings. Who wouldn’t want their team’s farm system to be producing such talent? Who wouldn’t want to have the kind of depth this team has? Who wouldn’t want to root for a team with players who — as far as we can tell from the outside looking in — seem to be pretty good guys.  Sure, we’ll mock a bit when some unwritten rules violation comes up, but I really don’t see anyone truly bent-out-shape at the Cardinals themselves for this stuff.

What people DO hate, however, and what DOES drive people absolutely crazy is when it is insisted that The Cardinal Way is the only way. Or — and this is the one that really gets people nuts — when Cardinals fans or partisans (and that can include a columnist from time to time) takes smug, vicarious satisfaction from the manner in which the team with whom they are aligned operates.  When “the Cardinals do things well” transforms to “the Cardinals do things better, always.” When “we love our team” becomes “we love our team better than you love your team.” When “our team is lovable” becomes “our team is so much more worthy of love.”

That doesn’t come from the Cardinals themselves. That comes from Cardinals fans on message boards and the commentariat. It’s akin to finding another parent’s bragging about their kid’s accomplishments and character distasteful, not hating the kid themselves.  If anything we feel a bit sorry for the kid for having such insufferable parents.

That’s what people are reacting to with St. Louis. It’s not about the Cardinals going about their Cardinal Way. It’s about everyone else getting off on them doing it so darn much.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.