March 12, 2014

The #CardinalWay vs Cardinal reality

As St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz promises to stop peddling the mythical Cardinal Way quite so much, let's not forget some great moments from the Cardinals' past and ask if they, too, are part of the Cardinal Way.

If I want to up the facetiousness level, was Garry Templeton flipping off the fans the Cardinal Way? Keith Hernandez snorting coke in the Cardinal dugout? Rumors of players cheating on other players' wives in the 1980s? David Freese and his DWI problems? Josh Hancock and his DWI fatality accident? Not to mention other Cardinal DWI problems, like manager Tony La Russa himself, passed out at the wheel.

Or, is Jack Clark bloviating and accusing Albert Pujols of roiding the Cardinal Way? 

And, of course, Carlos Martinez and his infamous NSFW Twitter account can't be forgotten either.

The Busch Stadium mound, baptized and exorcised
Agreed that, by most reasonable standards, it was stupid and juvenile. That said, Martinez' Twitter faux pas was probably found embarrassing by manager Mike Matheny primarily because the conservative evangelical Christian Matheny is seemingly, through things such as having, requesting or encouraging pitchers like Adam Wainwright do something draw Christian fish symbols and crosses on the pitcher's mound at Busch, trying to make Christian brotherhood the "Cardinal Way." Why Jewish commissioner Bud Selig didn't ask about this last year, I have no idea. Now that the claim that that's a "6" not a fish, and was done to honor Stan Musial, can't continue to hold water, the Cards have no excuse.

(More here on the images, along with additional images. More here on the strongly Christian and clubhouse character background I'm not sure the team ever owned up to who was doing this. They did eventually remove them, which prompted national wingnut talking heads to spout off.)

In all of this, Bernie, it's the same thing that makes much of non-Texan America barf whenever the Dallas Cowboys get called "America's Team." The rest of the country knows it's myth, and when Cowboys fans, or now, some Cardinals ones, double down on the myth, the rest of the sports world wants to retch even more.

Ask yourself, Bernie, and other touters of a Cardinal Way, starting with John Mozeliak or whomever created a book on the subject: Do you really want the Cardinals mentioned in the same breath, for the same reasons, as the Dallas Cowboys?

The book, as an idea for a style of baseball play, is not bad. And some players may need more help with personal development than others. But Tony LaRussa didn't invent the double steal, the run and hit or anything else. And, when Whitey Herzog was around, we called it Whiteyball, not the Cardinal Way. And, he never pretended he had invented some new strategy. 

Speaking of that era ...

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Also back in the good old 1980s, there were rumors of players cheating on other players' wives. I'm sure other dedicated but level-headed Cards fans can supply more examples along the lines of mine. 

As for a book name, I'm sure there's something called "Red Sox Way" or something, too.

So, on the first idea, the Cards don't have a lock on baseball strategy. On the second idea, the Cards obviously don't have a lock on good player development, as I've shown above, and if Matheny is trying to link that to his religious belief, that's more problematic yet. Again, the Cowboys' parallel is apt: a lot of people thought the "America's Team" part was hypocritical because of their antics and overtly and saccharinely religious because of Tom Landry.

Also, as a marketing tool, I rebel against it as just another illustration of big bucks gone wrong in sports. At the risk of starting a new fake Cardinal Way idea: Cardinal fans? You're better than this.

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