October 10, 2009

Dodgers Sweep Cardinals, Advance to NLCS: The Los Angeles Dodgers won 5-1 over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night, sweeping their three-game playoff series to reach the National League Championship Series for the second straight year. The Cards went 1-9 after wrapping up the NL Central.

posted by rcade to baseball at 10:57 PM - 18 comments

I'm a Giants fan living in St. Louis, so naturally I was pulling for the Cardinals in this one.

As soon as the game was over, the roads were crowded and people were trying to forget this ever happened.

Well, at least I'll stop hearing the "best fans in baseball", self-congratulations that this city absolutely revels in for a couple of months.

posted by igottheblues at 11:16 PM on October 10

We're the best fans in baseball year round, igottheblues. The standing ovation given to Matt Holliday in his first at-bat following the game 2 error shows how passionate STL fans are about the Cardinals. And it is also the reason a lot of star players agree to stay, even for less money.

Come November, Pujols will be given the MVP, Wainwright the Cy Young and 2-3 gold gloves will/should be given. Carpenter is Comeback Player of the Year and Holliday will re-sign. Ryan Franklin had an great year as a closer. Colby Rasmus will only continue to grow and get better. Troy Glaus may be 100% in 2010. They should be well in contention again next year and as a life-long StL fan, I'm already thinking about it.

That said, the Cards offense was terrible in this NLDS. They left 472 men-on-base during the 3 games and Carpenter had one of his worst outings this year in game 1. After the first pitch homer he gave up to Kemp, it was clear that the Cards were not themselves and the Dodgers had become the team they were in the first half. The Dodgers played great baseball and produced when they needed to - whether it was in the first inning or bottom of the ninth. Hats off to LA for putting it all together at just the right time. A rematch of last years NLCS looks very possible and should be a great series to watch, but if the Dodgers continue to play like they did in the NLDS, they should end up in the WS.

It always seems tha only one or two playoff teams do the little things - get the lucky breaks. Maybe it's errors by the opponent or amazing plays by the defense or walk-ff wins, but a WS team usually has that extra edge/karma/effort/luck happening throughout the playoffs for them. Nothing was going right for the Cards this time, but we'll see you next year.

posted by BoKnows at 11:38 PM on October 10

I'm a Giants Fan. Therefore, this disappoints me greatly. My second favorite team is anyone playing the Dodgers. My best wishes to their next opponent.

posted by JTsmoker at 01:09 AM on October 11

You can pull your pants back up, Bo, I wasn't asking anybody to measure.

posted by igottheblues at 02:33 AM on October 11

We're the best fans in baseball year round, igottheblues.

The ovation for Holliday was cool, and I do think that the Cards have good fans, but after hearing "best fans in baseball" so often the last few years I'm curious what metrics make them the best in the game. They are seventh in attendance (by percentage of seats filled), sixth in polled popularity, and fourth in merchandise sales as of 2006.

Those are impressive, but in every one of those categories they trail the Cubs and Red Sox, and the Cubs haven't won a World Series in a century while the Cards have won 10, including two the last decade.

By those measures, I'd say the Cubs are the best fans. A 2008 ranking by Forbes of baseball's most-loyal fans had the Cubs fourth, the Cardinals ninth and the Texas Rangers in first. "No team's attendance is less tied to its on the field performance than the Rangers', and nowhere else in the country do fans peel off at a slower rate when the club has thin years," the magazine reported.

Incidentally, a blogger for the LA Times noted that the "best fans in baseball" left early last night.

I think the "best fans in baseball" claim is the baseball version of "America's Team." That boast has endured for three decades mostly as a taunt by fans of other teams. You gotta be careful what you say about your own team in mixed company.

posted by rcade at 09:26 AM on October 11

I think the "best fans in baseball" claim is the baseball version of "America's Team." That boast has endured for three decades mostly as a taunt by fans of other teams. Hubris has staying power.

I always find the 'best fans in baseball' claims dubious at best. How in the hell do you measure it? Attendance? Baseball intelligence? Was there a test I missed?

The Holliday ovation was nice, but not unusual. In 2005 second baseman Tony Graffanino let a ball go between his legs that led to a red sox playoff loss and got a standing ovation the next game. What's lost in the whole Buckner saga with all the media negativity is that he received a rousing ovation in the city hall celebration a few days after the 1986 WS loss, on opening day in 1987 he received a standing ovation from the fans, and in 1990 when he returned as an opposing player he received another standing ovation.

I think the Cardinals fans, who are good fans, are typically chosen over Red Sox, or Yankee, or even Cub fans because they're seen as nicer, politer, less obnoxious than other rabid fan bases. If that makes them 'better' fans, I don't know. But it seems to me that the best fans are the small core that follow the pirates or royals religiously. That's loyalty. It's easy to follow the cardinals, red sox, or yankees.

As far as the series, I was rooting for the cardinals because looking ahead I thought they might have the pitching to beat the yankees if both made it. Looks like their hitting would have let them down. At this point, a red sox / cardinals world series might have been the lowest scoring in history.

posted by justgary at 09:55 AM on October 11

rcade, justgary,

There is no fan-saber-metric equation involving hotdogs or #1 foam finger sales. It's not attendance or minor league jersey sales.

Boston has Red Sox Nation, right? Does that mean there is some magical way to measure whether it is in fact a nation, or is it just a morale boost? A way to get fans involved, maybe? (Repeat for Detroit's 'Hockeytown' claim and any other marketing campaign that has latched on.)

Then again, the St. Louis title isn't something that is only claimed by fans. Players use the phrase regularly. So do coaches, announcers and tv/radio analysts, etc... So to say it's mostly used as a taunt by fans of other teams is just not accurate.

And gary, you are right, being a Royals/Pirate fan right now does suggest a deep loyalty to the team, but your Sox and my Cards have been at the bottom of the league before too. The 'best fans' thing didn't start when the Cardinals were competitive, and I don't think it will go away when they are not. I do think your idea that it involves a less obnoxious/rabid fan is a part of it. So St. Louis fans pride themselves on being nice, polite, well-behaved, knowledgeable fans. How dare they?

igottheblues, judging by your dickhead response to me, you will be a fine addition to St. Charles County.

posted by BoKnows at 02:20 PM on October 11

By those measures, I'd say the Cubs are the best fans.

Until they welcome Steve Bartman back to Wrigley with a standing ovation, they shouldn't be considered anyone's best fans.

posted by cjets at 03:58 PM on October 11

Boston has Red Sox Nation, right? Does that mean there is some magical way to measure whether it is in fact a nation, or is it just a morale boost?

I don't think we're talking about equivalent terms here. America's team signified that the Cowboys were so popular, so many people were Cowboy fans, that they were in fact America's Team. I can see that being irritating, but many cowboy players (when the term was really popular) hated the name.

Red Sox Nation is used to refer to all Red Sox fans as a group. Red Sox Nation. I've never taken it, and I don't think it has ever meant to mean, we have a Nation of Red Sox fans. I can see where hearing the name over and over again can be irritating, but that's the media. Other teams have put nation in back of their names, (dodgernation, cubnation, cardinalnation) but the media doesn't use it. So when the Red Sox lose, as they just did, they'll say Red Sox Nation was disappointed. Long story short, I don't see Red Sox Nation as a moral boost, or a complement, or even unique.

That's not the same as if the cardinal fans were called the 'best fans in the world' every time cardinal highlights were shown. One is referring to a fan base, the other is calling the fan base the best fans in the world. I find that quite different.

Then again, the St. Louis title isn't something that is only claimed by fans. Players use the phrase regularly. So do coaches, announcers and tv/radio analysts, etc...

And it might be true. I have no problem if cardinal fans identify with it. But as you said, there's no real statistic for this. That's really my point. It can only be opinion, especially if we're going to throw out the few statistics we do have (ex. home attendance).

(as far as players, come on, players on other teams are constantly saying they play in front of the 'best' fans. I've heard many players say that nothing compares to playing home games at fenway, same for the yankees, and I'm sure other teams as well.)

posted by justgary at 04:19 PM on October 11

As a Cards fan, I was obviously disappointed by the way things came out, but I certainly have high hopes for next season, for the reasons Bo pointed out earlier. Best of luck to the Dodgers.

I'm also pissed for purely selfish reasons. My dad, a Yankees fan, promised me earlier this season that if it came to a Cards-Yanks World Series, he would do everything he could to get tickets to a game in St. Louis, it being actually close to my home in Iowa. in short, DAMN.

posted by boredom_08 at 04:24 PM on October 11

So St. Louis fans pride themselves on being nice, polite, well-behaved, knowledgeable fans. How dare they?

The problem with "best fans in baseball" is that it's a boast. If you don't see why that might rub some people the wrong way -- such as the fans of the other 29 teams -- I don't know what to tell you. I didn't say it was used primarily today as a taunt, but the high self-regard of Cards fans is a bit obnoxious, so that's where I see it going.

posted by rcade at 05:20 PM on October 11

I don't think we're talking about equivalent terms here.

America's Team was not my comparison. And since there can only be one 'best' baseball fan base, then an equal comparison is rather hard to produce.

(as far as players, come on, players on other teams are constantly saying they play in front of the 'best' fans. I've heard many players say that nothing compares to playing home games at fenway, same for the yankees, and I'm sure other teams as well.)

I absolutely agree that players do and will say those same words to other cities....but St. Louis fans know they are lying to you and telling us the truth :)

That aside, I had no idea my remark in my first post would cause such a debate. I had only intended it to be a little sarcastic, a little snarky and only a little serious. I also followed that remark with congratulations to the Dodgers, a bright side for next year and an observation of Championship winning teams. Having the 'best fans' obviously has nothing to with it.

On Edit: The problem with "best fans in baseball" is that it's a boast. If you don't see why that might rub some people the wrong way -- such as the fans of the other 29 teams -- I don't know what to tell you. I didn't say it was used primarily today as a taunt, but the high self-regard of Cards fans is a bit obnoxious, so that's where I see it going.

I think you and others are reading way to much into it. It's really not that serious. But the 'obnoxious sports fan' concept is clever, who woulda thunk?

posted by BoKnows at 05:39 PM on October 11

I think you and others are reading way to much into it. It's really not that serious.

My thought process:

1. He called Cards fans the best in baseball.

2. Cards fans and the media say that a lot.

3. I think I'll look at whether that they deserve that title.

4. No, not really.

Is that too much? I dunno. As a Cowboys fan I've certainly caught my share of grief over "America's Team." Especially in the years they are not America's Playoff Team.

posted by rcade at 06:29 PM on October 11

So, what is the debate here then? Is it whether or not Cards fans are deserving of the title* or is it because it's become annoying**?

*Which we can't measure.

**I'd rather be part of a fan base that is annoying/obnoxious because of it's niceties than a fan base that is annoying/obnoxious due to it's complete lack of respect for other fans/teams. (I'm not directing that at any specific team, but the Jets fans chanting for women to show their tits comes to mind. Batteries being thrown onto the field is another. That list can go on and on. I'm happy to be associated with the former.)

posted by BoKnows at 07:13 PM on October 11

America's Team was not my comparison.

Well, I probably shouldn't have included that term. The Red Sox Nation as a moral booster was my real comparison.

that aside, I had no idea my remark in my first post would cause such a debate.

I didn't take it the wrong way. I just think it's an interesting topic. It actually doesn't rub me the wrong way simply because I know you really can't measure it. The sox have a lot of intelligent fans, a lot of not so intelligent fans. Most fan bases are probably similar.

posted by justgary at 02:35 AM on October 12

If Saint Louis really had the best fans in baseball, the Browns would have never left town.

posted by drezdn at 03:41 PM on October 12

If Saint Louis really had the best fans in baseball, the Browns would have never left town.

That is completely untrue. In fact, the owner of the Browns at the time of the move (Bill Veeck) had intended to drive the Cardinals out of St. Louis using his antics as a way to increase the Browns fan base. Which it did. Remember Eddie Geadel? But, then Cardinals owner, Fred Saigh, found himself in great legal and financial trouble and the Cardinals were then bought by August Busch Jr. That purchase proved more resourceful than Veeck could have hoped for his team and then Veeck moved the team to Baltimore. Not long after, the Orioles did everything they could to erase almost all of the Browns' history in relation to their current franchise.

Nice try though.

posted by BoKnows at 10:43 AM on October 13

Bo, let it go. You've already made igottheblues's original point three times over. There's nothing wrong with you (or any other group of fans) believing you are the best fans, but there's no need to endlessly promote it or convince anyone else that it's true.

posted by bender at 04:00 PM on October 13

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