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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Briefly Not Loathing the Cardinals

The Cardinals keep drawing well in the intolerability seedings. No way under most circumstances imaginable would I have pulled for them to have captured the Wild Card, but their opponent was the Braves. Advantage: Cardinals. After they clinched that, I thought I couldn’t possibly have pulled for them to capture their current NLDS. But their opponent is the Phillies.

Advantage again: Cardinals.

We’re only two weeks removed from the Mets playing the Cardinals in a crucial game for one of those two teams. Seems longer ago. After all, the Mets were still a baseball team back on Thursday, September 22, not merely an East Coast testing laboratory for dynamic pricing. And there was no doubt that when you saw Jose Reyes, you’d see him wearing a Mets uniform (as opposed to nothing at all) and you’d see him for nine or more innings. We were all so much more innocent back then.

When the Mets charged from behind in the ninth inning of what became the “best” 156th game the franchise ever played, it was sweet as any 2-6 deficit that turned into an 8-6 victory could be on merit, but just a touch sweeter because it was the Cardinals who stayed stuck on 6. That it might have helped the Braves, while unfortunate, didn’t faze me all that much.

Whereas my lifelong antipathy for the Cubs remains relatively steady no matter how little they play the Mets nowadays, my disdain for the Cardinals is more of a renewable energy source. It flared up in 1985 and remained incandescent for the rest of that decade. Then the disgust (except retroactively) went into strategic reserve. 2006 — a seven-game span, specifically — relit it to a point where it’s prone to flicker all out of proportion to the impact the Cardinals have on my life since that most fateful Thursday night five years ago.

My recurring Redbird disdain tends to be pretty selective. The 2007 & later guys are a situational call. For example, two weeks ago, I had it in for the reliever whose name I can’t spell without looking up because he was a consonant-laden obstacle to my happiness. Last night I learned his teammates call Marc Rzepczynski “Scrabble,” and I find it adorable. Not unless we’re engaged in 13-, 14- or 20-inning wars of attrition with St. Louis do I make enemies with them gratuitously, at least not with those Cards who came on the scene in 2007 or later.

There aren’t many October 2006 Cardinals are extant this month, and only a couple really get under my skin. One is the manager and one is the catcher. Mostly the catcher. Totally the catcher, really. I could conceivably root for a team helmed by Tony La Russa (he did manage Tom Seaver, after all), but one that includes Yadier Molina is another matter entirely. If one of Playboy’s centerfold questionnaires ever accidentally landed in my mailbox, I’d fill it out just so I could write in “Yadier Molina” under “turn-offs”. (But I wouldn’t include a picture — I’m no Jose Reyes.)

Molina, however, is just one man. Loathsome for the events of 10/19/06, but there’s only one of him. The Phillies, on the other hand, have like twenty Shane Victorinos. And twenty Shane Victorinos are marginally more abhorrent than a single Yadier Molina.

Even if the contest is much closer than the score would indicate.

On some level, I admire the Phillies’ sustained success — the seeds of which were planted before they had loads of money and prospects to throw at free agents and the Astros — and, if there existed a way of looking past Phillies fans being Phillies fans, I’d admire the passion their long dormant base has conjured for its team. When you read Gary Smith on the topic (and you should, despite the topic; he’s just that great a writer), the current Phillie fever seems more genuinely contagious, albeit like a plague, than that Best Fans In Baseball crap from St. Louis. But anyone who’s been to a Mets-Phillies game in New York lately (never mind Philly) isn’t about to find anything admirable there. Thus, you’re left with a vat of Victorinos versus a lone, loathsome Molina. Given that choice, I believe you simply have to Yadier it up for one more game.

But I’m totally with the Brewers in the next round. Or the Diamondbacks. Or actual poisonous diamondback rattlesnakes who pass some sort of anti-Molina venom on to those squirrels that keep romping around Busch Stadium. The squirrels would just be carriers, mind you. Like “Scrabble,” I find them adorable.

12 comments to Briefly Not Loathing the Cardinals

  • Schneck

    Better to have a reliever nicknamed for the game ‘Scrabble’ then the string of relievers we’ve had through the years that could easily have been nicknamed ‘Sorry.’

    Regarding the StL fans, my family and I took a baseball vacation a few months ago to see KC, STL, and Cincinnati. I was initially impressed with the great percentage of Cardinal fans wearing their team colors and was almost ready to buy into the whole ‘greatest fans’ business when in the 6th inning with the score tied 2-2 and the team rallying the fans started doing the $#%@# wave. As you know, fans that do the wave feel the need to watch and cheer the wave as it goes around. And around. Meanwhile, there is significant action on the field which did EVENTUALLY stop the wave, but in that moment I realized that while they may among the best fans wardrobewise, it just about ends there.

  • March'62

    “the string of relievers we’ve had through the years that could easily have been nicknamed ‘Sorry.’”
    I guess you could say we have a Monopoly on ineffective relievers.

    I could so totally get into the whole Brewers thing – especially since they have the second best hitter in the NL (not the 1st). But I get a big case of agita when I think about their set-up man in the bullpen (not the closer). That man should be nowhere near a championship this year. Of course the D-Backs are managed by the man who stole Strawberry’s MVP. I think I need the Mets to make the playoffs if only to make my rooting interest much more obvious.

  • With you on reluctant Cards rooting, but my hatred for Tony La Russa is all-consuming. If he and Girardi manage against each other, the World Series will feature 187 pitching changes and at least five hours of shameless screeching for attention.

  • You can’t hate everyone (well, you can, but it diminishes your enjoyment of the postseason. So I can root for the Cardinals. And I kinda like LaRussa, except for his introducing the idea that there’s only one guy on your team who can pitch the ninth inning, and that’s the only inning he can pitch.

  • eric b

    Having lived in St. Louis for 4 years, I developed some affection for the Cards…It was 1990-1994, so the Mets were going nowhere (I don’t think the Cards were either, but I wasn’t paying a ton of attention to baseball), and I was usually gone for the bulk of the summer…so I would go to a Cards game a year to get a baseball fix. I’m not fond of Yadier Molina or Wainwright because of 06…but as long as they’re not playing the Mets I can stomach them. Never the Braves or Yankees, though…and the Phillies are pretty much in the latter territory these days. The Brewers and Dbacks are definitely the least of the evils on offer.

  • Will in Central NJ

    We’ve all seen vast, silent seas of empty seats watching Marlins games over the years; large patches of empty seats at Turner Field during recent Division Series (the POSTSEASON, fer Chrissakes!); and the general absence of fan support for the home team in Tampa Bay.

    In the context of all that, I’ve always silently, and begrudgingly, given credit to the fan bases in St. Louis and even Philadelphia for supporting their baseball teams. Passion is a local currency we Met fans share with the latter two teams’ fanatics.

  • dak442

    Happy YED, everyone!

  • Charlie

    “And twenty Shane Victorinos are marginally more abhorrent than a single Yadier Molina.”

    And as a Philly fan, let me say that we relish the sweet taste of your tears of rage. May you some day enjoy other fans’ teeth-grinding at your team’s undeserved (to those fans) success instead of the dismissive response of “LOLMets”.

    • Dave

      And as a Mets fan, let me say that we all relished the sweet sound of complete silence as Mo Vaughn Jr’s putzy little ground ball put an end to your season. How do those tears of rage taste streaming down your face?

      • Char;ie

        Come forth and lick them. It is a less potent vintage than last year’s,even if it is a bit pricier. I fear we may challenge Atlanta’s record of divisional dominance without the sweet release of another title. You should only dream of such torture. :p

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