Make no mistake Cardinals and Red Sox fans… people hate US, not the teams

The World Series starts tomorrow. The best team in the American League, the Red Sox, are playing the best team in the National League, the Cardinals.

Both have been recent World Series winners (Red Sox in 2007 and Cardinals in 2011) but they also have had a lot of changes. Francona, Manny, Schilling and Varitek are no longer in Boston. Gone are Tony LaRussa and Albert Pujols in St. Louis.

There is new blood in this World Series rivalry as they face off for the fourth time dating back to 1946, 1967 and 2004.

Transplanted New Englanders and Midwesterners are found all over the country, giving this World Series a chance to play for an audience bigger than the Metro St. Louis and Boston areas. And there are few places in the world as baseball mad as those two cities.
If this were football, this would be a dream match up of Pittsburgh and Dallas.

If it were basketball, it would feel a lot like the Lakers and Heat were facing off.

So this is a dream match up, right?

Twitter and social media must be buzzing.

Here are a few samples of what seems to be the prevailing thoughts about this World Series on Twitter.


And trust me, there were a LOT more.

What’s going on here? This is more than anger towards baseball. And who can see the dynamic pitching of the Cardinals, the hard hitting Duck Dynasty look a likes on the Red Sox, the big hits of Carlos Beltran and the infectious enthusiasm of the Boston Strong squad and call them boring?

If the exact same players were wearing Tigers and Pirates uniforms, would people be excited for them? Or A’s and Dodgers?

Really is it the franchises that are turning people off? It isn’t as if new teams in the World Series suddenly get people super excited.

Was there a national buzz for the White Sox and Astros match up, or Phillies and Rays or Giants and Rangers World Series that I missed?

For Red Sox and Cardinals fans, if we wonder where the animosity came from, the answer is in the mirror.

As a lifelong Red Sox fan who has lived in New York, the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles county, let me assure you, people hate us.

imageBaseball fans all over the country think we are obnoxious, self centered and just want us to shut up and go away.

And I think no small part of that is, at one point, we said we WERE going to go away. All we wanted to see was one World Series victory before we all died. If we saw that, we’d be OK.

And for years our team fell on their face in spectacular fashion and it made our insecurity all the more entertaining for the rest of the baseball world.

I remember when I was at an playoff game between the A’s and Red Sox in Oakland, people were holding up pictures of Babe Ruth wearing an A’s cap. He never played for the A’s. But the fans were coopting the storyline that had the Bambino playing for whomever was playing the Sox.

But eventually the storyline became stale and people starting pulling for the Red Sox. And when Boston came back in a way that we hadn’t even dreamt of (down 0-3 with Rivera on the mound?) we got our World Series.

And then we didn’t shut up as promised.

In fact we became worse. It turns out we were as self centered and obnoxious in victory as we were in defeat. No more lovable losers. We became “Yankees North.” For most of the country, they lumped the Yankees and Red Sox in the same muttering breath.

The Red Sox became the big spending, roided up bully franchise that stole players from other teams, just like the Yankees did. People would say to me “You are like the Yankees now. How does THAT feel?”

I would reply “It feels great! It is what I wanted all of those years.”

It was a strange insult. It was like saying “You look like Brad Pitt. I bet you wish you didn’t.”

The Red Sox won another World Series three years later and we still didn’t shut up. In fact the great collapse of September of 2011 and the horrible season of 2012 seemed to be enjoyed by a lot of non New Englanders who didn’t mind seeing Red Sox fans knocked down a peg.

Of course in the light of the Marathon Bombing, some sympathy returned to Boston. However much of that good will was bestowed upon the Bruins, whose frantic Stanley Cup Finals appearance appeared almost right on the heels of the tragedy.

With no Yankees in the post season, the Red Sox became the big bad bullies. And while a worst to first scenario with an unlikely band of bearded misfits would normally be a feel good story, the fact that it gave Red Sox fans new fuel is enough to turn off to a lot of fans.

REUTERS/Mike Blake

REUTERS/Mike Blake

Essentially Red Sox fans are Anne Hathaway.

At one point, they were adorable and lovable. Like Anne Hathaway, Red Sox fans seemed to have a self deprecating sense of humor.

There was something disarming about Anne and relatable. And there was a warm sense of family among Red Sox fans (provided you were from the area of course.)

But then lots of good things started happening to Anne Hathaway. And when she tried to play her “Oh shucks I’m just a lucky girl” act while being showered with stardom and accolades, it started to sound phony.

Similarly, when post 2004 Red Sox fans started talking about their team, everyone else started rolling their eyes and waited for us to start losing again.

Essentially what the collapse of 2011 and disaster of 2012 was for the Red Sox, bombing at the Oscars was for Anne Hathaway.

But both the Red Sox and Anne came back, much to the disgust of just about everyone. The Red Sox became not only a pennant winner, but one where Sox fans can blather about team chemistry and unity and facial hair.

Likewise, Anne Hathaway not only got to be Catwoman but won the Oscar in a role where she was basically screaming into the camera “Give me the damn Oscar.”

The bitterness that I hear from people regarding the Red Sox now sounds similar to the venom that was on display all through social media when Anne Hathaway said “It came true” to start her Academy Award acceptance speech.

But hold on Cardinals fans, you are NOT off the hook either.

Elsa -  Getty Images

Elsa – Getty Images

People are a little sick of you all as well.

The word most often used to describe the Cardinals is “boring.” Although watching the team, that would probably be the last adjective that would come to my mind.

They pitch well, they field well, they hit well and they have a flair for the dramatic.

And while they seemed to not like the on field antics of the Yasiel Puigs and Adrian Gonzalez’s of the world, they don’t seem to be a boring club themselves.

I truly believe people are bored how Cardinal fans are portrayed.

My friend Erin Foley articulated it on her brilliant podcast Sports Without Balls. She said that she is sick of hearing about how great the fans are in St. Louis and that they are supposedly the best in the world.

She’s right. I know I’M sick of hearing that.

It may be true, but I’d like to come to that conclusion on my own!

I’ve found myself saying once or twice “You know Cardinal fans are some of the best in baseball. It’s a great baseball town.” Then I stop myself.

I’ve never ONCE stepped foot in St. Louis in my life! I’ve seen Major League Baseball games with 21 different fan bases in 19 different cities. St. Louis was not one of them! So where the hell am I coming up with that statement?

And I know a handful of Cardinal fans and they seem dedicated. But are they more dedicated than Royals fans across the state who haven’t had a decade and a half of playoff appearances recently?

Are they better than A’s fans who watch their team playing in one of the worst stadiums in the land while one of the crown jewels is right across the Bay?

Are they better fans than Met fans who stay true despite the Yankees playing across town? Or Mariners fans who have never even seen a World Series with their team?

Yet we are told over and over that no fan base is like the Cardinals. And some of us are puking every time we hear that.

Getty Images

Getty Images

I’ll say it. Cardinal fans are Gwyneth Paltrow.

Remember when she burst onto the scene in the mid 1990’s? [SPOILER FOR SE7EN]. Sometime around the time her head was in a box in Se7en she was dating Brad Pitt and was every place. On every magazine cover, in every interview and with the release of every Miramax film, we were told over and over again that WE LOVE HER.

I remember my friend, the award winning writer and comedian Chris Regan, saying around 1997 “I can’t wait to be reminded that Gwyneth Paltrow is my favorite actress.”

We were told how talented she was, how beautiful she was, how graceful she was, etc.

And yet who was actually excited to see her movies? How many people ranked their favorite Gwyneth Paltrow films?

Yeah, she is pretty and she is not without talent. But can we come to that conclusion ourselves?

Eventually she won the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love (a nice movie, but when was the last time you thought of it?) She is lucky there was no Twitter for her tear soaked acceptance speech or she would have received the Hathaway treatment. (Besides, Cate Blanchett was much better than year in Elizabeth, but I digress.)

And then the backlash began.

That’s St. Louis fans. A lot of people are sick of hearing how great they are, especially when they are always in contention.

So if you are a Red Sox fan or a Cardinals fan wondering “Why are so many people against this World Series?” look at it from another point of view:

This World Series is Anne Hathaway vs. Gwyneth Paltrow. Which side would YOU root for?


Lincecum is staying… and the 2014 Giants are going for it.



The free agency pool just got a little more shallow as the Giants made a move that was big on dollars but low risk in terms of years.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the San Francisco Giants signed Tim Lincecum, their 2 time Cy Young award winner at a crossroads, to a 2 year extension for $35 million.

$17 ½ million is a lot of money for a guy coming off of two seasons where he posted ERAs of 5.18 and 4.37. But Lincecum is not an ordinary pitcher coming off of two subpar years. The face of the post Barry Bonds franchise, the Giants know that Lincecum remains one of the most popular players in Bay Area sports history.

He isn’t in Joe Montana or Jerry Rice or Willie McCovey or Rickey Henderson’s level yet. But a lot of #55 jerseys are sold around AT&T Park and a lot of young fans identify with the pitcher who looks like he belongs in the X-Games.

Lincecum contributed big time to the only two World Series titles the Giants have ever won on the West Coast. In 2010 he won the Babe Ruth Award with his dominating performances in all three rounds, winning the World Series clincher. And when his rough 2012 forced him from the rotation, he became a shutdown reliever in the playoffs and World Series.

And even in the maddeningly disappointing 2013 campaign, his no hitter of the Padres provided the season’s greatest highlight.

The Giants had a winning record and were only a couple of games out of first place in late June. But a horrible July took them out of contention and San Francisco fans looked on in horror as L.A. not only zoomed past them to win the Division, but they did it with 2010 playoff symbol Brian Wilson wearing Dodger blue.

San Francisco is clearly putting together another run, hopefully to continue the odd symmetry that the National League pennants are unfolding. Giants won in 2010. The Cardinals in 2011.

The Giants won again in 2012. The Cardinals are representing the National League this year. Naturally, 2014 will be another Giants year.

With Buster Posey locked up through the beginning of the next decade, Hunter Pence signed to an extension and Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner signed to be teammates through 2017, the Giants are not only poised to go for it again, but with familiar fan favorite faces. (Say THAT 5 times fast!)

Bringing Lincecum back was important, but they were did not do it recklessly. Potential buyers were out there for free agency and some had that awful combination of money and desperation.

Both New York teams need pitching and star power. The Yankees galaxy of stars have dimmed with age, injury, retirement and Biogenesis suspensions. The Mets just lost THEIR fan favorite ace, Matt Harvey, for the entire 2014 season and need anything to placate their angry fanbase.

The Los Angeles Dodgers seemed to be relishing their role as the new bad guys in baseball. And like the Yankees when they snatched up Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon (not to mention Babe Ruth), there seems to be a desire to steal the Giants thunder and bring it down to Southern California. Brian Wilson and 2010 playoff hero Juan Uribe looked good as Dodgers. Why not rub salt in the wounds and bring down The Freak?

And of course the Seattle Mariners play in Lincecum’s home state of Washington. They already have an ace in Felix Hernandez and a host of talented young pitchers. Lincecum could come home and not have to carry the staff.

Instead he is staying put, and never had to get into a bidding war that the Giants would have been wise to back out of. Two years of Lincecum is one thing. More than that would be irresponsible.

Lincecum is a pitcher whose career could go in the directions that several different Cy Young winners went.

He could be like another two time Cy Young winning World Series hero, Bret Saberhagen. His career was derailed by injuries and save for a season or two, never became a front line starter again after he was dealt to the Mets before the 1992 season.

He could adjust from injuries and subpar seasons and become a valuable pitcher, if no longer a Cy Young winner, as what happened with Orel Hershiser and Jake Peavy.

He could develop into an All Star caliber reliever, as what happened with Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz. We saw a preview of Lincecum’s effectiveness out of the pen in the 2012 postseason.

He could take a crapload of PED’s and make comeback after comeback a la Roger Clemens and Bartolo Colon. (Sorry Roger. Allegedly take a crapload of PED’s.)

Or he could be done and his career never recovers, like what happened with Brandon Webb, who won the Cy Young in 2006, nearly won it again in 2008, threw one game in 2009 and never threw another pitch in the majors again.

In a couple of seasons, it will be crystal clear which one he is. If Lincecum pulls a Superman and flies around the world backwards, turning back time, then he will be in line for a gigantic contract.

If the worst case scenario happens (that would be the Brandon Webb career finished one) then it is a quick deal and by the end of 2015, it will be gone.

A lot of people will no doubt trash the deal for the inflated dollars. But the Giants will be making money and most of their shopping will be for role players anyhow.
They essentially got the band back together for one big push. Even an adequate Lincecum has value. Not enough for a long term deal, but perhaps for a low risk extension.

The Giants don’t have to have the awkward off season where everyone wonders if they should outbid another team for emotional reasons. Nor do Giant fans have to see him sign a contract they know is too long elsewhere but is still awful to see him with another team (the way we Red Sox fans contended with seeing New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez.)

Giant fans will either have two more memorable years with the freak, or it will be all over after 2015.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – October 22, 2013



The merry go round of managerial openings is in full swing. Will that mean a return of Dusty Baker and Ozzie Guillen? And where will Don Mattingly end up?

And why can’t Kevin Kennedy, Bob Brenly, Willie Randolph nor Chris Chambliss get a job?
It is a managerial focused episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – October 22, 2013<