Lots of Non-Baseball Goings-On Punctuate Cubs/Cards Series
Looking back across the void of time that has passed since the Cubs/Cards series tipped reveals some shocking changes in the world around us. Gas and milk still cost pretty much the same, but we swapped out president Andrew Jackson — who many view in hindsight as a genocidal slave-owner — for Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, then that guy who got all famous for having a Crying Jordan meme on his sock during the World Series finally got canned. Oh, we also saw Cardinals fans boo one opposing player while falling in love with another. So that’s pretty fun.
This might sound odd, but I don’t really like big rivalry games, at least not until they’re over. I get all anxious and just can’t enjoy them as they’re taking place. For that alone, I’m glad the Cubs have left St. Louis. Everyone was on edge and fans on both sides were filling their proverbial diapers over one thing or another. The one thing I will miss, however, is the temporary shift that occurred as Cubs fans chose to bash Cardinals writers rather than the scribes covering their own team.
And while I have been known to throw barbs at the BFIB, I’m not sad to see a little distance placed between one fanbase that’s been insufferable for decades and another that is quickly becoming so. Take, for instance, the fallout from allegations of racial slurs being hurled at Jason Heyward in Monday’s game. Everyone was in such a hurry to dunk on Cards fans that they failed to check the veracity of the reports. I have no doubt some truly awful things were said, but too many were quick to pull out their Jump to Conclusions mats and start hopping around.
Cards fans, as you would expect, got defensive and started pointing out racist behavior amongst Cubs fans. Then you had the business of the photo that was being circulated through social media of the guy in the Cardinals hat who appeared to be sitting at Busch Stadium and who had a swastika tattoo on the back of his neck. This came up again Wednesday in light of the news that Cubs fans were told they could not wear their “Try Not to Suck” t-shirts at the ballpark.
Many questioned whether this fell in with the gamesmanship of playing classical music during Cubs BP and Chelsea Dagger when relievers came out, but the prohibition on “suck” has been around for quite a while. I don’t know exactly when it was first enforced, but I’m sure the fans can tell you how many World Series titles the Cardinals have won since its institution. Speaking of fans, I do have to commend Viva El Birdos — the incongruous singular/plural combination actually has roots in a pretty cool anecdote — for an excellent Fanpost the other day.
An Open Letter to Everyone Targeting Cardinals Fans with Accusations of Racism was well-written and voiced many of the same concerns I had with the reactions to the Heyward non-story. Interestingly enough, the only reason I saw it at all is that I had recently followed another VEB writer on Twitter because he is a former college classmate of mine. Not all posts making the rounds on social media lately were quite as well-conceived, though.
I was going to avoid the Curt Schilling mess altogether, but since I’ve talked about it and commented on it elsewhere I figured I might as well chase my tail a little longer. In summary: this isn’t a first amendment issue and if you think it is, you have no idea what that particular protection entails. It’s also not about a leftward shifts in societal norms leading to the ouster of a fine, red-blooded ‘Murican who did little other than speak his mind.
You may not remember Jimmy the Greek, but he, like Schilling, was a national sports media personality a few decades ago. He had a gig doing The NFL Today with Brent Musburger on CBS and would predict the score’s of the day’s games. No stranger to controversy, Jimmy the Greek, who’s real last name was Snyder and who first gained notoriety as a Vegas bookmaker, fought frequently with his co-host. Seriously, he actually punched Musburger in the face at a bar once. But he hung around because he was a popular character on a popular show.
Until, that is, Jimmy forgot to engage his filter before sharing the following asinine thoughts with a local reporter:
The black is a better athlete to begin with because he’s been bred to be that way, because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs and he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trade…the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid…
That was in 1988, so the idea that someone employed as an on-air personality could be fired for being a giant douche who embarrasses his company isn’t exactly new. Jimmy the Greek was free to share his views on the subject of athletic superiority, just as Schilling is free to share his on the use of public restrooms. They were/are not, however, free to do so while remaining in the gainful employ of their respective networks.
Sorry, went longer on that than I had planned.
Anyway, let’s wrap this up with something fun, shall we? As the Cubs were mounting a comeback in the 8th inning of Wednesday’s game, a fan near the on-deck circle caught my eye. He appeared transfixed — does that mean Schilling would still object to sharing a bathroom with him? — by Kris Bryant as the Cub made his way to the plate. Certainly can’t blame the guy, as Bryant tends to have that effect on people.
This was just such an odd moment in an odd game, but it made me feel better about the series and it provided a bit of levity in the midst of what was otherwise kind of poopy day. I’ve got a feeling, however, that the next 11 games against the Reds, Broors, and Barves will provide no shortage of enjoyment.
Be good to each other, people, and I promise I’ll try to write about baseball next time.