But to Chicagoans, the National League team's most deadly rival is the American League team across town. When Chicago bothers to consider St. Louis at all, it's as a source of beer, not as conveniently-located as Milwaukee.
Sometimes, though, Chicago deigns to acknowledge the existence of its neighbor 300 miles to the southwest. This past Sunday, the Chicago Tribune
took the daring step of actually sending one of its reporters, travel writer Josh Noel, down here to check out the town
in anticipation of the All-Star Game.
How does Noel's take on our city compare to Alan Solomon's article
in the Philadelphia Inquirer
? (Note: Solomon himself is a former Tribune
travel writer and also did time covering the White Sox.)
This is a great baseball town. Cardinal fans know to applaud for a
sacrifice bunt, especially when laid down by their pitcher. They know
not to applaud when the other team ties the score on a sacrifice fly,
even though it means an out for the opponent. They dress in red as if
it were the only color on the racks.
And this is a terrible baseball town. The food at Busch Stadium, which
opened in 2006, is especially bad; ask 10 Cardinal fans about the best
grub in the park, and eight will say the nachos, which are basically
the same nachos you find at every other park. Fans do the wave when
their team is down by eight runs in the eighth inning. And the streets
surrounding the park are largely a charmless sprawl of chain hotels,
predictable sports bars and parking garages or vacant buildings.
Still, Noel doesn't mention anything about St. Louis' impending death. (Or that reports of its impending death are much exaggerated.) He does not place the words "north side" and "bombing" in the same sentence
But this may be because Noel doesn't travel much beyond downtown and the Delmar Loop. The Hill? The Central West End? Soulard? Forget 'em all.
The two points Noel emphasizes (repeatedly) are these:
- Downtown is dead.
- The food at Busch Stadium sucks.
But props to him for appreciating the City Museum, for devoting a sizable paragraph to First Pitch Tickets and for daring to try Provel. Maybe next time he visits, the Tribune will pop for a few more MetroLink tickets so he can do some further exploring. Times are tough, we know; renting a car might break the budget.
St. Louis thinks about Chicago a lot. It's bigger. It thinks it's better. Its National League team is our baseball team's most deadly rival.