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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is It Ever Okay to Root Against the Cardinals?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 9:34 AM

click to enlarge Pretend, for a moment, that the Cardinals are your sister...
  • Pretend, for a moment, that the Cardinals are your sister...
So the Colby Rasmus trade has had a day to sink in now, and the opinions on both sides are rather strong. 

Side A: "Oh, for the love of god, I can't believe the Cards just gave away their talented young center fielder for peanuts because the manager doesn't like him!!!!" 

Side B: "Oh, for the love of god, how can you idiots not see Colby Rasmus is a terrible player? Needs to get his head out of his ass and tell his daddy to shut up and plus he's a headcase and you guys just keep on making him out to be Joe Freaking DiMaggio!!!!" 

I, of course, am on that first side.

I would like to point out to the second side that Colby's OPS+ this year -- which critics claim has been awful -- is still 111, meaning even after one of the most brutal two-month periods of time I can recall ever watching he's still been better than a league-average hitter. For free. Oh, well. I'm sure there's probably nothing I can say at this point to convince anyone of anything. (Though I was, I must admit, positively giddy with all the comments and arguing.) 

Yesterday over at Viva El Birdos there was, as I'm sure you can imagine, much discussion of the deal. Lots of stuff on both sides, but there was one particular exchange that got me thinking. I don't remember exactly where it was in all the chaos, and rather than dig through to find it, I'll just paraphrase. 

Someone -- I apologize to whoever it was, because I don't recall who -- made the comment they were almost actively rooting for the team to fail, because complete collapse is the only way they see the current management of this team ever going anywhere. Someone else responded they could never root against their team, as they are Cardinal fans. Rooting for laundry, and all that. Plenty more discussion followed, with some good points made both ways. So I got to thinking: how do I feel about this whole rooting against your own thing? And given I have this lovely public outlet to force you all to listen to my half-baked opinions, I thought I would share my thoughts with you this morning. 

Okay, so say you have a sister. 

"I have a sister." 

Alright, very funny, wiseguy. That's enough out of you. 

So say you have a sister, who means the world to you. You never want to see her get hurt. In fact, you've spent a large portion of your life trying to figure out all the best ways possible to make sure she doesn't get hurt. After all, this is your blood you're talking about, and trying to save the people you care about from pain is just what you do. 

But now, see, your sister has this boyfriend. Really kind of a dick. He's jealous. Possessive. Talks down to her in public. They fight constantly, and everyone knows he's got a little something on the side. 

Your sister, though, she doesn't see these things. The sun rises and sets in this dude's ass as far as she's concerned. Sure, they fight, but that's just because they're so passionate about their relationship. Well, yeah, he's a little controlling, but that's just because he loves her so much. And really, who else would know better what's good for her and for them than someone who cares about her so much? 

Her friends have tried talking to her, but she doesn't want to hear it. They push the issue, and she just stops talking to them. You've tried to intervene as well, but haven't had much more luck. She doesn't listen to you, either. So you talked to him, and he just blew up, made it clear you don't know what the hell you're talking about, and the only people allowed to have an opinion about their relationship is them. You even got a job with a local alt-journal and started writing columns about how your sister totally needs to dump her boyfriend, but that doesn't seem to have worked at all. 

So what do you do? Well, I'll tell you what you do. You root for the relationship to fail. You don't want to, but you do. You hope he gets caught running around behind her back. Or that one night he finally gets pissed enough to take a swipe at her so you can kick his ass and drag her out of there. It's going to hurt her, badly, when the relationship ends. But it's a bad job all around, and the longer it goes on the worse it's going to be. Is it better for her to be sad now, or five years down the road when they've got two kids running around and she finds out he's been cheating on her all along? Will she have any of those friends left when she hasn't spoken to them ever since they took her out to dinner one night and tried to tell her they didn't think her boyfriend -- let's call him Tony -- was good for her? 

You would do anything to keep from seeing your sister get hurt, but the situation just keeps getting worse. She won't get rid of him, there's nothing you can do to force the issue, and he certainly isn't the sort of leopard who's going to change his spots. So you wait, and you hope she gets hurt, and it kills you a little to do it. 

That's kind of where I find myself with this team. The Cardinals are in a dysfunctional relationship with their manager, and until something happens that will finally force the organisation to wake up and realize they have to make a change, things are just going to continue on this way. So I'm stuck, wanting to see the team I've loved since I was old enough to understand the game do well, but believing in my heart of hearts that they need to fail, that they need to hurt, before they'll ever make any positive changes. 

So what do I root for? Do I root for success that will be fun and enjoyable come October but keep the status quo in order and lead to more of this same? Or do I hope for collapse, for ugliness, for pain? Sure, it'll hurt if the Cards miss the playoffs, particularly after selling off such a big piece of their future for the moderate bump they might enjoy now. But no matter how miserable an October with no baseball in St. Louis would be (though come to think of it, we haven't seen too many Octobers with baseball around here lately, have we?), maybe failure is the only way we see this stuck-in-neutral franchise take a good, hard look at the future and realize the way things are going now is not the way to build any sort of lasting success. 

And so yeah, I'm stuck. Cardinal baseball is in my blood, and yet here I am, hoping they fail. It's a miserable situation, but I'm just not sure what else to hope for. 

How about you? 

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