You Can't Stop The Hatred

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals hatred is happening and no one can stop it. But that's pretty much true of any baseball team, ever.

Yesterday was a pretty decent day, rage wise, until I came across this article.

Read it. Go ahead. I dare you to read it and not turn into a seething ball of rage. Do you regret hating the Cardinals yet? Do you feel chastened?

In the piece, author Mollie Hemingway, expresses confusion as to why people hate the Cardinals (her favorite team). She then lays out a number of "illegitimate" reasons to hate the Cardinals, unwittingly reminding me of the many reasons why I do in fact hate them. The piece even contains the phrase "You can't hate the Cards." Oh, but I can.

Allow me to begin with the question that fuels the article:

It's clear that there's been an uptick in Cardinals hatred. What's going on?

Oh, it's clear, is it? You want to know what's going on? Where have you been?! They have been in the postseason seven of the last ten years, and won the World Series twice. They are everywhere and they won't go away. There was the rally squirrel, and all of the last minute Cardinals postseason magic insanity. There's constant mention of "strong values" and "playing the game the right way", which is the absolute worst. And on top of that, they have a farm system that just won't quit and a seemingly endless supply of exciting young players. Well, they would be exciting if they played for anyone but the Cardinals, who constantly battle the Reds for the title of "Blandest Midwestern Baseball Franchise".

Lecturing people about why they shouldn't hate your team is a thing I just can’t understand. Using sensible language and splitting hairs about big payrolls is useless. (The Cardinals don’t have a top 10 payroll, they just missed the cut of that random arbitrary number and came in at 11th.) It’s falling on deaf ears. And it makes the person doing it look insecure. Just love your team. You’re welcome to love or hate whatever teams you want. Don’t tell me which teams to hate or not hate, and don’t take me on a ridiculous guilt trip because you’re upset that people hate the team you happen to love.

Trying to ascribe rationality to sports fanaticism may be one of the most ridiculous and futile pursuits ever, refuge of those who are trying to scold people about their sports feelings. Sports fandom is not a rational thing. And when I say "sports fandom", I’m not including things like statistics and research and whole host of non-crazy things. I’m not talking about watching every baseball game, or even going to a game – that’s just love of the game. I’m talking about the feelings that happen inside you that make you shout at the TV, do crazy superstitious dances, dress up like a total idiot, and scream and boo and cheer with 40,000 of your closest friends at a game. Those feelings are born of love, but they are absolutely not rational.

I love the Philadelphia Phillies. I love them. I may hate individual players (*COUGH**JONATHANPAPELBON**COUGH*), or the front office, or the owner, but I will always love the Phillies. Why? I have no reason other than I was born with it. I was born just outside of Philadelphia. My father, born and raised in North Philly, was also born with it, as was my grandfather (also a Philadelphia native). That’s it. That’s the reason. The team has infuriated me through the years, caused me great pain, but also brought me joy and happiness and friends and a fulfilling hobby. I will never not love the Phillies. I will teach my future children to love the Phillies, even though they won’t be born in Philadelphia and I’m marrying a Cubs fan.

Look at that paragraph I just wrote. Nothing about that is rational. And just as sports love isn’t rational, neither is sports hatred. From the article:

But being good - which is really what we're talking about here - is not sufficient reason to dislike an organization.

Oh really? It's not? It's good enough for me! Does it make sense? No! But does that matter in the slightest? You bet it doesn't! The writer is looking for sensible reasons that people hate the team she loves. There are none. I hate the Giants and the Cardinals. They each eliminated the Phillies from the postseason, and I hate them. Do I hate the Yankees, who beat the Phillies in the World Series in 2009, with this violent passion? No. Why? I don’t really know. I’ve examined my brain and all my feelings, and I have no reason. But I do know that I always want the Cardinals and the Giants to lose. And I enjoy my hatred because it’s sports hatred. It’s not real actual hatred. It’s fun. I luxuriate in it. Every story needs a protagonist and an antagonist. Every team is someone’s hero or villain. There are people who hate the Twins (I’m not counting actual Twins fans). To me, the Twins are adorably inoffensive. But to someone else, they are the worst thing ever. Fans come in all flavors, and there’s room for all of us.

People have these feelings of hatred about the Phillies, too. They’re out there – on the internet, in their homes, at bars and stores, writing things, acting like regular people. Only they hate the Phillies. If the Phillies were in the playoffs right now (please stifle your laughter), these people would be loud and vocal about their Phillies hatred. Would it bother me, or has it ever bothered me? No. Hate away! Hate them! I don’t care! Why? Because I love my team, and who cares what other people think. Loving or hating them has no bearing on me or anyone else as a person.

I’m not going to criticize anyone for being a fan of a team I hate. I’m friends with Giants fans. I’m friends with Mets fans (a team I used to hate). And if I ever met a Cardinals fan, which I never have, I wouldn’t hold it against them. They’re a fan just like me, and they love their team just as I do (well, probably not exactly as I do). Cardinals fans can love their team, and I will call their team pious, fun killing doofuses. But I’ll never have a problem with someone being a fan of a team. (Unless the Aryan Homophobe Rapist Hitler All-Stars join the MLB.) What I do have an issue with is when someone decides that everyone should love their team, or that no one is allowed to hate their team, and lectures those of us who don’t follow their directions.

Now, if that person took it to the next level and decided to hate everyone who didn’t love their team, that’s an irrational behavior I could get behind.  That’s the other side of the irrational team hatred coin. But telling people they shouldn’t hate your team because you think they’re super awesome? It’s weird, infuriating, needy, and it demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of sports fandom and allegiances. It’s not gonna happen. You won’t change any minds. Just love your team! Love them! Support them with all your heart! Write long articles and poems about how great they are and how much you love them! But don’t tell me why I am wrong for hating them! Why do you care so much about how I feel about them?! Let it go! LET ME HATE YOUR STUPID TEAM IN PEACE!

So, in closing:

  • Sports fandom is not rational, and approaching it with rationality is a losing proposition
  • Last time I checked, I was allowed to hate anything I damn well pleased
  • Cardinals hatred is already happening everywhere and no one can stop it
  • Hating the holier-than-thou, ass-kissy, hypocritical, Eddie Haskell Cardinals doesn’t reflect poorly on me or anyone else
  • Acting like your team is God’s gift to baseball is the height of ridiculousness
  • STOP BEING SO EFFING INSECURE. GOD. YOUR TEAM IS GOOD AND PEOPLE WILL HATE YOUR TEAM BECAUSE THEY ARE GOOD. THAT’S THE WAY OF THE WORLD. YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE EVERYTHING. YOU CAN’T DEMAND THAT EVERYONE LIKE YOUR TEAM AND THEIR FANS WHEN THEY’RE IN THE PROCESS OF KICKING POSTSEASON ASS. IF YOU FEEL BAD THAT YOUR TEAM’S TALENT IS MAKING PEOPLE DISLIKE YOU OR THEM THEN I HAVE AN EASY SOLUTION: LIKE ANOTHER TEAM. I FEEL LIKE I’M TALKING TO A TEENAGER AND EXPLAINING TO THEM THAT NO, NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO LIKE YOU, YOU GOT THE LEAD IN THE SCHOOL MUSICAL AND PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE JEALOUS. IT’S BASIC MIDDLE SCHOOL STUFF HERE, CARDINALS FANS.

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