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The Hostile Territory of Busch Stadium – What Would Gibby Do?

Pre-requisite:  If at any time you find yourself disagreeing with a portion of this post, stop and ask yourself – “What would Bob Gibson do?”

Last night, we saw the effect of “Baseball’s Best Fans” on our home town Cardinals. It was disgusting. Really…I thought I was going to hurl. Busch Stadium sounded more like Wrigley Field than the home of the Cardinals. Every time a Cubs player got a hit or made a play, cheers erupted from the stands. When Jim Edmonds came to the plate, our home town fans greeted him with a nice, cozy standing ovation. Why don’t you offer him a pillow for his feet and a cup of warm milk while you’re at it?


This season, the Cardinals are 25 – 20 at home. We’re 24 – 19 on the road for cryin’ out loud! That essentially means the St. Louis Cardinals have as much of a chance to win away from Busch Stadium as they do in it. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Really.

For years, we’ve listened to baseball analysts tell us we’re “Baseball’s Best Fans,” and we’ve taken pride in the fact that so many MLB players name St. Louis as one of their favorite places to play – as a visiting team. In the past, that hasn’t affected us much. For the last several years, we’ve had a talented, veteran-heavy, dominant team in the NL Central. Cheer, boo, or sit on your hands – the Cardinals were going to find a way to pull it out more often than not. In other words, we could afford to be baseball’s best fans…respectful and suitably awed by outstanding plays regardless of which team was making them. Somehow, the core group of MV3 would find a way.

But this year is different. This year, MV3 is no more. Jim Edmonds is a Cub. Scott Rolen is a Blue Jay. Chris Carpenter may not pitch at all this season, and if he does, it will most likely be late in the year and out of the bullpen. Adam Wainwright has gone down, Pujols is playing one throw away from season-ending surgery, and our starting rotation resembles a jigsaw puzzle pieced together with lost pieces from other puzzles. Hell…even Izzy voluntarily removed himself from the closer role.

Of all the players on the 25-man active roster, 4 are rookies, 10 are playing their first full major league season as a St. Louis Cardinal, and 3 relievers have been forced into the starting rotation. This is not a dominant team. They are a tough, scrappy, determined team – but dominant they are not. It’s time their fans were the same.

In the past, the moniker of “Baseball’s Best Fans” meant respectful, intelligent, loyal, and appreciative. We respected the game of baseball. We knew what was coming when we had a guy on third, a man on first, 1 out, and a contact hitter at the plate late in a one-run game. If the Cardinals were in last place or first place, we showed up – maybe not a sell out, but we showed up. And we appreciated great baseball when it was played in front of us…regardless of who was playing it. If the visiting team made a diving play to rob our beloved Cardinals of a hit, we ooh’ed and awe’ed our appreciation. If a Cardinal player was struggling, we encouraged him with every at-bat or appearance (unless his last name is Duncan or Isringhausen – in which case, it has apparently become common practice to act like an ass…).

That was the past…this is now, and this team needs better fans.

We have fallen into the prideful trap of trying to be “Baseball’s Best Fans.” Screw that. I want Baseball’s Best Team, and I’m willing to be whatever type of fan I need to be to help our team achieve that. And if that means doing everything I can (within reason and legality…) to make a visiting team uncomfortable in Busch Stadium, so be it, damn it!

If the Cubs have the “friendly confines of Wrigley Field,” then St. Louis should have the “Hostile Territory of Busch Stadium.” When a Cubs player makes an outstanding catch to rob a Cardinal of a hit and possibly game-winning RBI, don’t cheer…BOO! Show them it pisses us off that they took a potential win away from our team. When a Cubs player runs for the stands to make a reach-in catch on an Albert Pujols fly ball, don’t move and give him room! Don’t playfully help him up and pat his back in friendly companionship because you’re so damn awe-stricken by his major league status that you just can’t help yourself! Stand your ground! If the player looks to be falling into the stands on plastic chairs and concrete walkways, don’t catch him! Part ways and let the visiting bastard fall! That’s the price he pays for entering the Hostile Territory of Busch Stadium. You don’t have to be a jerk, but don’t be their best friend either.

For too long, visiting teams have been much too comfortable at Busch Stadium as they saunter in and trounce our Cardinals. They waive their hats at the fans and smile, and we eat it up. Enough is enough.

This Cardinals team has the dignity to break the mold. The analysts tried to cast them in the role of last-place finishers, of non-contenders. And this team said to hell with that. They fight and claw and scrap their way to wins and hard-fought battles on the diamond. They denied the personality of losers given to them by the media, and they forged a new one defined by toughness, grit, and perseverence. It’s time we did the same.

We have been described as “Baseball’s Best Fans.” It’s time we found the balls to act like it…on our terms. It’s time we woke up and stopped drinking the pacifist Kool-Aid of MLB’s Best Fans and started acting like the Cardinals’ Best Fans, instead. Let’s turn Busch Stadium into the Hostile Territory of the St. Louis Cardinals. Let’s find the guts to match our team’s ferocity and scrappy attitude.

If a visiting team wants to find comfort and appreciation in St. Louis, they can lock themselves in their rooms at the Marriott and order room service…but if they’re going to show up in the Hostile Territory of Busch Stadium, they’ll only find ravenous fans and a cold welcome.

If you’re going to the game today, find the courage to break the mold and show the small bears exactly what it means to play in the Hostile Territory of Busch Stadium…and ask yourself, could you look Bob Gibson in the eyes and proudly proclaim yourself a Cardinals fan? Huh? Could you?



15 thoughts on “The Hostile Territory of Busch Stadium – What Would Gibby Do?

  1. Funny, you don’t mention the fact that when Jimmy struck out, all you could hear were cheers.

    Posted by Chris | July 5, 2008, 8:19 pm
  2. Absolutely that happened…not the point. The point is, we are much too friendly to opposing teams…and I would bet that many fans do it because they are told they are “the best fans in baseball” and not because they really have a deep appreciation for the game.

    Regardless, the point is that Edmonds is a Cub (look at my post before this one called “Too Boo or Not to Boo…”), and making him and the rest of the team by extension feel comfortable at all in Busch Stadium is counter-productive to the concept of “Home Field Advantage.”

    You can’t argue the fact that our record indicates absolutely ZERO advantage at home…that’s deplorable…I’m just saying I think the way our fans make visiting teams feel so comfortable COULD possibly be one explanation for such a lack of advantage.

    Thanks for the comment! Keep ’em coming…

    Posted by deckacards | July 5, 2008, 8:27 pm
  3. I won’t argue the fact that the Cards’ record at home is unacceptable. But you also cannot argue the fact that Zambrano has historically owned the Cards. It was a well pitched game by both sides, and I think the difference was the Cardinal offense (or lack thereof)

    Also, I don’t think the two (cheering when the opposing team makes an out and keeping homefield advantage) are mutually exclusive.

    Posted by Chris | July 5, 2008, 9:33 pm
  4. True on both of those points…and I don’t think the fan attitude is solely to blame for the game…or even anywhere close to the “difference”…but it sure didn’t help any either.

    The fans are rarely given an opportunity to be a factor in sports…home field advantage is one of the few areas they can hope to have an impact on the game. Maybe it is just a matter of making sure the opposing players think twice before reaching into the stands for a foul ball therefore giving our hitters a second chance…but making the visiting team feel so welcome can only hurt…if it has an impact at all…making sure they don’t enjoy coming into St. Louis can only help…again, if it has an impact at all…so for me, the choice is simple.

    Remember…Edmonds himself said he was “scared” and “nervous” coming into Busch…imagine how other players and Edmonds would feel if they could realistically expect to be treated like who they are…the visiting team coming in to defeat our home team.

    Posted by deckacards | July 5, 2008, 9:50 pm
  5. Cards win! Wait, what were we talking about?

    Posted by Chris | July 5, 2008, 11:01 pm

    Posted by deckacards | July 5, 2008, 11:20 pm
  7. I completely understand your point. But I like the fact that we have enough integrity as fans to be supportive of our team but not be obnoxious to others. I don’t know that St. Louis should necessarily be considered “The Best Fans” in baseball, but rather “The fans with the most class and just love the greatest game ever played”. We don’t need to make people feel uncomfortable and be obnoxious to enjoy the game.

    We are talking about baseball here. So many things have changed for the worse when it comes to baseball, why do we have to change our attitudes towards others too?? I mean, baseball is America’s pastime. Kids played it in the streets with sticks and bottle caps when they didn’t have bats and baseballs. WHY??? B/c it is a great sport. It is a sport that spans the spectrum. You can have all the talent in the world and be the star on the team, or you could have no natural talent at all and you go out in the backyard and your dad teaches you the basics.

    It is a sport that has always brought people together; players & coaches, fans young and old. But it has turned into such a money making extravaganza people are losing where it came from. $9.00 for a beer???? PAYING for an autograph???? A DOME over the field?!?!?! Buck up and play in the rain!!! Back in the 30’s and 40’s you didn’t have a relief pitcher unless someone was bleeding and even then…you had to be SERIOUSLY bleeding…and even THEN the pitcher would plead to stay in the game!!! Now it is no big deal to have 5-7 pitchers for one team for one game!! So with all of these changes, why must we change our attitude too? Leave us alone, enjoy watching the game & give credit where credit is due. I will continue to clap if I see an amazing play…regardless of who makes it. I will ABSOLUTELY help someone up if they have fallen on the concrete…I don’t care WHO it is or WHAT they are wearing. You will NEVER see me sitting on the edge of the baseline and get in the way of the 300 lbs of solid muscle that is running towards me to catch a fly ball!!!

    Not only do I not want to HURL when I see our fans just enjoying a well played game, but I sit a little straighter that they are doing it with some class!!!!! – LN

    Posted by Ellen | July 7, 2008, 7:35 pm
  8. Now there is one of the Greatest Fan’s in Baseball. Very well said

    Posted by Ben | July 7, 2008, 7:52 pm
  9. Ellen…I do, in a way, agree with you…

    What I’m saying is simple…there needs to be more life and more of a homefield advantage in Busch…however that happens, I want to see it happen…

    But right now, players from other teams are so comfortable coming into this stadium that it’s like a neutral site. The Cardinals have very little advantage…and with this team, that’s just not going to work.

    Keep in mind, I use my blog to sometimes overstate my case in an effort that hopefully SOME fans will go “You know what? This guy is wrong…but maybe I COULD be a little bit livelier and more competative…maybe I can help the team a little.”

    My greatest concern is the clear lack of homefield advantage – as shown in our record at home vs. the road – so someone, please…tell me…how do we or the team solve that?

    I love being respectful at the ballpark…I grew up that way…and honestly, I will remain that way for the most part…but how sad it is for me to watch our players out there beating themselves senseless trying to win for themselves and for us…and then we cheer the other team when they make a difficult play to rob us of an extra base hit to win the game…

    I don’t want us to be jerks…and certainly I’ve intentionally overstated my case here…but isn’t there a middle ground between fans at Yankee Stadium, Fenway, and Wrigley Field and what we currently do at Busch? Can’t we find SOME sort of competative fire within us that inspires us to do more than just react joyously when good things happen?

    We demand our Cardinals “play like Cardinals”…but what are we doing as fans? Clapping when they make a great play? The same thing we do for the visiting team?

    Ellen – I loved your response…thank you very much for taking the time to comment so thoughtfully and with so much heart.

    Your visit is greatly appreciated.

    Posted by deckacards | July 7, 2008, 9:29 pm
  10. I was sickened by that article as well!! As a loyal Cardinal fan I do feel the well known hatred for the Cubs, but to lower ourselves to that of a Cubs, Yankee, or Red Sox fan in an attempt to somehow encourage our team into winning at home seems more than absurd!! The Cardinal organization has long been noted as one of the most storied and successful teams in baseball. If it were not for the late great Harry Carey, the famous Wrigley Field Ivy and curse of the goat would we even be using the Cubs as an analogy today? I have had the privilege of visiting the home of the Cubs, Wrigley Field, unfortunately it was during a game and I was forced to witness the relentless un-sportsmanlike conduct of their so called fans reaming their own team if deemed necessary… As an athlete myself I know that some players perform better under pressure and some collapse, the ones that perform better typically put the neccessary pressure on themselves, so why risk breaking down the ones that don’t?!

    Same goes for the Red Sox… If they had not fallen to the curse of the “Great Bambino” and the infamous Buckner ball through the legs who would care???

    Then there is the Yankee’s… I am not even going to dignify that ignorant/over-paid organization with a justification of their place in baseball history, but I am a fan of Joe Girardi…

    As the loyal Cardinal fan I mentioned myself to be earlier I take pride that our team that was picked to be last this year has fought to be a mere 3.5 games out of 1st place heading into the All-Star break, not to mention we are in sole possession of the NL wild card!! As we all know if we are not in 1st by September we will be by the 2nd week following the well documented demise of the Cubs in that miracle month!!

    In conclusion I will say that I would have stood and clapped for Jimmy “Ballgame” Edmonds during the entire at bat, every at bat!!

    GO BIRDS!!!

    Posted by Josh | July 7, 2008, 9:50 pm
  11. And which part, exactly, was it that sickened you? Because you talk of things I never encouraged…you speak of acting like Yankee fans and Red Sox fans when I, in fact, am asking for something different…a respectful baseball fan that just doesn’t fawn all over every visiting ballplayer that walks through the Busch Stadium doors. You speak of a team reaming their own fans…I have NEVER endorsed that. I have vehemently – on this site and others – defended Chris Duncan, Jason Isringhausen, and many more when other Cardinals fans are ripping them to shreds and then stepping back and going “Oh, I would never act like a Red Sox or Yankees fan.”

    Why is it that competative fire, lively attitudes, etc. are considered disrespectful? Why is it that an article that suggests that Busch Stadium fans back off some of the “let-me-help-you-up-as-you-catch-Pujols’-foul-ball-in-the-stands-in-a-tie-game” attitude is so threatening?

    Why is it that being baseball’s so-called “best fans” has become more important than a well-supported, winning ball club in St. Louis?

    Posted by deckacards | July 7, 2008, 9:58 pm
  12. By the way, I’m loving all of the interest in this post…but I hope that all of you are taking just a bit of time to browse the other posts on my site to get a feel for my attitude towards the Cardinals. This is certainly not the beginning and the end for me.

    The Bird Watching link to the left contains my weekly posts. The Essays link to the left contains a bit of insight into my evolution as a fan (History of a Baseball Fan).

    Thanks for visiting!

    Posted by deckacards | July 7, 2008, 10:04 pm
  13. I can see where you are coming from on this but I also don’t neccessarily see the harm in giving someone the well deserved credit after making a great play or giving their all… It’s not like we are giving thema standing O when they make a double play. But if they make a diving over the shoulder grab at the track I am going to clap, not loud, but I am going to recognize the talent and effort that went into making the play!

    You speak of Cardinals fans tearing into Isringhausen and Duncan during their low points, in my opinion they are not true fans! To be honest with you if I were to boo when Duncan hits into a double play to end the game I think he would take it more to heart than the opposing team would! And that is just counter productive to your arguement.

    Do you think the whole Steve Bartman Cubs incident has anything to do with our fans not wanting to disrupt the sanctity of the game by interfering? I know I wouldn’t want to have to leave St. Louis and change my name because I got in the way of a foul ball…

    Posted by Josh | July 7, 2008, 10:34 pm
  14. You know, the Steve Bartman thing could absolutely have something to do with it…but I’m really not talking about interfering at all. I think of it as the batter’s box rule. If the catcher pops up to throw a runner out, the hitter could be in the way of the throw and therefore help his team by disrupting the attempt. However, he cannot actually take action to disrupt the throw…but he has every right to the batter’s box. He can stand there like a statue if he wants and it’s the catcher’s job to work around him.

    That could be true of the stands as well…if a guy is running towards the wall to attempt to catch a foul ball hit by a Cardinal, we should never take action to interfere…but at the same time, the stands are the territory of the fans, and we are under no obligation to move. It is the player’s responsibility to work around us.

    So…simply by not moving and therefore not being as welcoming, we could help our team. Also, if a player knows he is going to be running headlong into a fan, or the fans aren’t going to try and catch him, there are players out there (not all, but some) that will think twice and hesitate before attempting to make that play…and that split-second hesitation could be the difference between catching the ball and not catching it…and that second chance for the hitter could be the difference between winning the game and not winning the game.

    more later…meeting…

    Posted by deckacards | July 8, 2008, 1:57 pm
  15. Okay…also, you say Cards fans who tear into Izzy and Dunc aren’t “true fans,” but what does that mean, really? Do you get to set a list of expectations of a true fan? Because I’m telling you, most fans will differ on something. I hear people all the time that I think are “true fans” ripping on Izzy and Dunc, but I wouldn’t do it. And really, let’s be honest…we’ve all done it…in the privacy of our own living rooms…the only difference between some fans and others is that some simply do it in Busch where the player can hear them. To me, that’s a big difference…but to others, not being consistent from your living room to Busch in what you yell, say, and do is inconsistent and means you aren’t a “true fan.”

    I’m not saying I know what a true fan is, and I’m not saying that what I’ve talked about in my article is what a true fan should do…just that I think WHAT a fan does can have an impact on the game…and I think Busch fans need to rediscover a competative spirit/fire/passion/etc. that can redefine home field for these Cardinals. I think they need it and I think they deserve it.

    Ultimately, I think winning the World Series caused the fans to take a vacation of sorts…we won, and now we aren’t as hungry. People talk about players becoming complacent after they win, but I think the same can be said of fans. Used to be, we were pretty rabid fans…respectful, but rabid nonetheless…there was energy in Busch. Now, it’s like we lost our edge…you go into Busch now and it’s still great…but there is something missing…it’s like we are satisfied with winning the World Series so recently and now we’re just willing to show up, respect the game, watch some good baseball, and when we leave we are already prepared to say, “Oh well…at least we won the World Series in ’06.”

    Also…I find it interesting that most people who respond to my article on this site cite things that I NEVER SAID OR ENDORSED as fan behavior they despise. They compare what I’m talking about to Red Sox and Yankee fans when I have clearly asked for something different. They assume what I’m asking for is disrespectful when at no time have I advocated a loss of respect. They talk about “doing something” to players or acting disrespectful when the closest I have come that is actually suggesting they express frustration AT THE VISITING TEAM by booing them WHEN THEY CAUSE US TO LOSE! They act as if I want to rip the identity of “baseball’s best fans” from them when all I want to do is make them the Cardinals’ best fans FIRST and baseball’s best fans second.

    I think it’s possible and I think it’s important…but we’ll see…

    Posted by deckacards | July 8, 2008, 2:51 pm

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