Reactions: Boston vs. St. Louis
Red Sox, Cardinals fans make case for title of 'Best baseball city'
Posted: Monday October 25, 2004 2:52PM; Updated: Monday October 25, 2004 2:56PM
Bullish for Beantown
The next time you are in Boston take a look up at the weather beacon atop the Hancock building; it will tell you if the game has been cancelled. "If it's flashing red, the game is dead."
Who has ever heard of the "Cardinal Nation?"
The difference between St. Louis and Boston is that while both cities are great sports towns, both with great fans, in Boston you live and die with each series, season, game, inning, hit, walk, K, strike and ball. You live and die every moment of it from game one until you are mathematically eliminated or until you win. No one outside of Boston/New England/Red Sox Nation gets "it"; i.e., what the Sox mean to Red Sox Nation. They simply cannot fathom it. Not even the great fans of St. Louis.
Boston, no doubt. Remember the urban legend about the fellow that backed up traffic at the entrance to the Callahan tunnel during the '75 World Series, refusing to move until the end of the inning? Or, more recently the "Reverse Curve" sign on Storrow drive (a local legend in its own right), that was hacked to read "Reverse the Curse"? Just the fact that the town is reluctant to tear down the undersized and superannuated Fenway Park in favor of new digs speaks volumes.
This is like trying to decide between a blue Porsche and a black Porsche. Both are great but it is all about personal preference. St. Louis fans are more positive (then again, they haven't had the heartbreak of Boston), both are fanatical but I give the edge to Boston simply because it permeates the entire city more deeply. Just walk the streets and you will see the difference as you watch the number of hats on peoples' heads and listen to different conversations. But then again, many of those Sox fans are obsessing over past year's failures whereas St. Louis fans are quiet in their comfort with their team.
Nothing against St. Louis, but Boston is the craziest baseball town in the world. If you don't believe me, just look at the other major franchises here. No matter how good the Pats, Bruins, or Celtics do or have done, there isn't a single Boston native who wouldn't trade all of that past glory for one Sox World Series win.
Fans in St Louis remind me too much of Cubs fans to be considered the best baseball town, i.e. fans who enjoy seeing the Cardinals simply because they are watching a baseball game. In Boston, watching the Red Sox is akin to that of a religious experience. The devotion to the Red Sox is so deep that most Boston fans do not love baseball, as much as they love this team. In a way the Red Sox represent the things we see within ourselves: perseverance and the willingness to overcome.
I'm a season-ticket holder on the right-field side. I have heard this exchange several times:
Fan in Seat: "Is this your first game this season?"
There is no more recognizable feature in any stadium than the Green Monster and the "Fenway Frank" is so big that it has blossomed into a national hot dog brand (I don't see the "Busch Dog" anywhere on store shelves). Home field has to go to Boston. St Louis has polite, supportive fans who enjoy the game ... Boston fans live and die with each pitch. You cannot go anywhere in New England without over hearing someone talking about the Sox, and this happens even in the offseason. ... St. Louis has some BBQ, Boston has chowda, baked beans, Boston Cream Pie and the best seafood in the nation. Let's also not look past the start of the nation in Beantown, it's where a little thing called the American Revolution took hold. Boston gets its own skit on Saturday Night Live, what other city has that? Boston owns the largest single upgrade to a city's infrastructure, thank you big dig. Boston has its own language which does not use an "r", ie: shoa (sure), pahk (park), cah (car) as well as a subset of unique words and meanings, ie: wicked, pissa, donkey. It just isn't close, sorry St. Louis.
Boston! They never played on a carpet, did they? Any team that went artificial does not deserve the title.
Ted Williams. Rico Petrocelli. Dewey Evans. Dozens more. And there cannot be a more beautiful sight than Fenway Park at nighttime, packed with fans. Besides, Bostonians are ... well, they're Bostonians, the most loyal and enthusiastic fans in the world.
The Cards play in a round, concrete football stadium with a corporate name. Fenway Park is the original, quirky, intimate park that all of the new "old style" parks seek to emulate. Both teams have informed, passionate fans, but there's no place in the football-crazed USA like New England -- where the Sox overshadow the Patriots, winners of two of the past three Super Bowls.
Even from Kabul, Afghanistan, the answer is clear. Boston is the number one baseball city in the world! The park, the history, THE FANS. No doubt.
Boston is the only city where you can write your college application essay about refusing to have a Yankees fan as a roommate and still get in! In any other town, my New York bashing essay would have gotten me immediately rejected. Instead, I'm now a member of the Tufts class of 2006!
Pride of the Midwest
It's about a pride that extends so much further than any number of filled seats or quality hot dogs could describe. It's about an entire "nation" of fans (whether Red Sox or Cardinal nation) coming together in their shared and immortal red and blue clad clothing for one purpose: creating a sense of unity that each fan base believes that no other can rival. I am a St. Louis Cardinal fan through a sense of unity that extends the present day. In my case specifically, Cardinal fanship is a right of passage that has been handed down through generations similar to most family heirlooms.
I am not only a fan because of my beautiful city of St. Louis, or because of the beautifully educated fans it produces. I am instead a fan because it is one of the only things I know how to be faithfully. And that's not sad. It's OK. It's OK because this one team has meant so much to generations past that it's one of the limited number of justifiable things worth handing down. We are not all fans for the same reason, and that creates the distinction. Pregame sellouts mean nothing to me. You are witnessing a great fan base when you see a explosion of 30,000 ticket sales two hours before a game at Busch Stadium. It is what I believe to be the most amazing tradition we have: a blood red exodus of the faithful to the heart of St. Louis, most people empty-handed with only the intent of buying those tickets in our own box office. This sea of red is alive and well, and it extends to regions more remote than ever. Forever live the support of my beloved team, and forever live the undying heart of my beloved redbirds.
Having visited both cities and parks, the most fun is in St. Louis. Both cities' fans are knowledgeable, root well for the home team, the teams are fun to watch, one park is nostalgic the other convenient -- however, the fans are nicer, friendlier, more respectful, more considerate to fans and the visiting team in St. Louis.
Our fans are loyal to the core and are from the Midwest and beyond not just St. Louis. Moreover, our fans actually celebrate with joy, not anger and violence. It seems every time there is either a good or bad playoff game in Boston people get hurt time and again. I think this violent side of the Boston fan base has hurt their team. What parent wants to take their kids to go to a game where a bunch of drunk hooligans are ranting and raving?
St. Louis is the best baseball team because Cardinal fans are not only fans of their hometown Redbirds, but fans of baseball. They applaud great plays by the opposition; they treat great opponents with respect, and don't harbor the bitter anger often seen among other fans. St. Louis is perhaps the only MLB city where players will accept contracts bringing less than their potential market value -- because the way the fans and the city treat them is so wonderful.
Four-year olds city-wide understand the infield fly rule. We would never dream of booing one of our own players and we don't blame our shortcomings on a scapegoat "curse."
When a crowd applauds managerial decisions, like a double switch, an intentional walk, or a sacrifice bunt, you know you are in a baseball town. When a crowd roars for plays that don't show up on the scorecard, like fouling off six pitches in a row, hitting the cut-off man chest high or messing with the visiting pitcher by taking an extra step off of first, then you know you are in St. Louis.
From the statues for Musial and Ozzie to the sea of red in the stands, it's a great place to watch a game. Parents can bring their children to games and not be afraid they'll hear bad words or witness brutish behavior. Fans are always cheerful and upbeat in St. Louis, and I'm quite sure the same cannot be said for Boston fans.
Just ask the majority of baseball players where they would like to play: St. Louis.
A couple of years ago during the late winter I was eating by myself at a restaurant in suburban St. Louis and became conscious of a couple, I'm sure well into their 80s, eating without a word to one another. That is, until about 20 minutes into their meal when he said to her, "Do you think Miguel Mejia's going to make the 25-man roster this spring?"
BoSox fans tend to be too harsh and negative, and it is just too hard to actually get tickets to see a game at Fenway now. Boston does have a far more interesting ballpark, but it is too decrepit and quirky for me to really love it. It is also really cool to go to a Cards game and meet fans from Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, etc.
St. Louis fans have the most creative signs. For example, in 1999 during the last regular-season series with the Cubs, a fan had a sign that read, "Don't worry Cubs, Anyone can have a bad century."
Not a Cardinal fan at all, but I did go to college in St. Louis, and I always was pretty amazed that at Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard on Chippewa Street (a good six-to-eight miles from Busch Stadium), the place was always packed with large red-clad people after games and, more impressively, you could get your sundae in the plastic baseball helmet cup of all 30 MLB teams. In a few cases they even had retro helmets in addition to the new ones.
Give Boston fans the better park and all the poetry written about the Sox. Give them better hot dogs, Monster seats, Harvard, Bunker Hill and the ocean. And let them have the lingering, smoldering passion of love forever unrequited. We'll take the more steady, more lasting, more healthy love of settling down. Like Stan the Man, we married our high school sweetheart and stayed married to her. And she has helped and nurtured us every step of the way. Less spectacular, less the highs (and lows) of the roller coaster. But by far the better experience. Like Stan the Man himself. Every bit as good as Williams as a hitter -- winner of the long-running game Home Run Derby during the actual All-Star Games -- but twice the human being. Good with the fans. Kind to the press (though nowhere near as good a story). Settled enough that we formed a lifelong relationship with him. And he never disappointed.
Little children growing up got to hear Jack Buck and Mike Shannon call games on KMOX all over the midwest. I even get it here in Michigan, after growing up in St.Louis. How can you beat a mild September night with a cold Budweiser (brewed a couple miles away), a Hunter hot dog, and the Cardinals. The fans respect and cheer for opponents and the home team alike and enjoy baseball in its purest form.
When my husband and I visited Fenway Park a few years ago to watch the Red Sox play the Yankees, we arrived early and asked the usher to show us to our sets. An older gentleman, he said, "There are your seats and if you're smart you'll sit there and shut up. There's gonna be a lot of fights and billy clubs tonight so you're best to just stay out of the way." We thought, oh just an interesting character. But he was right! We saw at least two fist fights in our section and one Yankees doll burned in effigy (held by what appeared to be a 12-year-old). In the last week, when we've watched as Red Sox fans turn and burn cars, nearly riot (ultimately causing the death of a young woman) and taunt Cardinals players as they leave and enter the field, we realized they didn't act this way just because of the Yankees, it's the way they always act! St. Louis is a better baseball town because Cardinal fans respect the game, the players and each other. The Red Sox fans may be ahead two games right now, but (from all appearances) Cardinal fans will always be ahead in the game of life.
I've been to both of these stadiums (Fenway and Busch), and by far and large neither one of them get my vote. The best baseball town in America is and always will be in the state they have the Hall of Fame, and that's NYC. There's no where else I'd rather catch a game then in Yankee Stadium, and no other newspaper I'd rather read about it than the Post or Daily News. Sorry Bah-ston, but you don't get my vote. Long live the Curse!
Chicago! We come back and support our team every year after 96 years of pain and counting! Haven't been to a World Series since 1945 are you kidding me! No contest, Cubbies in 2005!
Where else can you see racing sausages?