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The Good

- Adam Wainwright described this team as "great" after the 5-0 victory. I like that. They are great. I do think Carpenter's early season performance is something to keep an eye on...and John Mozeliak expressed that he and the club were doing that when he joined us on The ITD Morning After yesterday. However, the lineup is so damn good...and Pujols is in another world with Holliday behind him...that even if Carpenter weren't right, they still can be ridiculously dangerous. Pujols, Holliday, Ludwick, and Rasmus? Yikes.

- Furthermore, they get to play this moron group from Houston a bunch of times this year. I pay close attention to baseball, but I didn't recognize half the people on the Astros' roster...or in their lineup. Michael Bourn? Check. Hunter Pence? Check. Carlos Lee? Check. But, who the hell is Tommy Manzella and Humberto Quintero? The Astros are 0-7...and they've got all the makings of a club that will be horrific in 2010.

- Great to see Ryan Ludwick do some raking yesterday after a slow start. 4-4 was quite nice...and I'm sure he'd tell you hitting in front of Albert Pujols is even nicer. We saw how pitchers have to handle things if Pujols is hitting with runners at first and second...with Holliday lurking behind him. Wandy's effort led to Albert's 5th home run of the year.

- Speaking of which...let the chase begin. Through seven games, Pujols is on pace for 116 home runs. He'll be bringing honor back to the home run record in 2010.


The Bad


- I know I have to tiptoe around this topic like I'm talking health care reform, religion, or something even more polarizing...like whether or not to retire Willie McGee's number, but I'm not on board with the big ovation for Mark McGwire.

Before you go batshit, please hear me out:

If one is legitimately a fan of McGwire's and really happy to see him back at Busch Stadium as part of the Cardinal coaching staff...well, then cheer away. Do what you want to do. To each their own.

However, even though I don't have an official survey, I'm pretty damn certain that of the 46,918 at the game yesterday, more than half aren't/weren't in a cheering mode in January of this year when McGwire made his admission. Yet, it seemed more than half went out of their way to cheer him when he was announced.

What's my point?

This is the shit I hate. It's the self-appointed moniker of "Best Fans In Baseball" run amuck. In other words, "we" want to show everyone else in baseball---as if people are really watching this shit---that we are the best fans...and booing...or even not cheering...is not welcomed in Baseball Heaven.

Personally, I am surprised and, for lack of a better term, impressed by how McGwire has gone out of his way to do any interview asked of him. He's been pleasant to deal with, and it's cool to see him on the bench once again. I still, as a fan, feel like 1998 was a farce, but much like Wrestlemania, it still was fascinating to see Hulk Hogan bodyslam Andre The Giant...even if it was fake. My point is that my personal feelings toward McGwire or the entire steroid situation are irrelevant...although I'm sure many who want to argue this will line up along pro-McGwire and anti-McGwire party lines. That's not what I'm going for.

I'm looking to address this sheep culture---or The 700 Club as I like to call it---at Busch Stadium.

So much of what happens at Busch is legitimately an illustration of knowledgeable baseball fans. I can't imagine you'd find many parks in the game in which a hitter grounding out to the right side of the infield so as to advance a runner on second to third would be greeted with applause. You have to know and love the game to appreciate crap like that.

And, that is without question an impressive aspect of Cardinal baseball and those who follow it.


But, over the last five or so years, I've noticed this obsession with "maintaining" the title of best fans in baseball...and so you have faux ovations...or the "boo police" turning
around and yelling at someone who dare show his or her displeasure toward a player or particular play.

Listen, it's not unique to St. Louis. Giants' fans cheered Barry Bonds on Sunday when San Francisco celebrated the 10th Anniversary of their NL West Championship. But, I don't think they're consumed with maintaining an image in San Francisco. I think they're just blindly loyal to one of their own. Here...I think there are some people who are obsessed with "the best fans in baseball" thing...and so if Kim Jong Il were wearing the birds on the bat and someone booed him...i'm certain some old bat would turn around and scold the rogue dissenter.

Psycho shit, I tell you.


The Surprise

Well, well, well...

...in the bottom of the 5th...in around section 167...a gentleman hoosier and a lady hoosier began what was the inevitable screaming at people to stand up and do the wave. This particular gameplan was thorough...as if they mapped it out over the Hot Stove.

The gentleman hoosier handled one section, and he was what we'll call "the instigator." The lady hoosier was in the section to the left, and once her gentleman hoosier friend screamed at people to stand against their will in the middle of an Albert Pujols' at-bat, she would attempt to carry the "momentum" over into the next section...the one she was monitoring.

I figured this plan would work, and while I'd like to watch the best player in baseball hit...I'd have belligerent drunkards doing a soccer chant from 1978 in front of me. However, Cardinal fans rose to the occasion early on and rejected The Wave Couple. They tried...and tried...and tried. But, it never got going.

Shocking...but true.

A couple of innings later, another effort was made by a different part of the ballpark...but it, too, never got going.

Sure, Albert's five home runs in seven games and Wainwright's two wins and 1.20 ERA are reason for optimism for 2010...but I'll take the fan's rejection of the angry, drunk hoosiers screaming at them to do the wave as reason to believe World Championship #11 will be coming to town in six months.


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tmckernan@insidestl.com.

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