[ed. - This post was written by BN user Dave on the Message Board. I warned you folks that if you posted quality, interesting stuff on the Board, it might get promoted to the front page (with a minimal number of edits, hopefully). So, here you go.
With the Chicago Cubs' season over, and the St. Louis Cardinals headed - miraculously and insufferably - to the playoffs, starting tomorrow afternoon against the Phillies (*cough, go Phillies, cough*), I thought it appropriate to promote Dave's humorous post from the Message Board. As you'll see, the Cardinals feature prominently. Dave's methods are dark, but effective.]
I think I’m a pretty good parent. I love Alex, my son; I encourage him in everything he does, I allow him to decide what he likes and who he is. Basically, I encourage him to explore and become whatever he wants to be.
Except a Cardinals fan, that is.
I’ve been a Cubs fan all my life, in spite of being born on Chicago’s less than beautiful South Side. Since the age of 14, though, I’ve lived in Cardinals territory and it hasn’t been easy. The Cubs have made the playoffs just 4 times, including the magical (and surprising and ultimately disappointing) 1998 season, my first spent behind enemy lines. The Cards have made it 7 times, winning 2 pennants and a World Series. I’d say that’s advantage Cards fans.
Considering the lopsidedness of the rivalry, I’d say Cards fans and I have co-existed peacefully over the years. I’ll wear my Cubs shirts (or, on a special occasion, my Cubs Jersey) and catch some 1908 or goat-related flak, and I’ll mumble something about steroids or the douchebag manager and players and it’s all over with. Once (on a train headed to a Cubs-Cards game in St. Louis) I did get into a rather loud argument with a Cardinals fan whose only redeeming quality (other than the luscious, flowing mullet) was his disdain for the Yankees. The enemy of my enemy is not, however, my friend.
Alex comes into this because his mother happens to be a local, one of the few who has lived both sides of the rivalry, but somehow picked the wrong one. While she was born in Missouri, she was raised in Chicago and moved back to Missouri for college. She says her time in Chicago only solidified her Cardinals fandom. That seems wrong. Wrigley is a cathedral, a beautiful park in an amazing neighborhood. Busch (both old and new) is a massive toilet, underneath a highway, surrounded by parking lots.
Alas, as all men have needs and she had few other faults, our son was born, immediately into controversy.
His mom argued that baseball is like religion, the kid inherits it from the mother. I countered by reminding her that he would be spending more time at games with me than with her. And back and forth it went. I’d buy him a Cubs shirt, it would mysteriously disappear. We would go to a game in St. Louis and I’d make sure Alex was wearing blue, regardless of her wishes.
This kept on as he got older, though I’m not sure he’s ever really understood what was going on. In order to make sure I won, and that Alex chooses that path of righteousness, I decided to go nuclear by putting the fear of God into my son. Not by shouting or hitting or any of the stuff with short term gains and long term losses; but through little white lies, spread out over time, that will lead to him having the inherent hatred of the St. Louis Cardinals that all little boys should have.
It started by accident a short time before Alex’s 4th birthday. In a store one day we saw a Cardinals shirt, so I pointed at it and said, “Alex, that’s a bad bird.” And he just looked and nodded, as little kids do. I realized that I could be onto something, but that I couldn’t overdo it. So I laid low for a while, mainly praising the “Blue Bear” instead of tearing down the Cardinals.
After a few months, baseball season started up again. Living in the home of the Cardinals’ AA affiliate meant that, in order to see real live baseball, we had to go to a Cards game. Ugh. I sucked it up and went anyways, using the opportunities to make my son hate the Cardinals. Whenever the Cardinals’ mascot came around, I’d tell Alex to hide his hot dog because the bad bird was going to steal it. (He still does this, over a year later.)
I knew I’d have to go deeper than that to get that hatred really stuck in there, so I hit him at a primal level. Around the time the 2011 baseball season began, I told him that the red bird is bad because it punches babies. As a kid himself, Alex has a soft spot for babies and, obviously, disagrees with them being punched. So, this took hold.
I went a step further and told him that the only thing that can prevent a baby from being punched is to have a “Blue Bear” around. Months later, about a week before his 5th birthday, he spotted a Cardinals stuffed animal in a store and told his mom that it’s a bad bird, it punches babies, and he won’t go near it. She tried to reason with him, but reason doesn’t work on a 5-year-old. That’s why I didn’t explain the Cardinals’ drug culture to him. It’s why I didn’t tell him about Tony La Russa being a big baby, himself. It’s why I didn’t tell him how awful the Best Fans in Sports ® really are, or how crappy the city is.
It’s why I simply convinced him that Cardinals = punched babies unless there is a Cub nearby.
It worked. I won.