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April 2014

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Enemy Territory: Why My Visit to Busch Stadium Was So Disappointing

Written by , Posted in General

I was in St. Louis last weekend for a conference, and it just so happened that the Cubs were in town for a series against the Cardinals. I got to attend the games on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. I won’t recap the games here, since that’s been done elsewhere (although, obviously, Friday night was AWESOME and Saturday sucked). I would, however, like to share my experiences as a Cubs fan in Cardinal land – and why it was so disappointing.

I knew that there would be plenty of Cubs fans at Busch – there always is. So, I wasn’t expecting to be all alone in blue. What I did expect – in fact, what I was looking forward to – was some aggressive, good-natured (or even not-so-good natured) ribbing/heckling/etc.. I expected to hear it from the gloating Cardinals fans. As I donned my Cubs shirt and headed down to the stadium, I was imagining the kind of things I would hear (I was sitting in the cheap seats, after all), and what some witty, sharp responses might be. Hell, Cubs fans in the bleachers heckle EACH OTHER incessantly during games at Wrigley. Much to my disappointment, I wasn’t harassed one bit. Not even a joking “Cubs suck.” Not a single “Wrigley Field is a dump” or “Starlin Castro is awful.” Nothing. Although I enjoyed watching the games, I was severely let down by the lack of back-and-forth with the Cards fans.

I have a larger point to make here. We always hear (mostly from those in the national media, as well as Cardinals fans themselves) that Cardinals fans are “baseball’s best fans” (@BestFansStLouis is a hilarious Twitter follow, by the way) because of their supposed knowledge of the game and respect for visitors. What I felt at Busch stadium wasn’t respect – it was apathy. During Friday nights game, when the Cards were down 2 runs in the 8th, at least two-thirds of the stadium emptied. All those who left were Cards fans. This was on an absolutely gorgeous FRIDAY night. I was at the Cubs’ home opener 2 weeks ago. It was 35 degrees with 30 mph winds. The Cubs were down 7-2 in the bottom of the 9th – and almost no one left. It was a stark contrast to atmosphere I saw in St. Louis. I wonder if winning so much makes fans like this – or if fans in St. Louis would be this way no matter what…

The thing that irked me the most, though, was Ballpark Village. This is the Cardinals’ completely contrived, corporate, vanilla version of Wrigleyville. Here’s the tweet I sent out when I visited Ballpark Village after the game on Saturday:

Ballpark Village comes complete with its own rooftop building. It looks very much like one of the Wrigleyville rooftops (it’s across the street from the park, there are bleachers and a bar on top, fans can see the game from the roof, etc.), but it differs in major ways: the Cardinals own the building, and the attendance on the rooftop counts as attendance for the ballpark. Interestingly, Ballpark Village is on Clark Street. You can’t blame the team for cashing-in on what’s obviously something that fans enjoy – but the fact that it imitates the ballpark atmosphere of your hated rival seems so strange. I guess what I’m saying is that this is another piece of evidence that Cards fans may lack passion. Do you think that the Yankees would build something that looks like Fenway? Again, is it the winning that makes these guys so complacent, or is it something inherent in the nature of St. Louisians? (is that a word?)

The Cardinals giveaway on Friday night was a Michael Wacha bobblehead. I was originally going to run a contest looking for the most creative way of destroying the bobblehead (I was going to post video of it on the site). I thought that I could probably do more good with this thing, though, so I’ve decided to auction the bobblehead on ebay and give the proceeds to Cubs Charities. So, spread the word to all those Cards fans you know.

Catch ya later…

  • verncrowe5

    That’s pretty shocking that many fans would leave only down 2 in the 8th, especially on their opening weekend. I would be pretty upset if that were to happen to my team. I could see that happening to a bad team, but the reigning NL champs?
    Also, the non-heckling from them may have just been a fluke. I’m sure there was plenty of heckling going on, unless their “respect for visitors” is legitimate. Hard to believe from the ribbing I’ve seen visiting fans get at other parks.

  • Travis

    That’s pretty shocking that many fans would leave only down 2 in the 8th, especially on their opening weekend. I would be pretty upset if that were to happen to my team. I could see that happening to a bad team, but the reigning NL champs?
    Also, the non-heckling from them may have just been a fluke. I’m sure there was plenty of heckling going on, unless their “respect for visitors” is legitimate. Hard to believe from the ribbing I’ve seen visiting fans get at other parks.

  • Maybe JCPenny had jean shorts on clearance. You never know. Speaking of jorts, would somebody go find our Johnsons…this is getting concerning.

    • Doc Raker

      I know where my Johnson is.

      • Seymour Butts

        It’s just like American Express…I don’t leave home without it.

  • Maybe JCPenny had jean shorts on clearance. You never know. Speaking of jorts, would somebody go find our Johnsons…this is getting concerning.

    • Doc Raker

      I know where my Johnson is.

      • Seymour Butts

        It’s just like American Express…I don’t leave home without it.

  • PLCB3

    I went to St. Louis in January 2012 wearing my Cubs stuff and I got crap for it the entire time I was there.

  • AC0000000

    I went to St. Louis in January 2012 wearing my Cubs stuff and I got crap for it the entire time I was there.

  • Doug S.

    Took a Rams game in during a visit to St. Louis 3 years ago. Day before I walked over to Busch to check it out. It was off season so not much going on around it, in fact nothing. Nice enough location as being walkable from my hotel. Still on my list of parks to visit. Ballpark village sounds a little pathetic.

  • Doug S.

    Took a Rams game in during a visit to St. Louis 3 years ago. Day before I walked over to Busch to check it out. It was off season so not much going on around it, in fact nothing. Nice enough location as being walkable from my hotel. Still on my list of parks to visit. Ballpark village sounds a little pathetic.

  • Doc Raker

    I have always had a good time meeting Cardinal fans at Wrigley, it has always been good baseball conversations.

    Modern commercial developments can not match the charm of Wrigleyville. The lack of space and congestion of bars, rooftops and entertainment provides an energy that can not be duplicated by real estate developers that are more concerned about maximizing rents and sales avenues.

    Also, from a socioeconomic point wealth is more evenly spread in Wrigleyville than a modern commercial development. In Wrigleyville you have more mom and pop ventures operating verse large corporations renting space from large real estate companies. Mom and pop operations always have more character than an Olive Garden. Plus, Wrigleyville is a neighborhood that people actually live in, most other ballpark areas are not in livable neighborhoods.

  • Doc Raker

    I have always had a good time meeting Cardinal fans at Wrigley, it has always been good baseball conversations.

    Modern commercial developments can not match the charm of Wrigleyville. The lack of space and congestion of bars, rooftops and entertainment provides an energy that can not be duplicated by real estate developers that are more concerned about maximizing rents and sales avenues.

    Also, from a socioeconomic point wealth is more evenly spread in Wrigleyville than a modern commercial development. In Wrigleyville you have more mom and pop ventures operating verse large corporations renting space from large real estate companies. Mom and pop operations always have more character than an Olive Garden. Plus, Wrigleyville is a neighborhood that people actually live in, most other ballpark areas are not in livable neighborhoods.