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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

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Robin Yount starred in the 1982 World Series agains the St. Louis Cardinals, hitting .414, but it wasn't enough.
Robin Yount starred in the 1982 World Series agains the St. Louis Cardinals, hitting .414, but it wasn't enough. (Photo: St. Louis Cardinals Museum)

The Cardinals have become the Brewers most hated rival

Ri·val [rahy-vuhl]

noun 1. a person who is competing for the same object or goal as another, or who tries to equal or outdo another; competitor.

That's what Webster's says the definition of "rival" is. For Brewers fans in past seasons the answer to the question of who was their most hated rival was easy: The Chicago Cubs.

Perhaps it is because the Cubs have been irrelevant since winning the National League Central in 2008; perhaps it is because their fans don't invade Miller Park with the ferocity they did just a few short years ago, but the Cubs just don't bring out that much passion anymore.

The St. Louis Cardinals, however, are another story. And now, just as the Packers had to get past their chief rival to get to the Super Bowl, that is what is standing between the Brewers and the World Series. Remember, of course, that a true rival isn't one that just beats up on the other; there has to be success at the same time. You actually have to be playing for something to make a rivalry all it can be.

Along with mutual success, the other key element of what makes a fierce rivalry is how much hatred can be spewed among their fans.

Cardinals fans are a passionate lot. They have long supported their team through good times and bad. They are, without question, the most passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans in the game.

Just ask them.

Exactly when and where the arrogance of Cardinals fans stems from is unclear. True, they have more World Series championships than anyone but the Yankees, but only two since the Brewers came into existence as a franchise in 1969. Sure, you can say that's two more than the Brewers, but it's also as many as the Florida Marlins. You don't see their fan act like he is smarter than the rest of the baseball world, do you?

The other teams with as many championships as the Cardinals in the Brewers lifetime? The Pirates, Blue Jays, Phillies, Dodgers, Mets, Red Sox, Orioles, and Twins. Red Sox fans can be a bit much, but I don't recall Blue Jays  fans unbridled superiority complex.

In addition, since the Brewers were born, the Reds have three championships. The A's have four. The Yankees have seven, but yeah...they're a pretty arrogant lot themselves. My point is LOTS of teams have won, not just the Cardinals. Yet their self-righteous lemming fans seem to think they invented winning championships.

The Cardinals, led by manager Tony La Russa, also think that everyone should comport themselves with the dignity of attending the opera or ballet when on a baseball field. It is called a diamond after all.

You see, though, that's why they hate the Brewers. Because the Brewers are a fun, irreverent, boisterous group that have un-tucked their jerseys, gestured their "beast mode" to the crowd, and actually look like they are having a good time playing a child's game.

It would be easy to say that the Cardinals-Brewers rivalry began back in 1982, and while that may still strike a chord with some older Milwaukeeans, the two teams didn't see each other for another 15 years. While it certainly would be sweet to avenge that loss and the demons of Joaquin Andujar and Jim Gantner's scuffle in Game 7, it was impossible to ever get another shot at the Redbirds.

Even when interleague play began and the Brewers finally met their nemesis from the fall classic of a decade and a half earlier, very little was on the line because both teams were terrible. The fact that the Brewers were able to sweep the mid-June series was of little solace to anyone in Wisconsin.

It wasn't until the Brewers rise to prominence where things got really testy between the two clubs.

In 2008, the Cardinals took umbrage with Ryan Braun taking just a little bit too long of a look at a home run he hit off St. Louis, as well as how the Brewers used to un-tuck their jerseys after victories; an homage to then-centerfielder Mike Cameron's father who used to come home and un-tuck his work shirt after a long day at the factory.

They also write pap like this, from Chris Russell (no relation) on InsideSTL.com

"It's okay to hate the Brewers. Really, it is. They have that familiar upstart swagger that the Cardinals are used to seeing in teams that catch a few breaks, go on a one-year run and suddenly feel invincible. Typically failing franchises like the Brewers, Reds and Cubs seem to feel like the world owes them something for being long-time losers. They bitch and moan and sulk when things don't go their way, but then when they get their rare season that involves a playoff push they act like they are part of this juggernaut that can't be messed with. Like they've been there before and other teams just can't stack up. It always comes along with a brash, yet undeserved, cocky attitude and public outcries that involve choice words for the only team in the division that seems to be everyone's rival. The Cardinals.

Every wonder why that is? It's because those teams haven't been there. They retool every year with crops of washed up veterans and hopeful youngsters, and when that one magical season works for them they don't know how to handle it. The proof is in their playoff success. Or lack thereof. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have been there, and have been the cream of the crop in the division – with few exceptions – since 2000.

And about Brewers fans:

They boo everything. It's almost as if they don't know what's going in the game at all. Someone makes a lineup change and you'd think Santa walked onto the field in Philadelphia. It's okay to boo, but at least know what you're doing. Idiot douche bags.

This is why Brewers fans hate Cardinals fans. That column sums up what they think of the rest of the league, wrapped up in one spiteful, uppity, self-absorbed, hate filled, nonsensical, fantasyland fueled diatribe. This is how they all think. This is how Cardinals fans view themselves; the lone arbitrator of what is right and what is wrong with baseball. They get to decide because they are the only ones that respect the game. Again, just ask them.

Never mind that their manager, while headed to Cooperstown someday, is a borderline lunatic.

This season, the teams' hatred seemed to bubble to a head on Aug. 2, when La Russa filed a nonsensical formal complaint against the Brewers because the ribbon boards at Miller Park were somehow giving the Brewers an unfair advantage.

The ribbon boards were too bright? The ribbon boards. Really. Ribbon boards. You have nothing better to do than complain about the ribbon boards. What's next, the showers aren't to your liking in the visitor's clubhouse? Is the indoor batting cage too far for you to walk to? Are the sheets not at a high enough thread count at the Pfister? Good grief. The ribbon boards?

I'll at least give La Russa credit for originality. That's a new one.

Of course, this is also the same series in where La Russa flat-out ordered Ryan Braun to be hit with a pitch after Albert Pujols got plunked the previous inning. Allegedly.

Examining the two situations, who do you think was targeted?

Pujols was hit with the Cardinals trailing by 1, no outs, and runners at the corners in the top of the seventh inning. He was hit by Takashi Saito, not exactly the hardest thrower anymore at the age of 41. Pujols being hit resulted in the bases being loaded with no outs for Matt Holliday. And yet La Russa thought it was intentional.

When Braun came up, flamethrower Jason Motte came in to face him leading off the bottom of the inning. First pitch, Motte just missed hitting Braun. Next pitch, 97 miles per hour right in the middle of the back.

But Pujols was the one that was hit intentionally. Ok, Tony. Whatever you say.

How La Russa then stood there after the game and argued with WTMJ's Greg Matzek about tactics and intent is something only a blowhard, arrogant-beyond-comprehension Cardinals fan would love. And yet, there La Russa's water carriers were, even the ones in the media, lapping up his inane explanation (Bernie Miklasz, I'm talking to you).

Don't forget that La Russa called Brewers fans "idiots" although he knew to retract that the instant the word left his lips. But he still thought it enough to let the word leave his lips.

Tensions escalated yet again between the two teams again on Sept. 7 when Nyjer Morgan and Chris Carpenter exchanged profane pleasantries resulting in both benches emptying.

So that brings us to today. Once again, it's the Brewers and the Cardinals; two teams that cannot escape each other. In the two biggest series in franchise history, what are the odds of both being played against the same franchise?

But, that's what makes a rivalry great. Mutual success and mutual distaste.

Is it Sunday yet?

Talkbacks

DirkDiggler | Oct. 11, 2011 at 3:22 a.m. (report)

What a dopey CHEESEHEAD. This will be so sweet when the Cards put this group of softball players away for good. In fact, I hope we wrap it up in Game 6 on YOUR field, right in front of your team Harlot, Front Row Amy, so all you Cheeseheads can watch the Cards celebrate in person, right smack dab in front of Front Row Amy's surgically enhanced cleavage. Someday, Braun and Fielder will learn to act like they've been there before instead of celebrating every home run like your first little league blooper hit. It will be so sweet watching a dweeb like you eat crow.

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MagneticNorth | Oct. 10, 2011 at 10:34 a.m. (report)

Great article. Well summed up of how snobbish Cardinal Nation, the self-annointed evaluators of all rules both written and unwritten, really are.

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tmw0713 | Oct. 8, 2011 at 8:15 p.m. (report)

What an idiot. Cardinals in four...

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Massaconsin | Oct. 8, 2011 at 9:23 a.m. (report)

Awesome. Awesome article. Nice job.

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