Every team in every city always claims "We have the greatest fans in the (insert mlb, nfl, nba, world, etc.)" Yet after spending a couple of days visiting a friend and taking in games 3 and 4 of the National League Championship Series. The real answer to that statement is simply Saint Louis Missouri. The city is home to the king of beers, the historic arch known as the gateway to the midwest, Stan "The Man" Musial, and the ten time World Series champion Saint Louis Cardinals baseball team.
The national media loves to speak of historic Lambeau Field and the way the small community of Green Bay Wisconsin rallies around the Packers as the feel good story in sports. They refer to it as "title town" with four Super Bowl victories. Then have a mindset of look at us over-achieving when the rest of the country really doesn't want to pay attention to us. Well I hate to break it to you Wisconsin, but the Green Bay / Milwaukee area has a combined population of just under two million. The population of St Louis checks is just north of that same number.
Go ahead take in a home game. You can't walk down the street without seeing someone in some type of redbird gear. Talk to some folks, it doesn't matter if it is mom, dad, sister, aunt, uncle, everyone knows something about Cardinals baseball. It's part social experience, religious following, and work required mandate all rolled into one. You can't help but get swept up and absorbed into the hysteria. People not only now the stats of the players and the records and tendencies of the coaches. They understand the attitude and the body language that goes along with making up the fabric of a good or a below average ballplayer.
It does help when you have the game's best player in Albert Pujols, one of the most successful managers in the history of the game in Tony Larussa, and a brand new state of the art ballpark that was 100% privately funded by the Anheuser-Busch family.
The team this year also knows that they are playing with the house money. They weren't even supposed to be in the playoffs this year, having sat 10 games out at the midway point of August behind the hottest team in baseball in the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cardinals made it the last day of the season with the help of the Philadelphia Phillies who swept the Braves and then were bounced in five games by the Birds that next week in the NLDS. Those same Brewers found out that the baseball playoffs are never about the best team. They are always about the team that gets hot at the right time.
The Cardinals now find themselves playing in their 18th World Series and 3rd since 2004. They also find themselves playing baseball as a team of destiny. A team that snuck into the playoffs and sent the two best teams in the National League home early. That's right we are Cardinal nation, the large scoreboard will read inside of Busch Stadium on game days. A term that the Boston RedSox stole during their run in 2004 to their first World Series vicotry in ages.
As Jack Buck once said the day Ozzie Smith hit a homerun to win the 1985 National League pennant. "Go crazy folks, Go crazy!!"