I’m not talking about fans of Bill Broonzey, Little Walter, or Muddy Waters; I’m talking about fans of Bob Plager, Chris Pronger, and the perpetually salty and swollen Tony Twist. Even during the Rams mind-boggling win over the Saints last year, the home crowd, at its peak, provided a seated and passive golf-clap. While watching the broadcast from home, the crowd was so quiet that I could clearly hear the PA announcer. As I searched for an explanation of what I perceived as ignorant apathy, I couldn’t help but notice that every camera shot also included at least one person in Cardinal gear.
Cardinal fans are often regarded as “the best fans in baseball” and while there may be grounds to refute that assumption, I’m not here to do that. I only mean to suggest that their greatness does not seem to translate to football. When I attended the week four game between the Rams and Redskins, my buddy and I stood and shouted in a drunken stupor for every defensive stand. My heart hurt as we received dirty looks from the sixty year-old season ticket holders in front of us and my ears bled as the soccer mom behind us—sporting a Bo Hart jersey-tee—saved her only scream in years for, “sit down, my kids can’t see!” Your kids can’t see? Maybe they can’t see because their faces are (figuratively) buried in your bosom. They should be on their feet, they should be standing on their chairs, they should be…with their father! If you want a family picnic, go to the ball park. This is a professional football game. This is the gridiron. This is war! I wanted to kill this woman, if only to properly callous her children, but the few sober cells that somehow circumvented the booze inside of my head allowed me to recoil and realize that it wasn't her fault, she simply was not equipped to be a football fan. The very attributes that allowed her to be a great Cardinal fan, that allowed her to balance enthusiasm with etiquette, prohibited her from being an effective Rams fan. I fell into a momentary depression. Maybe, as a city, we just didn’t have the moxie to properly support a football team. Then, just as I found my Ram pride waning to the lees, I heard a great jeering from the section next to me. I turned to see a middle aged man in a Lavar Arrington jersery—his head soaked in beer--cowering before a man sporting the Blue Note, and there I found what I was looking for, what the Rams were looking for.
Most people who have had the privilege of attending all three of the major sports venues in St. Louis will tell you that Blues games, unequivocally, are the most intense live sporting events in the city. This forty-plus year-old franchise has never won a championship. Still, there is a pride and passion behind the phrase, “the Blue Note doesn't hit the floor” that is unmatched even by a franchise as storied as the St. Louis Cardinals. These fans are rowdy and relentless. They pound beers in the parking garage between periods. They shout, “Red Wings suck!” in the bathrooms, even when the Blues are hosting the Flyers. They physically accost Blackhawk fans that dare to wear Patrick Kane jerseys to Scott Trade on a Friday night. These are the people we need in the Dome.
I understand the difficulties. It’s easy for Cardinal fans to make it to a noon game on Sunday. They’re already awake, having attended 8:30 mass and taken their grandmothers to brunch, while Blues fans are still sleeping through their hangovers or riding out their meth-benders. Kroenke needs to implement a discount beer for breakfast promotion to get them out of bed (a legitimate place to tailgate would also help). This city is losing the battle for football pride, and it’s losing it in the stands as much as it is on the field. Shut your mouth when we have the ball and act like an animal when we don’t. No one wants hear this, but Richie was right when he said, “…Our fans get in their seats, they don’t know how to cheer, when to cheer.” We have a choice to make. This war is not over. We can either show the rest of the league that we’re real football fans with “gravel in our guts and spit in our eyes,” (Cash) or we can sit in our seats and touch up our makeup. If we choose the latter, we deserve to lose our team to L.A.