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The St.Louis Cardinals: An Iconic Baseball Franchise Can't Escape Its Angry, Modern Fan Base

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There's no questioning the history, success or relevance of the St. Louis Cardinals.

One of Major League Baseball's oldest franchises, the Cardinals are also among its most decorated.

The Cardinals are second only to the New York Yankees in World Series titles. In this century alone they've been to the Fall Classic three times.

Great players? Sure they've got those too.

Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Albert Pujols, Bob Gibson, Curt Flood, Adam Wainwright, and numerous others as well.

Even their former radio play-by-play guy, the-late Jack Buck, in enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Not only do the Cardinals have a rich history of success, but they're in the midst of a very successful present as well.

St. Louis is currently beating another iconic baseball franchise, the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series. One more win, and the Cardinals are heading to their fourth World Series of the 21st century.

That's all very impressive, and the players, owners, and entire organization should be proud of the team's accomplishments.

The fans should be proud too.

The Cardinals boast one of, if not the, most loyal fan base in all of baseball. The Cardinals fill their stadium almost nightly. St Louis boasts the second best attendance in all of baseball. A ranking made even more impressive when one takes into account the size of St. Louis as compared to far larger metropolitan areas such as Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they can't pick-and-choose their fans. There's no screening process for them, and I'm certainly not here to advocate that the Cardinals or any other professional sports franchise screen those who would root for their team.

The Cardinals do pride themselves on a certain sort of reputation.

They do things a certain way, their own players have publicly excoriated members of the Los Angeles Dodgers for their on-field behavior. Earlier this week, Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran took issue with the behavior of Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig.

Per ESPN:

"As a player, I just think he doesn't know [how to act]," Beltran said. "That's what I think. He really doesn't know. He must think that he's still playing somewhere else."

Pitcher Adam Wainwright wasn't impressed with Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez:

"I didn't see Puig's reaction. I saw Adrian doing some Mickey Mouse stuff at second, but I didn't see Puig."

Okay, we get it. The Cardinals aren't a team made-up of guys prone to ostentatious on-field celebrations. To the Cardinals those are inappropriate antics, not befitting of a professional baseball team.

The alleged schism is apparent enough to prompt St. Louis sportswriters to pen columns pointing out all the differences between the Cardinals and the Dodgers.

The one problem with this alleged difference... is that it doesn't really exist.

As Deadspin.com reported Wednesday, the Cardinals aren't above a few enthusiastic, on-field celebrations of their own.

There's really nothing wrong with any of this. After all, we are literally talking about a game. Yes, these are professional athletes, but they're lucky enough to possess the talent to play a game for a living, and if they wish to celebrate their athletic accomplishments, well let's just say there are certainly far worse things they could be doing.

There's really nothing shameful about the antics of either the Dodgers or Cardinals. It is a bit hypocritical of the Cardinals to critique the Dodgers outbursts, while continuing to celebrate their own accomplishments, but at the end of the day, it is a non-issue.

The real issue for both teams is winning and losing, and that's the way it should be.

Here's what's truly shameful.

There's a twitter account called Baseball's Best Fans (@BestFansStLouis) on twitter.

The account basically takes tweets from fans of the Cardinals directed at the team's official twitter account, and then retweets them in an effort to illustrate that not all Cardinals fans are as classy as the organization or team they follow tries to be.

Now I'm sure that all pro sports franchises have fans who are distasteful, bigoted, or downright mean. The team the Cardinals are playing in the NLCS, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a very well-publicized incident take place where a fan wearing the jersey of the rival San Francisco Giants was stabbed to death outside Dodgers Stadium.

Still for a group of fans who pride themselves on rooting for a team allegedly steeped in class. These tweets simply can't be ignored.

I'm thinking that Cardinals players who aren't thrilled with Puig's on-field behavior probably are far less comfortable with tweets like this.

That's not even close to the end of the vitriol surrounding Yasiel Puig.

Puig is a 22-year-old Cuban defector who braved the usual amount of obstacles that most Americans have never faced to get to this country. He's not African-American, but that doesn't matter to some Cardinals fans.

Let's not forget that former NBA Star Magic Johnson is a partial owner of the Dodgers. Johnson famously contracted the hiv virus back in the early 1990's. Cardinals fans haven't forgotten that.

The sad fact is that whether we're talking about Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu who was born in South Korea, the Cardinals organization supporting an anti-bullying campaign in conjunction with the LGBT community, or even members of their own allegedly favorite team, the Cardinals. There's just no stopping the classy St. Louis fans.

Now all of this isn't being mentioned to denigrate the entire Cardinals fan base. In spite of the numerous tweets, it is important to acknowledge that they do not accurately represent the views of the majority of fans, or of the Cardinals organization and players.

That being said, it is tough to say that you've got the best fans in baseball, when your fans take to the internet to spew that type of bile.

In spite of their proud and decorated history, the Cardinals are not able to escape the vile combination of hatred, and bigotry voiced in public forums via social media that plague not just pro sports franchises, but the nation as a whole.

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