Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

KA-CBG

I’ve spent the better part of the past 5 days attempting to grasp the concept that the world has one less ass-kicker (bubble gum not included) in it. For as much as I’d think that I would sadly be used to professional wrestlers passing away these days (including the recent death of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes), the loss of the Hot Rod hit me hard. Really hard. Especially after coming to the realization that for as much as I love listening to him telling stories, there won’t be any more new episodes of his podcast to look forward to.

I initially started paying attention to pro wrestling at the age of 11, in that window between WrestleMania 6 and SummerSlam 1990 (back when the then-WWF only conducted four pay-per-view events per year). At that time, Piper had just come off of a match at WM against Bad News Brown, and was floating in limbo until 1991 when he played into the storyline of Virgil vs Ted DiBiase. Nonetheless, he was a polarizing character who immediately grabbed my attention. Going and renting VHS tapes from the local video library store allowed me to go watch older matches and promos of his (this was long before the interwebz, kids). I had become a fan. He also entertained me outside of the ring (and “Piper’s Pit”). Go google “Tag Team” with Roddy Piper and Jesse Ventura. It’s cheesy, yet comical.

Then, I found a way to become an even bigger fan of his. Once upon a time (1993-ish), WWF had a weekly radio show on Saturday evenings, “Radio WWF”. Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon and Jim Ross (and later, Vince McMahon), they would occasionally have guests on the show, and listeners could call in and interact with the guests. On one particular week, their guest was the one and only “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and I got to spend a minute or two on the phone with him. Couldn’t have been a nicer guy. Thankfully, somewhere amidst my archive of old audio cassette tapes, I have (at least most of) this conversation recorded. One of these days, I’ll have to find that tape and dust it off, and convert it over to digital.

Over the years that I’ve followed pro wrestling, some of my favorite characters have been the in-your-face, solid talkers, take-no-crap attitude, kick-ass-and-take-names guys. The Road Warriors. Brian Pillman. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. CM Punk. And currently, Dean Ambrose. Piper paved the road for all of these guys.

Piper was more than just a legend. He was an architect. And the professional wrestling business is a much more solid structure because of the work he put into building it.

Farewell, Hot Rod. Hopefully Heaven is full of bubble gum.

facebook_1438795575276

Will we see moving vans hauling Rams equipment out of STL? Will we care?

Will we see moving vans hauling Rams equipment out of STL? Will we care?

Let me preface this entire piece by saying that my point of view may be slightly off, as I’m a St. Louis transplant residing four hours away, so I’m not in the middle of the pulse of the city on a regular basis.

Having said that…

The ongoing saga of the Los Angeles Rams of St. Louis is akin to watching a tennis match between two competitors who you aren’t really familiar with, and therefore lose interest the longer it goes on.

And both sides are to blame.

First, you have the guy with the second-worst hair in the National Football League (top honor goes to Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis), Stan Kroenke. He’s the proverbial Darth Vader of St. Louis. The all-mighty and powerful man with a plan, the money to back it all up, and seemingly has zero (cares) to give.

His intentions are well-known: be the financial supplier for a state-of-the-art facility in Inglewood (Los Angeles) and move the Rams back out west. The Los Angeles market has become that hot new girlfriend that has his eye, while St. Louis at this point is the old ball-and-chain that he’s grown tired of being with, and can’t be bothered to return her phone calls.

Now, I’ll call this as I see it. Moving the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles, at least short-term, would be a major financial gain for a guy who is, after all, a businessman first and foremost. By going out into that market, the overall value of your franchise will immediately go up. Couple that with a brand new stadium and entertainment complex that would demand unquestionable attention from the masses – at least for the first year or so. After that, it’s up the Kroenke to put a product on the field that will actually encourage fans to buy tickets and come out to support. Fans who could easily be distracted by other, much cheaper options, such as the beach. I’ll give credit where it’s due to Rams fans, who in spite of this team’s future hanging in extreme limbo, and continuing to be a disappointment in terms of success, still showed reasonable attendance numbers through the 2014 season.

St. Louis stadium task force leaders Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz put together a pretty good presentation for a new, open-air stadium. Even after various tweaks and modifications made to the plan due to logistics, it still looks pretty impressive. Couple that with the agreement struck with the labor unions to approve around-the-clock shifts that would cut overall costs plus reduce the construction time, and things look promising for having a new home for a team set to stay in St. Louis, right?

Not so much.

The cold reality of the situation is that Stan Kroenke is a man with what, for lack of a better term, has F-YOU money. Sure, he’d be faced with the NFL by-laws of ownership voting to approve or deny a relocation of the Rams organization. However, we’re talking about a guy who could could easily sustain any fine thrown at him by the league for moving without permission, and losing no sleep over it. If he truly wants to go, he’s going to go, and who’s going to stop him?

And will we ultimately even care?

No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something larger than life then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the story tellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever.

IMG_343572152232707 Those were the words of the very last promo that we ever received from the Ultimate Warrior, on the 4/7/2014 episode of WWE Monday Night Raw. He emphatically stated these words, adorned in an vibrant duster (handpainted by Rob Schamberger) and a mask pattered after his classic face paint. Less than 24 hours after these words were spoken, Warrior (Jim Hellwig) was dead. In my years as a fan of professional wrestling, I’ve read the reports of countless wrestler deaths. This one is hitting me especially hard, and it’s not without reason. For years, my parents didn’t have cable service, so the only TV options I had at home were local channels (this would eventually expand once my parents got cable, I’d follow wrestling in and out of WWF along with my friend Matt Wood, and would do alternating pay-per-view rental parties with my friend Tim Caudera). In 1990, through a combination of “WWF Wrestling Challenge” on Saturday mornings and “WWF Superstars” on Sunday mornings in St. Louis, 11 year old me first really discovered professional wrestling – WWF specifically. While my eyes would be opened to various characters I would take to, such as Hacksaw Jim Duggan, the Big Boss Man, and Demolition (the first “heels” I really found myself cheering for), there were four wrestlers who really locked me in and sold me on pro wrestling. Hulk Hogan. Andre The Giant. Macho Man Randy Savage. Ultimate Warrior. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have my father take me to multiple wrestling events over the years. One that stands out to me was WWF WrestleFest at old Busch Stadium, July 14th of 1991. It stood out to me because of it being an outdoor show, our seats were on the floor with a good view of the ring, and our location also gave me direct access to the guardrails as the wrestlers would be on their way to/from the ring. On that night, I got to see two of those four wrestlers in person (Savage had been “retired” by Warrior several months prior at WrestleMania XII, and Andre had since concluded his in-ring career). On that night, Ultimate Warrior was in a “casket match” against The Undertaker. While getting to touch the casket as it was rolled by was pretty cool to me, it was surpassed by my getting to slap hands with Warrior as he raced past me. From the moment his music would hit the speakers, you knew unparalleled frenetic energy was coming, and at 12 years old, I swore I thought he’d take my hand and arm right off in the process – but I got to reach out to an inspiration. Warrior would go on to have various issues and burned bridges over the years (escalating to the point of WWE releasing a DVD of him that was nothing less than a complete roast), and vanished completely from the pro wrestling scene. I, along with many others, didn’t know if we’d ever see or hear from him again in the world of wrestling. Then, last year, the olive branch seemed to exist. He signed on to do promotional work for the WWE 2K14 video game. Then, on the 1/13/2014 episode of Monday Night Raw, it was the video announcement that many of us thought we’d probably never see – Ultimate Warrior would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. On Saturday night, I sat on my couch streaming the WWE Network’s Hall of Fame induction broadcast on my tablet, and I was glued to every word of Warrior’s speech. I listened to him express his appreciation for the business, the people that make the business work – both in front of, and behind the scenes – and his love of being a husband and a father to his two girls. Two nights later, he stepped in the ring and delivered the promo that I quoted at the top of this writing. Watching it live, that promo seemed to come across as being a tribute to what his character represented and accomplished. Now, revisiting it after his passing, it feels like a eulogy. While coincidental, I’m sure, his words are as if he knew that death was knocking. Warrior had recently signed on with WWE to a Legends contract, to be an ambassador to the brand. My hope is that WWE will honor his contract in full, and allow all royalties from merchandise and licensing to go to his wife and daughters. With his passing goes a massive part of my childhood. If anything, I can smile knowing that his final actions in life were rebuilding the burned bridge between him and WWE, and perhaps there’s some symbolism to that. His heart has beat its final beat, and his lungs have breathed their final breath. The legend, however, shall forever run. IMG_20140409_223630

With 2013 coming to a (very quick, to me) end, it’s time to sit back and reflect on what the last 365 days have brought me. Some good, some bad, some elation, some heartbreak. Lots of lessons learned, and lots of new friends and acquaintances made. Here are a handful of the year’s highlights…

I don’t go out to concerts nearly as much these days as I did during my single/non-family days, but I did get the opportunity to catch two shows this year that were both monumental to me. In April Amy and I took in a performance by the living legend of St. Louis, Chuck Berry, at the legendary Blueberry Hill. Even at age 86 (87 now), the man still handles his business, and sounds as good as ever. That was a bucket list item for me. The opener for that show was the Andy Timmons Band (Timmons, formerly of Danger Danger, has done a multitude of studio sessions with great musicians, and his solo work is stellar).

The other concert for me this year was, also at Blueberry Hill, the 25th anniversary tour of the “Vivid” album from Living Colour. I’ve been a fan for years, and that album in particular is one that I hold in high regard within the category of “No-skips”.  I can let it play from the opening second of track 1 to the closing seconds of track 11, and not feel the need to skip over anything inbetween. An added plus was the opening act, the Steve Ewing Band (side project of the lead singer from The Urge).

I further submerged myself in the mix of St. Louis radio this year, in due part to several gentlemen. After a station/format rebrand, I (re) familarized myself with the group of Brian McKenna, Jeff Burton (formerly of 105.7 The Point), and John Edwards as Midday Mayhem on 590 The Man. Meanwhile, over on the internet radio broadcast side of things, a 3-man operation consisting of Ron Godier, Wade Trent, and Joe Cochran on TalkSTL.com created general shenanigans on their (scheduled) daily broadcast of WTF. In late June, they took their show on the road, for two days of broadcasts in Topeka KS at the Equality House (directly across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church). After joining them for both days, I left with a greater understanding and appreciation for everything the Equality House & Planting Peace Peace do, along with having made a number of new friends and contacts. Wade is out of radio now, having had his work as a musician really take off in the past few months, and Godier & Cochran are now on nights on 920AM along with the incomparable Brad Mulholland as The Daily Wrap.

My passion for mixed martial arts (MMA) grew by leaps and bounds this year, largely in part to the long-awaited and much-deserved UFC debut of Kansas City’s own “The” James Krause. He parlayed his success in the octagon this year into success with his business ventures, and bought into co-ownership of his gym, GrindHouse MMA, in Lee’s Summit (Jennah and I went out to visit the gym early last month; their setup is simplistic, yet phenomenal). I’ve also been able to familiarize myself with a number of other local/regional fighters, both professional and amateur.

The year brought a fair amount of success for various sports teams I follow.

– The St. Louis Blues returned to the playoffs for the 2012/2013 season, although they made a quiet and relatively uneventful exit. Prior to today’s game vs Minnesota, the Blues already have accumulated 26 wins on the 2013/2014 season – the first time in franchise history that they’d have more than 25 wins at the end of the calendar year.

– The Kansas City Chiefs rebounded from a forgettable 2012 season (both in terms of schedule/standings, and the stigma of a player murder/suicide) with a successful 2013, earning themselves a solid wild card slot, and travel to Indianapolis for playoffs this weekend.

– The New Orleans Saints will also return to the playoffs, clinching a wild card position this past weekend, and will visit Philadelphia to face the Eagles.

– The St. Louis Rams… well, they ALMOST finished with an 8-8 record.

– The St. Louis Cardinals returned to the World Series, and were two games away from being 12-time champions.

– The Kansas City Royals finished 5 games over .500 (their best season finish since 1989), and look to be in reasonably good shape going into the 2014 season.

– The Florida State Seminoles (my dad’s alma mater) returns to the national championship picture, undefeated, slated to go against Auburn next week.

The best of the best in my sports world, for 2013, was Sporting Kansas City. If you haven’t known me for a long time, this statement won’t ring as true to you as it will with those who have known me for years or grew up with me, but my passion for Sporting parallels that for the Cardinals (I can probably go three weeks without repeating a single Cardinals shirt or jersey – I’m quickly catching up with SKC gear). As the Kansas City Wizards, they came a long way from a team that nearly moved out of Kansas City a decade ago, to a team in 2010 who pulled off a huge upset victory in a friendly against EPL powerhouse Manchester United. 2011 marked the debut of the franchise rebrand, now known as Sporting Kansas City, along with their new stadium. They’ve made playoffs in all three seasons since then, culminating 2013 with winning their second MLS Cup.

2013 was not without its personal losses.  March brought the passing of my aunt Gail, who finally was overwhelmed in her battle with cancer. Although anticipated, especially with her final weeks being spent in home hospice, her death still hit me hard. I’m beyond appreciative of my daughter, for she was my rock during a very difficult time. She embraced and carried around the stuffed sheep my parents bought her to keep her occupied during the visitation, and she gave much-needed hugs and cuddles. She held my hand at the graveside service, only being momentarily distracted upon hearing a train passing by a little less than a mile away.

At the end of November, my parents faced the difficult (but correct) decision of putting one of their two cats down after he suffered multiple seizures, the later of which Phenobarbital was unable to control. Of the two (Simon and Garfunkel), Garf was the shy one, but would love you unconditionally once he got to know you. The first time I visited back home after their adoption, I didn’t see Garf for the better part of the first two days. Over time, and future visits, he warmed up to me and would remember me each time I came back home to visit, and was a total softy. I/we don’t have any scheduled trips back home to St. Louis anytime soon, but I face the fact that sometime between now and that next trip, I need to find a way to somehow explain to Jennah that her play buddy won’t be around anymore.

On a lighter, but still hard-hitting note, my car died earlier in the year. Coming home from work and daycare in early February, and the engine blew while on the highway. We were fortunate enough to be on a downhill portion of the highway at the time, and not only coasted down the offramp that was about a half-mile ahead, but lucked out with no traffic at the bottom of the ramp, allowing me to coast the car onto the street and into the parking lot of a gas station/truck stop uninterrupted, bringing the car to a stop in their lot. The process of getting the ol’ Punker back up and going again was long, stressful, and not cheap, but did get a smile out of knowing that the replacement engine that is in there now came to me from a shop along Route 66 in Illinois.

It would seem fitting that the end of the year would end up being the brightest to me, personally. Jennah is now 3 years old (3 and a half in February), and while she wasn’t quite at the age to really understand everything with Christmas last year, she was all about it this year. Helping out with decorations. Making sure the tree was on every day after daycare. Looking around for Christmas lights along the drives. No help needed from momma or daddy, she handled the unwrapping of presents all on her own this year. And I know that for as much as she enjoyed it this year (and subsequently made ME enjoy Christmas that much more), it’ll only get better next year.

I now await the conclusion of this year in its final few hours, and look forward to what 2014 brings. Here’s hoping that you (yes, you) will be a part of it.

Oh, and my New Year’s resolution? 1280 x 1024. Now you know.

Cheers.

(credit to MMA 24/7 for lighting the fire under my backside to complete this blog today instead of waiting until UFC 167 on Saturday)

November 12th, 1993. It was on this day that the world – albeit a much smaller audience than what they draw these days – was first exposed to The Ultimate Fighting Championship. Viewers were witness an eight-man tournament with essentially no rules. If you knocked out your opponent, made them submit, forced their corner to throw in the towel, or just hurt them to the point of being able to continue, you moved on. The crowd at this event was less than 3,000, with a pay-per-view buyrate of 86,000. Compare that to UFC 100 (July 11th, 2009) with a crowd of 10,871, and a buyrate of 1.6 million. The UFC has come a long way in their 20 years, and many memorable fights have taken place in that time.

UFC 3 (September 9, 1994) was my first exposure to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. My parents had ordered cable at the beginning of that week, and whether they intended it or not, the cable company did not scramble the feed for the pay-per-view that Saturday night. My standout memory for that event was the fight with Royce Gracie submitting Kimo. The look of Kimo combined with the fight style and technique of Gracie (over the years, I would learn extensively of the Gracie legacy) stuck with me. It wasn’t until the end of 1996, over two years later, when we first bought a computer and subscribed to internet service, that I could start keeping track of UFC on my own.

Having been a fan of professional wrestling with a penchant for cheering for the bad guys, it should have been no surprise that I would end up becoming a fan of “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz. His feud with Ken Shamrock leading up to their first fight at UFC 40 had me hooked, and that fight convinced me to buy my very first DVD of a UFC event after its release. Outside of Ortiz/Shamrock, that event also had a slew of other fighters who have done well for themselves over the years (Chuck Liddell, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Matt Hughes, Robbie Lawler, Andrei Arlovski, and others).

There are many other fights, and fighters, that have stood out to me over the years. In honor of 20 years of UFC, here are 20 fights that are memorable to me for various reasons.

– Shonie Carter vs Matt Serra at UFC 31. First time ever seeing the spinning back fist used as a fight finisher.

– Stephan Bonnar vs Forrest Griffin at the finale for the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Quite possibly the best fight I’ve ever seen, and it’s unquestionable as to how much this fight kicked the doors wide open for UFC in regards to further mainstream exposure.

– Georges St-Pierre vs Jason Miller at UFC 52. Miller’s kip-up leading straight into a GSP haymaker was epic.

– Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture at UFC 57. Liddell’s domination and Couture’s subsequent retirement announcement was a bittersweet end to that night.

– Royce Gracie vs Matt Hughes at UFC 60. It was Gracie’s return to UFC after an 11-year absence, although he didn’t fare well and was finished within the very first round.

– Matt Serra vs Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69. Serra pulled off what we at Buffalo Wild Wings all thought was an improbable “upset”, and that event also initiated the discussion of Alan Belcher’s ridiculous tattoo work.

– Gray Maynard vs Rob Emerson from the finale of the Pulver/Penn season of The Ultimate Fighter. Insane no-contest finish as Maynard knocked himself out on a takedown, all while Emerson tapped out because of a rib injury.

– Houston Alexander vs Keith Jardine at UFC 71. Alexander got my attention as being from East St. Louis IL (you don’t come from there without being tough), and fighting out of Omaha (where he trained with a pro wrestling friend of mine). In under a minute, he knocked out Jardine including landing a punch that lifted Jardine.

– Brock Lesnar vs Frank Mir at UFC 81. The much-anticipated UFC debut of Lesnar, the fight was fast-paced from the start & wrapped up in less than 2 minutes after Lesnar got caught in a kneebar submission.

– Kalib Starnes vs Nate Quarry at UFC 83. The fight I’d care to forget. Starnes entered to “Bittersweet Symphony” and proceeded to put up a stinker of a fight, suffering a foot injury early in the fight and basically ran away from Quarry for the remainder of the fight. Only time I’ve ever seen a 30-24 judge’s ruling on a 3-round fight.

– Clay Guida vs Mac Danzig at UFC Fight Night 15. I was already a fan of Danzig’s, and that fight subsequently got me hooked on the personality and energy of Guida.

– Chael Sonnen vs Anderson Silva at UFC 117. First time that Silva looked beatable, as Sonnen outworked him for 4 rounds before getting caught and submitted midway in the fifth and final round.

– Junior Dos Santos vs Cain Velasquez at UFC on Fox 1. Super-fast paced straight out of the gate, and 1:04 later it was over.

– Brock Lesnar vs Alaistair Overeem at UFC 141. The matchup of monsters saw Lesnar take a wicked kick to the ribs which crumbled him. His post-fight speech and subsequent retirement was the most humble he’d sounded while in UFC.

– Ian McCall vs Demetrious Johnson on UFC on FX 2. AMAZING flyweight fight that should have gone to an extra sudden-death round, but it was incorrectly scored.

– Johny Hendricks vs Martin Kampmann at UFC 154. Essentially over before it even started. His quick KO victory, coupled with GSP’s decision win over Carlos Condit in that card’s main event, would begin to set up the highly-anticipated main event of this Saturday’s event at UFC 167.

– George St-Pierre vs Nick Diaz at UFC 158. Having never been a fan of either of the Diaz brothers, watching Nick get worked over consistently for a full five rounds (with all three judges scoring 50-45) was a pleasure.

– James Krause vs Sam Stout at UFC 161. Krause did the improbable in his UFC debut, fighting a veteran Canadian in Canada and outworking him for 2+ rounds before submitting him with 13 seconds left in the third round, earning himself a double-bonus (Fight of the Night, Submission of the Night).

– Tim Elliott vs Louis Gaudinot at UFC 164. While not earning a fight bonus like he did in his previous fight, Elliott put on a clinic, outstriking Gaudinot by over 200 on his way to a decision in which two judges scored the fight 30-26.

– Gilbert Melendez vs Diego Sanchez at UFC 166. After looking like he could have been done after the first round, Melendez outfought and outwarred Sanchez to a unanimous decision that brought out the best in both fighters.

Having grown up in St. Louis until I was 21, it’s all too easy to predict that my preference in this year’s World Series would be the Cardinals. You would obviously be correct. However, allow me to break down four reasons why I’m rooting for the Birds-On-Bat, removing the “homer” aspect from the equation.

DURABILITY: At the conclusion of the 2011 season and the winning of the franchise’s 11th championship, the Cardinals lost three major components of their foundation. Legendary manager Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan departed the team, with perhaps the biggest shock wave around the city being felt by Cardinal Nation’s second son, Albert Pujols, taking his talents to the west coast. There were other members of the 2011 Cardinals who would not return to the team for 2012, but none bigger than the above-mentioned. They played out the 2012 season without those key elements, and still came within one game of playing in the World Series. The Cardinals have remained consistent througout 2013 even while suffering through various injuries, which takes me to keypoint #2…

ROOKIES: This team would not have come anywhere close to the accomplishments and the success they’ve had this year without a slew of rookies – especially within the pitching staff. Guys like Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, Tyler Lyons, Michael Blazek, Seth Maness, and the NLCS MVP Michael Wacha. The number of innings this group has accumulated is impressive. Miller put up a 15-9 record during the regular season. Wacha was one out away from a no-hitter, and took another no-hitter deep into the 7th inning. Rosenthal has stepped up big in the closer scenario that was previously being worked by Edward Mujica (who had filled in for the injured Jason Motte). Without this group, the Cardinals are nowhere close to a wild card spot, much less winning the division.

MR. OCTOBER: The greatest player to shine in the postseason without ever having had the chance to shine in the big one goes by the name of Carlos Beltran. This is a big kicker here around the Kansas City baseball and sports market, as Beltran established his early career here before departing for greener pastures (as the Royals have a history of allowing). He is still revered in this city, as he receives reliable applause anytime the Cardinals come to town to play against the Royals and Carlos is announced for an at-bat. In his four League Championship Series appearances, his lowest batting average is .286, and that’s in the series that St. Louis just wrapped up against the Dodgers, where he was in high contention for series MVP (which went to rookie pitcher Michael Wacha). The 8-time All Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner, and 2-time Silver Slugger winner finally gets his opportunity to have the spotlight on him on baseball’s grandest stage. If St. Louis should go on to win this World Series, I would not be surprised one bit to hear Beltran announce his retirement from the game after nearly a decade and a half in the majors. A World Series ring is really the only accomplishment he hasn’t yet achieved.

SPIRIT: The Cardinals had their gimmicks for their two prior World Series appearances. In 2006 it was the Scott Spiezio red soul patches (on a side note, I miss Spiezio, and I hope he has his life together). In 2011 it was the Rally Squirrel. There are no cheesy gimmicks for 2013’s team. If anything, they’re playing for a spirit. This is the first season, and subsequently the first postseason appearance and first World Series appearance, since the passing of the franchise’s icon, Stan Musial. His number has adorned center field at Busch Stadium, and has been worn prominently on the team’s jerseys this year. If the team is playing for any sort of a higher purpose, it’s to honor “The Man”.

My prediction: Much like ESPN’s Jayson Stark, I’m going for St. Louis in 6 games. 6 is a serious number.

spiritday

(the post from the St. Louis Cardinals Facebook page as a part of Major League Baseball’s support of GLAAD Spirit Day, along with my response as one of the top comments based on likes)

If you’re connected with me on either Twitter or Facebook, you’ve already seen posts from me referencing today, October 17th, as Spirit Day. It’s the initiative by GLAAD to bring awareness to bullying against LGBT youth. Let me first state, for the record, that I am against bullying of ANYONE, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, gender, ethnicity, etc. Statistics show that there is an unreasonably high rate of bullying against those of the LGBT community. I don’t stand for one sexual orientation over another. I stand for equality, and I stand for integrity.

With that said, I saw the Facebook post earlier this morning from the St. Louis Cardinals team page, and it lit a fire in me. Not the post itself, but many of the replies. Keep in mind, this post was not initiated by the Cardinals organization itself. Support of GLAAD’s Spirit Day is across the entire board of Major League Baseball, which means that this type of post will be shared by each of MLB’s 30 teams.

I’ll maintain my focus to the Cardinals team thread specifically. The replies to this post were overridden with intolerance. Criticizing the Cardinals organization for getting political. For jumping on a trending topic in order to get attention and hits on the page. For not focusing on baseball.  HOW DARE YOU NOT STAY FOCUSED ON THE FACT THAT WE’RE IN THE PLAYOFFS?

It’s apples to oranges, but I’ll draw comparison to Chick-Fil-A. I know many people who refuse to give them their business because of CFA’s stance against homosexuality. That’s fine – it’s your choice, and you have plenty of other options. In this thread – I kid you not – there were responses from individuals stating that they were DONE with the Cardinals, and would go find another team to support. Apparently the point was lost on them that all teams in MLB are involved in this. Again, apples to oranges.

The battle cry of the opposition is POLITICS and RELIGION. Well, if your political affiliation or religion urge you to not have the best interests in mind for the subject at hand (LGBT youth being bullied, with the most unfortunate of situations leading them towards suicide), then perhaps you should reevaluate where you stand. For a fanbase that is frequently labeled as the “Best Fans In Baseball” (I’m referencing the label; I’m not calling the fanbase that on my own), there is so much hate and vitriol that only serves as a black eye to the rest of said fanbase. It’s an outright embarrassment.

I’d like to also point out that this is the same organization that features home game dates during the season centered around both the LGBT community, as well as the Christian religion, respectively. They’re not playing favorites, and I’d put money on your having a difficult time attending the LGBT-centered game and finding conversations condemning heterosexuals for the way they live their lives, and how their lifestyle infringes on everyone else’s. It’s 2013, open your eyes. Being closed-minded and making your judgments on someone’s sexual preference based on an old book is like going on vacation and using a 2000+ year old map.

On the positive side, there was a response from someone stating that while being a Reds fan, she was impressed with the Cardinals’ post/stance. Unfortunately, she probably also ended up reading many of the ugly replies to the post. On behalf of Cardinal Nation, I apologize for the closed-minded intolerance and insensitivity strewn about.

With that said, I – along with my purple t-shirt – conclude this soapbox blog. Go Cards. Go Equality.