It seems strange that it would take me so long to pile on TBFIB. I usually need about 0.6 seconds to send any insult down I-55, because it’s easy and fun and almost always correct. But this seemed a little more serious and perhaps more complicated. This isn’t just as easy as when they’re professing their loved for David Eckstein.
By now you know the story. Dexter Fowler was asked about our sandblasted carrot in chief’s Muslim ban, because Dex’s family is physically affected by it. And all he did was answer honestly. And we know how that went over with a certain section of Cardinals fans. It was all eminently predictable.
But when it comes to matters like this–racism, xenophobia, whatever else–it’s hard for any fanbase to take too much of a higher ground. Especially this one. We can’t fool ourselves, because we know what kind of thoughts lurk underneath the surface in this city. And we can physically see the racist portions of it, given our city’s segregation.
We’ve seen the ugly side of Cubs fans, and we know where they spring. This kind of thing would have been wholly possible here, or Boston, or New York or lost of other places I’m sure.
And yet… and yet… Cardinals fans can’t really complain that their unwashed and braindead constituents get more attention than any other fanbases’. Because when you spend all that time in energy calling attention to just how wonderful you are, you then don’t get to pick and choose which kind of attention you get and what it chooses to focus on. If you want to be out in the light, then it all comes out in the light and whether you like it or not you take ownership of it.
As Will Leitch pointed out, the Cardinals might have the most rural-based fanbase in American sports, considering that St. Louis just isn’t that big and they’re just about the only thing around for a large swath. And we know what springs out of that kind of territory, which is how we got in this mess.
While all of the backlash to Fowler wasn’t racist, it was conveying a sense of ownership. That not only is it a privilege to play Major League Baseball, it’s a double privilege to do so in St. Louis. You should spend all your time just thanking Yahweh that you’ve been allowed to put on the golden bat. This is something else that happens when you keep bleating on about how you’re special.
What I don’t see, from the Cardinals, their fans, or really any other team and their fans, is a concerted effort to stamp this out. If the Cardinals and their ever self-congratulatory fans really are insulted that they are categorized by their worst part, then they should either try to eradicate it or bring it up to the level they see themselves inhabiting.
Because it isn’t that hard. People who spout insulting and disgusting things at a park can be pointed out by the fans around them and banned. It’s been done other places. Internet commenters have been outed before. Hell, sometimes it’s ridiculously simple. Some of the most vile emails I got after the whole Patrick Kane debacle came from work emails, making it pretty easy to forward to various HR departments. And those who spout that kind of shit generally aren’t the smartest and won’t cover their tracks that well.
Teams can come out and say they won’t accept this kind of thing. That anyone who comes across their eyes saying this kind of thing will be vaulted out of the scene. Fans and teams don’t get to #NotAllMen this kind of thing, thinking it’s just something out on the fringes that is out of their control. That there’s nothing we can do, there’s no way to keep this out of an experience that is supposed to bring us all together.
But I guess I won’t sit on a hot stove waiting for that.