By Tim Kaiser, Editor-in-Chief |
Tuesday was a great day for the Cardinals inside Busch Stadium. The Cards beat their recent rival from the West Coast thanks to another seventh inning rally. By knocking off Kershaw, the probable Cy Young and NL MVP, winner for the second time in the series they advanced to their fourth straight NLCS.
However, outside the stadium there was some deplorable behavior.
A small group of protesters showed up at Busch to continue to voice their outrage over the shooting of Mike Brown and the subsequent lack of an arrest of Darren Wilson. Those protesters were greeted with less than the welcoming embrace that Cardinal fans love to pat themselves on the back for offering opposing teams.
Some Cardinal fans got in profanity-laced arguments with protesters. While others decided it was a good idea to chant “Africa” or tell them to “get a job” or call someone a “crackhead.” One particularly angry fan said if he saw a particular protester “in the streets” the protester would “end up face down.”
Now, Darren Wilson supporters do have just as much right to voice their opinions on the issue outside of Busch. I personally, would not have joined in the “Let’s Go Darren” chant fans started in response to the protesters’ “Let’s Go Mike Brown,” but hey, if you believe it, go for it. Where I draw the line is the racist hate speech. Just because the n-word doesn’t leave your mouth doesn’t mean you aren’t being a racist.
The protesters are not completely innocent in the escalation. The message might be better received without the “we going to shut the sh#t down chant.” When you are hurling cuss words at drunk people there to see a baseball game cuss words are bound to come back.
Protesters also had an American flag hung upside down. Some of the conflict was based around this and I can’t blame people for that. Enough people have fought and died for that flag and what it represents so that disrespect is not tolerated. As soon as you do that you are going to lose a large portion of people.
However, these mistakes by a largely leaderless movement don’t excuse the racist behaviors by Cardinal fans.
In the last week or two Cardinal Nation has been taken aback by the hate they were receiving from around the country. The WSJ of course named us the most hateable in all of baseball. The reasons and merits for this were roundly discussed and debated. It is largely a champagne problem. When you win consistently for an extended time you are envied and eventually hated by the rest of the teams’ fan bases (See: Yankees, Red Sox, Cowboys, etc.).
Cardinals fans seemed especially hurt by this hate from around the country. Cardinals fans like to consider themselves the “Best Fans in Baseball” for not only the extensive knowledge of the game, but also their respect for opposing teams and fans visiting St. Louis.
How do you think you will like it if we are hated for a real reason, like being a fan base of racists?
That might seem harsh as it was only a small group of fans participating in the racist behavior and it was not even at the game, but it is the reality. “Perception is reality” hasn’t survived all these years as a thing because it isn’t true. No one outside of St. Louis is going to be focusing on the thousands of fans not telling protesters to “go get a job” and will paint all of us as racists.
Darren Wilson supporters aren’t going to make it easy as they are co-opting the Cardinal logos and colors. Seemingly inspired by the fan who made the poorly crafted “I am Darren Wilson” jersey, Wilson supporters are making shirts. The “6” on the back purportedly means “Got your 6”, but also just happens to be the number of times Mike Brown was shot.
In fairness to the Cardinals and Busch Staff, they did a decent job at keeping the sides separated and not letting things escalate further. The task will be much more difficult tonight as many more protesters are expected. Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Downtown St. Louis today to march as part of Ferguson October. It would not be much of leap to assume many will make their way to Busch for a night cap. Also there has since been another officer-related shooting this time in Shaw, which further galvanized the protesters.
* On a somewhat related note, although tickets for the Cardinals game are difficult to get your hands on so it would be difficult for protesters to demonstrate inside of Busch, don’t be surprised if we see a similar demonstration to the one at the St. Louis Symphony during Monday Night Football. The Rams aren’t exactly selling out every week and that would be big exposure for protesters.*
So my plea to Cardinal fans, as the NLCS opens with Game 1 against the Giants tonight at Busch, is to think. The protesters are not there to protest the Cardinals. They are there because that is where they will be seen. The news cameras have long since left Ferguson, so protesting up and down West Florissant is more or less preaching to the choir. They are there so they can be heard.
So, before you join the two, three, or ten racists shouting bile at protesters know that you are helping to paint your fellow fans and the Cardinals as a whole as racist. When you join that “Let’s Go Darren” chant you are effectively rooting on a man who shot an unarmed Mike Brown 6 times. There are many steps between wanting Darren Wilson put on death row and cheering for a man, who at the very least, killed a teenager.