You have probably heard the story by now. It has been picked up nationally by CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Fox Sports, Yahoo, and almost every local outlet. A Missouri politician introduced a bill to name the St. Louis Cardinals the official team of Missouri. It was read into the record and now it will die likely never to be discussed again in any official capacity.
I will not attempt to delve into the heart and mind of the politician. Whether he believes the Cardinals should be the official team of Missouri with the defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals also residing in the same state or whether he believed this bill was worth the minuscule amount of time spent on it, it is impossible to believe that this was anything more than a way to get some attention.
I won't name the politician. You can find out that information easily enough if you want. I will not discuss his (oops, just eliminated the 25% of the legislature made up by women) political affiliation, whether he is good or bad at his job, whether he is getting attention to shine some light on a real issue, or whether his politics are helpful or harmful. We have a no politics rule Viva El Birdos in our community guidelines because those discussions form from deeply-held beliefs unlikely to be swayed that are not often civil or humorous. Politics bogs down the discussion about baseball, sandwiches, movies, or whatever else people have on their mind and are free to discuss in the comments section of the articles here.
This bill was not about politics. This bill was about getting attention, and while those two aims seem to have blurred of late, the method of getting attention goes beyond politics. The Cardinals, not the players or play itself, but the entity have become a lightning rod, and there are opportunities to exploit what the Cardinals have become by gaining attention, or website clicks and twitter followers as the case may be.
Deadspin has been ahead of the game in this respect, for years pushing out anything and everything related to the Cardinals in a negative light. Everyone else seems to be picking up on it, too. A twitter account devoted to shaming some Cardinals fans for ill-considered opinions was once somewhat unique, but has since devolved into the very thing it presumably started to shed light on: a bad, petty fan who takes sports and himself too seriously.
There have been stories and issues that paint St. Louis and the Cardinals in a negative light where negative publicity has been deserved. The protests and response in Ferguson were a disaster. The hacking scandal disturbed the Cardinals' pristine reputation. The recent revelation that minor leaguers made bigoted comments that made a gay player feel uncomfortable enough in the clubhouse to retire is a sad part of the organization. A bill to make the Cardinals the official team of Missouri is nothing compared to these events, yet it now receives attention as the Cardinals have grown in the national public eye.
A decade ago, it might have been fair to complain about East Coast Bias when it came to the Cardinals, but we are entering the be careful what you wish for stage of coverage. The Red Sox and Yankees dominated headlines and the ESPN schedule, taking attention away from some great teams a decade ago, but the dynamic has shifted. The Red Sox and Yankees still get their coverage, but the Cardinals' success (and failures) combined with a constantly churning news cycle has made everything the Cardinals do and everything Cardinals-related worthy of news. With the attention comes the backlash, and playing foil to Chicago Cubs will not decrease the Cardinals' media scrutiny.
Increased attention and coverage is not something to be discouraged, necessarily. Many more pieces will be written about the Cardinals and more interviews will be done allowing people to understand more about the team they follow. The charitable work done by Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, and Kolten Wong will reach more people. Fans of the Twins and Brewers and Indians and Rays will have fewer stories written about their favorite players, and they will have the same complaints Cardinals fans have shared for years. They will also see fewer pieces of little to no value, like the one about the official team of Missouri.
The internet can be a vast wasteland, but it is not barren. There are worthwhile pieces that entertain, educate, and lead to worthwhile discussion. They are not always easy to find, and there can be some blurring of interest versus over-saturation that VEB admittedly plays a role in. We try to cover every story relevant to the Cardinals and Cardinals fans and provide our analysis of the story. Sometimes that means repeating other outlets and I am honestly not sure where the official team of Missouri fits in. We do our best to move discussion forward, not backward, and always
twirling providing pieces that are of interest to Cardinals fans to further the discourse.
Enough with the navel-gazing (which was hopefully brief). We are now just ten days from Opening Day and I am very much looking forward to the season. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who reads this site, whether it is once a day, once a week, or you leave the VEB Daily tab open all day and comment with incredible frequency. You are a valued member of this community who help make VEB what it is. I would also like to take the opportunity to throw the floor open to you to discuss what you would like the site to be this season. Ways to improve. Things we used to do but maybe have gotten away from that you liked. Something you have seen elsewhere that you would like implemented here, or any general concerns, criticisms (or even praise) that you want to share.