Last night, Johnny Cueto made his sixth start at Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals since August 10, 2010, when he was involved in a bench-clearing brawl with the Cardinals during his time as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. And as had been the case during his previous five visits to St. Louis, Cueto was booed lustily.
Now, I am not, by my nature, a booing type. This is not to say that I consider booing an opponent to be the worst infraction in which a fan could be involved: I did not have an issue with Philadelphia Phillies fans who booed Scott Rolen when he returned to Veterans Stadium in 2002, even if I felt it was silly, though I did have an issue when some Phillies fans took out their anger at J.D. Drew by throwing batteries at him. This is a pretty reasonable line to draw, I think.
I thought the booing of Jason Heyward in his return this season with the Chicago Cubs was pointless (though once it became used as a means to cast fans in a bad light through flagrant embellishment of the truth, I warmed up to the booing even though I still rather like Heyward as a person). As years go on, I'm increasingly bored by the semi-annual tradition of booing Brandon Phillips, particularly as Phillips seems to take great pride in his role as the Cardinals' heel (and this is purely in the context of a cartoonish super-villain: he's the kind of fun baseball player the sport can always use).
I am very much in favor of booing Johnny Cueto.
Again, there is a line that fans ought not cross, and as far as I can tell, fan animosity towards Cueto has never gone beyond booing. And while Johnny Cueto may have served his punishment for ending the career of Cardinals backup catcher Jason LaRue, and he may have been one of the best pitchers in baseball this decade, this does not mean that fans should forgive him.
That LaRue was a mostly forgettable member of the Cardinals and that he, 36, likely did not have a long Major League career ahead of him actually makes the animosity that Cardinals fans feel towards Cueto feel that much more earned. Had LaRue retired a month and a half later for completely unrelated reasons, few Cardinals fans would have remembered where they were when it happened. But the Johnny Cueto fiasco at Great American Ball Park is one which I remember vividly, and I know I am not alone.
You probably do not own a Cardinals Jason LaRue shirsey (and if you do, what did you do with your Gary Bennett? That one still in the rotation?), but Cardinals fans show a willingness to stand up for one of their guys, even if it's not one of their great superstars. It's the kind of thing that gets Cardinals fans mocked, but it's the kind of quality that every fan base should have.
And to be perfectly honest, it's the kind of quality most fan bases do have. San Francisco Giants fans still boo Matt Holliday, and that's fine. St. Louis Cardinals fans will likely never stop booing Johnny Cueto, and that's fine.
Anyway, here's what happened yesterday aside from Johnny Cueto being booed.
I wrote about Mike Leake's contract and whether or not it is paying early dividends for the Cardinals. The short answer: too early to tell. The long answer is right here.
Lil Scooter posted the current vote totals for the 2016 MLB All-Star Game, and from a Cardinals perspective, the big news is that Yadier Molina is leading NL catchers in votes received. I'm not one who normally cares about All-Star Game voting, but...
I will be voting for Yadier Molina.
Ebo wrote yesterday's prospect report. The big headliner of Thursday's games was Dave Washington, who hit a home run for the Memphis Redbirds.
Craig Edwards covered how the Cardinals should destroy the Giants. For the recap, mister_manager used the exact tone last night's 5-1 loss deserved.
Unrelated to the Cardinals or baseball in any direct way, but impossible to ignore as a sports story is the passing of Muhammad Ali. I feel no need to preface his name with any titles, superlatives, professions: you know the legend of Muhammad Ali, and if somehow you do not, you should turn somewhere other than a baseball blog to learn it, as his is a story so rich that I could not begin to do it justice.
If only every athlete in every sport could be half this interesting.
The Cardinals are once again on national TV for tonight's game, this time on Fox at 6:15 p.m. Busch Stadium time.