This past weekend, the Chicago Cubs paid the St. Louis Cardinals a mid-season visit. Their arrival stirred up the city and local sports writers, not only because any time this long-time rivalry comes together it's eventful but also because former Cardinal Jim Edmonds is now a Chicago Cub.
The biggest question of last week was "to boo or not to boo?" Some, like local writer Bernie Miklasz took the position that welcoming Jim Edmonds with open arms would not be the wisest choice. Should we boo? Perhaps not. But ovations and admiration were uncalled for. Jim Edmonds is now a Cub. And St. Louis fans hate the Cubs.
Others, like me, appreciate Jim Edmonds and recognize that he did not leave St. Louis by choice but by trade. In his 8 years in St. Louis, Jim Edmonds not only contributed to St. Louis Cardinals history but also to the St. Louis community. He was one of us for a very long time and long before he pulled on that Cubs uniform.
The entire time that Edmonds played in St. Louis, I had season tickets in the right field bleachers. Every time he took the field, he tipped his cap toward the left field bleachers and then to the right. After every amazing catch, the bleacher fans offered ovations of appreciation and, again, Edmonds acknowledged the fans by tipping his cap.
On Friday night, when Edmonds stepped on the Busch Stadium outfield for the first time, bleacher fans rose to their feet and applauded. And when he stepped up to the plate for his first at bat, the crowd erupted in cheers.
The Cardinals lost that game to the Cubs, 2-1. Miklasz contends that our acceptance and welcoming of the new Cubbie gave Chicago home field advantage, helping them take game one of the series. I'd like to point to our meager 6 hits and 10 men left on base as a possible problem when trying to win a tight game.
Many a night, I have applauded the great play of a visiting player. I was there to applaud Tony Gwynn on his quest for 3000 hits. I cheered for Ken Griffey Jr. as he knocked homerun #500 into our right field bleachers at Busch. most recently, I applauded for So Taguchi when he returned donning Phillies garb.
If there's good baseball, no matter who is bringing it, I appreciate it. And if a former Cardinal player shows back up in a new uniform, playing for a new team, even if it is the Cubs, I'm going to cheer the first time he steps up to the plate. I am going to let him know that I recognize and appreciate his time spent in the Cardinal uniform.
And when he strikes out or pops out to left, I will cheer then as well.