Here's a picture that's hanging in my office:
Do you see the irony? The delicious, painful irony? That's Candy Maldonado, who turned a single into a triple that became the only run in a 1-0 loss that could have sent the Giants to the World Series. Next to the picture is an unused World Series ticket. The ticket was for a seat behind home plate. That combination is supposed to remind me of the bad times. The bad times remind me of the bad Cardinals. The mean, spiteful Cardinals, who ruined everything.
This hate nourished me through the 2002 postseason, when Matt Morris looked completely unhittable, Benito Santiago was a hero, and Kenny Lofton was on our side, for once. The hate nourished me through 2012, when silverback Matt Holliday annihilated one of the Giants' wee players. There was nothing more satisfying than watching Marco Scutaro offer thanks to the rain gods and baseball gods alike. "If you don't like it," I was fond of yelling, "then you should have hit Barry Zito."
Watching this GIF always fired me up:
Sorry for being so mean up there, Candy. You're still the best.
The Cardinals are empirically awful. Did you read this unbelievably horrible op-ed from the mayor of St. Louis? "Don't be mad at us because we make batteries and have Bosnians. Don't hate us because we're so good at everything." Combine it all together, the '87 playoffs, the Holliday play that might still be why Scutaro isn't playing today, the Ozzie cheapshots, and the unbearable attitude. It should be easy to hate the Cardinals just as much as always.
Except, 2012 made it tougher. That was the end of the '80s movie. The Giants were down, everything looked lost, then there was a montage, they worked really hard, and they ended up winning the summer camp funtathalon and the girl's heart. The kids from across the lake were defeated soundly. During the credits, they played little "what happened to?" snippets.
Barry Zito retired against his will after the 2013 season. He now owns Malta.
How do you extract hate from that? Sports hate, mind you. Be nice to other human beings in the physical world. When it comes to sports, though, how do you hate a team that seemed to give you closure already?
My answer: Just look at them.
Look at that guy. Look at his obnoxious face. Look at the hat he's wearing. Doesn't that bug you? It bugs me. I was wondering how to dig up the right amount of distaste for the Cardinals, considering the 2012 season soothed a lot of the old wounds, and then I just, you know, looked at them.
Look at this wacko:
You were out, you freak. Replays confirmed you were out by a step. Our catcher runs like he's stuffed with bowling balls, too, but he's not so insecure about it. Calm down. Why is your brother so chill?
Have you ever looked at Shelby Miller? Like, really looked at him? He looks like he would use an unironic #winning hashtag to describe a vacation to Hawaii. He's the refrigerator fuzz growing on the meat that Matt Holliday's head is made from. I mean, I don't know him. He could be nice. But just look at him.
Just look at the Cardinals.
Now it's all flooding back. Forget the 2012 season. Forget the rain globe. Forget 2002 and David Bell sliding into home plate as J.D. Drew rolls the ball into the infield with his glove hand. Just look at them. Remember everything they represent, which is something between a sense of entitlement and well-earned success. You can't begrudge them their well-earned success, but you can certainly hate them for whatever reason you choose, rational or irrational.
Watching a postseason is always better with hate. It's the artificial butter on the popcorn. The thought of the Dodgers, though, was too much. There was too much pain in that Sword of Damocles, and while the joy of watching the Giants ruin their season would have been one of the greatest moments in franchise history, I'm not sure the stress was worth it.
This is the perfect amount of hate. Man, do I hate the Cardinals. They are simply the worst, other than that team they keep beating. This is going to be fun. This is an old rivalry, reborn. The Cardinals are stupid and awful and they deserve to lose.
Just look at them.