I have never been a supporter of booing baseball players – well, that is, unless they are Cubs players. In fact, I have taken it so far as to willingly corrupt my nine year old son by encouraging him, at a young age, to boo Cubs players. Recently, as I listened to ESPN Sports Talk Radio in my car, my son heard a man being interviewed and asked me who he was.
“That’s Derek Lee,” I said. “He’s the first baseman for the Cubs and one of their best hitters…like Albert Pujols is for us.”
“Boo – wait,” he said, and then looked up at me. “Is it okay if I boo the Cubs, dad?”
I smiled and nodded my head proudly. “Yes, son – it’s okay to boo the Cubs.” And together we booed.
When we boo, understand this…we do not boo disrespectfully or with any malice. We do not boo the player – we boo the uniform. In baseball, perhaps more than any other sport, the uniform – the organization – is bigger than the individual. I do not cheer Albert Pujols because he is Albert Pujols – I cheer him because he is a Cardinal. I cheer louder because he is Albert Pujols.
The same is true of the Cubs. I boo the Cubs players because I boo the uniform – the organization. I do not boo out of disrespect or malice…I do it because of the rivalry. I do it because I’m a Cardinals fan. I boo louder because it is Derek Lee. The same is true of Jim Edmonds.
A large part of me wants to stand and cheer for Jimmy Baseball…the part of me that remembers those circus catches, series-saving home runs, and dramatic moments in Cardinals history…but that part of me remembers a Jim Edmonds that no longer exists – at least, not right now. That Jim Edmonds retired when he requested a trade to the Padres…and he died when he said “yes” to the hated Chicago Cubs (later to be resurrected when he retires, of course…but dead for now).
The Jim Edmonds that plays today is a Chicago Cub. He’s not a Cardinal, a former Cardinal, or a future Cardinal Hall-of-Famer…he’s a Cub – period. Why? Because that is how Jimmy wants it. Jim has repeatedly asked Chicago reporters to stop making connections to his Cardinals history so he can completely, 100% be a Cub.
Okay, Jimmy…done. You are now a Cub. And you will be treated as such.
When asked about his return to Busch Stadium and the possibility of being booed, Jim said he was “scared” and “nervous.” He said he hopes Cardinals fans remember his time here and what he’s done for our team. Wait…is this the same Edmonds that asked Chicago fans and reporters to forget that very thing? And now he wants to take advantage of St. Louis fan loyalty in an effort to avoid having his feelings hurt?
Bad news, Jimmy…we’re not just baseball’s most loyal fans, we’re also the most intelligent. We know what you’re doing, and we’re not falling for it. And that is why, when Jim Edmonds comes to the plate as a hated Chicago Cub, I will stand up in the middle of my living room and loudly boo the man he has become.
And later, after he retires and the Cardinals have a Jim Edmonds Day at Busch Stadium…I will proudly stand and cheer loudly for the resurrection of the man we all remember…one of the greatest Cardinal center fielders of all time, and a member of the team that finally ended a 25-year drought in St. Louis by bringing an improbable and impressive World Series Championship to it’s fans.
Thanks for the memories, Jimmy…but for now, that’s all they are – memories. Today, you’re a Cub, and you will be treated accordingly.