The Ironic Jersey Omnibus, facing impossible odds, continues its trek through the heartland of America, reaching the city of St. Louis. There it encounters a problem: the Cardinals.
Being an American League fan from the West Coast, I’d never really given the Redbirds much thought: they’re a natural phenomenon, something that just happens sometimes, like droughts or school budget cuts or music award shows. And this may have been easier if I’d cranked these out faster than four a year, and got through the Cards before last year’s playoffs. But then the Cardinal Way happened, and like it or not we can never really look at the Greatest Fans on Earth the same way again, no matter how much we’d like to.
Even without that uncomfortable moniker, we have to admit that the trouble with the Cardinals is that they’re simply not very funny. They win a lot, and they draw well, and they develop talent with methodical precision, all admirable traits. But if the Cardinals are all about winning, if there’s no subtext or commiseration, can a jersey ever be ironic at all? Why wear anything but a Matt Holliday, and announce one’s anonymous presence on the perpetual motion machine that is the Cardinal bandwagon?
I turned to Dan Moore, Internet Cardinal Authority, for help. He agreed that the well of gallows humor from the last downturn (fifteen years ago!) is running dry, the mid-nineties era when the team was playing in an old stadium on withered Astroturf for a broke owner. Sure, you could wear a 1993 Gregg Jefferies jersey, but otherwise there’s so little surviving and to have survived. And with the insularity of the St. Louis fandom and the Cardinal Way urging an unspoken unilateralism, it’s difficult to find ways to wink. (Note: there is no Eckstein to be found here. We do not indulge in cliché.)
With that in mind, here are my best efforts at jersey irony: