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Baffoe: For Cubs Fans, Now Comes The Pleasure Of The Unpleasantness

By Tim Baffoe--

(CBS) Hoo-ee, that was some fun, wasn't it? It was 162 games worth of laundry instantly smashed into an emotional spin cycle for three hours, and the Chicago Cubs came out clean in a 4-0 win against the Pirates in Wednesday night's NL wild-card game. Good stuff.

Now, it's time for a very different kind of fun. Look at that glass half full of flat champagne today.

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Here they come, the St. Louis Cardinals. And their stomping, screeching, reptilian fans. Here on the Internet.

In fairness, I know multiple Cardinals fans who are kind, affable, intelligent people. Also Chris Rongey. They're outliers, though.

The majority of Cardinals fans are awful. The fan base as a whole is irredeemable, what with their cultish adherence to unwritten rules of the good old days of baseball when racism was cool and homophobia was in vogue.

And their idolatry of their dead players.

And their inflation of their living players to god status. They think Yadier Molina is a Hall of Famer, even though he's not. But arguing the logical case against his induction — or, say, pointing out that Miguel Montero has a higher WAR this season in 23 fewer games played than Molina — with Cardinal fans is futile because they believe in intangibles and magic. They also believe in fewer smiles and fewer funny tweets than what Montero produces because sports are serious business.

And then there's "The Cardinal Way," which is two separate things. First, it's operating a well-oiled machine of an organization that scouts and drafts well and perpetually cultivates homegrown talent into big league talent — the Cardinals are the Green Bay Packers of baseball in this regard. Second, it's being insufferable via fans looking down on the rest of baseball as though they themselves accomplished anything besides buying a Darryl Kile jersey and cursing Albert Pujols for getting paid. They're the kind of people who got enjoyably lathered when Jake Arrieta was plunked by a pitch Wednesday night in a game that was already over.

These people, like most things St. Louis (its hockey team, its pizza, its police), are a microcosm of everything wrong with America. Right down to their manager, a wealthy white guy who decided he doesn't have to pay his loans and who writes painfully comical manifestos on being "old school" and who's that especially infuriating idiot who happens to be successful.

And like all privileged people, there's a lovely persecution complex there, too. Cardinal fans whine that their favorite team is unappreciated and deserving of every player and managerial award, and Mike Matheny treats the squad like your local pompous high school football dynasty that needs bulletin board material from "the haters."

"We go about our business the way we go about it. I don't know how else to say it differently," Matheny said following a Cubs/Cardinals game last month in which he likely called for Anthony Rizzo to be beaned in the spirit of stupid baseball vigilante justice (aka The Cardinal Way). "We just realize that almost every day we have somebody saying something about us. And that's just part of the business. We've just got to stick to what we've got to do and go play the game."

Immersion in all that online and during the national broadcasts is going to suck. It will make the cheap grabs at civic pride with deep dish shots and Blue Brothers songs coming back from commercial seem intelligent in comparison.

But … it will be fun. I promise this. A different kind of fun than the anxious confidence in Arrieta against the Pittsburgh Pirates for one game. If you can bear some of the mind-numbing narrative and noise, this is going to be ritual, cathartic and thoroughly satisfying.

Because the Cubs are going to beat the Cardinals, three times in four games. And it's going to be wonderful beyond just advancing to play the winner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets.

The Cardinals, with their best record in baseball, are going to be humbled. Their fans will have their cankerous hearts torn out slowly over the four games in five days and held up for mockery by a baseball world that largely loathes them. The Cubs are supremely confident in this, and you should be as well.

The Cubs won't just win the games. They're going to be all young and cool and loose and happy all up in those puckered red faces. All the while, cries of "Those Cubs don't play the game the right way!" will be ignored, if not satirized. There will be talk of this being one of sports' greatest rivalries, but this is way more personal for participants and fans alike. Both teams genuinely dislike one another, and the fan bases think each other is the game's worst (I have issues with most Cubs fans, but they are not in the despicable class of St. Louisans).

As it exists in October, this Cubs team is poised to crush this opponent. Nothing fazes them — not tradition, talk of curses or an assumption that the Cardinals deserve some special level of respect. The Pirates were totally the preferred opponent for the Cardinals, though they'll never admit that. They know the Cubs of autumn aren't the Cubs of the rest of 2015, the 8-11 record against St. Louis as the kids were feeling their way along.

Instead, these Cubs at present give zero rats' asses about anything other than stepping on to the field to enjoy themselves in oh-so-bothersome fashion. And that will make what's about to happen more than just a series win, the Cubs' first since 2003.

It's going to take the unpleasantness on the other side down a big peg. I can't say yet what will happen afterward, and I know that this year is merely the beginning of the sustained success the Cubs organization has planned.

But I know this is going to be delicious schadenfreude. It's going to be fun.

Tim Baffoe is a columnist for Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.

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