Every Cardinals fan has encountered them: those punks in teddy-bear T-shirts, who roam city streets or lurk in your office and look to pick a fight.
We're usually far too civilized to take them on. But this season, we decided to battle back. So we consulted the experts, a pair of hardcore fans descended from generations of Cubs-baiters and Cubs-haters, seeking advice for how to make these not-so-loveable losers even more sore.
We learned that Redbirds fans must remain strong and passionate, yet above the fray, because ultimately, the Big Man is on our side. In fact, when we posed the following situations, we found that the answer often came down to one simple question: What would Albert do?
Situation: Cubs fan needles you for the Cardinals holding a lower place in the division race
Play: Remind him (and yourself) that the only seasons when Cubs fans get to be positive about their team are the pre-season and the offseason. As Expert No. 1 put it, "It's these pre-first game of the season delusions that keep Cubs fans from permanently slipping into the inky black void of despair and self-loathing — every single year." Being good on paper never gets the girl — or the ring.
Situation: Cubs fan tries to talk stats
Play: Arm yourself with facts and relax — you're already armed with superiority. As Expert No. 2 told us, you can always resort to the damning rational truth by starting a chant of "Nineteen-oh-eight, [clap, clap, clap-clap-clap]" over your cubicle wall. After all, it's been more than 100 years since 1908, the last time the Cubs won the World Series title — at the most poorly attended series in history.
Situation: Cubs fan makes racist remark, such as "Pujols mows my lawn"
Play: Don't sink to that despicable level, no matter how many similar anti-Zambrano T-shirts you've seen. If you're unable to fully turn the other cheek, as Albert would, then Expert No. 2 recommends saying, "Steeeve Bartman!" Cubs fans love to be reminded of the guy who obstructed Moises Alou from catching the foul ball in the 2003 NLCS, allowing the Florida Marlins to rally and ultimately win the series.
Situation: Cubs fan tries to talk shit about St. Louis supposedly being a second-class city
Play: Point to the inevitable Anheuser-Busch product in his hand and then remind him that Chicago's best beer company, Goose Island, now belongs to us. According to Expert No. 2, you could also counter with "Louuuuu Brock!" — whom the Windy City traded in 1964 to St. Louis, where he went on to become a Hall of Famer.
Situation: Cubs fan threatens to knock you out for cheering too loud
Play: How inconsiderate of you — you actually have something to cheer about. Pity him, but don't be intimidated. Says Expert No. 1: "We Cards fans have our shiny rings to protect us from the clumsy slings and arrows of our rationally handicapped step-cousins from the north side."
Situation: You find yourself in Wrigleyville late at night following a game
Play: Hopefully you're traveling in numbers, but still, you should probably get out of there. Win or lose, the neighborhood is a vortex of animosity. After you snap some photos demeaning the mascot outside of the Cubby Bear, head over to Sedgwick's (1935 North Sedgwick Street, Chicago, Illinois; 312-337-7900 or www.sedgwickschicago.com), a cozy bastion of Cardinals pride in Lincoln Park.
Situation: A Cubs fan taunts you while stopped at a traffic light (For the record, this actually happened to Expert No. 2.)
Play: That's it. Get personal. Don't just say, "Cubs suck." Say, "Your grandpa is going to die without ever having seen the Cubs win a World Series." The Cubs fan might get out of his car, grab a bat from his trunk and toss you over a table, but, as Expert No. 1 says, "After all, he and his kind haven't known anything but loss for his, his father's, his grandfather's and his great-grandfather's entire lives."
Situation: A Cubs fan, one of those dangerous quiet types, throws his beer on you after a Pujols homerun (Again, this once happened to Expert No. 2 at Wrigley Field.)
Play: Take the high road. Shame him. Don't respond with anger; don't retaliate. Just stare at him in righteous disbelief. When he is shamed enough to ask if you would like another beer, say, "Yeah, I would. But not from you. Now if you'll excuse me, in St. Louis, we like to watch the game."
If there's one thing we know about our dear, impotent counterparts, it's this: Cubs fans, like their team, will inevitably self-implode.