Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Role Reversal Comes Full Circle for Cards, Blues

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Role Reversal Comes Full Circle for Cards, Blues

Article excerpt

With a nod to Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, today's sports lesson is the Three Laws of Fan Physics.

The first law: Fan happiness, like matter and fat, cannot be created or destroyed. It just gets redistributed around the universe.

The second law: Fans at rest remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force, such as Brendan Shanahan's trade or a baseball strike. The third law: E=mc2, where E is everyfan, m is the money needed for tickets and c is the cash in the fan's wallet, purse or second mortgage. These deep thoughts bubbled to the surface as the Cardinals-Blues role reversal comes full circle. The Cards, once scorned by angry fans, are huggable again. Better attitude. Better players. Better ambience. The Blues, once the friendliest team in town, are a tough club to love. Aloof. Arrogant. Unfamiliar. Some parallels are exact. The old Cards had and new Blues have icy corporate owners, purged stars, love-it-or-leave-it pricing and condescending general managers (Dal Maxvill, Mike Keenan). Some differences exist. The old Cardinals slashed payroll, opted for a cut-rate youth movement and shunned pricey free agents. The new Blues have one of the National Hockey League's top payrolls, the oldest team and a salary scale tipped by free-agent bingeing. And the Blues pulled a coup in landing Wayne Gretzky, hockey's career scoring leader and fan favorite. The most common denominator is fan treatment, or mistreatment. St. Louis is a baseball town. So Anheuser-Busch thought it could put any 25 bodies in Cards jerseys, open the gates and use the smaller payroll to offset any attendance dip. It didn't work like that. Fans, also stung by a player strike, contracted apathy and stayed home in droves. A-B bailed out. The new local owners come across as fans first, moguls second. Their ad campaign - "Baseball Like It Oughta Be!" - may not thrill their grammar teachers at Country Day School. But it's the perfect salve for burned-up fans. Compare that to the unstated new Blues motto: "Give Us Your Money! And Quit Bellyaching!" St. Louis has become a hockey town, but that doesn't immunize the Kiel Partners from what bit A-B. …

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