My love for the game of baseball wasn't learned or picked up; it was inherited.
My dad is a Mets fan. My aunt has two seats from Shea Stadium in her backyard. My sister was born the night the Mets won the World Series in 1986.
Let's just say I didn't have a choice when it came to picking a baseball team to root for.
And I think it's fair to say most fans feel this way. Sports are as much about friends and family as they are slam dunks and World Series rings.
Sure, winning makes it that much more fun and we can mask our year-round emotions by rationalizing it's all about fighting for a championship at the end of the season, but let's be honest, going to a game with your dad or watching somewhere with friends is about the experience more than the result.
I wonder if St. Louis Cardinals fans feel this way right now.
Monday night, Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward made his return to St. Louis' Busch Stadium, a place he called home just a year ago, but he wasn't greeted with cheers and applause for his service.
Instead, Heyward was reportedly pelted with the N-word and boos by Cardinals fans.
Speaking on the alleged welcoming he received Monday, Heyward reportedly said,
You hear it. It's fun. They don't boo too often. It must be someone important or someone doing something worth booing.
Heyward apparently didn't hear the N-word specifically being thrown at him, and while it's admirable for him to take the high road when questioned about Cardinals fans' behavior, it would be a disservice to everyone not to delve deeper into the racism on display at Busch Stadium Monday night.
It's also important to note there are many on Twitter who appear reluctant to believe the N-word was even said in the first place.
This is the world we live in, right? There was a video of what Ray Rice did, so he's dead to fans and the NFL. Greg Hardy, though, is still a model player for the Cowboys in Jerry Jones' eyes.
But I digress.
The focus here needs to stay firmly fixed on the "Best Fans in Baseball," as Cardinals fans are often referred to.
What makes a fan base the "best"? Unwavering support is key, surely, but at what point does the setting of a sporting event no longer become an acceptable defense to shout and say anything we damn well please?
This isn't the first time Cardinals fans have shown their true colors. During the 2014 MLB playoffs, several members of the Redbirds' faithful clashed with Ferguson protestors in the wake of Officer Darren Wilson shooting and killing unarmed teenager Mike Brown.
In response to the protests, some fans wore Cardinals shirts with Officer Wilson's name on the back.
During those clashes outside Busch Stadium, fans reportedly told protestors to get jobs. Those same fans reportedly tried to drown out cries of injustice over Mike Brown's death with "Let's go, Cardinals!" chants. They reportedly screamed "Let's go, Darren!," referring to Officer Darren Wilson.
Here's some video evidence of the above reports:
In 2013, Cardinals fans found themselves in the news again for all the wrong reasons. It occurred in the first month of the season when a slew of fans tweeted racist, homophobic comments directed at the Cardinals' opponents and baseball fans in the St. Louis area.
These tweets are disgusting and offensive, to say the least. As a sports fan and an American, I'm embarrassed over the callous disregard for human dignity and rights.
These tweets are from 2013, not 1913. I'm sure Cardinals fans aren't the only American sports fans who have made racist remarks before, but their repeated thoughtlessness continues to rear its ugly head time and time again.
Belittling protestors who are speaking out against the death of an unarmed teenager? Sorry Mike Brown's death interfered with the playoffs, guys.
Showering a player you once cheered for with the N-word because he swapped St. Louis for Chicago? Take a look in the mirror and get a goddamn grip.
Historically, the St. Louis Cardinals are a successful ball club, but if that success is synonymous with an entitled, racist fan base, that's not the type of winning culture I'd want to be associated with.
I can only hope there are many Cardinals fans who feel the same way.