Yesterday, after Albert Pujols ended negotiations with the Cardinals due to his "self-imposed" deadline, Pujols released a statement to the USA Today. The statement, which, if you'll forgive this Fan, reads a bit self-serving and trite, personally addresses "Cardinal Nation" promising them his full effort just like always. It was the first time this writer had ever heard the term, "Cardinal Nation." Certainly, we have heard Red Sox Nation to the point of nausea. But the Fan never heard of Cardinal Nation. Is this a recent development?
Apparently this is not a overly new development. There is a Cardinal Nation blog that was started in June of 2010. But that wasn't that long ago. No, that's wrong. Their on-site archive only goes back that far, but there are posts to be found from that site back before then. There was or is another site called Cardinal-nation.com with the hyphen. How old is the term? Did it come before the Red Sox Nation or after? There is a Cardinal Nation Facebook group.
Simply doing Google searches, the term was being used in 2008 and 2007 and 2006. The Sporting News Books advertised its third edition "Cardinal Nation" hardcover book in 2005. So that brings us back to at least 2002. The Facebook group by that name was founded in 2001. Okay, so this has been around a while then? Who knew? Well, obviously Cardinal fans knew as this has been an ongoing thing for a long time.
So then the Fan was all wet. This isn't a situation of the Cardinals copying the Red Sox. It seems it's the other way around. This writer has been in New England for a long time and the whole Red Sox Nation thing didn't really begin until the Red Sox won the World Series and broke the curse. What was at first a pleasant feeling for long-suffering Red Sox fans has turned into an insufferable arrogance as that team's fans follow the team and are in attendance at stadiums all over the country. The Red Sox Nation has come to represent a snobbish and uppity feeling that the Red Sox and their fans are smarter and better than anyone else. Of course, the Fan knows not all Red Sox fans are like that. But still, if you mention the term to most baseball fans around the country, a distasteful look will occupy most faces.
And so it wasn't the Cardinals who copied the Red Sox, it was the other way around and this Fan is now properly educated. Thankfully, reading that trite and self-serving statement by Pujols led to an education in something the Fan wasn't aware of and is happy to have learned correctly. After this scientific study (...ahem) into the past, the Cardinals and their fans rightly own the term. Carry on, Cardinal Nation. Carry on.