ST. LOUIS — No fans are as sunny as St. Louis Cardinals fans, a horde of optimists who see every half-glass as overflowing. I grew up on the northern West Coast amid grouchy Giants and A’s followers and had never witnessed starry-eyed ball club devotion until I attended a few Busch Stadium games and talked to lifelong Redbird fans.

Most of the people I met were so politely passionate about their Cardinals. When a player struck out or booted a grounder, they didn’t shout, “You stink!” or, “Go back to the minors you worthless piece of pine tar!” They forgave gaffes and cheered anything they could, including slick plays by the opposition.

At first it felt eerie watching games with folks who never stopped smiling. Then I got used to it. Then I liked it.

I also liked how many Redbirds fans, even the young ones, have a sense of history. Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith and the blown Don Denkinger call from the '85 World Series may predate them, but they know about those players, that series, and a whole lot more.

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Having followed the Cardinals closely for 25 years, I have reached a few conclusions about what the quintessential Redbirds fan looks, sounds and thinks like. If most of these statements ring true for you, you’re a tried-and-true Cardinals fanatic.

  1. You have or had a pet named Gibby, Simba, Ozzie, Whitey, Albert, Waino, Yadi or Gomber
  2. You love the Carpenters, meaning Chris and Matt, not Karen and Richard
  3. You agree with Homer Simpson’s assertion that Game 6 of the 2011 World Series has eclipsed the passion play as “the greatest story ever told”
  4. At random and often inappropriate times, you mimic the late Jack Buck and declare, “That’s a winner!”
  5. When anyone says anything negative about Molina, you respond, “Ah, Yadier mind!”
  6. You’re convinced that every big-name free agent would eagerly sign with the Cardinals if the front office would just pony up the money
  7. The harshest insult in your vocabulary is, “Oh, you Denkinger!”
  8. At least one of your secret passwords contains the words “rally” and “squirrel”
  9. You’re convinced that Matt Carpenter, Miles Mikolas and Allen Craig — wherever he might be — are due for bounce-back seasons
  10. You appreciate what Tony La Russa accomplished but would take Whitey Herzog any day
  11. When you say “this one goes to 11,” you’re referencing the Cardinals' 11 World Series championships, not the 'Spinal Tap' line
  12. You were bummed to learn that the College of Cardinals is an ecclesiastical body and not a school you or your children could attend
  13. You’d give your left pinky toe to see vintage Bob Gibson throw up and in to some of today’s cockier, plate-hugging sluggers
  14. When it comes to team executives, you think Mo is meh but Bing was devine
  15. Grass is great but you miss seeing fleet players fly around the bases and the outfield during the fake-turf Whiteyball years (1981-1990)
  16. You have a bumper sticker that reads, “My other car is a Clydesdale.” If not, you want one
  17. It burns your biscuits that the Cardinals failed to sign St. Louis native Max Scherzer after drafting him in the 43rd round out of high school in 2003 and failed to sign him as a free agent in the 2014-15 offseason
  18. You believe the “Birds on the Bat” logo is a better work of art than Picasso’s Guernica
  19. You think Adam Wainwright’s plunging curveball is as lovely (and parabolic) as the Gateway Arch
  20. You love October due to the milder temperatures, the crisp autumn leaves and the Cardinals in the playoffs
  21. While they played for multiple teams, Joe Torre, Darrell Porter, Jim Edmonds and David Freese (especially Freese) will always be Cardinals to you
  22. You believe it’s literally true that “when you say Budweiser, you’ve said it all”
  23. You contend that Joaquin Andujar was “just a little high-spirited”
  24. You actually like the “Victory Blue” uniforms
  25. The 1985 horror story that chills you still: 'The Tarp that Ate Vince Coleman'
  26. You contend that “boring” baseball played by no-frills professionals like Willie McGee, Scott Rolen and Paul Goldschmidt is only dull to those with dull minds
  27. You own at least one of these Cardinals merchandise items: a shot glass, coffee mug, key ring, quilt blanket, pillow case or pajamas
  28. Steroids, schmeroids — you’re still grateful for Mark McGwire in '98
  29. Your favorite Hogwarts house is Hufflepuff, occupied by “members that are patient, fair, hard-working and sometimes blandly nice” (dictionary.com)
  30. You think Mike Matheny is a nice guy but can’t believe the Royals hired him
  31. You’re convinced that all national baseball broadcasters have East Coast or L.A. biases and want the Cardinals to lose
  32. You kinda like Fredbird
  33. You shed tears when Albert Pujols signed with the Angels
  34. When someone calls you a Pollyanna, you say, “Thank you, I appreciate that”
  35. You know some of the lyrics to the rally song, 'Here Comes the King,' i.e., “Here comes the king, here comes the big number one...”
  36. You’re still steamed at Kris Bryant for saying that St. Louis is a "boring” city
  37. The older you get, the better Gibson, Ozzie, Edmonds and STL Pujols used to be
  38. You give minute-long standing ovations to former Redbird scrubs who moved on to other teams
  39. You’d roll out the welcome mat for another Matt as good as Holliday, Carpenter or Morris
  40. You would never boo a Cardinal who is trying his best
  41. Your favorite holiday musical: 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
  42. You want to see Willie McGee’s No. 51 retired
  43. You take Ozzie’s side on the Smith-La Russa feud but wish those two would work it out
  44. You contend that if you’re paying a player $18.5 million a year, you gotta play him, even if he stinks
  45. You never referred to Jaime (pronounced HI-may) Garcia as “Jamie” (JAY-me). Well, almost never
  46. You used to watch 'The Tudors' and root for Cardinal Wolsey because — duh! — he was a cardinal
  47. When you talk of Jordan Hicks of the Cardinals, you mean the recovering reliever with the 100-mph sinker, not the same-named linebacker on the Arizona Cardinals
  48. You don’t remember Fernando Tatis as the dad of Padres super-prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. You remember him as the dude who hit two grand slams in one inning against the Dodgers in 1999
  49. You want to travel to Memphis to see the AAA Redbirds first, and Graceland second
  50. You hate to brag but, yeah, you (and the millions like you) really are the best sports fans in the world

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