Giants Continue to Stick in Cardinal Nation’s Craw

The vigor spilled out of Chris Duncan’s mouth as if he were talking about Johnny Cueto, the Brewers, or a routine fly ball hit to him in left field.

“The Fast Lane” wasn’t even three minutes into Monday’s edition of “You Oughta Know” and Dunc was hot. The subject was the National League All-Star roster, and he couldn’t believe that Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval made the team.

“The fact that Pablo Sandoval was the leading vote-getter at third base is a joke,” Dunc said to Randy Karraker and D’Marco Farr. “And how does Brandon Crawford finish second among shortstops? What’s he hitting, .230?”

He didn’t stop there, either.

“Brandon Belt?” Dunc continued. “Brandon Belt finishes second for first baseman? Really? It’s ridiculous that some nerd in California can rig the votes so that every San Francisco Giant can make the All-Star team.

“If you’re not going to vote responsibly, you shouldn’t be allowed to vote at all.”

The two teams aren’t in the same division. They’ll never meet in the World Series. They’re not rivals by proximity, and they don’t have a deep-rooted history of hate.

Yet the Giants have been the bane of many Cardinal fans’ existence over the last decade.

Mention the 2009 Cy Young award to a St. Louis fan and watch his or her face turn as red as the Cardinals’ home batting helmet. That was the year Giants starter Tim Lincecum won the award despite winning two fewer games than Chris Carpenter and four fewer than Adam Wainwright, who also received one more first-place vote than “The Freak.”

Fast forward to this year, where Buster Posey and not a more-deserving Yadier Molina will start behind the plate for next week’s All-Star game. Sandoval, the victim of Dunc’s tongue-lashing on Monday, will also start at third base while David Freese, who has seven more home runs than Sandoval and nearly twice as more RBIs, will wind up having to wait his turn on the bench. (Of course, Mets third baseman David Wright has the biggest complaint when it comes to who should start at third for the NL team this year.)

And who could forget 2002. Sadly, that was the year the St. Louis family lost pitcher Darryl Kile in June, but the Cardinals managed to regroup and win 97 games. When the Cards clinched the Central that season, Albert Pujols carried Kile’s No. 57 jersey, which remained on a hanger, to the celebration on the field. That club was viewed as a team of destiny, and rightfully so.

But a roid-filled Giants team came into Busch Stadium during the NLCS, and took both Game 1 and Game 2 while rolling into the World Series in rather easy fashion. (Sorry, an allegedly roid-filled Giants team.) Not that anyone needs a history lesso,n but let’s not forget that San Francisco was managed by Dusty Baker, who has had a rather tumultuous relationship with Tony La Russa over the years.

Granted, former Cards manager Whitey Herzog and ex-Giants skipper Roger Craig used to go at it in the late 80s, so there is history between these two teams. But Cardinals-Giants will never come spilling out of someone’s mouth when asked about the great rivalries in baseball. Even though he “stole” the ’09 Cy Young, Lincecum is viewed more as a punchline than a hated entity and, despite his elevation over Molina in this year’s All-Star Game, the educated and intelligent St. Louis fans are well aware that Posey is deserving of recognition.

Yet somehow, some way, the Giants remain a paper cut on the collective hands of Cardinal fans. Not deep enough to cause long-term damage, of course, but nevertheless an annoying wound from time to time. In fact, it wouldn’t be shocking if at some point this year the Giants stood in the Cardinals’ way as they defended their 2011 World Series title.

Imagine the vigor then.