Cardinal red or Ranger blue? SLU soccer divided

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Photo Illustration by: Shah (Yuqing Xia) / Photo Editor and Brianna Radici / Design Director

The St. Louis Cardinals had not played the Texas Rangers in the 2011 Major League Baseball season until they met for Game 1 of the 2011 World Series on Oct. 19. To say the teams met without a rivalry would be an understatement – the last and only time the Redbirds played the Rangers was in 2004.

St. Louis is searching for its 11th title; Texas, its first. For the Birds, 2011 marked its National League-record 18th trip to the Series. Meanwhile, the Rangers are making just their second trip. The only similarity, it seems, between the clubs is the central time zone. That doesn’t mean the World Series isn’t stirring up emotions at Saint Louis University. Of the 25 players on the SLU men’s soccer team, five are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, home to the Rangers. Twelve players are from St. Louis.

Let’s play ball.

The rivalry breaks down like this: The Rangers are represented by Beau Bellomy, Alex Johnston, Anthony Manning, Hansel Reyes and Kingsley Bryce. The Cardinals are represented by, among the 12, Mike Roach, Mark Pais, Blake Schneider and Mike Robson. Bellomy, a senior, said the Series has forced the players to take a side and take a stand. “Everyone is competitive about everything, so that has not changed much, but everyone is really into each game,” Bellomy said. “Even guys that aren’t from St. Louis or Dallas are getting into it and taking sides.”

While the team isn’t allowed to wager on the game, per NCAA rules, Roach said having fun with the off-field competition helps bring the team together.  “It is good for team building and chemistry because you get to joke around with the guys,” Roach said. “Sometimes there is so much pressure built up on certain games or a weekend, and it is nice to stay loose and joke around about something other than soccer.”

Head Coach Mike McGinty is on-base with that idea. “I think [the World Series] is great for the city and for our team because we have strong groups from both cities,” McGinty said. “Our guys have enjoyed having a go at each other and our Dallas guys know they are outnumbered, but they have each other’s backs.” Not only are the Dallas supporters out-numbered, they also have less fire power. Because of the deep tradition of Cardinals baseball, compared to the relatively recent rise of the Rangers, Roach said the trash talk mostly consists of comparing team accomplishments. “The Cardinal fans will ask how many championships the Rangers have, and their only comeback is how many championships do the St. Louis Blues and the St. Louis Rams have,” Roach said.

Bellomy and Roach have been able to put their differences aside, at least temporarily. The senior duo attended Game 1 at Busch Stadium.  “Once the playoffs started, I wanted to see a Rangers vs. Cardinals World Series, and so did most of the guys on the team, so some guys cheered for both teams, until now of course,” Bellomy said.
“Mike [Roach] and I did go to Game 1, though. Not many other guys on the team can say they went to a World Series baseball game, especially Rangers fans,.” St. Louis won the game 3-2.

Both Bellomy and Roach already have prepared for the best, and the worst. With five games completed, the Rangers lead the Cardinals 3-2 in a best-of-seven series.  Game 6 is scheduled to be played Thursday, Oct. 27 at Busch Stadium, followed by Game 7 on Friday, if necessary.  “If the Rangers win, I can tell all the Cardinals Fans in St. Louis to be quiet,” Bellomy said. “I have been wearing Rangers gear around for the past few weeks and someone says something to me about it everywhere I go.   “If they lose it will be very frustrating since they lost last year also.”

Roach counters, “If the Cardinals don’t win this World Series, I will have to hear about it for the rest of my life, about how the Rangers are better,” Roach said. “But if they do come back and win, I will get to remind them for the rest of their life the Cardinals are better, and, ‘Remember the one time the Cardinals came back in the World Series when we were down 3-2?’”
As for McGinty, well, he’s not afraid to pick a side either. “I’ve got to root for the Cardinals,” McGinty said. “I loved Willie McGee and Ozzie Smith growing up, so I’m sticking with the Cards.”