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Amid the celebrating, a salute to a valiant opponent

I'm having a hard time believing it. And as I've made clear, I firmly believe that it shouldn't be happening. But the Cubs are going to the National League Championship Series, hopefully to play the Mets.

We have a score to settle for 1969.

But amid all the celebrating, there are a few things that need to be said about the Cardinals and their fans. My first congregation was in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis. The first kid I confirmed there, Michael Greenway (and his wife Jaymie Moore Greenway) did me the honor of letting me marry them. They're not only Facebook friends, but I count them as good personal friends as well. I think the world of both of them.

Mike and I had a lot of fun giving each other a hard time about the Cubs vs. the Cardinals and the Blackhawks vs. the Blues. And since I made it a point to go to as many Cubs and Hawks games as possible when I was in St. Louis, I got to know what St. Louis fans are like generally.

I grew up as a South Side Cub fan. On one hand, being hated is in some ways easier than being humored! On the other hand, while this wasn't always true about Sox fans on the Southside, but there was never a bit of meanness in all the teasing I received as a Chicago fan in St Louis. It was all in good fun, and most of the time I actually enjoyed it. They are perhaps the most knowledgeable baseball fans in the world.

Folks down there are a class act. Cardinal fans are a class act. The Cardinals are a class organization. And they happen to have the best team in baseball playing for them.I've made no secret of my disdain for divisional play and the Wild Card. While I'm not going to complain about our going to the NLCS, I firmly believe that the Cardinals are the team that should, by rights, be going.

And I, for one, appreciate both the Cardinals and their fans. I'm glad it's us who are going to the NLCS. But it really should have been you guys.

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