Now that Dexter Fowler has proved that he is actually a Cardinals player and not a Chicago Cubs double agent, the fans have undeniably embraced him. Only future Hall of Fame catcher and St. Louis staple Yadier Molina got a more boisterous opening night ovation on Sunday.
Dexter Fowler receives a big standing ovation in his first at bat at Busch Stadium as a Cardinal. pic.twitter.com/MVZbaDD5rO— Cards Nation (@CardsNation13) April 3, 2017
It looks like Dexter Fowler’s Twitter-lynching by St. Louis Cardinals fans in the offseason, has transformed into a halo of appreciation and support. And why not? After all, it’s baseball season and all you have to do to be loved is produce and Fowler did that in his first game as a St. Louis Cardinals centerfielder against the same Cubs team that he helped break a 108-year World Series drought last season.
The Shadow League’s braintrust was eager to see how Cardinals fans would react to Fowler when he was introduced in light of the rocky welcome Cardinals fans gave him when he signed.
Fowler was caught in the middle of a political pickle for simply expressing his feelings back in February when Trump’s travel ban against certain Muslim countries created unrest and fear, even among U.S. citizens.
Fowler’s wife, Darya Baghbani, was born in Iran, one of seven majority-Muslim countries that the executive order restricted visas from. The couple was planning on bringing their daughter, Naya, to visit family, but decided to delay the trip because of the negative political climate President Trump had created against Muslims.
As ESPN’s Mark Saxon reported, the climate of uncertainty had the Fowler's feeling like it’s not “the right time” to travel.
“It’s huge. Especially anytime you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate,” Fowler told the publication.
All hell broke lose on social media as Cardinals fans and baseball fans in general said some pretty ugly things in response to Fowler simply revealing some personal information.
It was a total overreaction, and in retrospect those fans probably agree that they went overboard and was still caught up in the manufactured, mesmerizing, divisive pageantry of the Presidential election.
On opening night in St. Louis, Fowler received major love every time he stepped to the plate. The hatchet was fully buried when he singled in the third inning, and the crowd responded with an outburst of appreciation that was borderline moving.
“It was awesome,” Fowler said after Randal Grichuk hit a single in the ninth inning to beat the Cubs 4-3.
What’s the big deal about an ovation?
For starters, Fowler was on the Cardinals poop list before he ever took the field. Second, he came from a squad that's the Cards’ most hated division rival.
Overcompensation on the part of Cardinals fans?
Maybe. But after what Fowler had to endure before ever stepping foot on the outfield grass is worth the olive branch.
Now let’s play ball.