Photo: Jamie Sabau (Getty)

The St. Louis Cardinals are currently a pedestrian 46-43 and 7.5 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central. But this is Deadspin, and you didn’t come here to read about how the Cardinals are doing on the field on some random-ass July day. You came here to read about why the Cardinals are a bunch of fake, sucky Midwestern trash, so here’s yet one more glorious example.

This particular tale of St. Louis misery involves outfielder Dexter Fowler, who came to the team in 2016 after winning a World Series ring with the hated Cubs (NOTE: The Cardinals and the Cubs are supposedly rivals but no one outside of St. Louis gives half a shit). Once he arrived in St. Louis, Fowler immediately became a favored target of the Bestest Fans In Baseball.

Things have only deteriorated from there, because Fowler has been undeniably putrid on the diamond. He’s currently batting .167. His on-base percentage is a feeble .270. His defense is in the toilet. The hometown fans have booed him (but… but I was told they’re so CLASSY!). Why is Fowler, a former all-star who is generally a consistent and well-liked player, struggling? Is it just a random slump? Is it because of a hidden injury? Is it because people in St. Louis think crackers are pizza?

No one is quite sure, but regardless, the Cardinals are only in the second year of Fowler’s guaranteed five-year, $82.5 million contract, and they are not pleased with the return on their investment. They’re so displeased with Fowler that general manager John Mozeliak, seen here greeting you at the grand opening of his new hamburger chain, went on the radio last week and publicly called out Fowler’s efforts. Keep in mind that Fowler was away from the team on paternity leave when Mozeliak started dishing out these takes:

“I’ve also had a lot of people come up to me and question his effort and his energy level. And those are things that I can’t defend. What I can defend is trying to create opportunities for him, but not if it’s at the expense of someone who’s hustling and playing hard.”

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Many, many people are saying this to Mozeliak. You hear it. Anyway, this is just the kind of bold leadership I want from my general manager. I want him actively listening to a bunch of racist troglodyte fans and publicly agreeing with them. That’s straight from the John Mara leadership playbook. Anyway, Mozeliak chided Fowler over the course of not one, but two interviews, and then he sorry-not-sorry’ed his attempt to smooth out the damage in an email to the Post-Dispatch, explaining that questioning Fowler’s effort was a way of questioning the entire team’s effort:

“I would not make too much of this and really what I was trying to say is: I hear what our fan base is saying,” Mozeliak wrote in an email to the newspaper. “And I just hope our players understand it as well, but there is a time to get this right and to win.”

It gets even better from there, because The Athletic writer Mark Saxon notes that Fowler’s relationship with team manager Mike Matheny has also turned frigid, that the two “barely talk and haven’t for months.”

“Mike Matheny sends out, I think nightly, text messages with the next day’s lineup on them and usually like a motivational-type message in there. And I think Dex kind of blocked those and started ignoring those,” he said. “So it’s not great I don’t think; communication between those two.”

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That’s fantastic. Imagine your boss emailing you a fucking fortune cookie slogan every night before you go to bed. “Dave, I want those TPS reports on my desk by 10 a.m. sharp. Also, character is not forged in the mountaintop but in the valley.” What a complete fucking pud. I would purposely strike out in every at-bat just to own him.

For his part, Fowler has denied slacking on the field but admitted his time in St. Louis has been “up and down.” He was benched for outfield Harrison Bader last month and now the Cardinals, whose uniforms are the same color as a MAGA hat, are in tight spot where they really need Fowler to stop sucking. He’s probably too expensive to trade, but it’s hard to let him play his way out of a slump when he’s not playing well enough to merit a spot in the lineup to begin with. What on earth do they do with this guy?

I don’t know. I don’t give a shit. That’s not my problem. Personally, I’m glad the Cardinals are languishing in the sewer and are clumsily trying to Cardinals Way their way out of this mess, because they’re a shitty team run by shitty people and cheered on by shitty fans. Fuck them. I hope Dexter Fowler doesn’t even bother to wear shoes to the dugout anymore.