Q: Does the fact that neither team in STL is viewed as championship-ready cause players to not want to play here, or is it that the city can't get its stuff together and is seen in a negative light nationally?
A: It's some of both. Players will overlook a lot to join a championship-caliber team. Players with leverage to pick their landing spot also have other priorities outside of their sport.
It's convenient for the teams to say it's the city.
It's convenient for the city to say it's the team.
That's a good way for nothing to change.
Here's a thought experiment: Pretend STL means nothing to you. As in, you are free-agent X, and you have a list of 10 teams in cities that are courting you. Teams aside, where would you rank STL? Probably not as high as you think.
STL should not be worried about changing to lure better athletes. It should be worried about people, in general, not wanting to make this their home. We can't add a beach. We can work together to fix some glaring problems. It's bigger than sports.
It's not just a local sports fan narrative.
The teams are talking about it. Mozeliak has been increasingly candid about the conversations he's had with players about St. Louis, and the questions that they come with.
Dexter Fowler, for example, spent time talking to Ozzie about the image and what was true/false from the national view.
And it's not just Ferguson fallout.
Mozeliak has said Stanton asked him about high-rise living options in the city.
What's Mo supposed to say to that?
It is not one or the other. The Cardinals clearly had more success landing bigger names when they were more successful. Of course.
But is the city and its image helping? I'd say not especially.