Before being booed all night Monday in his return to Busch Stadium, Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward had nothing but nice things to say about the Cardinals organization, Cardinals fans and especially his former Cardinals teammates.
"We were very tight," Heyward said. "You ask anybody that was in that clubhouse, even some of the guys that are gone now from the team. We really enjoyed that group, and it's a shame we didn't get to go further."
Well, you can blame the Cubs for that.
They're the ones who beat the Cardinals in the National League Division Series, then went out and signed Heyward and starting pitcher John Lackey, who committed the unpardonable sin of leaving St. Louis.
Attention must be paid when a city feels slighted, so Heyward was ready to feel the burn. Before going 0-for-4 in the Cubs' 5-0 victory over the Cardinals behind Lackey's seven shutout innings, Heyward said he welcomed the boos because they meant the fans "were not happy to see me leave."
As it turned out, the booing was relatively tame, at least by the standards of this 124-year-old rivalry.
"I've seen boos," Lackey said. "Those ain't boos. That was a pretty soft boo."
There was virtually no reaction in the right-field bleachers when Heyward took his position in the bottom of the first, though one fan stood with a sign that read, "Say Jason, you owe me a new jersey."
Oh, the pain.
"I know you can hear me, Heyward," the fan yelled at Heyward, who couldn't hear him and wasn't paying attention anyway.
Afterward, Heyward said: "They don't boo too often, so it must be somebody important, or somebody doing something worth booing."
Heyward had already explained that his love of Chicago, day games and his new teammates were reasons for signing with the Cubs. He later suggested the media took his comments on the Cardinals' "aging core" out of context and he wasn't criticizing the team.
Did Heyward explain that to his old Cardinals pals?
"There's not a whole lot you can say," he said, "because the media is going to take it, and once it's taken and made what it is, then people are just going to read it and take it for whatever."
Heyward said his former teammates supported him, even if the fans did not.
"A lot of things got taken out of context," he said. "That's OK. I know me. They know me, my former teammates, and my (new) teammates now know me.
"People that know me know that I'm never going to take a hit at anybody, never try to disrespect the game. I'm not bigger than the game. That's not me."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon suggested before the game that Heyward should be immune from booing because of his upstanding character.
"This is a wonderful young man, not just an OK young man," Maddon said. "This man is outstanding. And I'm certain that people, when he was here last year, loved having Jason Heyward in St. Louis. ... So if there is that certain group that may be vitriolic or not liking (him) or whatever, that's fine and that's why this is so entertaining."
While Maddon was extolling Heyward's virtues during batting practice, Pachelbel's "Canon in D," the classical music standard often played at weddings, was blasting over the sound system.
"This is really cool actually," said Maddon, who said he took a classical music appreciation class in college and enjoys listening to "Bach, Beethoven and all the dudes."
When the classical music ended, there was no music at all in the empty ballpark. So the Cubs brought out a portable music player to the batting cage, plugged in an iPhone and cranked up "Sweet Child O' Mine," "Don't Stop Believin' " and other classics from Guns N' Roses, Journey and all the dudes.
"We love the psychological entertainment warfare," Maddon said.
Meanwhile, outside the gates, security was making some Cubs fans turn their "Try Not to Suck" T-shirts inside out, deeming them offensive.
The mind games had begun, and it already feels like summer.