My ties to the Cardinals are surprisingly strong however. My dad's entire side of the family is from a small town one hour outside of St. Louis and all grew up avid Cardinals fans. In fact my dad himself was an all-state pitcher and was invited to try out for the Cardinals farm team at the old Busch Stadium. He still follows and cheers for the Cardinals and most of his family still lives in or around St. Louis. As a result, I am in the city at least once a year and have had the opportunity to go to a significant number of Cardinals games in my life.
That said, I grew up most of my life in basketball country and my father's love for baseball never really took. Cardinals fandom is in my blood, and while I want the team to do well every year (thus am not a bandwagon fan), I don't usually want to spend my time watching regular season baseball. Instead during the season I check standings at least several times week and also check the stats to see how the Cardinals players are doing (Pujols in particular). I can name most of the starters but could tell you little about the relief pitchers and nothing about the farm system.
So can I call myself a Cardinals fan? I'll hate to use this phrase but... it depends. The term "fan" is derived from the word fanatic. I doubt anyone would qualify the way I follow the Cardinals as fanatical (UNC on the other hand...). On the other hand, colloquially "fan" is used more synonymously with "follower" of a team. By that definition I think I qualify as a fan of the Cardinals. Still what constitutes "following" a team is ambiguous. Does one have to watch the team on TV every chance they get? Is it necessary for the outcome of a game of a team I am a "fan" of to have an emotional impact? To what extent must a "fan" outwardly demonstrate and proclaim their loyalty? I closely follow UNC recruiting and waste time on the Inside Carolina message boards, but I would not consider those who don't do these things not to be fans. Ultimately fandom is not hypertension, there is no diagnostic criteria for being a fan.
That said we have come up with a few terms to identify what we consider false fans. They are:
Bandwagon Fan (see also: frontrunner) - one who does not have any previous ties or rooting interest in a team who begins cheering for that team due to recent success, or in some cases a feel-good story (i.e. the Detroit Lions this year)
Fairweather Fan - one whose allegiance is to one team, but whom only supports that team when the team is doing well and is otherwise apathetic towards or even distances themselves from the team when the team is not doing well
Both of these terms have negative connotations. Neither really accurately describes the way I follow the cardinals. Fairweather fan is closer. I jokingly told my friend I was a "playoffweather fan." Perhaps that needs to be a real term. Or perhaps there doesn't need to be a term. That's the great thing about sports. My loyalty to the different teams I follow is varied in degree and expressed across a spectrum that ranges to nervous anticipation before a UNC basketball game to watching a couple innings of a Cardinals regular season game then flipping the channel. Friday night I'll be watching the Cardinals-Phillies game. I'm not sure if I'll be watching it as a true fan or not. Either way I'll enjoy it.