I was lucky enough to be in the stands at Wrigley Field on Friday, when the Cubs got a ninth-inning home run by Darwin Barney to tie the game up, before taking the win in extra innings.
As I was walking through the underground concourse during the game, I could hear one of the Cubs’ radio announcers say the rivalry between the two teams dates back to 1892. That’s pretty amazing, but it doesn’t surprise me at all.
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Having grown up in downstate Illinois, between the two cities, I can tell you that each side wants very much to outdo the other. The Cardinals have had more success on the field, of course, but the two rivals make it a point to make the trip to one park or the other as many times as the schedule allows, every single year.
These two teams have met on the field more than 2,300 times, and it’s always the same thing in the stands: The blue and the red, side by side, announcing their presence to the other team’s faithful. The most epic Cubs game that I can recall, the “Sandberg game” in June of 1984, had the added bonus of being a Cardinals game. The home run chase of 1998 was McGwire (Cardinals) and Sosa (Cubs). And of course McGwire broke the record against the Cubs that year. The five-game series that launched the Cubs to their division title in 2003 came against Tony LaRussa and the Cardinals. The list goes on and on, but the point is always the same: Playing the Cardinals is unlike any other opponent to this Cubs fan, and I’m sure this feeling is mutual for Cardinals fans, too.
On Saturday, the Cardinals turned the tables on the Cubs, tying the game in the ninth on a home run by Carlos Beltran before winning the game in extra innings. It was the mirror image of Friday’s game, except that this time the sun was shining, and I wasn’t there to see it. I’ll take a rainy win over a sunny loss any time, though. The Cardinals won the final battle on Sunday and ended the season with a 10-7 record over the Cubs. Upon closer inspection of the Cubs won-loss record, the only team they’ve beaten more than seven times this season is the Pittsburgh Pirates. All in all, getting seven wins against their biggest rival is not bad for the rebuilding Cubs.
While the Cardinals get bragging rights for winning the weekend series and the season series, it won’t be long until next April rolls around and both teams are 0-0. Yes, there’s always next year. That’s the way it’s always been, and as it always will be, too.