Next weekend, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will open the 2015 MLB season on Sunday Night. They’ll have the grandest stage in the early season of the sport all to themselves.
The Cubs/Cardinals rivalry is one of the absolute best in sports – and that’s clearly the totally unbiased opinion of an admitted Cubs fan. As long as I’ve been following the Chicago Cubs, I’ve felt a sinister pleasure in seeing the demise of the Cardinals and head-dropping disgust when the Cubs walk away in defeat.
But, over the last five-years, the emotions have felt vacant or forced.
Like any self-respecting Cubs fan, I still took pride in seeing the Cubs disappoint the “Best Fans in Baseball.” In fact, I enjoyed a win over St. Louis more than any other team (and the Cubs did manage to beat the Cardinals a few times this past half-decade). But at the end of the day – and season – I knew where the Cardinals were heading and where the Cubs weren’t. It hasn’t been a particularly enjoyable five years for Cubs fans in the Cubs/Cardinals rivalry. I doubt it was as fun as it could be for Cardinals fans, either. Everything became so one-sided.
But I’m here to tell you, that’s all over.
The Chicago Cubs have finally put together a team that will reignite the rivalry, and the Cardinals know it. No longer is Chicago the pathetic, easy win, deep dish pizza-serving stop on the Cardinals road trip. The rivalry is back on, and both sides are excited.
On March 17, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post Dispatch did his best to fire up the rivalry ahead of the season, by comparing the different, but nonetheless dangerous approach of the Chicago Cubs, vis a vis the Cardinals.
The 2015 Chicago Cubs have a “massive and unchecked power buildup [that] may require United Nations intervention,” Miklasz joked. Taking it further, Miklasz questions why the Cubs bothered to remodel Wrigley Field if Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber are going to knock it back down.
More seriously, Miklasz notes that only 11 hitters hit at least 30 homeruns in 2014 – a figure that stood at 47 back in 2000. Further, he mentions that the Cardinals – third to worst in the home run department, over the last two seasons – may have experienced the biggest power drain in the league.
But Miklasz doesn’t let the Cubs off the hook that easily.
Under Cardinals GM John Mozeliak’s direction, Miklasz opines, the Cardinals have focused their attention on drafting and developing pitchers, and it shows up in the numbers. Over those same two seasons, the Cardinals have ranked fourth in starting pitcher ERA, and were tied for second in allowing the fewest home runs.
Well that’s fun, isn’t it? The two rivals have already taken very opposite approaches to the extreme. The Cubs do nothing but hit home runs, while the Cardinals refuse to give any up. The unstoppable force meets the immovable object.
If it wasn’t already going to be an exciting rivalry based on contention alone, the apparent difference in team philosophy will surely generate some additional debate. You should really go read the article for yourself, because there is a lot in there that adds to the fun. Miklasz deviously toes the line between compliments and insults for the Cubs, while providing both warning and reassurance for the Cardinals.
The rivalry is back, everybody, and it’s already started.