The Cubs-Brewers Rivalry is Growing, and I Kinda Love Fanning the Flames

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The Cubs-Brewers Rivalry is Growing, and I Kinda Love Fanning the Flames

Chicago Cubs

Although the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is one of the most famous in baseball – and the Brewers’ chirping always had the slightest twinge of a younger brother pulling on his older brother’s laces – the race for the NL Central over the last two years has reignited the rivalry a little bit. You’ve gotta admit it.

The Brewers spent 60 days in first place last season, ultimately finishing second, and 67 days in first this year. The Cubs still feel like the class of the division, but the Brewers are there, and they’re kicking and screaming for us to acknowledge them. It’s been fun.

Of course, the surprising competitiveness of that second-rate ball club with players who aren’t good enough to lick the dirt off my cleats ( 😈) isn’t the only thing turning this rivalry up to 11. And it isn’t a one-way street either.

New Cub Cole Hamels’ comments from the other night sure took things up another notch. In case you missed them, he gave them the old Don Draper: “When you have a majority of Cubs fans in the stands, I don’t know if that’s a rivalry yet. I’ve been in rivalries. They’re not gonna like me for the comment, but you can look at the ticket sales.” Ouchieeeee-mamma. I love it.

Of course, the Brewers won the first two games of this series, and some fans came prepared with a giant “L” flag after last night’s loss:

Yeah, a giant “L” flag in a mostly empty stadium next to a “1982 A.L. Champions” banner(!). Maybe it was a blowout and maybe the game was already over, but those are some empty stands to snap a picture of when the main criticism was “our fans show up better than yours.”

Both teams’ managers, however, seem to be squashing the rivalry before it gets too heated. To be perfectly fair, Craig Counsell’s message here is kinda perfect: “I really look at like we’re spending way too much time trying to classify rivalries. Like, enjoy the baseball games, man. I mean, home, road, I’m happy I’m in the building. Let’s be in the building and enjoy those games. If you’re not enjoying the game [Monday] night – sorry, Cubs fans, I know it didn’t turn out the way you wanted – that’s a great baseball game. I mean, the moment with Rizzo, I could be a fan for a minute, too. That’s a great moment …. It’s why we’re all here right now – we love this sport.”

And as for Maddon, he agrees with Counsell, before adding that rivalries aren’t instantaneous, they have to be built over time: “I’m on the same page with him [Counsell] ….. You know what that feels like. He’s right. It was a great game. Both teams are playing well. It’s something that can really build into something over time, I believe. You just can’t create a rivalry by writing that it is. It has to be felt. It has to be proven over time.”

I will say that, for me, the Brewers have actually always struck me as the Cubs’ legitimate 1.B. rivals, particularly after their competitiveness in 2007 and 2008 (both years, they finished second to the Cubs). It’s not quite up to the intensity of Cubs/Cardinals, but it’s gotten close. And if the Cardinals keep on missing the playoffs, leaving the Brewers as the biggest competition in the Central, well, that rivalry may continue to heat up, particularly when you consider the geography.

And now that I think about it … I may be part of the problem …

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami