Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: rivalry

A Lost Soul (Or, Why I Don’t Boo the Cubs)

My lost soul... but I love him

Those of you that I met or spent time with at the Blogger Day at Busch last month also met someone very near and dear to my heart – my grandpa. Aaron Hooks referred to him as “dapper.” Daniel Shoptaw had this to say in his post about the weekend:

Let me put down for the record that Grandpa was very cool.  Not only did he never shake his head and wonder about kids these days or tell us to get off of his lawn, but he never seemed to question what blogging was or anything of the sort.  (Also, he introduced himself as “Dewayne: Dewayne the tub, I’m drowning.”  Gotta appreciate some corny humor like that!)

What none of you knew? My grandpa is a lost soul.

He is a card-carrying Die Hard Cub Fan.

He has a picture hanging in my grandparents’ guest bedroom stating he signed with the Cubs (I assume this is a staple in every card member’s home?). He goes to Cards/Cubs games in St. Louis with my grandma wearing his Cubbie blue. He has a Cubs/Cards checkerboard, and I think he’s the only one that has played with the Cubs pieces. At Christmas, where our entire family gathers for the festivities, he is the only such lost soul in a houseful of people.

My grandpa was born and raised in Michigan, a Cubs fan through and through. He married my grandma after college and they have spent most of their adult lives in the St. Louis area. My grandma is a Cardinals fan. My grandpa is a Cardinals fan… most of the time.

I know. That’s wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. It’s like… like… I have no comparison. There is no comparison. He’s a Cardinals fan, right up until they play the Cubs. He will always take the Cubs. But no one would have ever known seeing him with me at Busch.

I don’t like the Cubs. Should they (heaven forbid) ever make it into the World Series, I might not be able to watch one inning of it. But my respect for my grandpa will keep me from ever being venomous about the team. If you follow me on Twitter, you will never see me use the #cubssuck tag (and definitely not the #cuckthefubs one – I really don’t like that one). I hate losing to the Cubs, but I would also say that I hate losing to the Reds… or the Brewers… or the Pirates, Astros, Dodgers, Mets, Braves, Giants, ………. I don’t like when the Cardinals lose. Period. Losing to the Cubs is what it is – another loss in the column.

The Cubs and Cardinals have a long and storied history. The fans feel passionate about it, the players understand the rivalry (even if they don’t necessarily get heated about it), and the franchises both understand the gravity of it. The reality is obviously the rivalry just has not had a lot of weight lately. It’s unfortunate, but true. My first memory of baseball is being at a Cubs/Cardinals game in the early 90’s when the teams were battling for the toilet bowl (the bottom of the Central). My real first year of following baseball was 1996, but the home run chase of 1998 was electric for me, and that had a lot to do with the Cubs, obviously.

However, the last 13 years (wow, ’98 was that long ago?) have been not all that interesting for any Cubs/Cardinals match-ups. The two teams haven’t been competitive in the same season in eons.  But the fans remember the history, and they hold these games dear to their hearts. I like seeing games against the Cubs…

…just don’t expect me to talk trash. I do it for Grandpa.

Rating the Cardinal Rivalries

Are you sick of the Cardinals-Reds Rivalry already? Is it the epic Cubs-Cardinals history that makes a true Rivalry?  Do the Reds deserve the title just because they happen to have the hot button hotheads right now?  What do you think?  Which team is the Cardinals’ biggest nemesis?  Cast your vote in the poll below and/or in the comments section if you have more to say.

Earlier this month, my cousin in Wisconsin asked me which team we Cardinals fans considered to be the Cards’ biggest rivalry.  My immediate response was “The Cubs” but then I considered the recent scubbub with the Reds.  The Brewers didn’t make my list, but my meager 5-6 years of baseball background might  disqualify my opinion in such matters.  So, I threw it out to my Cardinal Twitter tweeps and some Facebook pals as well.

A sampling of responses:

and

Last night during the game, the same question popped up on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight Sunday Night Baseball Chat.  So, I thought the question might deserve another audience.

So many valid points.  Yet many different opinions.  One thing’s for certain, the Brewers aren’t even on the rivalry radar among Cardinal Nation.  (Sorry, cuz!)  😉

Oh, and speaking of the Reds…. What a weekend!  Our Cardinals took 2 of 3 games as Yadier Molina ushered the Reds out of town with a game-winning 3-run homerun in yesterday’s rainy finale.  Westbrook pitched a solid outing (*whew*) while Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and Mitchell Boggs all had the right stuff as well.  The make-up of the Cardinal bullpen has changed considerably in just the first few weeks of the season, but it is a breath of fresh air to see the new crew picking up the slack and getting the job done right.  The pace is picking up after an unbelievably slow, injury-plagued start to the season.  In fact, the Cards have worked their way up into 1st place in the NL Central today, sitting only 0.5 games ahead of ….. the Brewers?!?

Are you sitting down for this??….  Yesterday,  Ryan Franklin the deposed closer showed up without his trademark beard/goat/chinpuff/chinzilla yesterday.  The now clean-shaven Franklin may be able to hide in plain sight, almost unrecognizable.  Franklin without his facial hair???  If it weren’t so sad, I’d be talking about how much better he looks, but now just doesn’t seem like the time for that.  (Screen capture from the televised game last night. )

Also, Albert Pujols was removed from the game last night with reported tightness in his hamstring.  That should be enough to keep us worrying on a day without Cardinals baseball!

Have a great 1st-place kind of Monday, Cardinal Nation!

Tomorrow the Redbirds take on the Astros in Houston.

Go Cards!!  =)

The BEST Rivalry

Let me say right now, that if you’re a big fan of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry and think it’s the best rivalry in sports… I’m not sure how you got here, but you’re lost, and should probably leave now.

In the earlier years of baseball, when the thought of teams west of the Mississippi River was still a novel idea and Jack Buck and Harry Caray were crooning over the waves of KMOX, most of the people in the Midwest only had the Cardinals and Cubs to follow along with. You could find fans of both teams duking it out from Nebraska to Tennessee, because those were the only teams they really ever heard about. The players know it is a special rivalry, the fans feel it … and the rest of the world, for the most part, tends to ignore it.

Fast forward to 2010. The Cardinals/Cubs rivalry, while still very special to fans of both sides, feels all but ignored by the rest of the country. Even Major League Baseball schedulers have showed little regard for scheduling the match-ups. A lot was made about the fact that this weekend’s series was the first time these two teams have met this year. In the same vein, today’s series with the Reds marks the third series in the first two months for the two teams. I imagine that it’s not easy putting together the schedule for a year’s worth of baseball games for 30 teams, but seriously, let me try. I can do better than that.

This weekend’s series might not have been one for the ages. It was great to take a series win in Chicago and salvage a 3-3 road trip, and I’m definitely thankful to Erika for making Albert Pujols mad enough to hit 3 home runs yesterday after she dared to question him on Friday, but chances are we won’t be talking about any one of these games for years to come. That said, I did want to share with you some memorable Cards/Cubs games that we are still talking about…

June 20, 1968
Bob Gibson had a memorable 1968 season. He led the league with a 1.12 ERA, 13 shutouts, 268 strikeouts, went to the All-Star Game, won the Cy Young, won the NL MVP, and won a Gold Glove… not to mention his 17 strikeouts in game 1 of the World Series. In this game, Gibby came up against Fergie Jenkins, and both hurlers threw complete games, with Gibson striking out 6, giving up 5 hits and 1 walk, and Jenkins striking out 11, giving up 4 hits and 2 walks. The only tally for the game occurred in the bottom of the 3rd, when Lou Brock slapped a ball to right and scrambled all the way to third for a triple, then was brought home by a Curt Flood single to left. The Cardinals snuck out with a 1-0 win, which meant that Gibby came away with a deserving win, instead of the 11 times in his career that he lost with a 1-0 score.

June 23, 1984
The Cardinals and Cubs traded blows for 11 innings on this day, and with a final score of 12-11 Cubs, you know some crazy events had to happen. Most notable in this game included Willie McGee hitting for the cycle, and Bruce Sutter coughing up the lead not only in the 9th inning, but again in the 10th, both on home runs to Ryne Sandberg.

September 8, 1989
Going in to the top of the 5th inning, the Cardinals were already down 7-1 and starter Joe Magrane had been chased after just 3 innings. The Cardinals put 1 on the board in the 5th, 4 in the 7th and 5 in the 8th to make an impressive come from behind 11-8 final score. Those 5 runs in the 8th were scored off of a Pedro Guerrero 3 run moon shot (think the distance of Albert’s blasts from yesterday) and a 2 run blast by Terry Pendleton all off of Mitch Williams, who was having the best year of his 11 year career.

September 8, 1998
After a summer of slamming long blasts, Mark McGwire took over the single season home run record after lining a ball just far enough to sneak over the left field wall for number 62 on the year. It was only fitting that the Cubs were in town for this game, with Sammy Sosa – who had been trading blasts with Mac all summer long – coming in from the outfield to join in the celebration at home plate.

Obviously there have been many other memorable games for the Cardinals and Cubs over the span of their rivalry, spanning almost 130 years and thousands of players. Whether you’re talking about the sea of red making their way to the friendly confines, Brock for Broligo, or 2006 vs. 1908, it’s not difficult to see the history seeping through. This is a rivalry for the ages, and it’s a shame that more people don’t see it that way.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, everyone. Remember those who have sacrificed their lives so we can enjoy a day off with nothing better to do than catch up on the national pastime!

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