Chicago Cubs: Rivalry with the St. Louis Cardinals takes next step


It’s been a while since games against the Cards mattered like this. Some may not even recall that happening. But they indeed do, and the rivalry has just been taken up a notch.

Depending on your time as a fan of the Chicago Cubs, there may be differing degrees of dislike for the St. Louis Cardinals. A young fan may not have any at all, as he’s not witnessed a true “rivalry”–just games with the team that his father has told him they don’t like. The media and announcers hype it as a rivalry, but there hasn’t been much on the line in recent years. Even when the Cubs prevailed, the Cardinals would go to the postseason–the Cubs left licking their wounds.

2,363 games played since 1882. The two teams have been division rivals forever, although the Cubs have rarely come out on top in that respect. The Cardinals have continued to find a way into the postseason, and once there do damage. The Cubs have been lying in waiting, rebuilding, waiting for the opportunity to seize the upper hand in the rivalry. Now they have their chance as the two meet in the playoffs for the first time ever. This is thanks to the Wild Card round, which since its inception the Cubs haven’t really been a part of.

They’ve gone ahead and punched that ticket thanks to Jake Arrieta‘s brilliance against the other NL Central rivals–the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s a shame the three best teams in baseball have to beat up on each other in the first two rounds, sending two of them home. Even if the Cubs didn’t make it to the World Series, knocking the Cards from the playoffs may in itself incite a celebration the like to which you have never seen.

In my life, I’ve watched more than my share of Cubs v. Cardinals games. I’m sure I was “taught” about the rivalry, but it didn’t take me long to learn it on my own. At 36, I’ve been lucky enough to see quite a few Cubs’ “winners”. I’ve seen them in the postseason seven times total. Not a great percentage but a Cubs’ lifer such as my dad who is in his 80’s would be much worse. But, he was alive the last time they were IN the World Series. He says he doesn’t remember much since he was very young. I remember 1984 and I was only five. I think he blocked it out.

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But for the first time, for me at least, the rivalry will finally have TRUE meaning. No more “bragging rights” type games. No more playing late season “spoiler” to a Cards team that would be playoff bound as the Cubs prepared to pack it up. Nope. Not this time. This is for a trip to the NLCS. This would be the third time I would see them there if they advance. Third time’s a charm of course.

This series will ignite feelings in some fans that have forgotten they had. For others, it will create them. It will feed them. You won’t hate them because your parents did, and their parents before them did. No. This will grow from watching this young, upstart group of kids mixed with veterans defy the timeline logic to play for a championship sooner than later. It will grow because it will go right through the Arch of St. Louis and you couldn’t be happier that it did.

When someone asks why the Cards are rivals, you’ll be able to point to October of 2015 and say “That series. That’s the one that did it for me.”

Next: Looking back on historic night for Cubs