5 Most Intense Moments in the Cardinals-Cubs Rivalry
Yesterday, the Cardinals and Cubs split a two game series at Wrigley Field. And they'll meet for 5 more series in 2013. One of baseball's greatest rivalries, these two historic franchises are driven by the desire to rule the Midwest.
Oftentimes, families are divided by the issue of who to cheer for. The Cubbies have the edge in the long series at 1,173 to 1,115, but the Cards have 11 World Championships to the Cubs' two. So when attendance looks down after their first meeting this year, let's look back on some fire-fueling events of the past.
I've chosen five moments and ranked them according to their ability to amp up the competition between these division rivals. Let's see which instances had the largest effect on fans' bad blood. And feel free to share your own thoughts and memories in the comments section below!
5. Theriot's Choice Words
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Once well-liked on Chicago's North Side, the former Cub became the target of every Cubs fans' dartboard after landing on the Cardinals in 2011 and claiming he was "finally on the right side" of the rivalry.
Ryan Theriot didn't just hint at who he thought was the better team, he outright declared St. Louis the winner. And lucky for him, the Redbirds were able to back him up with a World Series title that year.
This particular moment doesn't carry too much weight these days, as Theriot has moved on from both Chicago and St. Louis. But it still served as a reminder that the "right side" and the "wrong side" are highly subjective terms. After all, Cubs fans sure weren't ready to wave the white flag after that one regardless of their record.
4. Pujols vs. Wood
During a game in 2003, Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds had just hit a home run off of Kerry Wood. Albert Pujols stepped up to the plate and was knocked to the ground by a pitch that whizzed right under his chin.
How did he deal with this? He knocked the next ball right back - all the way out of the park.
There have, of course, been many player-on-player moments in this rivalry's history. But a series of plays involving the potential injury of one of the best and most valuable hitters the game had ever seen is cause for a number four slot on this list.
3. "The Sandberg Game"
Photo courtesy miserablecubsfan.com
In 1984, the Cubs would make an underdog NLCS appearance. And one of the defining moments of their season came in a game with the Cardinals, of course.
Chicago trailed 9-8 in the ninth when Ryne Sandberg stepped up to face the dominant closer, Bruce Sutter. Sandberg homered to left field, displaying his power for one of the first times. But the Cards answered with two runs in the top of the tenth.
Later that inning, the game saw fit to rematch Sutter and Sandberg, and again, Sandberg was victorious launching his second home run of the game.
The Cubs were able to take the game from the unsuspecting Cardinals, showcasing the talent that would put them on top for one year in an era that had already seen some Redbird success. And any game that earned its own nickname must have stuck with fans for quite a while.
2. The Home Run Race
The 1998 home run race between the Cardinals' Mark McGwire and the Cubs' Sammy Sosa is often credited for revitalizing interest in baseball after the strike that affected the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Steroids or not, it also pumped some blood into the veins of the rivalry.
The two mashers battled to overtake Roger Maris' coveted single-season home run record (61) and almost matched each other blow for blow.
Things would come to a climax in early September when the two teams met and McGwire hit homers 61 and 62. He would end the season with 70 and Sosa would finish with 66.
Playing to break what had been considered an "unbreakable" record is a high honor, and both teams wanted that glory. On a national stage, all eyes were on this race and it was the Cardinals who came out on top.
1. The 1886 World Series
In order to find the most intense Cardinals-Cubs moment, we have to go back to the start of it all.
The 1885 World Series between the St. Louis Browns (eventually the Cardinals) and the Chicago White Stockings (eventually the Cubs) ended in an unsatisfying 3-3-1 tie. You see, back in the day they couldn't play past the time when daylight disappeared, at which point they would have to end the game no matter the score.
A rematch the next year was all the more heated as the teams sought an answer to the question: who is the better team?
Going into the sixth game of the series, the Browns led the series 3-2. Chicago found themselves with a 3-0 lead in the 8th inning, but an Arlie Latham triple tied the game and the Browns' Curt Welch walked off after scoring from third on a wild pitch.
Imagine what that kind of World Series action would do to a crowd today! Who could expect anything but the beginning of a beautiful rivalry?