The Best Rivalry in Sports Just Got Better

On Sunday May 7, 1893, the St. Louis baseball club managed by Bill Watkins defeated the Chicago club, managed by Hall of Famer Cap Anson, 8-0 at Sportsman’s Park.  2,351 games later (1190-1142 Chicago advantage, 19 ties), and not a single post-season matchup between the two.  Of course, that is mostly because divisional play did not begin until 1969.  And since 1969, it was a very rare occasion, indeed, that the two teams would both be good enough to even think about the post-season, let alone playing each other.  That all changed this past week as, for the first time in each team’s storied history, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals played in the 2015 National League Divisional Series.

What a series it was.  The Cardinals threw the first punch with a mesmerizing pitching performance from John Lackey.  It looked as if the Cardinals’ recent dominance in this series would continue.  But then something baseball fans are not used to happening happened.  This Cubs team refused to roll over and play dead.  In Game Two, the Cubs took advantage of Cardinals miscues en route to a 6-3 victory, fueled largely by Jorge Soler and a brilliant bullpen performance.  The beast was awakened.

Then came Game Three on Monday evening.  It took an historic performance from Cubs’ hitters on a night when the wind was blowing out and staff ace Jake Arrieta was having a mortal game on the mound, but the home team prevailed 8-6, getting the Wrigley faithful into a tizzy, giddy with excitement about what could possibly happen next.

The stage was set.  This ballpark has witnessed its share of memorable moments.  The Babe’s “Called Shot”, the “Homer in the Gloamin‘”, the highest scoring game in modern MLB history, the Sandberg game, and, of course, The Bartman Game.  But never in  the 101 year history of Wrigley Field, never had a post-season series clinching victory occurred for the home team.  Never, that is, until October 13, 2015.  One day before the anniversary of that heart wrenching 2003 Game Six.  On Tuesday, the Chicago Cubs sent the Cardinals home for the winter with a 6-4 victory in which The Kids stepped up, once again, as rookie Kyle Schwarber, almost rookie Javier Baez, and “veteran” Anthony Rizzo hit home runs to back another solid bullpen effort.

Now, the Central Division Champs, who won 100 regular season games, sit at home and the Wild Card Cubs, winners of 97 of their own, await the victor in the other NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets.  There are a few blank pages left in the book, and the Cubs are looking to add some history.

–Omar Gobby

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