Cubs vs Cardinals Rivalry
After this weekend's Cardinals sweep of the Cubs, many fans have been wondering if this really is as much of a rivalry as the media makes it out to be. The perception seems to be that the fans are not as into it as they are other rivalries (perhaps White Sox, Royals), and that it has been a mostly one-sided match-up in recent years. While it is difficult to measure the first claim, we can examine the second. The table below shows the last 20 years of Cubs-Cardinals match-ups, including the head-to-head record for that year and each team’s overall winning percentage at the end of the season. Overall, the Cubs’ record vs. the Cardinals for the past 20 years has been 147-165, or a .471 winning percentage, which suggest the teams have played each other at much closer to parity than perceptions suggest. The Cubs have mostly held their own. This is even more impressive when looking at the season winning percentages. The Cardinals have had the better season record in 15 of the last 20 seasons, yet the Cubs have taken 9 of the head-to-head matchups. In several seasons (2005, 2006, and 2010) the Cubs far exceeded expectations: below-.500 Cubs teams dominated much better Cardinals teams on the season. These are small sample sizes and anything can happen in a short series, so we can’t take much away from this. But it should at least be clear that the Cardinals have had an advantage in the rivalry in recent decades but that is largely due to them fielding far superior teams, and that advantage hasn’t been as big as we might think.
When you start writing a sports blog, there's a little handbook handed out to everyone that tells you how to drive up your traffic. The list includes posting drunken photos of players, hot women (they don't even have to be sports-related), making up trade rumors and top ten lists. The criteria for this post was the top ten moments I could remember off the top of my head...I only came up with five.
#5 - Michael Barrett grand slam home run at Wrigley
There wasn't a whole lot of hope entering the 2006 season, but there still was some if EVERYTHING broke the right way. And if Mark Prior and Kerry Wood were healthy ($5 to the TCR tip jar for uttering that phrase). The Cubs started off splitting two against the Reds on the road and then came home for three against the Cardinals. By the time Sunday rolled around, they had won the first two and were looking for blood - Cardinal blood!!
Sean Marshall got the first start of his career and put the Cubs in a quick two-run hole after giving up a first-inning blast to Scott Rolen. The Cubs battled back and by the eighth it was 4-3 Cardinals. After Ricardo Rincon walked Todd Walker to leadoff the inning, God's-gift-to-managing Tony LaRussa went to his closer Jason Isringhausen for the two-inning save. He promptly walked Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez to load them up for Michael Barrett. Barrett then nailed a 2-2 pitch deep into the Sunday night air, way out in left field to give the Cubs a 7-4 lead. They added an insurance run and won 8-4.
The Cubs made it through April with a 13-10 record and then lost about 25 straight to start May and maybe another 15 or so to end May and I think there were a few 10 and 8 game losing streaks as well in June and July. But for one magnificent evening, Michael Barrett made us feel like champions (cue theme song from "Rudy").