Top 5 Favorite Cubs vs. Cardinals Moments
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").
#4 - NeifiSlam!
The year before, the Cardinals were victimized by a far less suspecting culprit; every Cubs fans' favorite whipping boy - Neifi!. Entering the game, the Cubs were already 13 games back in the division, but still had a shot at the wild card, just 5.5 back. If only we could keep Prior and Wood healthy all season (crap, $5). Prior actually did start that game and labored through six innings, while giving up three early runs. The Cubs took the lead in the eight with two runs, but little David Eckstein tied it up in the ninth with a towering home run to deep center.
Check that, a single to right off Ryan Dempster that scored Hector Luna. The home run would have made for a better storyline though, especially if he hit the lights and they started sparking.
The tenth rolled around - and I believe this was another ESPN Sunday night game like the Barrett game - and the Cubs leadoff again with Todd Walker. He doubled and the LaRussa intentionally walked the uber-hot Derrek Lee (remember his 2005 season, when he didn't hit into a double play every other at-bat?). Jeromy Burnitz then bunted them over (WTF?) and Aramis was intentionally walked to load the bases. That lead to....wait, hold on, Jeromy Burnitz was asked to bunt? That seems strange, no? I bet TCR was all over that when it happened (from Transmission's recap of the game):
With runners on first and second and Burnitz up in the top of the tenth, Dusty has Burnitz bunt. This gives me a profound sense of deja vu, because the only other game recap I’ve ever written was for game 50, and it included this comment:
With a runner on first and nobody out in the ninth, tie game, Gagne on the mound, Dusty asked Burnitz to bunt. Burnitz has one sacrifice bunt since 1999. He bunted hard to the third-baseman, forcing the runner at second base. Let me quote to you from the delightful children’s story and excellent allegory, The Little Prince:
“If I ordered a general to fly from one flower to another like a butterfly, or to write a tragic drama, or to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not carry out the order that he had received, which one of us would be in the wrong?” the king demanded. “The general, or myself?”
“You,” said the little prince firmly.
“Exactly. One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform,” the king went on. “Accepted authority rests first of all on reason. If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution. I have the right to require obedience because my orders are reasonable.”
Remarkably, this time Burnitz gets it down.
Of course, it’s still perhaps not the right play, because LaRussa just intentionally walks the next hitter, Aramis Ramirez. Joe Morgan correctly points out that by bunting we took the bat away from not just our fourth-place hitter, but also our fifth-place hitter. And indeed, the next hitter up, Barrett, strikes out.
Ah, how we do miss those Transmission recaps. So Barrett doesn't play the hero this time and it's left up to Neifi! Let's go back to Transmission:
So Neifi Perez comes up with the bases loaded and two outs. Neifi has about a .555 OPS since the start of June, and has never hit a home run in St. Louis.
I’ll let the Chatroom describe what happens next.
our hopes lie with Perez
here’s Neifi “swinging bunt” Perez”
500 ft. homers anyone?
I have been talking junk about Perez all night….. so this f____r is due for a hit
We need Murton here
our best hope is HBP
OH MY GOD
grand slame!! [sic]
brb pigs are flying in my window.
Great moments in Parachat history....
Neifi lined one right down the line and the Cardinals get punked by Neifi!
#3 - Carlos Zambrano drills Jim Edmonds
Before Jim Edmonds became the glorious Cubs bastard that he is in 2008, he was one of the most hated Cardinals players to ever suit up. On July 19th, 2004, Carlos Zambrano won the hearts of Cubs fans, well this one at least, Alex Ciepley at the time thought he was being immature (Don't be fooled by the byline, Alex wrote that piece). I say Zambrano was being heroic.
It was mid-July and the Cubs were down six in the standings and the Cardinals rolled into town with Chris Carpenter on the mound. Z started off wild and plunked Edmonds in the first inning and by all accounts, it was just one that got away. After three scoreless, Z gives up a two-run jack to Edmonds in the fourth and didn't take too kindly to what he felt was Edmonds gawking at his triumph. A lesser man would have plunked the next hitter or Edmonds the next time up. Instead, when Edmonds sauntered up to the plate in the sixth, Z reared back and threw three straight past Edmonds for the strikeout. You couldn't write it any better than that.
The eight rolled around and the game was tied at three. A leadoff walk to Tony Womack, followed by a Michael Barrett passed ball (who'd thunk?) and a Renteria sacrifice, left the tying run 90 feet away with one out and Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen due up. Z comes back after a 2-0 count to get Pujols swinging.
Rolen steps up and promptly takes him out of the park on a 2-1 pitch.
Well you're at 108 pitches and your night is likely over after the next out and your arch-nemesis is coming up; so might as well go out with a bang. Z drills Edmonds and calls it a night. Z claims the ball slipped out of his hand. Tony LaRussa whined like the lil' bitch he always has been:
"I don't care what the rivalry is, what the circumstance is, what the standings are, you are not allowed to cross the line in this game and their pitcher crossed it twice," LaRussa said.
Shut up and get off your shine box!
Cubs go on to lose 5-4, but who cares? There are so many times we're teased about a rivalry that never quite reaches the boiling point. The talk is there, but never the action. This was the baseball we grew up hearing stories about. No stepping down, mano-a-mano, each guy raising their game to the next level and even when you're beat, you give them something to think about for the next game.
Brilliant theater. Bad Baseball.
#2 - Cubs beat Cardinals four out five at Wrigley in September
The magical 2003 season was mostly the Cubs hovering around .500 until September. After losing two of three to the Brewers, the Cubs had the Cardinals coming to town for five straight including a double-header on Tuesday to make up for an earlier rain-out. They entered the series 69-66 and 2.5 games behind the Cardinals in third place and 1.5 back of the Astros.
I don’t get this? We have a fairly fres Bullpen with the additions of 2 new guys. We have a 7 run lead, why is prior still pitching? GET HIM OUT OF THERE!!!
The next day was the double-header and Z throws a tame 113 pitches in a 4-2 win to beat Jason Simontacchi (we were trailing this team?). The nightcap proved to be the only the Cardinals win of the series, as Matt Morris goes seven shutout innings for the 2-0 win. Kerry Wood goes seven himself with nine strikeouts, but gives up a home run to Jim Edmonds and another unearned run for the loss.
Game four is when the fun really starts as the Cubs spot a six run lead to the Cardinals. They get it to 7-6 entering the bottom of the eighth and a Mark Grudzielanek run-scoring triple and then a Moises Alou game-winning hit give them the 8-7 win.
That sets up game five and a Cubs win means they pick up three games on the Cardinals, a loss means they only pick up a game and would still be in third place. Shawn Estes goes for the Cubs and proceeds to give up five runs in five innings. Curse you Shawn Estes! The offense though sets him up for the win by scoring three in the bottom of the fifth to take a 6-5 lead.
That holds until the seventh when for some reason Todd Wellemeyer is pitching and the Cards scratch out the tying run. Mike DeJean comes in for the Cardinals in the seveth and gets leadoff hitter Troy O'Leary to ground out. But Moises Alou draws a walk and then Aramis is nailed to set up the stage for....Tony Womack!!!!
Womack comes through with a single, Remlinger and Borowski shut the door, the Cubs get within a half game of the Astros and lead the Cards by a half game and there was much rejoicing.
#1 - The Ryne Sandberg Game
Hell, just call it "The Game" - for it was the genesis of Cubs fandom for millions.
I popped in my DVD from the Chicago Cubs Legends DVD set to wash the taste out of Saturday's loss and jar the old memory. Bob Costas (total St. Louis homer) and Tony Kubek did the call for the NBC game of the week. It would have been nice if the other NBC team of Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola were announcing it, but they were down in Atlanta covering a Fernando Valenzuela start. For those a little younger than me, you may not remember that the NBC game of the week on Saturday was a pretty big deal. The only real opportunity to see other teams play and when the Cubs were on, it was like being on the ESPN Sunday Night Game of the Week times 10.
Steve "Rainbow" Trout got the start and couldn't make it past the second inning. The big play was a chopper by St. Louis pitcher John Citarella that went over the vertically challenged Ron Cey's head with one out. For some reason, Cey was still playing in for a bunt even though Citarella had two strikes. The flood gates opened up after that and the Cardinals took a 7-1 lead that lasted until the 5th. The Cubs offense struck back, thanks mostly to the "Daily Double" of Bob Dernier and Ryne Sandberg, and by the end of six, it was 9-8.
Neil Allen and Bruce Sutter retired the next six Cubs in a row, which set the table for the bottom of the ninth. Sandberg stepped up against Sutter, already 3-4 with 4 RBI's. Sandberg takes the first pitch for a ball low . The next one tails back over the outside corner for a strike. Sutter throws the same pitch on 1-1 it tails back way too far inside and Sandberg crushes it to the back of the left field bleachers.
There was much rejoicing.
Gary Matthews (The Sarge) singles immediately after and steals second, but is eventually stranded at third base.
The Cards strike back in the 10th with two of their own as Willie McGee hits a double to get the cycle. NBC even gives him the player of the game honors before the game is finished. Sutter stays in for the 10th because that's what relievers did back then and gets Larry Bowa and Richie Hebner for the first two outs.
Bob Dernier steps up and is already 3 for 5 with 3 runs scored. He works the count to 3-2. Sutter throws his splitter which not only has good downward movement but tails back over the plate and in on righties. It looks like Dernier might have offered, but the ump says he managed to check his swing. The pitch itself looked like it might have been a called strike, but Darrell Porter muffed it.That is one clutch walk.
Sandberg steps up again while Bob Costas is running through the thank you's of the TV crew. Sutter though leaves a splitter right over the middle of the plate and Sandberg knocks it about halfway up the left-center stands.
Sandberg goes from hero to legend.
The Cubs win it in the 11th on a Dave Owen single and the Cubs take off the rest of the way to win the NL East.