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.
Cubs vs Cardinals Rivalry
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").
Some perspective (mostly for my own benefit): Dan Straily beat MadBum 2-1 today as the Reds took 2 of 3 in SF. Giants are 2-9 since the break and their lead over LA is down to 2.5 games. So, yeah...baseball. It'll drive ya nuts.
McNutt / Archer didn't work out well for us.
The floor is more valuable than the ceiling. It's the same reason we drafted Kris Bryant instead of Jon Gray.
Apparently the Yankees had the choice of either Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez in the Chapman deal, and they chose Torres.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.