Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Cubs/Cards Pennant Chases Begin Again...

The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will meet for the first time this year Wednesday, as the two rivals renew this century old skirmish.

The teams first met in 1892 when ole Kid Gleason faced Ad Gumbert in the first game of the '92 campaign. The Cubs would win the first matchup 14-10 at the First Sportsman's Park.

(Side bar to this, the young kid Gleason would later become the manager of...anyone, anyone...YES, the 1919 Chicago Black Sox. Looks like the Cards were grooming cheaters right from the beginning!)
(Double side bar, glancing at 'Kid's' stats, the punk was 38-17 in 1890 with Philly. 38-17? And we can't get Wood or prior to START 30?)
(Triple side bar. I did not find if this Gleason was related to a later Gleason who would later show on a certain Chicago Sports Writers spot in the 1980's...but, I digress.)

What makes this rivalry so great is not just the proximity between the two cities, but the fights the two squads have had for pennants, division titles, and wild card berths through the years.

Here is a listing of great September Cubs-Cardinals moments:

1930: The St. Louis Cardinals dethroned the Cubs from atop the NL in '30 going 31-6 down the stretch to down the Cubs by 2 games. No word yet on how many shots Hack Wilson downed after the Cubs were eliminated.

1935: With the Cubs six games back in the NL picture, Wrigleyville was set to close shop, and gear for '36. The Bruins had other ideas though ripping off a 21 straight victories en route to a two game pennant win over the Cards. Winners of 18 straight, the Cubs faced the Cards for a five game set, and Lon Warneke, Charlie Root, and Bill 'don't call me Spaceman' Lee won games 19, 20, and 21 in a row to shut down Lou-ville and wrap up the title.

1938: Cubs fans may remember the 'Homer in the Gloamin' as the big win for the '38 squad, BUT, the Cubs clinched the NL pennant with a 10-3 win a couple days later over St. Louis, in another pitching gem by Charlie Root.

1945: The '45 campaign was a roaring success for the Cubs, BUT, the pennant race should've been over much sooner. The Cards were the ones to blame. The Cubs lost 16 of 22 to the Cards during the year, keeping the race closer than it should have been.

1946: With St. Louis leading by 1 game over Brooklyn with three games remaining, the 'lame duck Cubs' stole two of three from the Cards forcing St. Louis into a tie with Brooklyn for the NL title. Although the Cards would beat the Dodgers 2-0, this showing of resiliency sparked the rivalry for years to come.

1949: With a half game lead with three games left, the Cubs put the pressure on the Cards again. With their season over, the Cubs took the first two games of the set, and eliminated the Cards from the NL race on the final weekend, and giving the Dodgers the '49 NL title.

1967: On July 24th, 1967 the Cubs and Cards were tied for first atop the NL standings. The Cards would give the young Cubs a taste of 'what it takes' by ripping off 8 wins in 9 games against the Cubs the rest of the way, sending the Cubs into a tailspin for the rest of the season. The Cards, of course, would go on to win the '67 crown.

1969: Many people can point to what they want on the '69 collapse. But, losing 4 of 6 to the Cards in the final 1 1/2 months doesn't do much for this writer.
On 9/13/1969 the Cubs were still only 2 1/2 games behind the Mets for first in the N.L. East. With the Cubs leading 4-3 in the eighth, the Cards would rally to tie, AND with two out and two on Joe Torre hit a two run single to give STL the 6-4 win. For all the talk about Don Young's missed fly balls...this game may have been the bigger back breaker.

1970: Many forget the Cubs were only 1 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh entering a 9/23 contest with St. Louis. The Cards would sweep this double header behind Bob Gibson and Jerry Reuss by 2-1 scores. Good bye Cubs.

1974: Cardinal fans may remember the Cardinals lost chances in their race with Pittsburgh for the '74 title... On 9/28/74, the Cubs rallied down 3-0, led by Bill Madlock's three run triple to beat the Cards 8-3, and put the final touches on St. Louis' push for the championship.

1984: Much talk is made of the Sandberg game in June of '84, but it was the Cubs' sweep of a HUGE double header in St. Louis that pretty much wrapped up the title. The Cubs entered that game losers of five straight. After all the crap we've gone though...not even a five game lead with seven games left seemed safe.

1985: I feel sorry for anyone who bought Cubs-Cardinals tickets for the final series of the year at Busch. Not to mention the Cubs went in the tank, you had to watch the Cards clinch over the Cubs 7-1 on the second to final day of the year.

1987: Andre did all he could. The Cubs took 2 of 3 from the Cards at Wrigley, and shrunk the Cards' lead to 2 1/2 games over the Mets with one week left. Many Cub fans will never forget Dawson's eighth inning at bat with every one standing.

1989: The Cards had nibbled the Cubs lead to only 1/2 game going into the big Saturday matchup. Luis Salazar proved to be worth the mid season trade by singling to tie, and doubling to win in the tenth. Dawson's knees popping rounding third can still be heard if you stand at the right point in Wrigley on a cold September evening.

1996: Stupid me. Stupid us. I thought that coming in 5 1/2 back their might be one chance, just ONE chance the Cubs could make a run in '96. Ryno's two run homer in the eighth gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead, but the Cards rallied for four in the bottom half including Brian Jordan's game winning two run homer off Turk Wendell.

2003: The Cubs take four of five in thrilling fashion.

2005: ??????????????????????????????????????

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