Tag Archive | "Dusty Baker"

LaRussa To Manage Once Again

Word came down this week that long-time St. Louis Cardinals manager, Tony LaRussa, had been asked by Commissioner Bud Selig to manage the National League All-Star team during the mid-summer classic. Major League Baseball’s 83rd All-Star game will be held on July 10, 2012 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City…which, if you’re somehow on this website, and didn’t know that, you should probably avoid sharp objects.

La Russa will be the second retired manager to manage in the All-Star Game, joining John McGraw, who managed the National League team in the first playing in 1933. Two other managers have worked the All-Star Game while no longer with the teams with which they won the pennant: Dusty Baker in 2003 and Dick Williams in 1974. Even still, the request by Selig didn’t come without some fans balking at the idea (Bob Davidson alert!). Just imagine it, Tony LaRussa being part of conversations where fans have a difference of opinion.

Don’t think of it as “good-bye”, guys. Think of it as, “so long for just awhile”.

I’ll say this: Anyone who thinks Tony LaRussa will manage this game with any less intensity or with a different style and approach than we’ve seen in the past simply isn’t paying attention. The guy’s developing an ulcer even as you read this, trying to decide how he’s going to handle the 6th. Not to say he won’t make a move that leaves the entire freaking world scratching their head wondering precisely WTF he was thinking, but you can bet your life’s savings he’ll have what he feels is a very good reason for making that move. Remember last time he managed an All-Star game on the 10th of July? Aaron friggin’ Rowand, are you kidding me?

I’ll say this about the All-Star game, though: If you’ve never been to one, go. Especially for you folks living in the Kansas City area, I can’t overstate it.

Go. To. This. Game.

Go to the fan fest, go to the futures game, the old-timers game, the home run derby, go see all of it, every last bit you possibly can. (If you absolutely must miss something, I’d suggest the celebrity softball game.) The All-Star game doesn’t come to town that often, and the next time it does, face it, you’ll be too old to go enjoy it. Sleep some other time. Refinance your house. Pimp your daughter. Whatever you have to do to take part in this experience, do it*.

I went to the 80th All-Star game when it came to St. Louis in 2009. During those few days, I slept only a little, and spent a whole lot. I’ve joked since then that I “…had planned on sending my daughter to college, but left field bleacher tickets to a Home Run derby & All-Star Game don’t come cheap!” But, getting to see those guys play? I mean, I checked off two lifetimes’ worth of “players I’d like to see play before I die” bucket list names that night. Oh, and being IN the highlight of the Carl Crawford catch? Priceless.

It’s pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’d encourage anyone & everyone to take advantage, and make it happen. If you’re a baseball fan, you will not regret getting to see these living legends play, live and in-person.

…As well as what’s likely to be Tony LaRussa’s last game managed.

Part of this article was taken from a piece written by Matthew Leach, who is waaay more talented than I. Hence the reason I used some of his work. (full article here).

*Don’t pimp your daughter.

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The Cueto Incident And How MLB Let Jason La Rue Down

After this three game series in Chicago, the Cardinals will travel to Cincinnati for a weekend set against the Reds. Now that Johnny Cueto has been activated from the disabled list, it will also be the first time the Cardinals will face him since the benches clearing skirmish that ended Jason La Rue’s career.

The Commissioners’ Office referenced the Roseboro incident as a guideline for determining punishment for the players and coaches involved in that unfortunate situation, and we have looked at that in a previous I-70 Baseball article. Now it is time to turn our attention to the Cueto incident, and see how the Commisioner did in this case.

August 9, 2010

The Cardinals and Reds had been battling for the lead in the National League Central since mid-May, with neither team being able to make much progress on the other. At the start of this game, the Cardinals trailed the Reds by two games.

There was controversy from the very beginning of the game, but not the type you would have thought. It was between two players from the Cardinals. A promising rally against a struggling Mike Leake had the makings of a huge first inning. As a result, Brendan Ryan ran down to the batting cages to get ready for his at-bat. A double play ended the rally unceremoniously, and Ryan had to hustle to get on the field in time to start the home half of the first. On the way, he couldn’t find his glove and chose to run out with one borrowed from a teammate. Just before Chris Carpenter was about to make his first pitch, somebody in the Cardinal’s dugout found Ryan’s glove and time was called. The volatile Cardinals hurler gave Ryan a glaring look as he switched out his equipment.

Between innings, Carpenter gave an earful to Brendan Ryan. Unfortunately for the two players, the exchange was captured on camera and replayed over and over.

The game was rather uneventful, and over before the last pitch in the fourth inning was thrown. Both pitchers were able to get through their first three innings without much difficulty. The fourth would be a different story as the Cardinals sent 12 men to the plate. When the final out was recorded, they had a commanding 7-0 lead.

Carpenter and two relievers would combine for the win, giving the Reds three runs in the late innings.

What the Cardinals did not know at the time were some inflammatory comments made by Brandon Phillips. He was speaking to a sports writer from Dayton, and took the opportunity to rip on the Cardinals.

I’d play against these guys with one leg. We have to beat these guys. I hate the Cardinals.
All they do is b***h and moan about everything, all of them, they’re little b****es, all of ‘em.
I really hate the Cardinals. Compared to the Cardinals, I love the Chicago Cubs.

Let me make this clear: I hate the Cardinals.

– Brandon Phillips, August 9, 2010

Oh, the Cardinals would learn of Phillips’ comments before the start of the next game.

August 10, 2010

Johnny Cueto would get the start for the Reds in the second game of the series. His opponent from St. Louis is the rookie left-hander, Jaime Garcia. Garcia being a rookie may have a significant impact on what was about to happen.

The Cardinals would manufacture a run in the first inning, thanks to a lead-off double by Felipe Lopez.

Things would turn nasty when the Reds came up to bat for the first time.

Brandon Phillips tapped Yadier Molina’s shin guards, as he usually does in his first plate appearance. Instead of choosing a more old-school approach of having his pitcher throw at Phillips, Molina decides to take matters into his own hands. He stands up and starts barking with Phillips. As the two exchange pleasantries, both benches clear and a mob begins to form around home plate.

Yadier Molina, Mark Wegner and Brandon Phillips

What happens next is captured in detail in the MLB Video Archives. You can see both the Fox Sports Ohio and Fox Sports Midwest broadcast of the event. In addition to the MLB video, our friends at Viva el Birdos have broken the event down into who did what to whom, albeit with the bias of a Cardinal Fan’s point of view.

It doesn’t matter if you are a Cardinals fan or a Reds fan, this conflict turned ugly. At the back of it all was Reds starting pitcher, Johnny Cueto. He was kicking Cardinals players repeatedly – and while still wearing his spikes. A very dangerous situation, indeed. The concussion that Jason La Rue sustained in the brawl would ultimately cost him the remainder of his baseball career.

What happens next angers Cardinals fans to this very day. Johnny Cueto was allowed to stay in the game.

Perhaps there is something to the notion of karma. Cueto would end up taking the loss, and the Cardinals would pull even with the Reds after this emotional victory. An dominating afternoon win by Adam Wainwright on the following day would give the Cardinals a sweep of the series, and a one game lead in the division. Sadly, it would be their last one as a disappointing homestand followed by a brutal road trip through Washington, Houston and Pittsburgh ended all playoff hopes for the 2010 season.

But that’s not the real end to this story.

A Slap on the Wrist

Major League Baseball was about to take punitive action against several Cardinals and Reds players and their managers.

The first failure of Major League Baseball happened immediately following the brawl. In the Roseboro incident, Shag Crawford wasted little time ejecting Juan Marichal. We will never know if he would have done the same to Roseboro because the Dodgers catcher had to leave the game due to injuries sustained in the attack.

Neither home plate umpire, Mark Wegner, nor crew chief Jeff Kellogg took any action towards Johnny Cueto. He was allowed to stay in the game, which in retrospect might have been a good thing for the Cardinals. He was clearly rattled and the Redbirds hitters were able to take advantage of that. Mark Wegner did eject both managers: Tony La Russa (St. Louis) and Dusty Baker (Cincinnati).

Next came the suspensions. Both managers were suspended for two games. It was the suspension for Cueto that raised eyebrows in Cardinals Nation. The big right-hander was given a seven game suspension for his “violent and aggressive actions.” All three were fined an undisclosed amount, as were Brandon Phillips, Yadier Molina, Russ Springer and Chris Carpenter. In case you are wondering about Springer’s fine, it was because he was still on the disabled list, and was not eligible to be on the field when the brawl took place.

Any way you look at this, Johnny Cueto got off with just a slap on the wrist. A seven game suspension meant that he would only miss one start. While the League Office did not know that Jason La Rue’s concussion was career ending, they did know that he had been placed on the disabled list immediately after the game. If the Commissioner were trying to apply the Roseboro Incident here, he really missed the mark. Juan Marichal was suspended for nine games when he took a baseball bat to the helmeted head of John Roseboro. He was also prohibited from making the final road trip to Los Angeles, which forced the Giants to rearrange their rotation to accommodate the ruling. In addition, Roseboro only missed a few games and never went on the disabled list. Even more infuriating was the part that Roseboro played in instigating the confrontation in 1965, which would have been taken into consideration in Marichal’s punishment. The only thing La Rue did was try to get between Cueto and his teammate, Chris Carpenter.

On the subject of fines, even though the one to Cueto was not disclosed, we can make some guesses relative to the one handed out to Marichal. The Giants hurler was fined $1,750, which was approximately 3% of his salary for the 1965 season. Marichal was an established star at the time and was earning the pay you would expect from a top player of his era. In 2010, Cueto was earning a league minimum of $445,000. 3% of that would be $13,300, and that is probably close to what he was actually fined. That amount would be consistent with other players whose fines were made public.

But let’s look at this another way. Cueto just signed a five year deal to avoid his arbitration years. That deal is paying him $3.4M for 2011. 3% of that would be a whopping $102,000. When was the last time you heard a player being fined anywhere near this amount ?

While there were some similarities between the Roseboro and Cueto incident (pennant race, a player using their equipment to injure another), there were some striking differences. Johnny Cueto was not provoked like Juan Marichal. Marichal also stopped hitting Roseboro when he saw that he was bleeding from under his batting helmet. Cueto kept on kicking until the scrum of players broke up.

The biggest difference between these two events is the power that the MLB Player’s Union carries. In 1965, the union was weak, relative to the team owners. As a result, baseball decisions coming out of the League Office tended to favor the position of the owners, not the players. Things were changing quickly, the union was not in the power chair quite yet. A ripple effect of this is that umpires were not shy in taking control of situations on the baseball field.

In 2010, the players union carries much more clout. The implication is that the League Office will not do anything to upset them, and put a future collective bargaining agreement in jeopardy. Umpires, except perhaps Bob Davidson, are less likely to take control of events in a baseball game, relying instead on filing a detailed report and letting somebody else make the decision about what to do, and whom to fine.

Tough Guys, Big Hearts

There must be something truly special about catchers. John Roseboro originally sued Juan Marichal, but later settled for a much reduced amount without going to court. That was later put behind the two men as Roseboro acknowledged his part in the event and subsequently forgave Marichal for his actions. They two became friends, and their story ends with Marichal delivering the eulogy at Roseboro’s funeral.

The last we heard from Jason La Rue was that the effects from the concussion were still persistent and making his daily life difficult. He also indicated that he has no plans on seeking any civil litigation as a result of Cueto’s attack, preferring to put the matter behind him. That’s already several steps down the path that Marichal and Roseboro took. Mr. Cueto, the ball is now in your court.

 

Bob Netherton covers Cardinals history for i70baseball.com and writes at On the Outside Corner. You may follow Bob on Twitter here or on Facebook here.

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Series Against Reds Starts With A Bang

St. Louis has seen a stormy Spring so far this year, and the forecast showed another doozy headed for the Gateway City right around the time the Cardinals were supposed to start the first game of their first 2011 series against the Cincinnati Reds. What better way to renew the recently escalated rivalry than to drop in a few tornadoes, right?

With the impending weather, Tony LaRussa pulled a quick switcheroo right before the game and penciled Miguel Batista in as the starting pitcher. The reasoning, of course, being that if/when the game was delayed, original starter Kyle McClellan would likely not be able to return to the mound and the game would essentially become a bullpen-burner. The Cards would have wasted the start by McClellan, making it tough to get the series off on the right foot.

Ironically, this is exactly what happened to the Reds. Dusty Baker—even though he had to know of the impending weather, too—elected to submit a lineup card that listed scheduled starter Edinson Volquez. The skies opened up two batters into the top of the first inning…which means Volquez warmed up but did not get to throw a pitch. Two-plus hours later, Volquez was spent…and Baker had to go to his bullpen for the entirety of the game.

So how did it all turn out? Once the game resumed around 9:30 CDT, McClellan took the mound and threw a great game. He tossed six innings before being lifted with two on, none out in the 7th and allowing two runs on seven hits. Reliever Eduardo Sanchez came on in relief in the 7th with runners at first and second, no one out and only allowed one of those inherited runners to score. Jason Motte struggled but got two outs in the eighth allowing no runs before being removed for Mitchell Boggs, who nailed down the final four outs for the save. Pretty typical game.

The Reds had a little rougher go of things. Baker was forced to have long reliever Matt Maloney start the game, and he was roughed up for three runs on eight hits in just two innings (73 pitches). After that, the Reds paraded out Jordan Smith for three innings, Nick Masset for two innings, and Bill Bray for one inning. They didn’t pitch a bad game, but they threw a lot of pitches. The Cards scored four runs, and that was enough.

The final score of the first game of this series: Cardinals 4, Reds 2. And the Reds’ bullpen will be short for Saturday’s game for sure and maybe Sunday’s game, too. The one possible advantage for Baker and his Redlegs is Volquez might be able to pitch Sunday night. But the Cards have already drawn first blood and leapfrogged the Reds into first place for the first time in the young 2011 season.

LaRussa haters and most Reds fans probably think the Cards’ manager pulled a dirty trick, but nothing he did was outside the rules. Baker could—and probably should—have done the same thing. As it turned out, LaRussa out-finessed Baker. It’s just another chapter in what is becoming a more intriguing rivalry each time these teams get together. The Reds are set up to be competitive for the foreseeable future, and the Cardinals always seem to find a way to be in the thick of things, even in their off years. Stuff like this, and the continued verbal diarrhea from Brandon Phillips, combine with all of the events from last year to become fuel for the fire. Oh, and these teams play each other 14 more times this season. Take cover.

Chris Reed also writes for InsideSTL Mondays and Bird Brained whenever he wants. Follow him on Twitter @birdbrained

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Royals Schedule Outlook: June

The biggest story of June could be decisions facing the club regarding whether or not to call up any of their top prospects. Rookies called up in June or after do not qualify for “super two” status, thus delaying arbitration eligibility down the line. It will be an exciting month if one or more of the heralded prospects make their debut.

Besides that, the second half of the month will be entirely inter-league with series against the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Cubs and Padres.

June Breakdown:

Total Games: 27

Home: 15

Road: 12

Vs teams with winning records in 2010: 14

Vs teams with losing records in 2010: 10

Vs teams in the AL Central: 4

Inter-league games: 12

Key Series:

June 2-5 vs. Minnesota – This is the only series against an AL Central opponent all month, but it will only be a key series if the Royals have a surprising start and are having dreams of contention.

June 17-19 @ St. Louis – After hosting the Cards in May, the Royals head across the state for the second part of the 2011 I-70 series.

Key To a Hot Start:

The first nine games of the month are home games, so the Royals will have to take full advantage of home cooking.

At the end of June:

If the Royals are above .500… The Royals will have beaten up on the National League, something that is not entirely out of the question.

If the Royals are .500… They will have significantly over-achieved.

If the Royals are below .500… No one will be surprised.

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Cardinals Schedule Outlook: April

Before we look ahead to April 2011, it’s important to note what happened back in April of 2010: The team was good. Good might not even do it justice, the Cardinals were great. The team won each of its first 5 series and finished the month with a record of 15-8, best in the National League. They ended up playing Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Atlanta in the opening month: 3 of the National League’s 4 eventual playoff teams. St. Louis posted a 7-4 record against those contenders, and in 2011, they’ll meet those same 3 playoff teams in the opening month again. Those eight games will be critical indicators for the direction the team is heading in this season.

April Breakdown:

Total Games: 26

Home: 11

Road: 15

Vs teams with winning records in 2010: 11

Vs teams with losing records in 2010: 15

Vs teams in the NL Central: 9

Key Series:

April 8-10 @ San Francisco – Anytime you play the defending champions is a good measuring stick for your ball club, especially when you play in their home park. The Cardinals went 3-3 against the Giants last season, with each team winning 2 out of 3 at their own park. Stealing 2 of 3 in San Francisco early in the season would be a huge lift for this team.

April 22-24 vs Cincinnati – You remember the Reds, don’t you? Brandon Phillips’ and his trash talking, and Johnny Cueto ending Jason Larue’s career in that nasty brawl in Cincinnati. Yeah, those Reds. The team that employs former Cardinals Scott Rolen and Walt Jocketty, and is managed by former Cubs manager, Dusty Baker. Its the team that took the 2010 Central Division Title away from the Cardinals. And come late April, it will be time for some long overdue payback.

Key To a Hot Start:

The Cardinals finished last season 86-76, good for 2nd in the NL Central and 5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds. A big reason St. Louis came up short in the standings last year was its lackluster play against teams with losing records, especially late last season. Dating back to late August, the team has a record of 7-18 against teams with losing records. So while it would be nice to steal 2 out of 3 from the Giants, Padres, Reds, and Braves, the teams needs to make sure and beat up on the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Nationals, and Astros.

At the end of April:

If the Cardinals have 15+ wins… they’re preforming beyond expectations. Even with a potentially “soft” early schedule, the team has 15 of its 26 games on the road. Without Adam Wainwright, 15 or more wins would have people talking up Tony La Russa as an early “Manager of the Year” candidate.

If the Cardinals are .500… I think most fans would hope for more, but all in all be satisfied.

If the Cardinals are below .500… most fans would either be in full-blown panic mode or will consider giving up on the season. We all know in the back of our minds that this is an uphill climb. Last year, the Cardinals had a terrific rotation anchored by 2 perennial Cy Young candidates and a lineup featuring Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday…but they still missed the playoffs. With the Reds stronger and the Cardinals weaker, a bad start to the year could be an early sign that it’s going to be a long summer in St. Louis.

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Baseball Bloggers Alliance Ballot: NL Manager Of The Year

Every year, the group known as the Baseball Bloggers Alliance places their ballots for various awards to be announced at the end of the season. This year, it is my pleasure to place the votes for the St. Louis Chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance in the category of Manager Of The Year. The award is officially titled The Connie Mack Award.

The National League this year has shown some diversity amongst the teams. Highly competitive races came down to the last few weeks of the season, highlighted by three teams and the men that guided them. In my mind, the top three managers to be considered for the award are listed here….

3 – Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds
I know, as a Cardinal person I should not even utter his name. However, all things considered, I think you have to acknowledge the job that Baker did in Cincinnati this season with a team that most did not expect to even finish above .500. I am personally not a fan of his management style, and honestly should probably put Walt Jocketty’s name in parenthesis behind Baker’s, but all things considered he took a team that should not have been in playoff contention and turned them into division champions.

The only thing keeping Baker from climbing higher into this list is the team’s collapse down the stretch. A team that had every opportunity to bury the Cardinals and seal the division very early on, the Reds resembled the World Series Champion Cardinals from 2006 that were known for “backing into” the playoffs. The Reds capitalized more in the month of September from the Cardinals inability to win then they did from their ability to do so.

2 – Brad Mills, Houston Astros
Speaking of teams that everyone picked to lose, the Houston Astros were picked by many to challenge the Pirates for the opposite end of the division race. A very young team that had some financial problems with veteran stars, the Astros were viewed as a franchise that was in turmoil. Locked into rebuilding with very talented youngsters, the team was mired in the back end of contracts to star players that needed to be replaced.

Brad Mills took a young group of players, watched talent like Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman be traded away, and somehow put together a season that suggests that the Astros could be competing sooner rather than later for the division title. A team that most picked to finish dead last was capable of posting a record that ended a mere 10 games below .500. Mills was rewarded with an extension to his contract, showing faith in his ability to lead the players through the remainder of the rebuilding process. With Mills at the helm, the rest of the National League Central should take notice of the Houston Astros.

1 – Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants
There are teams that overachieved and there are teams that went above and beyond. Bochy took a Giants team that many picked to be contenders, but not playoff ready, and has led them into the playoffs and past future Hall Of Fame manager Bobby Cox’s Atlanta Braves and into the National League Championship Series to take on baseball’s latest dynasty, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Most pundits did not think the Giants were quite “there” at the begining of this season. But behind Bochy’s leadership, the team leveraged great play from rookie cornerstones and solid play from veteran leaders to put themselves in a postion to steal the Postseason away from everyone involved.

There you have it, my picks for the Connie Mack Award for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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A Reflection On Rivalries

After a tumultuous three game set against the Cincinnati Reds last week, the Cardinals found themselves the talk of baseball. They rolled in to town two games back of the Reds and left town one game up, but in the end people were talking less about the standings and more about what happened off the diamond and outside the chalk lines of Great American Ballpark.

Much has been made of the fracas that occurred between the Reds and Cardinals, starting with Reds’ second baseman Brandon Phillips running his mouth and ending with suspensions and fines for five players and both managers. It eventually came to light that Phillips’ comment of “I hate the Cardinals,” was not such a foreign concept. The rivalry between the two teams suddenly felt very real, and fans on both sides of the fence were studying up on the other team, finding new and creative ways to lob shots at the other side.

As far as the Reds and the Cardinals go, there is not a long history between the two teams in terms of having bad blood towards the other. There might have been little things here and there over the years, which is not surprising considering both teams have been in existence and playing against each other since the 1800’s. Most of the bad blood seems to have come in the past year or two, perhaps starting when the Cardinals’ pitching staff complained about slick baseballs. On October 9, 2009, John Smoltz first lodged a complaint that the game-used balls were not properly prepared for the game, and on April 5 of this year (that would be opening day), Chris Carpenter made the same complaint. On top of that, managers Tony LaRussa and Dusty Baker have been around the block with each other several times before, and it never gets more cordial, only more dramatic.

Now the two teams have been neck and neck all year long for the lead in the NL Central. Neither team has fallen off or backed down, despite having several opportunities to either pull away or concede the lead to the other. Combine this past week with the upcoming series over Labor Day weekend in St. Louis – the last time the two teams will meet this season – and it is more than safe to say that this rivalry will not be finding a happy conclusion this year.

In a little more distant history, the Cardinals have found a tough opponent in the Houston Astros. From 2001-2006, the team ended the season in first or second place in the Central, and made it to the postseason three times, finally reaching the World Series in 2005 before bowing out against the Chicago White Sox. For those few years the Astros were somewhat of a second half team, seemingly coasting through the first half of the schedule before hitting the gas and going full throttle from the beginning of the dog days of summer through the end of September.

In both 2004 and 2005 the Cards and Astros met up in the NLCS to duke it out for the NL pennant. Both series were thrilling, providing breath-taking home runs, dominant pitching performances and flashy plays with the glove that made highlight reels for years to come. While not bitter rivals, there was definitely a more intense feel every time the two teams met for a few years.

That said, when most people think of the Cardinals and their rivals, the Chicago Cubs are usually the first team to come up. The two teams have played each other an astounding 2145 times since 1901, with the all-time standings sitting at 1042 wins for the Cards and 1086 wins for the Cubs (including Saturday’s win). No other team besides the Pittsburgh Pirates is within spitting distance of this astounding number of times these two teams have squared off. The history is well chronicled, and born-and-bred fans from both sides will tell you that the first thing their parents taught them about baseball was that their team was the Cards or Cubs, and you could be a fan of any team except the other side of that line.

Aaron Hooks had a piece over on Baseball Digest about the Cards/Cubs rivalry before the first series of this year. He pointed out that while this is one of the most storied rivalries in baseball, they have experienced a strong lack of relevance since the inception of the NL Central in 1994. Both teams have made the playoffs several times since then, but the two teams have not ever really battled for a division crown in the same year in that time frame.

That does not stop fans from taking every opportunity to revel in their team taking a win from the other side. Every series, no matter the relevance (or lack there-of) brings a little extra spark to the city hosting. The usually good natured ribbing and knowledge of each other results in a rivalry that has stood the test of time, and is unlikely to fade in the near future no matter how good or bad either team is from year to year.

Each one of these teams’ players and fans has a different reason to ‘hate’ the Cardinals. Where does that hate come from? It could be that there is some bad blood, whether it stems from former teammates and executives scorned or a few pitches that came a little too close to opposing batters. It could be that the fans make more of it than it is, which is what I suspect is the case (at least in recent history) for the Cubs.

However, the most likely reason in my mind is this: more often than not, the Cardinals win. They have up years and down years, but a team with more World Series titles and pennants than any other team in the National League, a long and storied history and a knowledgeable fan base that keeps the memories alive is always going to be a team that others love to hate. Perhaps Michael Wilbon said it best last week on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” when he said, “As a Cub fan, I grew up hating the Cardinals. Part of why I hate them so much is because they’re such an admirable team. You call them out, they kick your butt.”

Not all fans feel the same respect as Mr. Wilbon, but as long as the Cardinals always remember to back up their words with their play, the truth remains: St. Louis does baseball right, no matter who the rival is on any given day.

Angela Weinhold covers the Cardinals for i70baseball.com, BaseballDigest.com and writes at Cardinal Diamond Diaries. You may follow her on Twitter here or follow Cardinal Diamond Diaries here.

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