Column: Midwestern baseball rivalry deserves its due
Feb. 16, 2009
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
The St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs are possibly the greatest rivalry in sports. Ever since their first meeting in 1885 these teams have absolutely hated each other. Tickets for these series are always sold out, even when both teams are having awful years. Buzz Bissinger even wrote a book, "3 Nights in August," chronicling one particular Cardinals-Cubs series in 2003.
Several Hall of Famers have played for both teams. Perhaps the most famous player in this category is Lou Brock. The Cubs infamously traded Brock to the Cardinals for pitcher Ernie Broglio in what is widely considered the most one-sided trade in baseball history. This trade intensified an already great rivalry.
But for some reason, Major League Baseball has decided to have the Cubs and Cardinals play most of their series before the All-Star break in mid-July. In fact, the teams only meet once after the break.
The Boston Red Sox play rival New York Yankees three times in August and September. The Los Angeles Dodgers play the San Francisco Giants three times in the last two months of the season as well. Because games seem to have much more importance in August and September, why don't the Cardinals and Cubs play the bulk of their games in these months? The crowds would be huge, the atmosphere would be intense and the games would be much more important. There is nothing the Cardinals and their fans like more than killing the Cubs' playoff hopes and vice versa.
The schedule needs to be changed to allow more meetings between rivals in September. This problem would not even be hard to fix. There would not need to be any new rules passed by the owners, just minor alterations made to the schedule.
For example, instead of having the Cardinals play the Cubs on April 24-26, have them play the Pirates that weekend. Then, instead of having the Cardinals play the Pirates on September 4-6, have them play the Cubs. Nearly all Cardinals fans would rather see the Cubs come to town in September than in April.
Rivals are rivals for a reason. They always seem to play more entertaining games and each team always shows a little extra hustle and effort. That makes it more fun for the fans.
This is not the first time the schedule has overlooked this rivalry. Back in 2004, a year the Cardinals made it to the World Series, the Cubs and Cardinals did not play at all in August or September.
In 2004, the schedule was made by a couple in Massachusetts. This is because the MLB awards contracts to private groups to make the schedule. It is a good idea, but honestly, what does a couple in Massachusetts care about a rivalry in the Midwest? They don't understand how important these series are to people in Illinois and Missouri.
This problem could be easily fixed. All the MLB needs to do is put a stipulation in the contract requiring that rivals such as the Cardinals and Cubs, the Red Sox and Yankees and the Dodgers and Giants to play each other at least twice after the All-Star break. This would provide for a much more entertaining schedule and games that mean more to fans.