That’s right, I’m throwing this question out there.
Game 1 of the NLDS between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals was the 2, 345th meeting between the two clubs, according to baseball-reference.com, but was the first time in history they’ve ever met in the playoffs. In case you’re wondering, the Cubs have a 1197-1148 edge in the head-to-head after the 4-0 St. Louis win on Friday night, but that’s not the point here.
It can be argued that the most famous number in Chicago Cubs history is 1908, which as you know is the last time they won the World Series. Since then, the St. Louis Cardinals have won 11 championships, as I’m sure every Cardinals fan would tell you. Yet, this is still one of the best rivalries in baseball, probably along with Dodgers/Giants and Red Sox/Yankees.
It’s not that the Cubs haven’t had their chances since 1908. They were the National League representative in the Fall Classic in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945, which was their last appearance, losing to the Detroit Tigers in seven games. They were close in 1984, but lost three straight in the NLCS to the San Diego Padres. Damn that Steve Garvey. Will Clark and the Giants dashed hopes in 1989. The historic 1998 season ended with a sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves, and of course, there was 2003.
You were expecting a picture of Bartman, weren’t you? Two more sweeps in 2007 and 2008 from the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers were the last chances the Cubs have had to break their dreaded “curse”.
Now, hang with me here. The Boston Red Sox went through a very similar situation. After beating the Cubs in the 1918 World Series, they had an 86-year wait between titles, finally breaking through and sweeping the Cardinals in 2004. Speaking of that, how awful was that three-year stretch of champions? Red Sox in ’04, White Sox in ’05, and Cardinals in ’06. That’s about as bad as it gets for a Cubs fan, but I digress. The Red Sox came so close so many times over the span of 86 years, but just couldn’t get it done. It wasn’t until they finally were able to beat the Yankees, their biggest rival, that their own “curse” was lifted.
This is where the original question comes in. Is this what the Cubs have been waiting for? Have the struggles that generations of Cubs fans witnessed all been leading to this? Of course, every single time that the Cubs have gotten close, we’ve all thought how sweet it would be to finally see a champion. Will it be that much sweeter if the Cubs go through the Cardinals on their way to a title as opposed to say, the Marlins or the Padres? Or after 107 years, does it really freaking matter?
Believe me, I’m not counting chickens before they hatch. The Cubs are down a game in this series. I know it’s the division series and there’s two rounds after this one, AND they’re playing the best team in baseball, but it’s a Cubs vs Cardinals playoff series. It doesn’t get much bigger than that, especially in the Midwest. I leave it to you to answer. Is this series even bigger than some of the World Series and playoff appearances from yesteryear, or am I just really excited?