It’s been a long time since the Cubs were favored by experts over the Cardinals to win the division. And perhaps the greatest proof of that is how the Cardinal fans are reacting to the situation.
In the past two weeks, I’ve heard more Cardinals fans talking about the Cubs World Series drought — Did you know it’s been 108 years? — than I have in the last five years combined. Why the sudden urge to share about the Cubs’ long history of losing? Bringing up the past is often an indicator of feeling threatened about the present and future.
If you’re a fan of the Cardinals and you don’t see the Cubs’ enormous Cubs, you’re probably also one of those fans who is in denial about Jason Heyward being a stud baseball player (top 5 in WAR in the last 4 seasons, if you like that sort of thing.)
Trust me, I’m not counting the Cardinals out of anything. They still have a very solid team, and are guaranteed to bring up three more no-namers who each hit .320 later this season to help their cause. They could very well compete in this division and the Wild Card again this season. But for once, it’s been amusing to watch them squirm a little bit. A franchise with that much winning shouldn’t ever have to be so defensive and anxious in the first month of a season. Unless, of course, their bitter rivals are threatening to overtake them as the best team in the Central.
One thing is for sure: This rivalry is hotter than ever. Some fans believe it’s not a true rivalry unless both teams have some success against one another to brag about. After last year’s NLDS victory, I guess we can say it’s an official rivalry. Unlike the Yankees and Red Sox, the Cubs and Cardinals have rarely been good at the same time which is only going to heat things up even more.
Just ask Monday’s starter Mike Leake, a new addition who believes this Cubs/Cards thing might eventually grow to be as big as another intradivision grudge match.
“It’s a fairly new rivalry, because it’s recent,” Leake explained. “I was a part of the Cardinals-Reds rivalry, and I expect it to be very similar. A little more (from the) Cubs, I think. They get into it pretty well. I hope this doesn’t turn into hatred.”
In case you were wondering, that is an actual quote and not something pulled from Onion Sports Network.
Monday night marks the first of 19 meetings between the two teams in 2016. Cubs fans, prepare yourselves for a lot of overreactions, a lot of ignorant Jason Heyward comments, and a lot of 1908 references. And that’s just from your fellow fans. Okay, most of the vitriol will be coming from folks wearing red. The good news is that these remarks are no longer tied to the “lovable loser” mentality. They are now an indication that the Cubs have arrived and are here to stay. Let the rivalry continue.