Any baseball fan knows about the rivalry that is beginning to once again bring itself to the elite level between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.
Not to say that this rivalry hasn’t always been fierce, but aside from the past two years since the Cubs’ resurgence, it had been very one sided since about 2003.
Now that both teams are considered elite ball clubs again, and especially with the Cubs just coming off a World Series title, this rivalry has taken an entirely new shape and is beginning to reach heights close to Yankees/Red Sox. Now, don’t get to riled up about me stating that, just hear me out.
Yankees-Red Sox will always be one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports for as long as sports are in existence. They will always be two of the most relevant teams in baseball, no matter what their records are, and will always have to two biggest fan bases across all sports. Where I am starting to see similarities between that rivalry and this Cubs-Cards rivalry is not only on the field, but off of it most intriguingly.
We all remember why the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry started. Babe Ruth, one a Red Sox pitcher and slugger is traded to the Yankees which starts the Yanks run of dominance throughout the history of baseball. This trade also sparked the “Curse of the Bambino” that was said to be the reason that until 2004, the Red Sox had not won a World Series since 1918.
It was an offseason move that sparked it.
Staying with the same two teams, as recently as 2004, players from each team have switched over during the offseason, creating even more tension. Players like Johnny Damon, Red Sox great, helped them secure that 2004 championship, goes to NY the next season and helps them win a title in 2009. Players like Roger Clemons, also once a Red Sox great, goes to the Yankees a little bit later and helps them win World Series titles.
Let’s even look at the Alex Rodriguez situation, one of the biggest bidding wars in baseball history. Coming from the Texas Rangers, A-Rod was basically a Red Sox, but at the last minute signed with the Yankees for a record contract, won a World Series in 2009.
All of these moves gave an added dimension to this rivalry and made tensions even that more thick. All offseason moves.
Bringing it to the present, the Cubs and Cardinals are tip-toeing along those lines.
Baseball fans: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
This offseason, fresh off helping the Cubs win the title as the great leadoff hitter and spark plug of the team, Dexter Fowler signs to the Cardinals for five years and $82.5 Million with a $10 Million signing bonus. On the surface, people may think why would he ever do that? You have to understand that Fowler was being grossly underpaid and actually took a pay cut to play with the Cubs these past two years in order for them to sign big names like Ben Zobrist and Aroldis Chapman, both key factors in their title run. Coming off a great postseason, Fowler went where the money was and you can’t blame him. But the Cubs and their fans probably won’t feel that way, which makes this so great for this rivalry.
Just like the Cubs didn’t benefit from this move, they actually benefited a couple years earlier from a similar type of situation.
Last December, Jason Heyward, a Cardinal, became a free agent and signed with the Cubs for a huge deal after just one season with St. Louis. The contract was worth eight years and $184 Million. Heyward, upon having a career year with the Cardinals in 2015, made the switch to the arch-rival Cubs and wins a World Series.
These kind of offseason moves between these two teams is a sign of things to come. They are both clearly the class of the National League and have to battle it out at least 20 times a season to come out on top. Please don’t think that this will be the last of these moves between the teams. With the Cubs resurgence and the Cardinals’ consistency, this rivalry is just getting re-started.
If Fowler helps the Cards win a title next season, then we really have something on our hands here, and we should be all for it.
Are the Cardinals and Cubs the best rivalry in baseball right now? Let’s talk about it here of find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.