Secondly, the Pittsburgh Pirates have clawed their way back to above .500, sitting at 18-17 after beating the Dodgers 4-1 last night. It may be the second week of May, but this is already the furthest into a season the Pirates have been able to claim a winning record since 2004. STATS Blog has a pretty good write up about this. They also note the '92 Pirates had a winning record for the entire season and ended up a 96-win team. Hard to fathom now, but hopefully they're headed back in that direction.
Now, after that appetizer, on to the main course. Tonight at 8:30 or so in Chicago, the rivalry will renew for its 2011 iteration. Now, if you've read the About Me section, you may see where maybe I'm coming from a different angle than most. But, I would posit that the Cubs-Cards rivalry might be the most friendly in sports. Now, I realize that I'm a Cubs fan from a family of pretty hardcore Cardinal fans, so maybe that's softened my view, but I don't think that's everything.
I know a little something about bitter rivalries. Purdue and Indiana can get pretty nasty. Wabash and DePauw has been really nasty (though thankfully has calmed down in the last decade). I don't know it personally, but apparently Giants-Dodgers is much more hateful than I realized after the beating of Bryan Snow outside Dodger Stadium. ESPN has made sure we know that Yankee fans and Red Sox Fans don't get along. Cubs-Cards, though, while certainly a rivalry and teams that want to beat each other, is not a bitter one. There's plenty of razzing, sure, but it's all taken in stride. It could be because the Cubs have only won two World Series championships, both coming over a century ago. The Cardinals, of course, can claim ten such championships, which is good for second in baseball. That sort of disparity can kind of kill some of the seriousness, unless you're as out of touch with reality as Boston fans.
It seems it's something beyond that, though. Even in years when the Cubs have the upper hand, it's still a pretty chill place. You see Cubs fans and Cards fans sitting side by side all the time during the games, both in Wrigley and Busch. I regularly wear at least a Cubs hat around St. Louis and into the stadium. I get some comments, but they're all said with a smile and nothing very nasty. I haven't been to Wrigley during a Cubs-Cards game yet, but I would imagine you would get more ire for wearing White Sox gear than Cardinal gear. My brother has gone to Wrigley in Cards stuff, and I don't think he was hassled. And I think it generally comes down to the fans are just friendlier. I don't think I've ever met a Cubs or Cards fan that didn't seem friendly and just interested in seeing a good ball game. I have definitely seen some Sox fans that were more hostile. My brother and I got to walk right by a fight as we were leaving Comisky a few years ago. And, as you might be aware, the neighborhood around Wrigley is just a little bit nicer than around Comisky. That was the only time where I was a little uneasy leaving the park after a game.*
*Admittedly, seeing a brawl as we were leaving the stadium probably had me a bit on edge anyway.
So, will I be rooting hard for the Cubs to win this series? Of course. Will the rest of my family be rooting just as hard for the Cards? Sure. Will there be any taunting? Not really. Hard feelings? Definitely not. But we can all rest easy knowing that the Cards have the better history, while the Cubs will always have Wrigley. And next year, maybe the Cubs will also have Pujols.