The picture above was taken after a Cubs and Cardinals game in St. Louis. In case you didn’t already know this, the only thing more miserable than July in St. Louis is…August in St. Louis. Before the sun sank down below the grandstand level, the heat was about the worst thing I had ever experienced. But I will say that the new Busch Stadium is miles ahead of the old one, in my opinion.
I went to this game with my dad, and we fully availed ourselves of the all-you-can-eat-and-drink section in the outfield. I was still an enthusiastic consumer of fermented refreshments at the time, and there’s no way I could have survived the heat without them.
At the end of the game, when it was time to get on the bus and head back to Springfield, I asked my dad to take a picture of me in my Cubs gear. I was proud to represent my team in the home of our biggest rivals. Whenever the Cubs and Cardinals play, whether in Wrigley Field or Busch Stadium, it feels like a playoff game. The records don’t matter, and the standings don’t matter, either.
I say this because the incoming Cubs braintrust may not quite understand this. They understand the Red Sox and the Yankees, because that’s their background, but they might be looking at the Phillies as the team the Cubs most need to overcome to get to the World Series in the coming years. I might do that too, if I was in their shoes, because the Phillies’ starting rotation is scary, and their everyday lineup is very good, too. But beating the Cardinals in the division will not only earn the Cubs a playoff berth, but will also scratch an itch that doesn’t get relieved as much as we would like.
When Lovie Smith came in as the Bears’ head coach, he affirmed that beating Green Bay was a top priority for him. Beating the Cardinals is a similar goal for this Cubs fan, and probably many more just like me. Winning the World Series is the real objective, but in order to win it the Cubs need to get there first. And beating the Cardinals–the National League equivalent of the Yankees–would be a major step toward achieving that goal.
Tony LaRussa’s already gone, and this probably confirms that Pujols will leave for greener (as in more money) pastures pretty soon. The Cardinals won’t be the same team they were this year, but they’ll still be formidable with Carpenter, Holliday, and the other parts that they’ll still have in place next year. And they’ll still be the team that we’ll want to beat as often as possible. I hope the Cubs’ new powers that be will remember this as they begin constructing their World Series team.