Before the season started, I thought that Cubs-Cardinals was on the verge of becoming a rivalry that neared the level of Yankees-Red Sox during the previous decade. That still might happen, as the two teams have only played three games so far this year. But if things keep going the way they have been since late last year, it’s possible that Cubs-Pirates could reach that level too.
To this point, the rivalry between Chicago and Pittsburgh has been one-sided. After Jake Arrieta led the Cubs to a win in the Wild Card game last year in Pittsburgh, the Cubs took the first five games this year – in dominating fashion – before losing an intense 2-1 pitchers’ duel Sunday at Wrigley Field. Even so, there’s a lot of bad blood between the two teams right now, including last year’s bench clearing during the Wild Card game. That has spilled into this season’s early games, with more hit batters.
We still can’t sleep on Cubs-Cards, however. They’ve only played three games so far, with the Cubs winning two, but the two teams had their first postseason meeting last year. Couple that with the Cubs snatching John Lackey and Jason Heyward during the offseason (along with Heyward’s comments that rubbed the Cardinals the wrong way), and the rivarly has reached a level that we havn’t seen in a long time, if ever.
The Cubs have a pretty big lead in the division right now, so they have a clear edge over both teams at this point in the season. However, there’s still a long ways to go – certainly long enough for one of those teams to catch the Cubs – and even if the Cubs do maintain this hot start and coast to the division title, there’s a good chance that the Cubs would face one of them in the playoffs. Nothing fuels a rivalry between two teams more than both teams being really good.
Cubs-Cards has always been one of baseball’s biggest rivalries, so that rivalry has history on its side, but so far this year Cubs-Bucs has been really intense. While the Cubs are clearly better than both teams right now, the Pirates still have a lot of young talent and are in position to contend for the next few years. The Cardinals are older, but they always manage to retool their team each year and can rarely be counted out. Both teams figure to, at least, be in the running for a Wild Card spot for the rest of this year.
So, over the next five years, who will be the Cubs’ bigger rival: St. Louis or Pittsburgh? Or maybe you have another team in mind. Vote below!