Sure, there’s a lot of history between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, but beginning last year, the bad blood that’s been spilled between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cubs stemming from the Wild Card matchup is beginning to boil over.
Last night, the Cubs faced the Pirates for the first time since that infamous Wild Card game in October and like that game, the Cubs came out on top with a 7-2 dominating performance.
Let me get this out of the way first. There’s a lot to like about the Pittsburgh Pirates, in fact a piece of them I’ll always carry with me going way back to those really cool stove top hats of the late seventies and early eighties. That, and they’re similar to the Cubs in their approach. They’ve got a great manager in Clint Hurdle and some really exciting players with Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregor Polanco.
This is a Cubs blog.
“It’s an actual organic rivalry,” Maddon said. “I really don’t like contrived rivalries. I have no time for that. This is legitimate. It’s gone on for many years. I think it’s great. It’s great for baseball, it’s great for the fanbases. It’s great for the players, it’s interesting. It’s pertinent. I really enjoy that stuff.”
But the fun didn’t stop there when Joe Maddon decided to use MLB’s New Takeout Rule in the seventh inning after Clint Hurdle did a successful challenge erasing a double play.
“I had no clue what I was doing,” Maddon said. “I just knew I could challenge. At that particular juncture, why not? Give it a roll. Bottom of the seventh inning, who knows what they’re going to think?”
Tonight should be the matchup Cubs fans have been waiting seven months for when Jake Arrieta returns to face his nemesis. The Cy Young winner and April’s newly crowned Player of The Month. He pitched a 4-0 shutout in that game, can he do it again?
“When you bring it up,” Arrieta said. “That was a neat experience and it was something that was huge for us as a team and for the organization, but it was short lived and we’ve moved on and played the Cardinals and the Mets [in the NLDS and the NL Championship Series] and our season was cut a little bit short. But we’re in a better spot now this early in the season and we like where we are.”