Tonight marks the first Cub-Cardinal game of the 2004 season. The teams play four times in St. Louis through Monday, and I believe follow that up with three in Chicago in mid-May.
I haven't had any encounters with cardinals since the window banger at my sister's home just outside St. Louis, so I have no witty metaphors that would lead me to predict how this series will play out. The cardinals have struggled at home, while the Cubs have been OK on the road. However, I noticed today that over the last few seasons the Cubs are only 5-25 in St. Louis.
I believe I attended the most painful of those 25 losses, two seasons ago. It was late July, a Sunday night game televised nationally on ESPN. We (two cardinal fans and three Cubs fans) sat in the first row of the upper deck of the left field bleachers, great seats, and watched a great game (for 3/5 of us) through the first 8 1/2 innings. St. Louis came to bat in the bottom of the ninth trailing 9-4. The Cubs were not having a good year, and with this win would take two of three from the series. By this point, that was as good as a thing that could happen to them.
St. Louis proceeded to score six runs and win the game 10-9.
The only solace three of us could take was the fact that 90% of the people in the stadium had left by the time the game went to the ninth. The celebration in the crowds as we made our way to our car was loud, and I can only imagine how worse it would have been if nine times the people were there. Even for someone who can remember the God-awful Cub teams of the 1970's, it was a low point.
I'd be happy with a 2-2 split this weekend. There's a long way to go this season and neither team needs to win all four.