The Arch-rivalry

Monday, May 14, 2012–Cardinals 4, Cubs 6

Ten minutes before first pitch, and I wasnt so sure if this rivalry was all it was cracked up to be. I mean, where were all the fans? Still in line getting a beer? I’d expect that sort of thing in Philly, and saw it first-hand in Milwaukee, but this was the Cardinals and Cubbies. I literally scheduled this entire trip around this game because I wanted to see a real rivalry game, and the place is half-empty for the national anthem? What gives? I was feeling pretty down on fans of both teams, the entire city of St. Louis, and the rivalry in general. That was until I met Taylor.

Taylor—who was seated right next to me—was certainly the loudest Cub fan in my section, and quite possibly the whole ballpark. And as the seats did eventually fill up (this time with the hometown loyalists as a clear majority), she probably became the most hated girl down the right-field line. I’m sure she couldn’t care less. Seeing how she’d get swept up in every play (and for some at-bats, every pitch) was very entertaining in the early innings as both teams squandered good scoring chances. But as the night went on, getting to see it through her eyes became a transformative experience for me. First the Cubs scored four in the 5th, and she was on top of the world. She so enjoyed seeing David Freese being thrown out at the plate in the 6th she nearly dislocated my shoulder pounding me on the back.

Despite the runner thrown out, the Cards did tie it in the 6th, and that’s when I became more aware of the Cardinal fans around me as well. Though certainly not as vocal as my neighbor, they were just as much into the game. The couple to the other side would lean in—simultaneously—for every pitch, and hold hands whenever the Cubs were threatening. Their relationship was him, her, and the Cardinals. And there were many others who were just as deeply invested. So, were there fans who were tardy to their seats? Yes. What’s more, they were probably the same ones who left after the eighth even though it was a one-run game. They’re there, but don’t really matter.  It’s the sheer number of fans of both teams who were there on time, did stay ’till the end, and truly do care that make this rivalry special.

The Cardinals let it get sloppy (or, as I was saying to Taylor, “they’re playing like the Cubs”) and gave up single runs in the 8th and 9th for the 6-4 final. Cubs starter Ryan Demptser got yet another tough-luck no-decision, his counterpart Jake Westbrook was lucky to escape with the same. Mitchell Boggs was pegged with the loss, Shawn Camp picked up the win, and Rafael Dolis caught two birds looking to get the save.

Here’s the scorecard.

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