Cards manager Matheny: 'I love the hatred Cubs fans have for us'

News-DemocratMay 2, 2014 

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

ZIA NIZAMI — znizami@bnd.com Buy Photo

Manager Mike Matheny and his St. Louis Cardinals on Friday made their first trip of the season to Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Matheny, who played in 37 regular-season games at Wrigley Field, never knows what might happen at the 100-year-old ballpark.

"I love the atmosphere," Matheny said. "I love the hatred that the Cubs fans have for us. It makes for some of the most interesting fan interaction I think you can possibly have. You're hearing everything. There's some serious anger there. You get some interesting comments and stuff you'll never forget --or repeat.

"There's so much red there, too, which is nice. When we do something good, you hear it and it fires our fans up."

The Cardinals-Cubs rivalry began decades ago, and it maintains its strength even though it's typically another team in the NL Central that poses the biggest threat to the Cardinals.

Matheny said he has made it a point to remind his players, particularly rookies like Greg Garcia and Randal Grichuk, to keep pushing because strange things can happen at Wrigley Field. If the wind's blowing out, for example, no lead is safe.

"We've had some really weird games there, too, and you can't back off for a second," Matheny said. "That's kind of what we tell the young players and the young pitchers: You grind for nine because you're going to see some weird stuff happen here. If you let your guard down in this stadium and with that team, the way they play at home, you (can see) things happen in a hurry."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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