The match-up this weekend between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers again has me stirred up about the farce that is inter-league play.
Let's get rid of these meaningless games against the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays and have more games between traditional St. Louis rivals like the Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets.
It's funny to see the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds fanbases get all stirred up about the Cardinals because those clubs hold almost no interest for me. Besides a brief period in the 1970s, the Reds have never been a threat to the Redbirds. And the Brewers have exactly one pennant to their credit. I'm sure everyone recalls that then they were in the other league and the Cardinals crushed their dreams never for them to return to the Fall Classic.
Cardinals fans, nearly two decades after baseball was split into three divisions, still don't think of the Brewers and Reds as their rivals with nearly as much intensity as there has been over the Dodgers, Giants and Mets through the years.
The Cardinals had an intense rivalry with the then Brooklyn Dodgers that started in the late 1930s and remained hotly contested throughout the decades. The Cardinals got the better of Them Bums in the 40s, the Dodgers ruled in the 50s and the sides battled tooth and nail in the 1960s. In the 80s the Cardinals traded pennants with the Dodgers, winning one of the most dramatic National League Championship Series in history in 1985. The Cardinals took the 1981 Dodgers' crown as kings of baseball in 1982. In 1987 the Cardinals won the NL Pennant to have it stolen away by LA in 1988.
The Giants were rivals going back to the roaring 20s. That relationship was on full boil starting in 1927 when St. Louis sent player/manager Rogers Hornsby to New York for Frank Frisch. Fans howled in St. Louis after that trade was made, petitioning the commissioner to void the deal. But they got over it when Frisch's Cardinals won the Pennant in 1928, 30, 31 and 34. The feud has boiled over occasionally since then including the 1987 NLCS that was so hit it seemed destined to break down into fist fights at any moment.
The Mets-Cardinals rivalry was similarly fueled by the trade of popular first baseman Keith Hernandez to New York. After that the Birds had a running battle with the Mets in the late 1980s that was the hottest ticket during the baseball season. St. Louis fans lived and died over the results of games against the hated "pond scum."
When a fan shows up at Busch Stadium in a Rays cap there is no sense of an enemy invading our territory. Fans look at each other, point and say "seriously? You came here to watch Tampa Bay?"
Who cares about watching the inter-league match-ups when you could play real games against real rivals instead?