I've been fortunate to enjoy my two favorite professional sports rivalries in the last six months. In January it was the Bears and Packers for the NFC Championship. Much less was on the line on this first Saturday in June, but the Cubs and Cardinals faced each other for the second time in the 2011 MLB season.
The rivalry between these two teams is very competitive, but very friendly and good-natured among these two Midwest cities. Whether the game is in Wrigley Field or Busch Stadium, each provide a great venue to one of the best rivalries in Major League Baseball.
With these two teams within hours of one another, there are many fans of these teams that are also friends. Much like the Bears - Packers rivalry, the Cubs and Cardinals enjoy the game together while providing good-natured ribbing among the two.
Situated behind home plate is a statue of August A Busch Jr, the CEO of the Cardinal organization once the Brewery took control in 1953. Under Busch's lead the Cardinals won six championships.
Not only were the Cardinals hosting the Cubs, but former students of mine and I turned the afternoon game into a Bachelor Party. Although the groom married six weeks ago, we celebrated it in St. Louis, much as we did years ago for another former member of the Iowa Video Staff. On that Saturday, it was one of the last Saturday's of July and the Cubs were once again in St. Louis, but at old Busch Stadium. Temperatures reached the lower 100s that day, and when the plans were made for this outing, we were hoping for cooler June temperatures. However that wasn't the case in Missouri.
Although the temperatures reached the middle 90s, it was still a beautiful day for baseball in Busch Stadium.
Many baseball teams have dissolved lifelong relationships with local powerful radio stations, switching to either all-sports stations or those on the FM frequency. For the first season in seemingly forever the Minnesota Twins no longer call WCCO home. The Chicago Cubs continue to broadcast on WGN in Chicago. And the St. Louis Cardinals severed their relationship with long time flagship station KMOX within the last six years. But financial situations at that St. Louis all-sports station prompted the Cardinals to be returned home to KMOX in 2011.
Perhaps the most popular free agent of the 2012 class, Albert Pujols is synonymous with the St. Louis Cardinals. Both sides could not come to a compromise on a contract before this year's spring training and speculation swirls with where one of the great hitters will land in 2012. Of course the Cubs have shown interest in Albert....more on that later.
St. Louis has a proud history of great baseball players. Those Cardinals are honored on two outfield walls of new Busch Stadium. This is in Left Field, with an additional wall honoring those is higher up in Center Field.
Extra inning baseball is always a treat, especially on a beautiful summer day with two of the great rivals...unless your time is on the losing end. In the 12th inning, Cardinal soon to be free agent, Albert Pujols ended the game with two out with a solo home run. The same was said on the following game, game three of the series with Albert hitting another solo HR in the 10th.