Tom Ackerman (@Ackerman1120)By Tom Ackerman

ST. LOUIS (KMOX)

1) The history. The Cardinals and Cubs first met on April 12, 1892. That’s 123 years ago, and since then we’ve seen two of the game’s historic franchises go at it. While the Cardinals’ 11 world championships dwarf the Cubs’ two titles, fans might be surprised to learn that the Cardinals’ edge in NL pennants (19-16) is rather close (granted, the Northsiders won a dozen of those before 1930). The Cubs do actually lead the all-time series, 1190-1141-19. Yes, the Cardinals and Cubs have played 2,350 times.

2) The geography. It’s more than just big city vs. mid-sized market. The Cardinals and Cubs have two of the deepest fan bases in the game, spreading throughout the country but focused in the Midwest. Cities like Springfield and Decatur are split, while I-55 has been a busy artery through Illinois for the rabid fan. There are multiple ways to travel between St. Louis and Chicago with relative ease: car, bus, train, airplane.

3) Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium. Wrigleyville, the neighborhood surrounding the Friendly Confines, has been admired by Cardinals fans for years. Both the Cubby Bear and Murphy’s Bleachers have been gathering spots for thirsty, red-clad patrons. Wrigley is often at capacity for Cards-Cubs games, with a strong St. Louis contingent present. But don’t be surprised to see more blue than ever in the Busch Stadium crowd this season. Not only are the Cubs more competitive, but with Ballpark Village and several restaurants and bars popping up nearby, a weekend in downtown St. Louis is becoming more and more attractive to Chicagoans.

4) The fans. “What makes (the rivalry) great is the fans themselves, plain and simple,” said Mike Shannon, the voice of the Cardinals. “A lot of the Cardinal fans head up to Wrigley Field. Cub fans, which are all over the country, are phenomenal in the way they stay with (their team) year in and year out. And now that they’re competing at a higher level, the Cub fans are very excited and I don’t blame them.”

5) Competition. While much of the rivalry is about socializing with (and often ribbing) enemy fans, the best times have always been when both franchises are postseason threats. Since the days of Ernie Banks and Bob Gibson, when the Cardinals swapped pitcher Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock in 1964, there has been an even more intense desire to take the other team down. Who can forget Ryne Sandberg’s home run binge against Bruce Sutter in 1984? Albert Pujols’ epic HR off Kerry Wood — after being knocked down — in 2003? (Really, anything Pujols did in this rivalry was memorable.) The McGwire-Sosa HR races of 1998 and 1999, steroid-clouded now, were ultra-competitive then. Tony La Russa vs. Dusty Baker? Awesome. Now, imagine this: Cards-Cubs, postseason series.

(TM and ? Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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