The Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is similar to an investor cycle. Every market phenomenon always swings back, it’s just a question of when. Some cycles are short; some cycles are long. I believe the Cardinals-Cubs baseball rivalry cycle is about to swing back at just the wrong time for the Cardinals.
We saw about a half-dozen lead changes in last weekend’s Cubs-Cardinals series in Chicago. Those are micro-swings.
But there are also the macro-swings. There are usually stretches of several years when the Cardinals are great and the Cubs are horrible, and vice versa. The Cardinals, though not horrible, have been playing second-fiddle to the Cubs since the Fall of 2015.
That trend is on the way out, but there are still little eddies of counter-swings that can happen, like I believe will happen this weekend. I have also seen over the decades how quite often the seemingly “down” team – whether it is the Cardinals or the Cubs – plays a spoiler role at just the wrong time.
If the Milwaukee Brewers keep winning at their expected pace, all the Cubs may have to do is win a game or two to be spoilers.
I have been watching this rivalry for decades. The phrase “a wild one at Wrigley” means that there will be many lead changes, and a game is never totally out of reach. Never stop watching, is a rule. Those who have decided to stop watching now because the Cardinals will, of course, beat the hapless Cubs at home to sew up the division, are making a mistake.
A baseball rivalry, naturally, is made up of human elements just like the financial market. It is predicated on things like confidence, momentum, leverage, opportunity, and risk/reward. The Cubs have no risk, but a lot of reward: bragging rights that the humiliation they suffered in Chicago is over, and not a permanent fixture for next season and beyond.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, are prone to suffering a crisis of confidence: having just labored 28 innings with the out-of-contention Arizona Diamondbacks and coming up with nothing but a pound of air (hot, dry, desert air). And the Brewers are, by themselves, dispiriting to the Cardinals.
The Brew Crew are a team with confidence par excellence. Win one for the Yeli. They are a team of destiny. And veteran first baseman Eric Thames had to come out early in today’s game with an injured leg. Yet the Brewers trudge onward, seemingly unaffected.
The Crew are facing the weakest of opponents. Of course, teams can – and do – trip up in those situations. But how many bettors in Vegas are betting that Milwaukee is going to lose three out of four to the Reds and Rockies? Or even one out of four? Who is betting the house that their six-game winning streak is going to end today?
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What about what is happening between the lines?
There is no Jack to save us. Jack Flaherty is done for the regular season. A shut-it-down start from Jack, our stopper, is not in the Cards. The Cardinals will have to score some runs if recent starts are any indication. But if the Cardinals Jekyll/Hyde offense shows up “Hyde”, there will be no way to win.
Missing MVP. As bad as the Brewers have it with their team MVP out for the season, the Cardinals are missing theirs too. Paywalled-pundits have looked at the medical literature and determined that the Cardinals will not see their team MVP Kolten Wong the rest of the regular season and likely through any NLDS. But as we have seen from the Brewers, they do not even miss Yelich.
Our bullpen is bedraggled. Nuff said.
The Cardinals have a day off Thursday, that is true. But they are still worn out from the long tangle in the desert. Many of our regular players are prone to losing confidence as their batting averages were tanked by 1 for 8’s and 2 for 8’s.
And then there are the psychological factors:
The Cubs will be able to play the spoiler role. They are motivated, for sure. Having this huge locomotive, the Brewers, steaming down the tracks at you, is tough psychologically on the Cardinals.
The Brew Crew has lost just one of their Christian Yelich-less games so far. The last five games they have outscored their opponents by 28 runs, usually jumping on their opponents early, and never trailing after the third inning (compared to the Cardinals recent see-saw games).
The magnificent sweep at Wrigley seems a fond, distant memory. Back then, the Cardinals seemed to be the “team of destiny”. Now, one wonders, if it’s the Brewers. Note to virtue-signalers and tone-policemen: I do not want this to happen. But I see how it could happen … and very easily.