For as bad as the National League Central has been this year, the St. Louis Cardinals do have some pretty historic rivalries within their division.
Everyone knows about the history that the Cardinals have with the Chicago Cubs, which is probably the biggest rivalry in baseball outside of the Red Sox and Yankees. The Cincinnati Reds have been a formidable foe for St. Louis over the years, and even the Pittsburgh Pirates have had a few runs of their own.
The National League Central formed in 1994 with the Cardinals, Reds, Cubs, Pirates, and Houston Astros, but in 1998, the Milwaukee Brewers were added to the mix. Over the last 25 years, the Brewers have battled with the Cardinals in the division and really began to make noise during the 2010s and so far in the 2020s. Now it's being reported that the Brewers may consider relocating from Milwaukee due to some issues with stadium funding.
Could the Brewers really leave Milwakuee? And if so, how would that impact their rivalry with the Cardinals?
This isn't the first time the NL Central has had movement amongst its teams. Although the Astros did not relocate from Houston, they were moved to the AL West prior to the 2013 season, removing a classic rivalry with the Cardinals in the process.
Per reporting from Molly Beck of the Milwakuee Journal Sentinel, the Brewers have an agreement with the district that American Family resides within that requires the district to fund stadium improvements based on different criteria within other Major League ballparks. Lawmakers have not come to an agreement on legislation to approve of these improvments (the proposed bill is $290 million), thus potentially leading the Brewers to consider a relocation.
Beck highlighted two potential cities that the Brewers would be eyeing - Nashville and Charlotte. Both cities are among the front runners to receive a Major League expansion team in the near future, as they are two of the fastest-growing cities in America.
Will the Brewers actually relocate if an agreement is not reached? It appears that they'll at least explore the possibility, and as we've seen with the Oakland Athletics, teams are not afraid to upset fans in order to move into a more desirable market. Beck reported that it is the club's desire to remain in Milwaukee, which is different than the Athletics situation, but at the end of the day, money will lead their decisions.
So if the Brewers actually did move, how would that impact the Cardinals' rivalry with the Brewers? I'm sure a lot of that will depend on where they choose to move as well as the status of expansion around baseball. If the Brewers moved to Nashville, it would seem natural for them to remain in the NL Central division. Should they move to Charlotte, I would guess they'd move to an East division, and the likely Nashville expansion team could replace them in the NL Central.
It seems like there is still a long ways to go until this becomes a real possability for the Brewers, but it is defintently something to watch in the near future. The Brewers continue to have to sell off expensive pieces from their club due to their small market, and so names like Corbin Burnes, Willy Adames, and Brandon Woodruff could be on the move in the near future because of that. The Brewers may be tempted to get into a bigger market where they could afford to retain these players, and a potential move could accelearte, or could even deter them, from parting with these key pieces.