274 Days of Waiting are Over for Cubs & Cards Fans

Everyone is ready for this series.

With a screwy schedule in 2004, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals completed their regular season schedule against each other on July 20. August, September, and yes, October too, were void of any Cubs vs. Cards games. It was a disappointing snafu by the MLB schedule makers that left no opportunity for late-season drama between two of baseball's biggest rivals. Alas, it's April 20, and the Chicago Cubs will be visiting St. Louis this evening for the first game between the two clubs of the 2005 season. After 274 long days, the waiting is over.

The fun and excitement of this rivalry will once again grace Cubs fans, Cardinals fans, and, in this first match up of the season, a national baseball audience. ESPN2 will be carrying the game, which starts at 6:10 p.m. CT. It will be nothing like the World Series-like atmosphere and hoopla that garnered the Red Sox and Yankees opening series this season. After the past few post-seasons, the drama between those two clubs is at an all-time high. Take that recent history and add in the fact that those fans from Boston and New York flat out hate each other, and you get a recipe for prime time TV that is hard to compete with. You'll find similar extremists within the Cubs/Cards rivalry, but these midwestern fans have more of a love-hate relationship, which one could argue is much healthier for the game and more enjoyable in which to participate.

For St. Louis and Chicago fans, it comes down to a mutual respect and appreciation for each other and the support they throw towards their teams. There is nothing more fun in town to do when these two clubs hook up, than to catch the game at the ballpark and take part in some good old-fashioned ribbing with the visiting fans. For those displaced or traveling fans, it gives them a great opportunity to sport the opposing colors in hostile territory and fire right back at the local hecklers. It doesn't matter if you are in St. Louis or Chicago, when the opposing NL Central rival is in town, you are bound to see a split of red and blue in the seats.

This year will bring a nostalgic season for the rivalry. With its little brother being constructed like an Erector Set in its shadow, Busch Stadium is awaiting the wrecking ball. Cubs fans will be flocking to St. Louis to catch one last game at the old stadium. For some it will be an opportunity to relive old memories. For others it will be a final chance to enjoy one of baseball's great stadiums, chock full of history.

Nonetheless, the two clubs square away tonight in the first of a short two-game series. They will meet sixteen times this year before it is all said and done; however, this week's series will only be a teaser. The teams won't square off again until after the All-Star break when they meet for a three-game series at Busch July 22-24. It's almost a flip-flop in the schedule from last year, but with more games down the stretch, fans might be in for a memorable treat as these two teams fight it out for a chance to play in October.

The waiting is over. Let the rivalry begin.

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