The St.Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds have a storied rivalry. Both cities have passionate fan bases and tempers usually run high when both are vying for a playoff spot.
Tensions only rose when, three years ago, a war of words between Brandon Phillips and Yadier Molina spilled into an ugly, bench-clearing fight. Punches and kicks (!!!!) went back and forth, resulting in large fines and suspensions. Even managers Dusty Baker and Tony La Russa had to be restrained. Easy to say, Cincinnati-St.Louis was a sure fire sell-out for both teams.
But as of late, the Cardinals have had the last laugh. Although both the #Reds and the Cardinals were both swept in the 2010 playoffs, it was a different season the next time around. Expectations ran high in Cincinnati but they finished 4 games under .500 and in 3rd place in the central division. The Cardinals? They won the World Series.
The 2012 season was no better. While the Reds beat out the Cards for the Central division championship, they failed to advance past the NLDS. St.Louis prevailed past the NLDS and was 1 game from the world series before losing out to the San Francisco Giants.
That takes us to the 2013 season. The Cardinals, once more, are in the world series, while the Reds, once more, watch on from their living rooms. St. Louis beat out the Pittsburgh Pirates for the central division championship. The Redlegs finished in 3rd, losing in a one-game playoff to the Pirates.
Last season saw the re-emergence of Pittsburgh as a baseball city. The Pirates finished over .500 for the first time since 1992. I was six months old. But for the Pirates, .500 wasn’t the goal-the playoffs were.
After defeating the Reds in the one game playoff, they advanced to the NLDS. Although losing to the Cards in the first round, they’re only just beginning. Which leads me to the question: will they over take the Cardinals as the premier rival for Cincinnati?
Fans of the Reds hate the Cardinals. But I’m not so sure it’s mutual anymore. The Cardinals have simply been better than the Reds. St.Louis no longer fears Cincinnati like they perhaps did when the Reds came out of nowhere to win the central in 2010. If every year the Reds lose out in the NLDS, what do the Cards have to fear? To hate? Nothing.
Nobody has hated Pittsburgh in a really long time. But maybe that’s changing. Cincinnati didn’t take too kindly to losing out in the one game playoffs. Those kinds of situations create rivalries. The Pirates don’t hate the Reds right now, per se, but they will.
Both teams will be hungry to prove something. The Reds want to prove that getting to a one game playoff isn’t good enough. Neither is losing to the Pirates. Pittsburgh wants to prove they can beat Cincinnati again.
The Cardinals will always be a rival. But when you’re constantly one-upping the other team in the playoffs (they don’t have to actually play each other to “one-up”), the hatred tends to be one-sided. Sure, St.Louis hates Cincinnati. But if the recent playoff trend continues, not for long.
As for Pittsburgh? The Reds may not hate them now either, but that will change. Pittsburgh doesn’t plan on taking a step back. They’ll be right back in the thick of things next season. And Cincinnati will be standing in their way.
Ahh, hate is in the air.