I slept until about 1 p.m. today in order to ensure that my hangover from Monday’s loss to the Baby Bears was substantially behind me. For Tuesday night’s game, I was pumped, I was ready to march with Ben Sheets to the gates of hell, if necessary.*
But before that I filled my day with sports-my personal batting practice. Reading the sports page, listening to sports talk on AM 1250, forcing my dad to read his two sons’ Brewers blog, and finally, at 4 p.m., seeing what the guys on ESPN’s “Around The Horn” had to say about the Cubs-Brewers story.
The question was, based off Monday night’s exciting game, “Are the Brewers and the Cubs a legitimate rivalry?” Like most every question given to the four person panel, the reactions split half-and-half. What struck me the most was Jay Mariotti, a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Typically I despise everything he says and especially the way he says it. But today was great. To paraphrase:
“I think this definitely is a rivalry. I mean, what better story is this? The storied franchise of the Chicago Cubs facing off with this little team 90 miles to the north. In the big picture, it’s David and Goliath. But what a story, Chicago is facing its 100th year without a title, and big Chicago is getting a run for its money by a dangerous, small-market Milwaukee team. I was there last night, it was THE best game I’ve seen in July in a long time. And the two cities — the proximity — Cubs and Brewers fans made it sound like a European soccer game. It was a great game, a great atmosphere, and a great story.”
I almost jumped off the couch… almost. But this was exactly the story true Brewers fans have known about for years. I was really excited to go into today’s game with that kind of national spotlight on this Cubbies-Cerveceros series. And then, I showed up to work and went to the service elevator.
And who is the last person on the elevator? Jay Mariotti. He asked for the Loge Level and looked up at the TV screen in the elevator and took a deep breath. Trying not to sound like an adoring fan (cause I’m not), I said:
“Mr. Mariotti, I saw you on ‘Around The Horn’ today and I just wanted to say that I totally agree with you about the Cubs and the Brewers rivalry. I’m glad it’s getting its due attention.”
He didn’t say anything, he just looked at me with a smirk and chuckled to himself as he looked back down. The elevator bell rang and he disappeared towards the press box probably annoyed by me.
But I don’t care. The Cubs and the Brewers might not have the history of the Yankees and Red Sox or the all-out passion of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. But with young guys like Braun, Fielder, Parra, Hart, etc. with the Brewers and youngsters like Fukudome, Soto, Dempster, Marmol, etc. on the Cubs, this could be the start of a real intense rivalry. And even Mariotti, a Chicago homer and by many accounts (including this one) a complete cockgobbler, recognizes that.
If not… Milwaukee can always out-drink ’em.
* It was necessary, as Sheets’ 6th inning was pretty hellish. In the words of The Other J.J.: “Well that got ugly in a hurry. Things really escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand.”