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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

It doesn't matter who plays for the Cardinals - they always seem to ruin the Brewers fun. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi )

Once again the Cardinals ruin the Brewers' fun


There's just … something about the St. Louis Cardinals, isn't there?

Ever since the Milwaukee Brewers re-established itself as a competitive organization with an 83-win season in 2007, the Cardinals have proven to be something worse than a rival – the hammer in a relationship that includes a box of nails.

I didn't arrive at 2007 as a starting point arbitrarily, either. After joining the National League in 1999, the Brewers had only one year in which they didn't finish with a losing record. You could argue the primary reason the Brewers were 109-144 all-time record against the St. Louis heading into Monday was because they were just a bad team for the first half of the rivalry.

And things have been pretty good alongside Miller Park Way the last eight years. Heading into Monday night's contest, a 10-2 start to the year had pushed the Brewers to 40 games over .500 since 2007. The organization has a division title, two playoff appearances and a player roll that includes 11 different All-Stars in that time.

That doesn't include the players who have come through with credentials that include Cy Young awards, postseason Most Valuable Player honors and single season major league record holders.

Then there's that team from about 370 miles to the south, the dark cloud that fills Miller Park even when the roof is closed. Like Monday night.

It's the little things, like ending the Brewers' nine-game winning streak by doing "Cardinal things" – like pitching solidly and scoring just enough to win, 4-0.

Then, of course, it's the big things – like sneaking their way into the 2011 playoffs and beating the 96-win Brewers in six games to go to the World Series and win it all. (And, while it was over 30 years ago, Milwaukee will never forget the biggest of all spoilers, and perhaps the genesis of all this ill will – the Cardinals' triumph in the 1982 World Series.)

Since 2007 it's the only championship the Cardinals have won – though they did lose in last year's Fall Classic and have appeared in two other postseasons.

And they just keep beating the Brewers, no matter what incarnation the organization is in.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he wasn't bothered by the loss Monday, especially in the light of a nine-game winning streak. And he didn't seem too concerned with the "perception" that St. Louis dominates his club.

"It swings back and forth," he said. "If there was a history of 20 years of never playing well against them, yeah, it would probably bother me. Bu ti know things switch back and forth. they had a really good pitching performance today and that was the difference in the game."

And he's not wrong, necessarily.

Since 2007, and including Monday night's loss, the Cardinals have "only" a 62-54 advantage over the Brewers in head-to-head games. But, since 2008, when baseball-reference.com began tracking runs scored and runs against for individual opponents, the Cardinals have outscored the Brewers, 456-396.

Only in wildcard year of 2008 did the Brewers "dominate" the Redbirds, however, outscoring them 74-54 and going 10-5. The Brewers won the 2010 season series, 8-7, but the Cardinals outscored them, 68-62.

Even in that magical 2011 season, the teams split the regular season series before St. Louis won the year in October.

Perhaps that's why it seems the Cardinals "always" win.

Then again, individual, long-term Brewers seem to struggle abnormally against the Cardinals as well. Heading into Monday night's action, Ryan Braun (97 games, .300 avg., 18 HR, 56 RBI), Rickie Weeks (91 games, .221 avg., 14 HR, 34 RBI), Jonathan Lucroy (46 games, .266 avg., 2 HR, 13 RBI) and Yovani Gallardo (17 starts, 1-11, 6.46 ERA) have all performed at less than career averages.

Brewers fans are easily irritated by the espousers of the "Cardinal Way," but those in Miller Park were especially put off Monday night by the ticket buyers adorned in red who booed Braun and then cheered for their own formerly suspended Biogenesis client, Jhonny Peralta, when he homered off Matt Garza in the second inning.

Then, following a Jon Jay 3-run homerun in the sixth inning (ending a 26-game stretch of starters not allowing three or more earned runs. Of course), all the air went out of Miller Park – and on social media:

It's a long year, of course. It's just one game, of course.

But it was the Cardinals ruining the fun of the Brewers. Of course.


Talkbacks

Photodavie | April 15, 2014 at 1:19 p.m. (report)

It's a constant reminder (from as far back as 1982) that no matter how good we get as a team, we will never win a championship until we can beat the Cardinals. They will always be in our way. We have 2 more games this week to start that push past them! GO BREWERS!!!

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