Yankees/Red Sox. White Sox/Indians. Dodgers/Giants. When you think of rivalries in baseball, these are a few of the most popular answers. Very few would think of the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs as true rivals, but should they? The team at Reviewing the Brew breaks down the complicated relationship between the two teams.
Brewers vs. Cubs: Proximity
Milwaukee’s Miller Park is only 90 miles away from Chicago’s Wrigley Field. New Yankee Stadium is over 200 miles away from Fenway Park. The closeness of the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs would indicate that they should be rivals.
Brewers vs. Cubs: Regionalism
Folks throughout Wisconsin are likely to identify Chicago as a rival due to the storied tradition that is the Green Bay Packers/Chicago Bears. Milwaukeeans lack a clear rivalry with Chicago in any other sport. There really isn’t direct regionalism between the Chicago and Milwaukee areas like there is in New York/Boston or Los Angeles/San Francisco.
Brewers vs. Cubs: Team History
The Milwaukee Brewers joined the NL Central in 1998, but the two teams faced off in inter league play in 1997. The Cubs and Brewers have 20 years of history when it comes to head-to-head competition, with Chicago holding a 156-152 advantage.
In the 19 years the two teams have competed in the same division, the Cubs have eight seasons of .500 or better with six playoff appearances and one World Series victory. The Brewers have six seasons with a record of .500 or better and only two playoff appearances.
The most competitive season the two teams had was 2008 when both managed 90 win seasons and playoff appearances. Both teams crashed and burned in the NLDS and never had the opportunity to meet in a true I-94 playoff series.
The ’08 season was a great opportunity to build the start of a legitimate rivalry, but the Cubs early exit dashed any hopes of the two teams competing to go to the World Series.
Brewers vs. Cubs: Intangibles
Cubs fans have referred to Miller Park as “Wrigley North” for years, much to the annoyance of Brewers fans. In 2006, the Brewers went so far to launch a “Take Back Miller Park” campaign to restore their home field advantage during Brewers/Cubs games. The campaign had a minimal impact on Chicagoans making the trip to Miller Park, but their attendance did dwindle during the next few seasons due to the Cubs rebuild.
Brewers icon Robin Yount shot Dale Sveum with shrapnel during a 2012 hunting trip. The shooting was 100% accidental, but a fan favorite like Yount shooting the Cubs manager was viewed with a chuckle by most.
The verdict is that the two teams are not rivals, but a successful Brewers rebuild coupled with the continued dominance of the Cubs could create an intriguing rivalry in the next few seasons. The Cubs are no longer the “Lovable Losers,” and should be an obstacle that a young Brewers team will have to overcome.
Both teams need to experience sustained success with pennant battles for the two teams to really be considered rivals, until that occurs an actual organic rivalry between the Cubs and Brewers isn’t going to develop, no matter how exciting it would be for the two fan bases.