By Kevin Powell
MILWAUKEE —Despite the hot and muggy conditions at Miller Park, it felt like October baseball Thursday night in Milwaukee. And it was fitting that the biggest series of the season for both the Cubs and Brewers went to extra innings. It may not be a rivalry yet, but it’s getting there.
“That was a pretty special game,” manager Joe Maddon said after the Cubs 5-3 victory.
Javy Baez came up with another big hit, tying things in the 9th with an RBI-single up the middle. It was almost identical to his game-winning hit in the NLDS last year. Kris Bryant followed that up with a two-run blast in the 10th to give the Cubs the lead for good.
It’s just another chapter in a budding rivalry between the two clubs.
In May, the Cubs decided to postpone a day game at Wrigley because they said rain was in the forecast. It never rained, and it actually turned into a fairly nice day on the North Side. The Brewers weren’t pleased.
“First time, for us, that we’ve had players treated for sunburn after a rainout,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell quipped.
Then, last month, Mayor Emanuel and Alderman Tom Tunney agreed to allow the Cubs to play a Friday night game at Wrigley for the first time ever. The move was designed to give the Cubs extra rest with a road game in Pittsburgh the night before.
“With the Chicago Cubs locked in a race for the National League Central Division Championship, and with a trip to the postseason on the line, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Tom Tunney announced they have reached an agreement to move the team’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, September 8 from 1:20 pm to 7:05 pm. “
The Brewers were not happy.
I am told Brewers "vigorously objected" to Cubs moving game time next Friday just to allow more rest after night game in Pittsburgh.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) August 31, 2017
Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Cubs and Brewers are rivals, pointing to the long history the team has with the hated Cardinals. But he did acknowledge this season has been one of the more competitive ones between the two teams.
“They’ve played us really hard this year, so, in 2017 it certainly (could be called a rivalry). I think they’re going to be here a while. So, I think it has the potential to turn into something really fun.”
I love rivalries. The more, the better. But rivalries take time, they need big moments and big games. The Cubs and Brewers didn’t even play each other until 1997. But Thursday night had playoff-like-atmosphere written all over it. These are the sorts of series, and games, a rivalry needs to flourish.
It’ll never be Cubs-Cardinals. But rivalry or not, when there’s something brewin’ between the Cubs and Brewers, it’s always a lot more fun.
Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720