Watch one of baseball’s most intense rivalries play out live online as the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals meet for the first time in postseason play as the best-three-out-of-five National League Division Series opens with Game One on Friday. Thanks to Major League Baseball’s adoption of the Wild Card system, the arch-rivals now get to meet in their first-ever playoff game — after playing against each other 2,241 times in the regular season.
That’s the equivalent of almost 14 complete, 162-game baseball seasons played against each other. The Cubs-Cardinals rivalry stretches back to the first days of modern baseball in 1901, when the Chicago franchise still went by the nickname Orphans. They did not become the Cubs until 1903.
The teams first faced each other in what is considered the Major League era of pro baseball in the United States on April 19, 1901 — the first game of the 1901 season for both teams. Chicago won that one, 8-7. Over the next 114 years, the Cubs won 1,127 games against the St. Louis Cardinals and lost 1,097.
But, on Friday, this age-old rivalry enters a new, uncharted phase, with a chance to advance to the National League Championship Series and, ultimately, the World Series on the line.
For Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer, who was a top executive with the Boston Red Sox from 2002 through 2009 when he left to take the GM job with the San Diego Padres, the Cubs vs. Cardinals playoff series brings a sense of deja vu.
“I think we always felt that way in Boston – we had to go through New York to win… And I think given that these guys are always in the playoffs, you know you have to go through (St. Louis). We play 19 times. With that many games, there’s bound to be subplots when you have two good teams that are battling all the time.”
To find out how to watch the Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals National League Division Series Game One live online, see the streaming info in the final paragraph of this article. Gametime is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Central Time of Friday, October 9, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri — or 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time, 3:30 p.m. Pacific.
Of the many subplots and undercurrents to the first Cubs vs. Cardinals playoff game, the starting pitching matchup may be the most intriguing, pitting as it does two former teammates against each other — teammates who just two years ago celebrated a World Series championship together.
Cubs lefty starter Jon Lester, 31, and Cardinals righty John Lackey, 36, were both key members of the Boston Red Sox’s starting rotation on the team that won the World Series in 2013 — defeating the St. Louis Cardinals. Lester won two games in that World Series, while Lackey won one and lost one.
The Cubs inked Lester as a free agent last offseason to a whopping, six-year, $155 million deal. But John Lackey is still bound by the contract he signed with the Red Sox in 2010, which stipulated that if he missed significant time due to injury, he would pitch the final year of his contract for the Major League minimum salary of $500,000.
That’s exactly what Lackey did this year, compiling a solid 13-10 record with a more-than-respectable 2.77 ERA, while leading the NL with 33 games started.
Lester, on the other hand, did not quite live up to the expectations of the $25 million he was paid in 2015, putting up a losing record of 11-12 and a decent, if unspectacular, 3.34 ERA.
To watch the Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals National League Division Series Playoff Game One live online, go to the WatchTBS site at this link. Login credentials from a cable or satellite provider will be required to access the live stream. To watch the Cubs vs. Cardinals game on mobile devices, download the WatchTBS app.
[Images: Jeff Curry / Jared Wickerham / Mike McGinnis / Getty Images]