Top 5 moments of Chicago-Milwaukee rivalry
The Cubs-Brewers rivalry will never come close to the Bears-Packers wars in terms of heat and hatred, but this weekend should be pretty intense.
The National League Central-leading Brewers (46-32) visit the second-place Cubs (38-39) for three games at Wrigley Field beginning at 1:20 p.m. Friday.
The Brewers, who have won nine of their past 11 games, have a 7½-game lead over the Cubs, who own a six-game winning streak.
A sweep by Milwaukee would mean a comfortable 10½-game lead. A Cubs sweep would mean a not-so-comfortable (for the Brewers) 4½ games would separate the two teams.
This marks the first time the two rivals are facing each other with so much on the line for both teams.
The Cubs, who have a 75-73 edge in the all-time series, first played the Brewers in 1997 in interleague play. Milwaukee moved from the American League to the NL the following season.
Cubs-Brewers battles usually feature some wild and memorable moments. Here are five worth remembering:
1. Oh, no! N-o-o-o-o-o!
The Cubs, in a tight race for the NL wild-card berth, were one out away from a 7-5 win at County Stadium on Sept. 23, 1998, when Milwaukee’s Geoff Jenkins — batting with the bases loaded — hit a seemingly routine fly ball to left field.
But Brant Brown dropped the ball. All three Brewers scored, and the Cubs dropped an 8-7 heartbreaker. Jeromy Burnitz, who went on to play for the Cubs in 2005, scored the winning run.
Classic sound bites of Cubs radio analyst Ron Santo screaming “Oh, no! No-o-o-o!” after Brown dropped the ball are still heard on sports talk radio.
“I catch a thousand of those,” Brown said after the game. “This was the thousand and first that I just happened to miss. There are no excuses. I’m taking full responsibility for it. Maybe I just closed my glove too fast.”
“I thought when the play was over, they tied the game,” stunned Cubs first baseman Mark Grace said. “Then I saw Burnitz at home plate and realized it was over and we had to leave the field.”
The Cubs eventually earned the wild-card berth anyway.
2. Hey, Abbott!
On June 15, 1999, Brewers pitcher Jim Abbott — who was born without a right hand — got his first major league hit and drove in a run when he singled over shortstop Jose Hernandez’s head in a game at County Stadium. Abbott got a standing ovation from the crowd.
“You play the game for moments like that,” said Abbott, who had pitched in the AL for nine previous seasons and had no major league at-bats until 1999. “It’s something I’ll always remember.”
Cubs pitcher Jon Lieber served up the hit.
“That didn’t amaze me,” Lieber said of Abbott getting a hit. “I’ve been watching him play since he came into the league. If he can pitch, I know he can hit.”
Abbott finished 2-for-21 as a major leaguer — both hits coming off Lieber.
3. Homer, homer, homer
Sammy Sosa homered three times off Cal Eldred to help the Cubs to a 6-5 win at Wrigley Field on June 15, 1998. It was their 10th straight home win, their best such streak since 1978.
Sosa hit a solo shot to right-center in the first inning, his 200th homer as a Cub. He added solo shots to left in the third and seventh innings, putting him on pace for 57 homers for the season. He finished with 66.
“I can’t get any RBI because he’s clearing the bases,” fourth-place hitter Grace joked.
“I’m seeing the ball real well,” Sosa said. “Good things are happening. But I’m not looking for home runs. I’m not looking at numbers. But this was one of the best games of my career.”
4. Glenallen hits a building
Cubs left fielder Glenallen Hill talked to one of his bats before a game against Milwaukee at Wrigley Field on May 11, 2000.
Hill and his new pal had everyone talking after he walloped a Steve Woodard offering an estimated 490 feet. His home run in a 14-8 loss landed on the roof of a three-story apartment building on Waveland Avenue.
“That’s the longest one I’ve seen here,” Hall of Famer Billy Williams said. “That mama was hit.”
Hill was so upset by an error he committed earlier that he took his frustrations out on the ball.
“I was so upset that I didn’t catch that fly ball that I was blind, I was so mad,” Hill said. “I think when that happens to a player, nine times out of 10, you don’t get a hit because you are so mad. But the one time you do get a hit, it seems like it’s perfect.”
5. Backside blindside
The Cubs led the Brewers 5-4 heading into the ninth when struggling closer Ryan Dempster went into the game at Wrigley Field on June 27, 2006.
The Brewers scored three runs in a wild inning in which Dempster, trying to throw to third, threw the ball into left field for an error, allowing Corey Koskie to score the tying run.
The inning had started on an odd note when Koskie reached base by lining a ball off Dempster’s rear end.
“It’s always something weird in this series,” the Brewers’ Jeff Cirillo said.
Let the madness continue. ...