Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 10/8/11
MILWAUKEE -- It seems like destiny that the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers will have the chance to do what the 1982 Crew couldn't: beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the postseason. Sure, the players have changed, the stadiums are different and the Brewers reside in the National League now, but the rematch of the 1982 World Series should certainly make for a wildly entertaining NL Championship Series. With all that transpired between the NL Central rivals in 2011, the tension in the NLCS is bound to be at an all-time high with a trip to the World Series on the line. "With St. Louis there's going to be a little more fire, I think, in both teams with everything that we went through this year," Milwaukee closer John Axford said Friday after the Brewers captured a dramatic win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 5 of the NLDS. More fire? Adding anything more to the fire already burning between the Cardinals and Brewers this season alone might make for a five-alarm blaze. The feuding began in early August when St. Louis manager Tony La Russa filed a complaint with the league, accusing the Brewers of tinkering with the LED lighting boards at Miller Park while his team batted. That, combined with talk of stolen pitching signs, seemed to be an opponent's stab at determining why the Brewers play so well at home. The very next night featured an exchange of plunkings. After Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was hit by an up and in pitch, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was tagged in the back by hard-throwing Cardinals reliever Jason Motte to lead off Milwaukee's part of the inning. La Russa admitted to trying to send a message about pitching inside to his superstar but wouldn't admit Braun was pegged on purpose. The Brewers, though, weren't interested in starting a war. "Were here to win, man," first baseman Prince Fielder said after that game. "All that fighting stuff thats for the birds. The final game of that series was capped on a more positive note as scuffling third baseman Casey McGehee led the Brewers to a win with three home runs. A week later, Milwaukee center fielder Nyjer Morgan had to be warned by umpires about yelling at St. Louis pitcher Chris Carpenter from the visitor's dugout at Busch Stadium. That feud did not die so quickly and came to a head when the Brewers visited again in September. After striking out Morgan in the ninth inning, Carpenter screamed an expletive from the mound, though he initially denied saying anything to provoke Morgan. After staring down Carpenter, Morgan hurled his chewing tobacco toward the pitcher, prompting Pujols to charge in from first base. Morgan was ejected after both benches cleared onto the field, though the altercation didn't get physical. Morgan got verbal, however, on Twitter later that night, referring to Pujols as "Alberta" and taunting, "I hope those crying birds injoy watching tha Crew in tha Playoffs!!!" It seemed that that was the end of the fiery rivalry for the year, as the teams split the season series 9-9 but St. Louis still trailed the Brewers by 8 12 games in the Central and were 6 12 games behind the Braves in a wild-card race they would ultimately win on the final day of the regular season. The Brewers seemed destined for the playoffs; the Cardinals were a different story. But an incredible late-season run -- 23 wins in their last 32 games -- launched St. Louis into a first-round meeting with the Philadelphia Phillies, the overwhelming favorites in the NL. No matter though, as they got past the vaunted Philadelphia pitching aces with gutsy performances that were enough to make the baseball world forget how they'd only just snuck into the playoffs. "The Cardinals have had an unbelievable year," Brewers infielder Jerry Hairston said Friday. "They're a great team, no question a resilient group." With all that as an opening act, the Brewers and Cardinals have set up quite a main event. It's the Suds Series Part II. It's less Harvey's Wallbangers and more "Beast Mode." It's Tony La Russa and the Cardinals' old-school approach up against Tony Plush and the Brewers' new-school swagger. More than anything, though, its an opportunity to reach baseball's greatest stage and both teams will undoubtedly be playing with passion that comes around only in October. The series starts Sunday with a 3:05 p.m. CT first pitch at Miller Park.
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