From 1969 through 1993, the Cubs and Mets had a pretty good rivalry. 1969 you likely know about even if you didn't live it. Those of us who did thought the Cubs got the Mets back pretty good in 1984... except for that "winning the World Series" thing.
The two teams had ups and downs almost in lockstep. There was another heated pennant race in 1989, which the Cubs won, and again... well, you know. The teams almost split their games between 1962 and 1993, the years in which they were scheduled to play each other 18 times a year; the Cubs won 285, the Mets 279.
But after the N.L. split into three divisions in 1994, the Cubs and Mets played far less often, and now it's just two series a year. The two teams haven't met since June 16, 2013, the infamous Carlos Marmol meltdown that finally, finally got him out of the closer role and eventually, off the team. They haven't met at Wrigley in more than a year. May 19, 2013 was that game, and the details (a blown lead in the 7th inning) should look depressingly familiar.
It's hard to hate this team now; David Wright is a fine player and the Mets have several good young starters (even with Matt Harvey out for the year). Those of us who lived through 1969, though... it's hard not to dislike the Mets. The rivalry, though, is gone.
Meanwhile, if you think this series means the schedule gets "easier," think again. The Mets have won three in a row (and would have a seven-game winning streak if they hadn't lost a 14-inning game to the Phillies last Friday) and seven of their last 10, and stand just one game under .500 and 3½ games out of first place in the N.L. East.
June might turn out better than May for the Cubs, but it ain't gonna be easy. For more on this series, please check out Russ La Croix' series preview, if you haven't already.
Bonifacio 2B, Lake CF, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Schierholtz RF, Coghlan LF, Baker C, Arrieta P
Insert "other split-squad" joke here. (You already know the reason John Baker is starting, via the earlier post about roster moves.)
den Dekker CF, Murphy 2B, Wright 3B, Granderson LF, Young RF, Duda 1B, Flores SS, d'Arnaud C, Wheeler P
This is the first time I've seen a lineup with two players who have a lower-case "d" starting their last name. The Mets have another such player, Jacob deGrom, who will start Thursday's game.
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jake Arrieta had a mediocre start against the Giants in his last outing (six innings, four runs). He still walks too many hitters (10 in 25⅓ innings), but has allowed just one home run this year. He has just one career start vs. the Mets (June 18, 2012 while with the Orioles), and the Mets roster has turned over quite a bit since then. The Met he's faced most is Curtis Granderson (7-for-20, a double, a triple, three home runs).
Zack Wheeler has never faced the Cubs or anyone on the current roster. That usually spells doom for the Cubs, but Wheeler hasn't pitched that well this year -- some good outings, some bad ones. He's issued a fair number of walks this season, but only three in his last 19 innings. In short, who knows?
Today's game is on CSN Chicago.
Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.
Baseball-reference.com game preview
Please visit our SB Nation Mets site Amazin' Avenue.
For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.
You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.
You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.