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Theo Epstein: Cubs-Cards Rivalry Has Feel Of Yankees-Red Sox In Its 2000s Heyday

(CBS) An electric three-game weekend series between the Cubs and Cardinals had everyone buzzing when it was over. It also had Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein flashing back to another great rivalry he's been a part of.

On Monday, Epstein compared the current Cubs-Cardinals rivalry -- which took the form of a beanball war and hard slides as Chicago took two of three games over the weekend -- to that of the Yankees-Red Sox during its heyday in the 2000s, when Epstein was a member of the Boston organization, including taking over as the general manager in 2002. Epstein watched in 2003 as the Red Sox lost a heartbreaking Game 7 of the ALCS to the Yankees. Then in 2004, Epstein directed Boston to a World Series title that included a shocking comeback from down 3-0 to New York in the ALCS.

"It's pretty similar, really," Epstein said. "It reminded me a little bit of 2003 when we were starting to get the Yankees' attention and talent-wise, we could play with them and seeing how those games were back and forth and all close games and all played at a really high level. There were a lot of similarities and really intense involving some extracurriculars as well.

While the Cubs and Cardinals have never met in the playoffs, they're in line to do so if the Cubs can get past the Pirates in the win-or-go-home wild-card contest. With that in mind, Epstein was happy to see Chicago manager Joe Maddon stick up for their ball club last Friday, when he expressed displeasure with St. Louis intentionally throwing at Anthony Rizzo and made reference to not caring about the "Cardinal Way" of playing baseball.

"He was even hotter when he was in our office before he went to meet (the media)," Epstein said. "So it's good. We should stand up for ourselves. I think it says more about how we sort of feel about the Cubs and and the 'Cubs Way' and that we're not going to take anything from anyone.

"I respect a lot of things they do, but in this case, we got to stand up for what we're doing, which is pretty good too."

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