By Nora Farrell
(The Cardinal Nation Show ) -- It all started on April 11, 1962. The New York Mets faced the St. Louis Cardinals when the Mets took the field for the first time. The Cardinals, with the likes of Stan Musial, Bill White, and Curt Flood, put an 11-4 pounding on the Mets, who went on to lose the next eight games and started their first season on a nine game losing streak. With both teams in the National League East, a rivalry ensued between the two ball clubs.
A few years after their first meeting, the Mets won the NL East concluding the season with a win at Shea Stadium on September 24 against the Cardinals. Joe Torre would ground into a double play to end the game. The Mets also won the division in '73 ahead of the second place Cardinals.
The rivalry between the two teams became especially heated during the 1980s. On June 15, 1983, Keith Hernandez was traded from the Cardinals to the Mets in exchange for Mets pitcher Neil Allen and minor-leaguer Rick Ownby. Later that decade, talk show host David Letterman referred to the Mets as "pond scum" and it has since been the Mets nickname used by Cardinals fans nationwide. In route to their 1985 World Series Championship, the Cardinals beat the Mets in the final game of the regular season. Not wanting to be outdone by the Redbirds, the Mets turned around and won the World Series themselves the following year.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rivalry calmed and in 1995 the Cardinals moved to the National League Central Division. In 2000, the Cardinals and Mets squared off in the National League Championship Series. The Cardinals were the Central Division Champions while the Mets were the wildcard team. The Mets took the series in five games and went on to lose to the Yankees in the World Series.
While the Mets struggled in the years following their World Series run, the Cardinals continued to dominate the National League making appearances in the NLCS in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006. The Mets made their way back into the playoffs in 2006 for the first time since 2000. After winning their respective Divisional Series, the Cardinals and the Mets were matched up again in the 2006 NLCS. The Mets were heavily favored and also had home field advantage.
The series was back and forth eventually going to a seventh game. Yadier Molina hit a 2-run home run in the top of the 9th to put the Cardinals up 3-1. In the bottom of the ninth, with Adam Wainwright pitching, the Cardinals were one out away from a chance to play in the World Series.
The bases were loaded and Carlos Beltran was up to bat, leaving no easy task for Wainwright. Back in Game 4, Beltran tied the NLCS record for most homeruns in a series with 7. Wainwright got ahead 0-2 and sealed the deal striking Beltran out, looking, on a curveball on the outside corner at the knees. The Cardinals went on to win the World Series in 2006, their first since 1982.
The rivalry also has a sense of irony. Joe Torre went on to manage the Mets after his playing days were done. And Beltran, the batter that Wainwright struck out in his NLCS Game 7 coming out party, is now his teammate on the Cardinals after joining the team before the 2012 season.
Although in different divisions, the rivalry between the Mets and the Cardinals continues. It may not be as heated as it once was, but the Cardinals still do not want any part of losing to the "Pond Scum" from New York.