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About this time last year, the Chicago Cubs were well on their way to the National League's Central Division title. Those who didn't know a curveball from a knuckeball were jumping on the bandwagon and gleefully buying Cubs' merchandise. 

When 108 years of misery ended and the Cubs finally won the World Series in early November, fans of their biggest rival glumly watched. 

Most experts pegged the Cubs to return to the Fall Classic this year. It might happen, too. Yet, right now, Chicago doesn't appear to be the juggernaut it was in 2016.

Suddenly there is a chance of a fun summer again for those St. Louis Cardinals faithful.

With more at stake on both sides, that makes this weekend's Cardinals-Cubs series at Wrigley Field that much more enjoyable to watch. St. Louis entered Friday's opener with a 26-25 record, 1½ games behind the surprising Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. Chicago, after a disastrous West Coast trip, came in 25-27.

Saturday's 1:20 p.m. game can be watched on Fox Sports Midwest and WAOE (Channel 59), with Sunday's 6:30 p.m. series finale on ESPN. 

With three different outlets providing coverage of the weekend games, it will be interesting to hear how each set of announcers approaches the series.

Like the Cubs, the Cardinals haven't exactly played great baseball the first two months. Broadcasters for both teams have been good at pointing out their flaws.

Being neutral, the ESPN crew of Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone and ex-Cubs catcher David Ross figures to send the message that it's too early to panic about the Cubs.

There are still more than 100 games left after the weekend. Talent usually prevails over 162 games and the Cubs have a ton of it, although their starting pitching could be a question mark.

When the Cardinals and Cubs next meet on July 21, things could look a lot different.

PGA Tour: The Memorial (CBS, 2 p.m. Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Sunday): Great field at Jack Nicklaus' tournament only two weeks before the U.S. Open. Unfortunately, talk about Tiger Woods' arrest is overshadowing everything in golf.

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins at Predators (NBCSN, 7 p.m. Saturday; NBC, 7 p.m. Monday): Pittsburgh seems on cruise control and headed for its second straight Stanley Cup. Carrie Underwood singing the national anthem and pumping up the crowd might be Nashville's best hope for turnaround. 

NBA Finals: Cavaliers vs. Warriors (ABC, 7 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Friday): The series everyone knew was coming seven months ago is finally here. Steph Curry seems to have more weapons next to him with Golden State than LeBron James does in Cleveland. 

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Contact Jim Benson at



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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