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updated: 10/29/2011 6:33 PM

Can Epstein really fill a gap this wide?

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Last week the Cardinals won the baseball season by beating the Rangers in the World Series, and the Cubs allegedly won the off-season by hiring Theo Epstein.

So it has gone for more than a century.

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The Cardinals have won the World Series 11 times since the Cubs' last won one in 1908 and six since the Cubs last played in one in 1945.

Epstein, the Red Sox' old general manager/new Cubs' president of baseball operations, doesn't have to worry about the Yankees being in Boston's division anymore.

Now, however, Epstein has to worry about the Cardinals being in the Cubs' division.

This year's World Series magnified so many differences between the Cubs and Cardinals that it's no wonder the former hasn't won a championship in 103 years while the latter hasn't won one in all of a couple days.

Here's a sampling of the differences between the two franchises:

Perhaps the Cardinals' signature team is this year's. It overcame a 10-game deficit on Aug. 25 to qualify for the playoffs as a wild card.

Perhaps the Cubs' signature team is 1969's. It blew a 9-game August lead to miss the playoffs.

St. Louis' David Freese is the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 World Series. He's a third baseman who struggled just to stick in the major leagues last year at age 27.

Two of the Cubs' most heralded third-base prospects in recent memory were Gary Scott and Kevin Orie, both of whom famously fizzled.

It's possible that Scott sold insurance to Orie on the day the Cubs introduced Epstein, and Orie sold a used car to Scott on the day the Cardinals clinched the World Series.

When the Cardinals needed a left-handed presence in their batting order this season they acquired switch-hitting Lance Berkman, who had a great season on the way to winning the World Series.

When the Cubs needed a left-handed presence in their batting order in 2009 they acquired switch-hitting Milton Bradley, who was troubled and troublesome on and off the field.

When the Cardinals traded bothersome former center-field phenom Colby Rasmus in July, they received in return three pitchers who helped them win the title.

When the Cubs traded failed former center-field phenoms Corey Patterson and Felix Pie last decade, they wound up with nobody of consequence in return.

When the Cardinals traded for former Cubs' infielder Ryan Theriot a year ago he said, "I'm finally on the right side of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry."

Cubs' fans bristled at the audacity. Theriot then won a World Series in his first season with the Cards after losing all six of his playoff games with the Cubs.

Before the 2010 season the Cardinals hired first-time batting coach Mark McGwire, who was wallowing in ignominy after admitting to using steroids as a player.

Before the 2010 season the Cubs hired veteran batting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who had distinguished himself in the role with the Rangers.

Two years later, McGwire helped Cardinals' hitters win a World Series. Meanwhile, Cubs' hitters still were miserable under Jaramillo and the Rangers reached two straight World Series without him.

The gap between the Cubs and the Cardinals is just one reason I continue to say that the Cubs won't win a World Series in my lifetime.

Let's see what Mr. Boy Wonder Theo Epstein can do about flipping that gap to the Cubs' advantage.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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