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Cardinals-Royals I-70 Rivalry Open Thread

I'm on the road right now and the big Royals-Cardinals rivalry post I wanted to write in honor of this weekend's series never materialized. Blogger fail.

A few years back, I wrote a longish post on the rivalry called 8.5 Angles to the I-70 Series. Then last year, I reposted it, and the comments picked right back up. If you're new to the site, I really recommend checking out the comments, if nothing else, there's some classic cultural/sociopolitical stuff there. The KC-STL thing... well, as something of an outsider, I don't quite get it, but clearly, there's something there. No matter how much the Cardinals say it isn't a rivalry.

So what has me thinking today is how the I-70 Rivalry might be different now that the Royals are better. I ask because, now that the games matter, I find myself riding much stronger emotions with each game and less able to stomach some of the stupid things about the franchise that I previously loved.

What is the state of the rivalry these days? Does the seeming improvement of the Royals diminish the anti-Cardinals thing or make it more important? For the first time since 2003, the Royals aren't just playing spoiler in this series, they've got their own playoff hopes at stake. Does that make the rivalry aspect less important?

Finally, what part of battleground Missouri do you want first: the contested mid-Missouri area (Jeff City, Columbia) or the southwest, the I-44 corridor (Springfield & Joplin)? Or, do you want the bootheel?