The Fear

Pictured: Matt Holliday running from some kind of parachute monster. - Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Tell me something, everyone: what are you afraid of?

No, not like in real life. I don't care that you're afraid of failure, or dying alone. Or that every time you see a teddy bear you lock yourself in a closet and cry for three hours. Not interested.

Well, that's not entirely true. If you do that closet thing over a stuffed animal, I guess I am a little bit interested. Just because I'm nosy like that. But that's not exactly what I'm asking about today, in this particular baseball column. (Still, feel free to share.)

No, what I'm asking you today is who you're afraid of in the National League Central. It honestly looks like the division could be very, very tough this year, and it's only going to get worse in the future, I think. The Cubs have money and, finally, what looks like a coherent vision of where they want to go. The Pittsburgh Pirates are on the verge of getting over that hump we've been talking about them cresting for what seems like decades now, and I expect the tipping point to hit this year. They have the feeling of a real, honest to goodness breakout team to me.

The Reds won the division last year. I hate to have to remember that, both because it's more fun to recall how close the Cardinals were to a World Series appearance and because my own hatred for the Redlegs is strong enough I can taste something bitter and metallic way back in my throat every time I think of the Reds having success, like washing down a handful aspirin with last night's glass of Scotch.

And the Brewers...well, I don't rightly know what to make of the Brewers, to be frank. The injuries to both Corey 'Bitchin' Camaro' Hart and Mat Gamel leaves the Crew with a rather large concern over at first base -- not to mention in the lineup -- but they still feature one of the more potent offensive presences in the league in Ryan Rraun and the most exciting shortstop prospect everyone ignores in favour of Jurickson Profar in Jean Segura.

I suppose one has to look to Cincinnati first for their fear. After all, they were at the top of the pile last season, and until someone knocks them off their perch they can refer to themselves as defending NL Central champions. But after that, it's kind of a jumble. The Cubs are probably going to be bad this season, but the mere fact it looks as if they're pointing up is nauseating to me.

So I ask you, VEBers: what are you afraid of? Who in the NL Central this season do you see as the biggest threat to the Cardinals having a successful season? Reds? Buccos? The Cardinals themselves, self-destructing?

Tell me about your fear.

The Baron's Playlist for the 20th of February, 2013

"Shuggie" -- Foxygen (I'm obsessed with this song today.)

"My Prayer" -- Ink Spots

"Corprophagist (A Bath Perhaps)" -- Thee Oh Sees

And the best cover of Borderline you're ever going to hear. (Careful of this one at work; whoever threw together a clip montage didn't particularly stick to SFW guidelines.)

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