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if you haven't read the cardbloggers' playoff roundtable, do it now; then come back and read this here other stuff.

how weak is this year's nl playoff field? put it this way: last year's worst nl postseason team -- houston, with 92 wins -- would be a strong 2d in this year's field. the same is true of every year between 1998 and 2002.

vegas has taken note. sportsbook lists the cards as even-money favorites to win the nl pennant; the astros are at 3-1, braves 7-2, padres 17-2. stl and the yankees are 3-1 co-favorites to win the world series; then boston at 5-1, anaheim 15-2, astros 9-1, braves and chisox 12-1, and the padres at 25-1.

at, similar numbers. the cardinals are a prohibitive 1-3 favorite to beat san diego; they're slightly less than even money to win the pennant, with atlanta and houston both bringing about 4-1 and the padres at 9-1. and the cards are a little better than 3-1 to win the whole thing; yankees at 4-1, sox between 5-1 and 6-1, angels 8-1, astros 10-1, braves just shy of 12-1 . . . . on this board the pads check in at roughly 30-1 to go all the way.

for the record, back in april vegas had the cards at 7-1 to win the world series, the lowest odds of any nl team (nyy were 3-1, bosox were 5-1). the cubs went off second at 8-1, followed by the braves at 10-1, padres 13-1, and houston, pha, and florida all 20-1. so, aside from the cubs, vegas did a pretty good job of forecasting the nl -- of the seven teams with the best odds, six were in contention until the last week. . . . milwaukee got off at 250-1 and was still in contention in mid-august.