to their credit they kept trying. since that point they have gone 71-41 (.634), a few games better than st louis -- this despite having almost no offense and hence little margin for error. the cardinals haven't made it easy for the astros to get to this point; the astros -- if they earn the chance -- won't make it easy for the cardinals to get where they want to go.
praise as well for the braves, winners of their 14th consecutive nl east title. even if we point out (rude of us, admittedly) that they would probably have finished 2d in 1994 if not for the strike, this is still their 11th title in a row. they are as close to the berra-mantle yankees as we're ever likely to see; damn shame they've underperformed so badly in the playoffs.
local authorities have issued this important all-points bulletin --- be alert, tell your neighbors, and notify law-enforcement personnel of any suspicious activity. . . . .