So in the aftermath of last night's storm of spittle and recrimination and flying spheres hurled at various body parts, the Cardinals and Brewers find themselves staring down a two horse race for the National League Central crown. The Pirates have chosen the first week of August to schedule their fall to earth, losing five in a row and seeing their Pythagorean record dip back below the .500 mark.
For a division projected to be a four-team dogfight, this has been a rather pathetic season so far. Perhaps I was just expecting too much. After all, while I was told it would be a dogfight, I didn't specifically ask if the dogs in question were all to be partially lobotomized dachsunds with two of their legs sawed off. Next time I'll remember to check ahead.
I will admit it was a little exciting last night watching what should have been a beautiful pitcher's duel devolve into a fifteen run slog, and it was fun seeing Marc Rzepczynski complete his initiation rite to become an official part of the Cardinal bullpen by walking the one and only hitter he saw. Still, it was an ugly, unlovable game in an ugly, unlovable season. The only redeeming quality was the fact we won.
Of the four teams expected to contend in the Central, the Cubs have proven themselves an abject disaster. Why exactly we all saw them as a threat is tough to recall now, going the way of the Balloon Man. I think it had something to do with Matt Garza turning a ragtag bunch of losers into a pennant winner, a la Rookie of the Year. In his defense, Garza has kept up his end of the bargain, but it appears the dude responsible for delivering scripts may have decided to stop off and get high after he left Garza's house.
The Reds have, in an odd way, been exactly who we thought they were, except not really. Last year virtually the whole team outperformed every projection anyone threw at them. This year they were supposed to fall back down from those clouds in quite a magnificent fashion. Well, they sort of have, as they currently sit five games below .500, but quite a bit of that has just been underperforming their run differential. They should be 58-51 instead of 53-56 and falling out of relevance.
Pittsburgh is the feel-good story of the year, but their magic appears to be running out. While I still like their rotation, they've been cruising for the proverbial bruising for awhile now, and the rumour that Jeff Karstens is not, in fact, magic seems to be making the rounds in the Steel City.
Which leaves us with the Cards and the Brewers. Milwaukee, propped up by its mysteriously (ahem) good home performance, and St. Louis, hoping that trading in their 401(k) to buy a solid gold Corvette won't come back to bite them in the collective ass down the road. Milwaukee with their douchebag home plate celebrations and Affliction tee shirts, and St. Louis with their spitting dervish of a catcher and paranoid, delusional management team.
In reality, neither one is a very likable team, and neither one looks anywhere near good enough to make a real run in the playoffs. The postseason is a crapshoot, sure, but can you win a crapshoot if all you brought was a pocket knife?
I admit, I'm more than a bit fatigued by this team. I'm tired of trying to root for a cast of characters I frankly don't care for all that much and watching the same issues plague the squad year after year. Still, they're my team, so I'll stumble along with them to the finish line. It should be a fascinating, heated battle to the end between a pair of teams who clearly don't like each other and are finding new reasons all the time for their enmity. Instead, well, it just doesn't sound like nearly as much fun as it should be.
Now we wait for the suspension on Yadi to come down. I'm betting gets five days, maybe seven. He'll appeal it down a bit, but I'm still expecting him to miss a fair chunk of time. Maybe he'll get one day for every inch the ball was off the plate. Sort of poetic, no?