26 September, 2006
What's a Fan To Do?
Turning my attention to one of the weightier matter of life today, it is time to talk baseball. The playoffs begin 7 days from today. One of the highlights of a baseball fans life is the first day of the season where hope springs eternal every year. However the REAL excitement begins in the final week of the season and leading into the playoffs and World Series (I must apologize to all you Cub fans, because I know you can relate to the beginning of the season comment, but you are totally in the dark about the playoff and World Series stuff.)
I should be excited right now. I mean, going into the final week of the season, the Card's are in first place in the NL Central, and I should be looking to next week. Right?
Not this year. It seem's the Cardinals are doing their very best impression of the 1964 Phillies. (You young pups won't understand.)
A week ago, the Cardinals were cruising. They held a 7.5 game lead in their division and all they had to do was win a couple of games and lock it all up and then set their pitching rotation for the playoffs. But the Cardinals have fallen apart. They have lost 6 games in a row and 7 of their last 10 games. The Astros, who were forgotten 12 days ago are breathing down the necks of the Redbirds, having won 6 straight.
To the casual observer, you might think all this sounds exciting, and in a gut wrenching way, it is. But I have to be honest... this team does not deserve to go to the playoffs. They have pretty well stunk up the field most of the second half of the season. If the Reds or the Astros had played halfway decent ball, they would have run away with this division. Understand, I am a dyed in the wool Cardinals fan, have been since I was 4 years old when my daddy took me to my first game. But I have to confess, I am not so sure I WANT this team going to the playoffs, for 2 reasons.
First... They are not a good team. If they do get in, they will have backed into the playoffs and they will most likely get the daylights stomped out of them by the Mets in the first round of the playoffs.
Second... (and really most important to me) is the fact that if they make the playoffs again, the cheap scape owners of the Cardinals will not want to spend any money on the team this off season, using as an excuse, "We made it to the playoffs again."
For those who are not Cardinal fans, let me clue you in. The Card's owners are liars. They promised that if they got a new stadium, the payroll would go up by $10-$15 Millions a year. Did not happen. They refused to increase it at all. When it was obvious that the Cards needed pitching help and very good talent was available, the owners refused to spend the money. When we needed a hitter... we brought up minor leaguers who hit .219.
Now here is another pickle in the barrel...
Over half of the Cardinal team is either a free agent after this year or unsigned. Something is going to have to happen (meaning money is going to have to be spent) and there is a part of me that thinks that if they do not make it to the playoffs, the owners just might feel a little pressure to do what they promised the city of Saint Louis when they asked for, and got a new stadium.
Yes, I'd like to see the Card's turn it on in these last 5 games and go into the playoffs with a little momentum and sweep their way through the playoffs and into the series. But I am a realist enough to know that short of a miracle... that is not going to happen. The truth is that the Astros are playing much better ball right now, and I'd rather see them go into the playoffs with a fighting chance, than watch this Cards team, that plays with no heart, fumble their way to a first round loss.
It might be nice to see Roger Clemens get one more shot at it before he calls it quits, which he is most likely going to do after this season.