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The other teams in the National League Central might as well pack it in for the year, because the St. Louis Cardinals have already won the division.

Apparently.

It’s May 3 on the calendar, and the Cardinals are only 25 games into the schedule. But I’d like to submit this question: In the National League Central, who can take this team down?

Seriously, unless the Chicago Cubs start putting together some long winning streaks, this race could turn into Secretariat at the 1973 Belmont. A horse named “Sham” tried to get out and run with Secretariat but couldn’t hang on. Secretariat won by 31 lengths. The Cubs, Brewers, Reds, Pirates and Astros might want to go to youtube.com and watch what happened to poor Sham.

After a 6-1 home stand, the Cardinals are 17-8 and have a 4 1/2-game lead in the mediocre Central. That is, by far, the biggest lead by a first-place team in the majors. And what will change? Unless the Cardinals are struck by catastrophic injuries, I don’t see how the five Shams keep pace. STLtoday.com.

Without a doubt, the Cardinals – even setting aside their blazing start – are the favorite in the Central on paper. Their rotation is dominant, their bullpen solid. They play good defense, and the lineup is dangerous.

That said, there was a time when that team was the Chicago Cubs. That time was early last year. There was no match for the Cubs on paper. And then humility – and injuries – showed its face.

  • D

    It would appear as if the Cubs are out of it… but lets not forget that we have yet to play the Cardinals… and most of our games against them are after the all-star break. Therefore, there is no saying we are completely dead until we have played at least half of our scheduled games against the Cards.

  • wax_eagle

    The Cards are good no doubt. But they haven’t even played the Cubs yet. Also since when did a 4.5 game lead on May 3rd become insurmountable. That could be gone in a week.

    I won’t even mention that St. Louis’ incredible rotation is built on two guys who have proven they can’t stay healthy, a reclamation project, a rookie and Kyle Loshe of the 5.28 ERA. The offense is incredible, the pitching is good, but they haven’t even played 30 games yet, no one knows what the division is going to look like in a month. Its way to early for anyone to crown the Cards champs. Even the St. Louis media.

    • wax_eagle

      check that, looks like wainwright has been pretty healthy over his career. But Carp had his first healthy year in 3 last year.

  • JRose

    On a side note, can we stop throwing Grabow…he should only be used in inning eating situations!

  • Bric

    Clearly the Cubs are gonna have to fix the two big problems they have if they want to challenge the Cards. It looks like the hitting is coming around but the bullpen’s still a big issue that Hendry and Lou aren’t done tinkering with. I could see when Caridad is done rehabbing he’ll go back as the fourth righty in the bullpen. Given Grabow’s godawful start, it might be his turn to take 15 days off, which means Gorz goes to the bullpen and Zambrano goes back to starting. Thoughts?

    • wax_eagle

      more likely if he is going to get a 2 week vacation its will be Caridad that will replace him.

  • Butcher

    The Cardinals should go ahead and start printing World Series tickets and the rest of the teams in the National League should pack up and go home.

    Congrats to the St. Louis Cardinals on the 4.5 game lead on May 2nd!

  • DK

    Talk about jumping the gun…is that a good horse racing analogy?

    • Georgette

      How about this one from chariot racing- Don’t put the cart before the horse. First time I’ve ever heard of a Division being one by the third day of May.

  • Cardfan

    One thing is clear – we don’t suck.

    • Ace

      Much to my chagrin (and expectations).

  • BT

    The Cardinals probably will win the division, but that article is a bit over the top. My favorite line:

    “here’s Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Brad Penny, Jaime Garcia and Kyle Lohse — not a fluke among them. This rotation has the stuff that terminates losing streaks.”

    Not a fluke among them? Penny hasn’t been good since 2007, Lohse hasn’t been good THIS YEAR, and Garcia has a total of 42 inning pitched in his CAREER.

    They could all be great. But if they are, it will be a fluke.

  • Cardfan

    You all rightfully state that it is too early in the season – and yet there is an undercurrent of complete dispair in all of these posts. I expect more from you, Cub fans. You are giving aid and comfort to the enemy…

    • KB

      Complete despair is the overriding emotion of most Cub fans. You didn’t know that?
      Nevertheless, I fully expect there to be a dogfight for the division. So far, the Cards have played about as well as someone dreaming up a best-case scenario could have imagined. In MLB, that tends to not last a whole season.

      Conversely, the Cubs haven’t played nearly as well as could be expected. You could make a solid case that the three worst players on the team have been Aramis, DLee and Zambrano. Does even the most optimistic Card fan expect that to continue? None of those three have EVER had a bad season (or at least never since joining the Cubs).

      The Cards should be looking over their shoulders, not sizing up WS rings.

      • Ace

        According to the most recent playoff likelihood predictor thingy, the Cards are at a 97% chance of making the playoffs. That blows my mind. Maybe they can at least start sizing up playoff rings.

        The Cubs, for what it’s worth, are somehow at 40%.

        • jstraw

          They make a Wild Card ring? I want one!

          • Ace

            It comes with Wonder Twin powers.

  • Andy

    I’d take your cards right now *sigh* Dodgers land isn’t looking so hot.

    • Cardfan

      Andy, you have brought an important truth to light. As a Cardinal fan or a Cub fan, you are genetically prohibited from “taking” another. We are stuck with our respective teams. It is in our freaking DNA. My wife cannot figure out why I don’t catch the “little” things in our relationship, yet I know how the detailed stats for some rookie Cards pitcher noone had heard of a year ago. It is wrong, soooooo wrong. It is reality, though. Cards/Cubs good/bad – we are stuck with them, no matter the level of sadistic crap they put us through.

      But I digress…

      • Ace

        Speaking of knowledge of rookie stats and all that… (worst segue ever)

        What the heck is up with David Freese? Is this for real?

        • Cardfan

          We started him back on the sauce. He plays better with a perpetual hangover.

          The new Cardinal “Shadow Team” is in place. A highly qualified and sober group of designated drivers to lurk in the shadows in the wee hours of the morning. They swoop in and grab the keys of inebriated players and see them home safely.

          In all seriousness, he is a talented kid. Clearly nervous the first couple weeks of the season – uncharacteristic errors and no extra-base hits. He has hit his stride. Big step up from DeRosa’s mediocre second half last year.

          • Bric

            Cardfan,

            Congrats on the strong start… but the Cards still suck (five games back? no problem! we keep saying to ourselves).

        • Bric

          That’s a good question. Many Cards fans are probably saying the same thing about Fuke, Sori, and Soto. Again, the season is very young. The next six games is critical for the Cubs, seeing as the Cards have a much more difficult schedule. One more try to get over the .500 mark tonight and maybe only be two or three back when the first series is played next weekend.

          • Cardfan

            Don’t stop…believin’…hold on to that feeeeeeliiiaaaiinnn’…

            You know and I know that Fukudome will fade with the rising temperatures of spring. Soriano has some catching up to do and needs to show you some love – hell he’s making more than Pujols this year! And Soto, well let’s just say that we are not going to be losing any sleep over him.

            Now go get those pesky Pirates…

            • Bric

              My bad, we don’t play you guys for 3 weeks, not next weekend. But anyway, since it’s karaoke time at the Bleacher Nation might I suggest “Freise Frame”, The theme from “Fat Albert”, and “Margaritaville” for Tony?…Hey, hey, hey…it’s Faaaaaaaat Albert!”

              • Ace

                That gave me a chuckle.

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