Sunday, May 27, 2007

Opportunity knocking or knocked?

It is not very often that a team can win 6 of 15 games and actually gain ground on the leader in the division. That is the case in the NL Central this morning. Since May 11 the division has a collective record of 30-49.

Here were the standings after games were completed on May 10th.

Central W L PCT GB
Milwaukee 24 10 .706 -
Chicago 16 16 .500 7.0
Houston 16 18 .471 8.0
Pittsburgh 15 18 .455 8.5
St. Louis 14 18 .438 9.0
Cincinnati 15 20 .429 9.5

Teams records from May 11th through yesterday are as follows:

Milwaukee 4-11
Cubs 6-9
Houston 5-10
Pittsburgh 6-9
St. Louis 6-8
Cincinnati 3-12

Tony LaRussa and the Cardeinals would be dead and buried in most other divisions in baseball. Not in the NL Central. Following a 6-8 run the Cardinals have made a gain of 2-1/2 games on the Brew Crew. Giving us the current NL Central Standings:

Central W L PCT GB
Milwaukee 28 21 .571 - -
Chicago 22 25 .468 5.0
Pittsburgh 21 27 .438 6.5
St. Louis 20 26 .435 6.5
Houston 21 28 .429 7.0
Cincinnati 18 32 .360 10.5

The Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates have all quietly made up at least 2 games on the front runners. If one of these teams had actually been hot... Well you know. At the back of the pack are the Reds. The Cincinnati's are baseballs worst team heading for a major shakeup. At this point they are probably the only team in the division that can be ruled out of it.

And this brings us to the Chicago National League Ballclub. You can choose to take one of two paths on this one. On the positive side: they have made up two games since May 11th. (actually they have made up 3.0 games if you look at the standings on May 12th when they trailed the Brewers by 8 full games). As I am writing this they are in sole possesion of second place which means they do not have to worry about any of the teams between them and the Brewers. On the negative side: during this time they have had tremendous opportunities to make that gap smaller. There was this game against the Phillies, this one versus the Mets or this memorable ninth inning implosion that same series with the Mets. So far on the trip out West the Cubs can point to this loss in San Diego and Friday nights debacle with the Dodgers. Looking back at these games you can see the Cubs had the opportunity to do some big things over the past few weeks, much bigger than picking up two games in a lousy division. Still, what is done is done. The Cubs just have to take care of business on the field. Get to the .500 mark and look toward Milwaukee. They will have enough head to head matches with the Brewers to do some damage. Now they need to take care of business outside the division.

So I ask, at 3 games under and 5.0 games back in the central midway through the Memorial Day weekend, is the glass of Cubbie Blue Kool-Aid half empty or half full?

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