Sunday, September 16, 2007

Great time for a great trip

Photo from the Chicago Tribune

What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday the Cubs finished the day in second place one game behind the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers were heading home for series with the Pirates and Reds. The Cubs were heading home for a makeup game with the Cardinals and then right back on the road for series' with the Astros and Cardinals. During the week the Brewers, the best home team in the National League, went 3-3 at Miller Park. The Cubs won the makeup game at Wrigley Field and went on to go 5-2 on their roadtrip. A 6-2 week for the Northsiders puts them back atop the division with two weeks to play. Here are the standings with two weeks to play:

Central W L PCT GB E#
CUBS 78 72 .520 - -
Milwaukee 76 72 .514 1.0 13
St. Louis 70 78 .473 7.0 7
Cincinnati 68 81 .456 9.5 4

It gets even better. The Cubs 4-1 record against the Cadinals this week contributed to St. Louis' 9 game losing streak. Taking 3 of 4 from the Cardinals at Busch Stadium basically finished off the defending World Champs. The Redbids now stand seven games back with 14 to play (how do you like them odds?). The NL Central is now a two team race between the Cubs and Milwaukee. The Redbird series saw several players step up and be heroes. So many players came up big this weekend. There were the players you would expect: Zambrano, Soriano, Lee (to name a few). There were also some surprises: Kerry Wood, Matt Murton, Geovany Soto, Felix Pie and even Sam Fuld.

Allow me a paragraph or two to enjoy what has happened in St. Louis. How bad are things in the nations self proclaimed 'best baseball town'? How about this mornings St. Louis Post Dispatch declaring the Cardinals season over!
More than five painful months have escorted the Cardinals to the painfully obvious. The Chicago Cubs showed them the door to their season Sunday in a 4-2 loss at Busch Stadium that might as well have represented their summer in miniature.
How about a Sunday column where Bernie Miklasz goes after the great Tony LaRussa:

"Have you seen what Ryan's done against Chicago? What matchup are you talking about? Check Soriano this year against him," La Russa said, dismissing Soriano's success against Franklin as "American League numbers."

Soriano was 0 for one against Franklin this season until Saturday.

La Russa based his decision on that one at-bat?

Well, George Will never wrote a book about you.

I know it's been a rough year for Tony, and I'd never expect him to be unaffected by a loss. But I've covered Tom Landry, Joe Gibbs, Joe Torre, Jimmy Johnson, Dick Vermeil and Whitey Herzog on a daily basis, and they didn't treat other people shabbily when their teams lost. They maintained reasonably civil manners during tough times.

This hasn't been one of La Russa's better months. His six-man rotation was a disaster that expedited the collapse. Other decisions backfired (see: Kip Wells). La Russa has acknowledged a strained relationship with players.

And in a display of terrible timing, La Russa twice sounded off about his managerial future in St. Louis. With his team drowning, is it appropriate for TLR to be promoting his potential availability on the job market?

LMAO. Well if the Cubs do nothing at all the rest of the way, I will fondly remember that they put the Cardinals out of their misery in 2007. I'm sorry, but there is nothing better than watching that organization in free fall.

So back to the division race. So the Cubs have 12 to play and Milwaukee 14. The two teams are even in the loss column. Maddog at ACB takes an in-depth look at the records and stats the two teams have with their upcoming opponents. Then Maddog adds this:
Past stats mean nothing at this point. The season has come down to one very small sample size where it’s simply impossible to predict what is going to happen based on what has happened throughout this season.

That is the point we have reached. Throw away the stats. Get out the dice. This is a two week race with two imperfect teams. It is likely to go down to the final weekend in Cincy. I don't assume anything with this Cub ballclub. Memories of what a bad Reds club did to the Cubs in September 2004 at Wrigley Field are too fresh in my mind. They have not played well against Cincy or Pittsburgh this season. But that is the past. The Cubs have 12 games in 14 days and they control their own destiny. As Pat Hugues says: "Time to fasten those seatbelts."

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