Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cards' Collapse Nearing A History Maker

It's enough to stir Gene Mauch in his grave. I wonder if Dick "Don't Call Me Richie" Allen is paying attention. Or if the ole pitcher-turned-politician Jim Bunning is having ghoulish flashbacks.

The St. Louis Cardinals are on the brink of something, and it isn't good. It isn't good at all.

Last week, the Cards held an 8 1/2 game lead over the Houston Astros in the NL Central Division. There were about a dozen games to be played.

Today, after a seven-game Cardinals losing streak and an equally as long Astros winning spell, the lead is down to 1 1/2 games.

The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, managed by Mauch and starring first baseman Allen and pitcher Bunning, had a 6 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals with 12 games to play. Their record was 90-60. Ten games later, that record was 90-70. A ten game losing streak, at the worst possible time. The Cardinals captured the NL pennant. No Wild Card for the Phillies to cling to.

But if the 2006 Cardinals blow this thing, and in doing so also fail to achieve Wild Card status, it would trump the '64 Phillies' collapse. To have that large of a lead with a week and a half to play, and not close the deal ... well, Cardinals fans might have to take a number at the base of the Gateway Arch in order to get their chance to jump off of it.

I hadn't realized the scope of what was going on in the NL Central because there tends to be a little race going on in Detroit at the moment, which is sorta dominating my attention. But when I heard about it this morning, and checked the newspaper to see if it was indeed true, I let out a "HUH!" that could have been heard all the way to Busch Stadium. Somehow I doubt they're unawares in St. Louis, however.

Funny that it's the Astros making the charge. Last season, Phil Garner's bunch scuffled along until after the All-Star break, when they turned it on and stormed not only into the playoffs, but into the World Series. Now here they come again, threatening to spoil what seemed like a lock of a champagne bath. The Astros have five games remaining, the Cardinals six. The six Cards games were supposed to be spent getting the pitching rotation and roster set for the postseason.

Now they are games of life and death. Better get the Coast Guard out, ready to comb the Mississippi River. You might find more than fans in there; don't count out a manager or a player or two, if life turns into death in the standings.


Blogger Ozz said...

The Astros are kind of like some of those recent A's teams. Teams that get hot just late enough in the season to mount a serious enough charge to land them in the playoffs.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Big Al said...

That Central race snuck up on me as well. An amazing night, with the Astros winning in 15, and the Cards winning in their last at bat. Albert Pujols may have saved the Cards season last night.

Or he may just be delaying the inviteable... Either way, it'll be an entertaining train wreck to watch.

10:30 AM  

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