Monday, June 06, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

Ok, well since I was taking a look at the standings in the NL and I happened to notice that if the season ended today the Cubs and the Cardinals would both be in the playoffs, I have been thinking that my prediction at the start of the season of a Cards vs. Cubs NLCS ain't looking too bad after all. I backed away from my prediction after the injury to Prior but it appears that the injury has given the Cubs some spark. I was a bit skeptical because the first few games of the Cubs recent streak were against the Rockies and the Dodgers who are well below .500 since a 12-2 start. However after a weekend where the Cubs took 3 of 4 from a very good Padres team, in San Diego no less, it has taken the Cubs streak to a new level.

I know I am in the minority on this Cubs blog because my fellow posters generally have viewed the Cubs from a pessimistic, glass is half empty viewpoint. Especially my good friend Chris who might be the biggest pessimist I have ever met in my entire life. He calls it being a realist, but in trying to be objective, in reality I think the Cubs are a very solid team. I think the battle for the Central division in the NL will come down to the 14 games the Cubs and Cards have head to head, with 8 of the 14 being in Wrigley Field. However whoever loses the division wins the wild card. I know I am in the minority on this as most assume the wild card will come from the East, but I see things differently and here is why...

In the East there are 5 halfway decent teams, which no team will pull away from the other 4. They are all pretty equally matched, and I think Tom Glavine said it best last night on the Sunday Night Game of the Week, where he said "you could give reasons for all 5 teams to win the division, but at the same time you could give reasons for all 5 to lose the division." I think those 5 teams beat the snot out of each other for 18-19 games all season long.

In the West I see the Padres as the legit best team in that division. I feel they are about to run away with it and are by far the best team in the West. The D'Backs are much improved but I expect them to fade the longer the season goes along. The Giants are lost without Barroid and I think he comes back to late to make a run at the Pads or the Wild Card. That's probably fine with Barroid because he is only hanging on to break Hank Aaron's HR record. Barroid will come back sometime after the All-Star break and even though the media claims to hate him and he certainly hates the media, he will probably somehow even manage to win the MVP. You laugh but hey he has won it atleast twice when he didn't deserve it. The Rockies, well they are the Rockies.

Now the Central. As I said I think the division will come down to the head to head games between the Cubs and Cards. However the team that comes up short in the division pounds the other teams who leave alot to be desired (Reds, Pirates, Astros, and the Beermakers). So while the East teams are playing 60-70 games against other teams equally as good, the Cubs and Cards will be playing those same 60 -70 games against very inferior competition. Far below the quality of them. I think this makes all the difference in the NL Wild Card standings. Thats why I feel pretty strongly that the wild card will come from the Central just as it did last year. I also feel that the NLCS will come down to two teams from the NL Central, just as it did last year. The Cubs and Cards in the NLCS.