The 2011 National League Central Division belongs to the Milwaukee Brewers. Sort of. I’m not saying they’ve clinched the division, or that there is absolutely no hope for the St. Louis Cardinals to win the division. But, according to sources, including the death meter, that scenario is highly unlikely at this point. My point is more that the division is theirs to lose. You know, like it was the Reds’ division to lose earlier in the season.
The Cardinals have been victimized all year, mostly by themselves. And before you read this as just another “poor Cardinals”, whiny article, let me urge you not to. Most teams in Major League Baseball make their own proverbial bed, and lie in it. When you spend the offseason acquiring players that are defensively weak in an effort to boost offense, you have to lie in the “bed of errors” during the season, for example. The Cards are no exception to this, and in large part, have made the bed they’re lying in right now.
I, for one, am a big believer in superstition, luck, momentum, and the “baseball gods”. As such, I recall being 95% sure that the cubs’ season was as good as over in 2003 after the whole Bartman/Alou play. Once Alex Gonzalez failed to start that double play in the 8th inning of game 6, I was 100% sure they’d lose game 7. Moral? Devastated. Just look at the way the ‘85 season ended (though, don’t tell that to the folks writing on the other side of this site), and the impact that the game 6 call had on moral, momentum, whatever you want to call it for game 7. Look at the 2011 Pirates. Jerry Meals single-handedly hurt that ballclub more so than any other individual this year.
And I think luck has played into this year’s NL Central, to a degree. It’s the most reasonably explanation for leading all of baseball in GIDP with 40,000,000, but not seeing similar numbers in the “runs scored” column. Wouldn’t that be a reasonable expectation if one premise of all the double plays is a result of having so many more runners on base?
What I don’t think is mere luck is the horrible results we’ve seen out of the Cardinals bullpen this season. All those early season meltdowns by Ryan Franklin are losses in April/May that I’m sure the Cards wish they had back now that we’re in August, heading into September. I can’t remember the last team to win the World Series that didn’t have a solid bullpen, and a lights-out closer.
I said early on this year that I didn’t think the additions of Shawn Marcum & Zack Greinke were going to amount to much, and that the Brewers didn’t scare me. I guessed that the Reds, Brewers, Cards, & cubs would’ve been the four to watch. I never would’ve picked the Pirates to do much of anything, and that just shows what a fickle game baseball can be. With the way the Brewers are playing, especially at home, it certainly seems like it’s their division to lose…but you just never know.