I am a man of countless idiotic opinions. I hold beliefs that I have been told are stupid, and wisdom of crowds makes me believe that they are indeed stupid, but this does not keep me from believing them. I believe that The Godfather Part III is not only a good movie, but a deeply necessary counterpoint to the artistically superior but deeply immoral first film of the trilogy. I believe that there are fewer than five good Christmas songs but that Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” is one of them. And I believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong aesthetically with a baseball team that is consistently fighting for playoff spots in late September as opposed to achieving the high peaks that come with low valleys, such as the Houston Astros accomplished.
Once again, the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves cobbling together a season that should find them in the mid-80s to high-90s range of victories on the year. And while I wouldn’t say no to the Cardinals pulling a 2018 Boston Red Sox and winning 108 games in a season to run away with a division and, eventually, World Series crown, I believe the more important thing a baseball team can do is be relevant. If a team won 170 games over a two year span, conventional wisdom is that you’d want to give your team a lot of wins one year, assuring a playoff berth, while having a fairly lousy other year. But I also think there is virtue in winning 85 games per season because you don’t *know* that you won’t make it to the playoffs. You’ll spend September invigorated by regular season baseball on a daily basis rather than falling down the dark rabbit hole of following early-season NFL and forcing yourself to pretend you know or care who Luke Falk is (astonishingly, he is a starting quarterback for the New York Jets and not the guy who played Columbo). There is value in watching the season develop beyond merely getting a parade at the end of it.
Starting today and extending through Sunday, the Cardinals will play a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs, who threaten the Cardinals’ currently-held National League Central lead and will have ample opportunity to overtake the Cardinals, with seven of the remaining ten games for each team being played against their I-55 rival. And in my humble opinion, the Cardinals should sweep the Cubs.
There are numerous potential outcomes of this weekend’s set at Wrigley Field, and they range from “would be catastrophic for the Cardinals” (lose every game) to “it’s fine…just keep running out the clock and hoping the Milwaukee Brewers stop winning all of the games” (split) to “hey, the Cubs have been put in the garbage can where they belong” (win every game). I would personally recommend the latter.
The Cardinals are the longest-suffering of the three teams in NL Central contention: the Cubs have won the division twice (and won a World Series, and won a Wild Card berth) and the Brewers have won a division title and nearly made it to the Fall Classic since the last time the Cardinals played in the postseason at all (where they lost to the Cubs). This is an objective fact, and no amount of hand-wringing about Cardinals Devil Magic is going to change that. But at the same time, the Cardinals haven’t exactly been tortured, having mustered winning records and September contention in each of the last three playoff-less seasons. That said, it would’ve been cooler if the Cardinals had made the playoffs and it would be cool if the Cardinals make the playoffs this season and it would help in the quest for that goal if the Cardinals swept the Cubs.
An unfortunate aspect of the NL Central race is that both the Brewers and Cubs have been hobbled by injuries to major stars. Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich, the defending NL MVP, is out for the season, and the Cubs are dealing with a regular-season ending injury to middle infielder Javy Baez and an injury to first baseman Anthony Rizzo which should sideline him this weekend. I say “unfortunate” for several reasons—first, it’s fun to beat teams that are fully operational, and from a neutral perspective, the sport is better off when all of the good players are playing. And second, the injuries mean more focus on, say, Ryan Braun, who infamously avoided a steroid suspension by throwing a FedEx driver under the bus and getting him fired before he, um, got linked to PEDs again. It means Addison Russell, the gross Cubs infielder who has been suspended for domestic violence, gets to play more often once he returns from concussion protocol. Watching Russell, toxic masculinity embodied in one privileged moron, succeed is an objectively bad thing. Whenever I see Russell, I miss getting mad at Javy Baez for dumb sports reasons that have nothing to do with who he is as a person.
The Cardinals play tonight, which is cool, and tomorrow afternoon, because Wrigley Field caters to an upper-middle to upper class crowd that can afford to spend their Friday afternoon in the bleachers guzzling Old Style. Day games are a necessary evil during a long season for travel-related reasons, but a weekday game for its own sake is a pointless exercise in vanity, allegedly appealing to those who work nights but lasting far enough into the afternoon to exclude that demographic, as well. Every Friday afternoon Wrigley game should come with Matt Carpenter hitting three home runs and the White Sox selling out a night game that day until the end of the time. And I’m taking a half-day from work to watch it, because I’m the kind of spoiled, privileged jerk being catered to! I am the worst. I’m rooting for at least a five hour rain delay.
The working class of the Midwest deserves better than this. Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals deserve better than this. The Cardinals should destroy the Cubs.