"The Five Hole" with Chris Gift

As our friends in the Mob say "Don't worry about it."

As a culture, we tend to pay attention to extremes. This past week, all we worried about was the high temperature.

If it was 101, 102 or 98, did it really matter?

A few days ago, our attention was grabbed by Chase Utley as his hitting streak climbed higher and higher.

We're concerned about how high gas will go, how low the market will fall, and how many in a row the club will lose.

Don't worry about it.

Don't sweat it one bit.

The birds on the bat are good enough to qualify for the playoffs, and if recent history is any indication, just getting into the dance assures just as much of a shot of walking out as Prom Queen as the girl that had a few "procedures" done before the voting.

Most rational Cardinal fans (so that excludes all talk radio callers) realize that this team isn't going to either win 100 games, or finish under .500, and that barring a miracle by the Reds, will once again have a champagne bath celebrating another division title.

If last year's Houston Astros, the 2003 Florida Marlins, and the 2002 Mighty Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim aren't enough evidence to show that the playoffs are anybody's to win, any 2006 sports almanac can tell the same story.

The George Mason Patriots (I've been meaning to ask this for a while - why were Mason's colors green and yellow with the nickname "Patriots?" Isn't that a red, white and blue nickname?), were supposed to lose their first round game in the NCAA tournament this year, but ended up in the Final Four.

The Pittsburgh Steelers barely qualified for the AFC Playoffs, caught fire and won Super Bowl 40. The Edmonton Oilers barely qualified for the NHL playoffs, only to lose in the Finals in seven games.

As long as the Cardinals finish with a better record than the Reds, it's anybody's guess what happens in October.

If Major League Baseball seeded the eight postseason qualifiers, it would most likely look something like this:

1. Detroit
2. AL East Division Winner (New York Yankees or Boston)
3. AL Wild Card Winner
4. New York Mets
5. St. Louis
6. AL West Winner
7. NL West Winner
8. NL Wild Card

Look at it this way, if the Mets lose three out of five in October, all the Cardinals have to do to win the World Series is beat one team better than them four of seven times.

If the Mets do win their National League Division Series, the Cardinals have to beat the Mets (who the Cardinals played very competitively a few months ago here at Busch) and one other team to have a parade down Market Street.

I can see it now; the Cardinals sell hats with dreadlocks coming out of them for World Series MVP Ronnie Belliard. Mark Mulder lifts the Commissioner's Trophy above his head and says to all of us gathered in the cold, "We told you not to worry."

For those of you who insist that the regular season isn't a success unless the team wins 100 games, the last team to win 100 games during the regular season and the World Series was the 1998 New York Yankees (114 wins). In the last 22 years, only the Yankees in '98, the Mets in 1986 and the 1984 Tigers have won 100 games and won the last game played in October.

For those of you who insist on the greatness of the 1982 team, that team won 92 games. That team got hot at the right time, and that team has become immortal for winning the World Series.

This team should win about 92 games. This team might get hot at the right time. This team has a legitimate shot at becoming immortal by winning the World Series.

It's all about getting invited to the dance. Unless a catastrophe happens, the invitation is already in the mail.

Contact: gift@stlouisgametime.com


EDITOR's NOTE: St. Louis Game Time is the official print publication of The Birdhouse.  It can be purchased before all home games at the stadium and is also available by email subscription. For more content, visit www.StLouisGameTime.com.

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