News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Given to Fly

July 15, 2006

Given to Fly: Halfway home, can the Cards do it?

TERRE HAUTE — The St. Louis Cardinals are good enough to win the National League Central, but they need to make a move to get to the next level.

However, the Cardinals do not have what it takes to win a pennant, let alone a world championship. No disrespect whatsoever to what this successful organization does year in and year out, but they will win the division by default. What could have been one of the best divisions in baseball, has turned into a second-rate division this year.

Unfortunately for this long-time NL fan, the American League Central is the best division in the majors, and it’s not even close. The Detroit Tigers are no mirage; manager Jim Leyland’s club is for real. If there’s any Detroit fans out there, check out Detroit band Natives of the New Dawn. They’ve got an excellent song called Who’s Your Tiger (Detroit’s a Winner).

The Tigers are playing great baseball, but I think the White Sox win the division, leaving Detroit with the wild-card spot. That should leave the New York Yankees at home for the playoffs. (Insert favorite I hate the Yankees adage here.)

Back to the league in which the pitchers bat.

The Cardinals have a four-game lead after Thursday’s thrilling extra-inning affair with the Dodgers. The Reds solidified their bullpen with the additions of Gary Majewski and Bill Bray, but they gave up Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to do it.

The Astros, with the addition of left-handed bat Aubrey Huff at third base, are the team whom the Cardinals should be worried. Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt have been leading Houston’s charges in the late season and expect them to get Houston in the playoffs again this year.

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