Local resident Terry Davis doesn't want
to hear this, but not only that, the Cardinals should have come away
with a series sweep and nearly did.
But what a remarkable job Atlanta
manager Bobby Cox has done with this team left for dead on opening
day! If he's not the best in baseball, who is? With all that going
for the Wahoos, only a pitching meltdown on Saturday could keep the
Cards from sweeping, and even then their bats battled back to take
an improbable lead in that ballgame.
What is especially satisfying and
exciting about this edition of the Cardinals is the emergence of so
many players all at once.
First it was Scott Rolen, who started
the season on a holy tear. My unflappable colleague Greg Taylor was
probably right about him -- at least at the time he was acquired.
You may recall that when the Birds landed him their bigger need was
pitching. The deal appeared to bite them that season and last year
as well. However, sometimes trades have to go a few seasons before
you see their brilliance, and this Rolen deal is quickly arriving
into that category. Even though he has certainly cooled down on his
electrifying RBI pace over the last month, his glove and his arm
haven't slowed down much. He appears to save a run or two a game
defensively, and he inspires his teammates to step up their defense
And if Rolen's not taking a bite out of
the opposition with his .328 average along with 28 homers and 102
RBIs, Albert Pujols is putting the fear of God into them. Take this
series, for example. I think Albert only rang the bell for something
like four home runs this weekend. He's hitting a measly .321 with 36
dingers and only 87 RBIs after a miserably slow start.
After the game, Rolen said this about
the young Pujols: "NOTHING he does surprises me." Not a bad tribute
coming from a teammate he's competing with to win the MVP award.
And if all that is not enough for
opponent scouting reports, why not throw in the season that Jim
Edmonds is having? Usually he begins to fade at this time of the
year. I don't know if it's the heat or the wear and tear of the
season, but his numbers usually fall in July and August. Not this
season. He was the NL Player of the Month in July when he was
absolutely torrid. Oh, his numbers, you ask. How about a .298 to go
with 31 taters and 80 ribbies?
The Cards' scouting report is starting
to resemble an Illini basketball scout's. If Cook doesn't kill you,
Deron Williams will, and if he doesn't, Dee Brown will light your
lamp. Just pick your poison.
And for the Cardinals, the list goes on
and on. Edgar Renteria and Reggie Sanders both have 52 RBIs, and
even Mike Matheny has contributed 34 from his eighth spot in the
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the
pitching staff just keeps on truckin' as well. Grandfather time,
otherwise known as Woody Williams, merely checked the Braves on one
run, allowing only three hits in seven innings of work Friday night
as the Birds won for the 11th straight time when WW takes the hill.
And how 'bout the job Danny Haren did
filling in for Chris Carpenter last night? Haren gave up only three
runs on seven hits and did not walk a batter in his five innings of
And the bullpen, other than a hiccup on
Saturday, keeps getting it done as well. With the series win, the
Cards have now won 12 of their last 13 series. They have an amazing
24-14 record in the final game of a series this season and have gone
an incredible 8-2 in the final road contests.
The Cards have the best record in
baseball, and their 40-19 road record is better than all other
teams' home records in baseball other than the Yanks. In fact, the
Cards have not had a losing road trip this season. On top of all
that, the Cardinal defense continues to flash the leather, and
ultimately that may be the difference.
My guess is if all these things
continue through October, the Cards will bring home the bacon. (More
baseball deeper in the Mutterings)
does it again
The Mutterings hates to say that we
told you so, but… we told you so. Just a couple of weeks ago in this
very column we said that Vijay was on fire, should probably be
ranked No. 1 in the world and that he was very dangerous every time
he stepped on a course. Witness the reigning PGA champion. Albeit he
had to do it in a three-hole playoff, but he still got it done. He
may not be the most popular player on the tour, but he might be the
hardest working and certainly the most efficient and productive.
[to top of second column in
And you wonder what must be going
through Tiger Woods' mind as he's counting all of his money. Had he
been a little more focused on Saturday and since the field came back
his direction on Sunday, what might have been?
Ernie Els and Justin Leonard also
trashed a good opportunity to claim another major.
Whatever the case, Whistling Straights
does not look like a course the Mutterings staff would even want to
play. Of course, no course is really suited for our games!
Olympics under way
Mutterings personnel have seen some of
the record number of Olympic broadcasts but have been less than
thrilled with U.S. performances so far. Women's soccer won their
match and softball too. Michael Phelps won his first gold medal and
has a big duel with Austrailia's Ian Thorpe today. It appears,
however, according to the commentators, that the U.S. swimming team
has followed the basketball team with some underwhelming production
to this point in the proceedings.
Our comment on the hoopsters: We stink!
Yet another reason why this Mutterings crew will stick to college
basketball. The players are a lot hungrier and feel like they need
to put on a show for the fans because they don't want the crowds to
be disappointed. We doubt that that ever enters the minds of the
The men's team gymnastics and men's and
women's volleyball were also very entertaining this weekend.
No word on local Vic Wunderly in his
quest for archery gold.
Plenty of great seats STILL available,
and NO, the Mutterings staff has none of them and doesn't know how
to get any of them.
Football and volleyball are on the horizon
It won't be long now, as we are just
days away from the start of volleyball, football and a host of other
fall sports. Not to mention that both Illinois and Illinois State
are making final preparations to do battle themselves. We also hope
to give you a season preview of the Rams, the Bears, the Colts and
the rest of the National Football League.
card races are really wild
Anaheim, Boston and Texas are in a dead
heat at the top of the American League wild card standings with a
red-hot Cleveland Indians team only 2½ back and the resurgent
Chicago White Sox only 4½ games out. In the National League,
Chicago, San Diego and San Francisco are tied for the WC top spot
with Philadelphia and Florida 4½ games out.
Mutterings' thoughts on these races?
The team or teams that start(s) playing better defense could walk
away with the playoff spot(s). It is amazing how many miscues these
teams are making, and yet they find themselves in the playoff hunt.
Texas has come back down to earth after
a very hot start. Boston appears to be underachieving AGAIN. Anaheim
might be the team of choice, as they seem to be heating up at just
the right time. And the Indians are simply en fuego over the last
few weeks! Both San Diego and San Francisco seem to be spinnin'
their wheels, as Los Angeles left them both in the dust when they
surged out of the second-half gate.
As Chicago gets healthier their chances
improve, but are they really healthy? Also, bullpen and defensive
questions continue to arise with the Cubbies, as they should have
won the series with the Dodgers. They are still the odds-on favorite
to win the wild card, but the Padres have a lot of youthful energy
and a good manager in Bruce Bochy, and the Giants have Barry Bonds
and a great skipper themselves in Felipe Alou… And, yes, the
mutterers told you he could manage. The Phillies have to be kicking
themselves, and Florida and Jack McKeon continue to amaze us. They
have done it with a great pitching staff and young talent. We wonder
if any of the other teams have figured that out yet?
Racing: game on
Lincoln racing was set to resume last
night. Go to
www.lincolnspeedwayonline.com to get all of your favorite
results and upcoming schedule information.
it for Mutterings this time. Have a great week, everybody!