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St. Louis road warriors continue march

By Jeff Mayfield          Send a link to a friend

[AUG. 30, 2004]  The amazing St. Louis Cardinals continue to baffle baseball experts by continuing to win. It is really a simple formula: Begin with a quality start, hammer the opponents offensively, get outstanding middle relief from the bullpen, and then just turn it over to the closer. The Birds are hitting on all cylinders, and if you are a Cardinals fan, the only thing you hope they have not done is peaked too soon!

Albert Pujols crushed his 40th home run, and that gave him 100 RBIs for the season. By reaching that plateau he joins the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Al Simmons and Ted Williams as the only players in baseball history to reach 100 RBIs in their first four seasons of action. By the way, the three players I just mentioned all happen to be in the Hall of Fame!

And how about the pick-off play the Cards executed yesterday! With the Buccos threatening in the sixth with two on and only one out, Cards catcher Mike Matheny signaled Jason Marquis that Pirate Rob Mackowiak was wandering too far off from second base. Marquis spun around and fired a strike to second base that nailed Mackowiak and probably ensured yet another Cardinal victory.

This team is on pace to shatter Cardinal records for most wins in a season. If memory serves, and it rarely does, the '87 team had something like 95-96 victories, and the '85 contingent came away with 101 wins. This 2004 edition has a chance to shatter those marks.

Cubs struggle with Astros

The Chicago Cubs, on the other hand, did not look much like a playoff team this weekend.

The Cubs were pummeled by the 'Stros in about every category you can think of, including the scoreboard. And after looking so bad this weekend, what was their reward? They are STILL in first place in the wild card chase! Their favorable schedule the rest of the way should make them a lock to stave off San Diego, San Francisco and the rest of the pretenders.

Put a fork in the White Sox

They have actually been dead for weeks, it is just that no one has told them so. Once they got swept by the Twinkies at home, the season was as good as torched!

Railers start season slowly

I missed the home opener for the first time in years because we needed so much help out at the balloon fest, but it sounds as if the Railers got the season off to a slow start on Friday night. I don't think I understand the scheduling of Mount Zion, but that's why I am only a would-be reporter. Hopefully the Railers will get things turned around in a hurry.

Don't forget that the Lady Railers will start their volleyball season this week as well.

Olympic wrap

Before the Athens games even began, the U.S. States Olympic team hoped to win 100-plus medals, even though they knew how tough that would be. They accomplished their goal.

More Olympic controversy appeared as the leader in the men's marathon was tackled by some wacko in the crowd. He bounced back up and did finish with the bronze. The American claimed silver, giving the U.S. a medal in the event for the first time in something like 20 years!

Though the Americans suffered a few disappointments, overall they gave us many reasons to be proud. There is something about training, living and competing in the land of the free and the home of the brave! By the way, in case you follow such things, NO American tested positive for ANY banned substances!


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College football under way

USC squeaked out a win over Virginia Tech, which makes you realize what a great job Frank Beemer has done out there. This week both Illinois and Illinois State will kick off their seasons at home. On Thursday night ISU hosts the St. Xavier Cougars, who were the MSFA co-champs last year in NAIA action. The Illini will welcome the Florida A & M Rattlers to Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Team of the week:

Art and balloon fest organizers, volunteers and other a-sundry helpers… Even the weather cannot put a damper on this wonderful event! Hats off to the chamber of commerce, all organizations and to the many people who go out of their way to welcome guests and visitors. It is just such an important event for our community. Who knows who might be willing to invest, renovate or build because of having a wonderful experience at one of our events.

Golf winners

Woody Austin won on the PGA Tour for only the second time in his career. Stadler and Ochoa won the Champions Tour and LPGA Tour respectively. Don't forget that the State Farm Rail Classic returns to Springfield this weekend, and one of Lincoln's favorites, Nancy Lopez, is scheduled to make a rare appearance!

Remote control cars

Bee's Floral and Landscaping was the site yesterday of the first annual Dash for Cash. Seventy-five drivers raced radio-controlled electric and nitro cars around the oval and around jumps, hairpin turns and long straightaways. Go on out and check out the action on Friday nights, as the track opens at 6 and racing begins at 7. I believe that admission is free, but if you or your kids get hooked on the cars, it may cost you a little more than that!

Fair play and true sportsmanship

Watching the Olympics the last couple of weeks, I was reminded how much sportsmanship has disappeared in just my lifetime. If someone on another team or from another country has a superior performance, what is wrong with acknowledging that? I am so grateful that my dad modeled AND taught us to applaud outstanding feats and achievements no matter who accomplished them. Events and games provide parents and grandparents a great opportunity to teach these timeless principles. Does this mean that I will have to stop booing Big Ten basketball officials? Ouch! I guess it does!

OK… I am off my soapbox and I am out of time. Have a great week, everybody!

[Jeff Mayfield]

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