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Cubs can't back into the postseason

By Jeff Mayfield          Send a link to a friend

[OCT. 4, 2004]  I would have never believed it, if I hadn't seen it. Some will say that it's just the Cubs, but I'm not buying it. What I will buy is how hot Houston was the last three or four weeks and the fact that they just weren't going to let San Fran or Chicago back into the playoffs. It still is amazing when you consider that the schedule makers gave the Cubs such a nice trail to October. The last week was full of games with the Mets and the Reds, and… it led to their undoing.

But before you point to that, remember how the Brewers pounded the Cards this season and how the Pirates once swept them in four. I guess that's why they play the games and don't just look at the schedules to mail them in.

I am still very surprised and was wondering if Atlanta could even compete with the Cubs in the first round of the playoffs... I guess we will never know.

Everyone kept saying how great it would be if the Cubs and Cards met for the right to go to the World Series. I think it would have been great IF your team won. However, if you were rooting for the team that came up short, I'm not sure how great that would have been. I would have liked to see the Cubs get in just because I get so tired of the East Coast bias. Oh well, it gives us something to talk and write about.

The Cards open playoff action at home versus the surging Dodgers. I say surging because they staved off a good Giants club with a great manager in Felipe Alou. I think Jim Tracy (the Dodger manager) does a fabulous job, and if you underestimate him going into this thing, you'll be sorely mistaken. Adrian Beltre can carry this team, and even though Eric Gagne is not as hot as he was during the first half of the year, its still "lights out" when he gets in the game. If St. Louis lets the game get to him, they will be in trouble.

The Cards' pitching is in disarray as Chris Carpenter will not be available, Matt Morris is up and down more than a yo-yo, and all other starters are spotty. The team just has been in a funk the last two weeks, and here's hoping that they can restore the magic. I do like the fact that the lineup featuring Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen also includes Larry Walker, Edgar Renteria and Tony Womak. What I'm trying to say is that if pitchers take a breather after getting through the heart of the order, they may be surprised when they get beat by Edgar or Reggie (Sanders) or even Mike Matheny… but I won't be.

I like St. Louis' defense, especially with Mike Matheny behind the plate. I also think that the Cards are due for something great to happen. Why not 2004… why not now?

Houston is so hot, I'm glad the Cards don't play them first (because of the rule that doesn't allow same division teams to meet in the first round). In the American League, the Twins are hot, but no one is hotter than Vladimer Guerrerro and the Angels. I'm glad the Cards wouldn't play them until the World Series, but a Cards-Bosox or Cards-Angels matchup would be nice for those who like the color red!

Railer report: The Lincoln Railer football squad lost a heartbreaker at Taylorville Saturday afternoon 19-15. With the win, the Tornadoes kept their slim playoff hopes alive and dashed Lincoln's dream of getting there for the first time in years.

The Fighting Illini lost at Wisconsin 24-7, and for the life of me I can't figure out what to make of this Illinois team. I questioned the QB, but Greg Taylor and others said that wasn't the problem. I questioned the defense, but they didn't lose the Purdue game and they kept Illinois in this game with the Badgers. I guess they just need to learn how to win.

This week they travel to Michigan State, and I have rarely wanted a win for a team as much as I want one for Illinois on Saturday. Beat the Spartans and they might get enough momentum to shock one of those highly rated teams later in the year; lose at MSU and they may repeat last year's sufferings. I'm hoping for the best and I'm going to predict a road victory!

The Lincoln Lady Railers played a close, tough match with SHG last week. However, if you are going to lose to them, I'd rather it be now so the girls can see where they need the most improvement, and maybe we'll meet up with them again on the playoff trail. Then that's the time to put them away!

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LCC's Angels didn't play anywhere near the level that coach Kevin Crawford wanted to see Wednesday night versus Knox College. However, sources close to the program informed the LDN that it was the first time in their memory that LCC had ever beaten Knox. The LDN was on hand for the contest and wished that their teams struggled as much BUT still posted wins! For good measure Crawford must have gotten through to his troops because they also disposed of MacMurray on the road Thursday night in a game that many thought Mac would win.

Reports to the LDN said that the Lady Lynx of Lincoln College struggled in a loss to Danville that evened their record at 9-9, but they appear to us to be much improved.

The Bears lost to Philly 19-9 in a game that did not seem that close to me. Kudos to the defense for playing with so much heart, but the offense had little to no firepower. Many of you loyal readers were right when you thought that the Colts would be good this season. The way they marched down the field to score on running back Ed James' power after Jacksonville had tied the game was very impressive. Coach Tony Dungy appears to be shoring up his defense as well, and the rest of the league could be in trouble. The Rams beat the hapless 49ers 24-14 in a game where I learned nothing about either team. Sorry, but that's just the way the ball bounces. I did notice that the NY Giants are 3-1 while a lot of other supposedly quality teams are 0-fer!

Now Ernie Els has passed Woods into the No. 2 position behind Vijay… but Tiger is lurking.

Anybody heard from any of those NHL hockey guys?

Non-sports item of the week: I didn't get to see the presidential debate this past week, but I have seen news clips. I have also watched lots of commercials for national and statewide candidates. It appears that a lot of it boils down to leadership. Whether it's local politics or national politics, our country seems to be starving for quality leadership.

I like to read things about leadership. I have studied the great leaders and have been fortunate to be around some great leaders in my lifetime. I hope our schools and our community have assessed this critical need and are doing everything they can to grow great leaders among our local youth. Our local future and our national future will likely depend on it… heck, our NOW depends on it!

"FANdamonium" goes on location starting this week -- today at noon at LCC. We will talk to athletes and coaches, and over the next few weeks we hope to hit as many colleges and high schools as we possibly can. PLEASE e-mail me,, or Greg at with your questions or comments. We are really excited about this development. Also, for those of you insomniacs out there… You can watch "Fandamonium" 24 hours a day by checking it out at… Another gratuitous attempt at grabbing viewers!

Have a great week, everybody!

[Jeff Mayfield]

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