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Folks, It’s Getting Dicey

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on July 31, 2007

If you know your baseball history, you know that while the St. Louis Cardinals ran away with the Central Division in 2004, the Chicago Cubs were pushing towards their first back-to-back postseason appearances in 96 years as they led the N.L. Wild Card for much of the summer.

Then, when it seemed like the Cubs could, for the first time ever, join the Cardinals for the postseason in the same year, everything went to hell quicker than the stock market.

Towards the end of the regular season, the Cubs had to play bottom-feeders New York and Cincinnati and instead of taking the golden chance to put a broad distance between themselves and the other contenders for the Wild Card, the Cubs would lose two of three to the Mets and two of four to the Reds.  This including a 13-inning affair that ended with a homer by Austin Kearns off Glendon Rusch, proving to be the final nail in the coffin for the Cubs as they managed to lose two of three to the Braves on the final weekend of the season.

Three years later, the Cubs are again in the mix for the postseason as they possess the best record in baseball since Lou Pinella went off on a tirade about the high gas prices and war in Iraq during the June 2nd game against Atlanta, which lit a fire under the Cubs’ ass.

While the Cubs have flourished as of late, baseball’s darlings, the Milwaukee Brewers, have floundered since opening up an 8-game lead on the division on June 23rd, whittling their lead down to a half-game after being swept by the Cardinals this past weekend in St. Louis.  This including a doubleheader sweep on Saturday that gave the Cubs a chance to gain ground on the Brewers, which would not come until Sunday when Carlos Zambrano won his 14th game of the season by blanking the Reds 6-0 in Cincinnati.

So what does this mean for both clubs? The Brewers were back in action last night to start a three-game series with the Mets at Miller Park, a series that will be closely watched in the Cubs’ clubhouse. Then after finishing up in New York, the Brewers will host the Phillies beginning Friday in Milwaukee. With their 36-17 record at home, it’s safe to say that the Brewers will still be in the N.L. Central penthouse at the end of the week, since the Mets have also floundered a bit of late in the N.L. East race. The only thing that could swing in the Mets’ favor is their 29-23 record away from Shea, one of the best in the National League.

The Cubs will have three more with Philadelphia at Wrigley before hosting the Mets for a three-game series at Wrigley starting Friday. An interesting fact about the Cubs is that they’re 12-15 against the East Division, which could spell doom for the Cubs if they don’t manufacture runs and play the way they’ve been playing since June 2nd.

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