The St. Louis Cardinals wrapped up their second straight National League Central title Sunday afternoon while finishing off warm-ups. After failing to close the door Saturday night, the division championship came down to the last day of the season, and for perhaps the first time ever, had St. Louis fans rooting for Johnny Cueto and the Reds against the Pittsburg Pirates. Separated by three time zones, and with Cueto picking up his twentieth win of the season, the Cards were able to secure the division without having to win Sunday’s game (a game they won anyway). This marks the ninth division title for the Cardinals since the inception of the NL Central during the 1994 realignment.
The season began with lofty expectations from both local and national pundits. Many considered the Cardinals to have a 100 win potential and easily capture the division crown. Nothing in baseball, however, seems to go as planned. The club battled an underachieving offense, inconsistent play most of the season, and injuries to key players, but finished the season strong. Taking over the Central division lead at the start of September, the Cardinals at a .654 clip (17-9) the final month to end the season 18 games over .500, with a record of 90-72.
Now, with the 162-game MLB season in the rearview mirror, the team can focus on baseball’s “second season,” which starts Friday night in Los Angeles in a rematch of last season’s NLCS. The teams may be the same, but there are several differences between this year’s and last year’s series. The Cardinals come in as the clear underdog. The Dodgers, as the higher seed, own home-field advantage and the Cardinals have not been good on the road, playing three games under .500 as the visitor. The Dodgers won three out of four games from the Cardinals in Los Angeles earlier this season, outscoring the Cards 17-4 in that series, shutting them out in two games. The Cardinals offense was at times anemic this season, finishing last in the NL in home runs (105), second to last in stolen bases (57), and tenth in runs scored (619). The 619 runs the Cardinals scored are the lowest of any playoff team and 99 less than the Dodgers scored. If the Cardinals want to advance past the NLDS, they are going to have to find a way to generate some offense against a pitching staff that features Cy Young award winners Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
One of my favorite things about sports in general is the history of the games. The undeniable legends who stood taller than everyone else, the greatest plays in history, the indelible moments that come to define legacies.
Like any institution, often these sports attempt to embrace their past, encouraging people and the participants of their sports to learn the history of the game. The name Jackie Robinson may not exactly be a household name, but you would likely be able to find a large portion of the population who is at least familiar with the name. MLB embraces Robinson’s contributions and has an annual Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, during which all MLB players wear the number 42, the number Jackie wore when he broke the color barrier. Some fans like it, some find it annoying. Whether or not you enjoy it, it’s hard to deny that MLB has gotten their point across.
On this episode, I am joined by Jeremy and Jake. We break down this Sunday’s SummerSlam card and give our predictions. We also talk about some of our favorite SummerSlam moments from the past.
Feel free to leave your thoughts or predictions on this Sunday’s show or talk about some of your favorite SummerSlam matches.
WWE Payback was just what the doctor ordered for the WWE: an entertaining pay per view.
It’s just a shame that the company has done a lousy job of promoting the last two pay per view’s. Both have featured some great wrestling and wonderful story telling. Sunday’s event kicked off with Cesaro vs. Sheamus. Paul Heyman shut the crowd up with their CM Punk chants right off the bat, saying that he was over at the United Center watching the Blackhawks. He isn’t the best manager in the business for nothing folks. Both men worked a stiff match, which was welcomed by the fans in attendance, as well as myself at home. There were several near falls, as both men took some hard bumps. I really thought Cesaro would win this match, and it looked like he had it as he went for the Neutralizer. Sheamus surprised everyone as he countered the move with a small package to retain the title. It was a great opening match. These two are nowhere near done with each other. I could see atleast another pay per view battle between Cesaro and Sheamus.
The next match up was the Rhodes Brothers and Rybaxel. Besides the Diva’s match, this may have been the weakest match of the night, but it still told a compelling story. Rybaxel got the win, but the main story happened after the match. Cody left Goldust alone in the ring, telling him he needed to find a better partner. And the split of the Rhodes Brothers begins. I look for them two to battle at Summerslam.
To say the WWE’s booking of Extreme Rules was poor would be an understatement. It seemed like no one cared to watch this pay per view, but in the end I’m pretty sure most wrestling fans were pleasantly surprised.
The show kicked off with a triple threat match between RVD, Jack Swagger, and Cesaro. This was a fun match to watch, as all three men worked well together. Cesaro, deservedly came out with the win, but the crowd was hot for RVD, chanting “ECW” throughout the match. I think it’s time to get Cesaro into the title hunt, whether it be the United States, Intercontinental, or Heavyweight title picture, he’s ready.
The Big E and Wade Barrett match was quite fun to watch as well. Both men worked their asses off in the ring, and I think it was pretty suspenseful for a while. Big E looks like he could be a legit mid-card guy. I once had my doubts about him. One thing there is no doubt about is Barrett is way over with the fans. I know that WWE is pushing him as a heel, but it’s not working. The WWE Universe loves his “I have some bad news…” announcements. I think it was a smart move to put the belt on him. I can see him feuding with Big E for another pay per view or two.