The Cardinals are in first place. Why should I be upset?

We’ve had an interesting debate over the last week in The Fast Lane about how we feel about the Cardinals.  Chris Rongey can’t be happy that they simply win games and are in first place, and feels that we should be concerned about what the future holds.

My life philosophy, not just about baseball, is to not be worried about what I can’t control.  Beyond that, I admire people that can live and revel in the moment.  The author Suzanne Woods Fisher wrote “Regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow are twin thieves that rob us of the moment.”  That’s the way I feel.  Sure, they were not very good in May and June.  And yes, they didn’t make a deal for a starting pitcher at the trade deadline.

But that doesn’t mean they CAN’T succeed, and if they can bank wins today, I don’t care how they do it, I’m going to be happy about it.  I get a lot of texts and tweets that every other show host at 101 ESPN disagrees with me.  That’s fine.  If they choose to be negative, I’m not going to look upon them any differently.  This is about an approach to life and baseball.  I knew going into this season, and every season, that almost every team is going to win sixty games and lose sixty games, and it’s what they do with the other 42 that really matter.  I’m willing to see how it plays out before being unhappy about it.

Some accuse me of being a Pollyanna, but that’s not the case.  Dictionary.com defines Pollyanna as someone who is “unreasonably or illogically optimistic.”  Hey, I realize that this team has flaws.  Like you, I wish they’d traded for a starting pitcher at the deadline.  I’m aware that starters Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson and Miles Mikolas have never pitched through a September division title race, which is the toughest part of the season to play.  Could this team collapse?  Definitely it could.  I’m not saying they’re going to keep winning and roll to a division title.  I’m simply enjoying their current success.  I’m not allowing regret or fear to rob me of that enjoyment of the moment.

The Cardinals have spent the better part of the last few weeks doing a lot of winning and challenging for the top spot in the division.  The lack of a starting pitcher may indeed come back to bite them, but why worry about that, right?  Because the chance also exists that the Cardinals will do enough winning to grab the N.L. Central title.  That starting pitching that causes so much consternation has delivered a 3.38 ERA in 77 1/3 innings in their last fourteen games.  Take out Mikolas’ starts (15 ER in fifteen innings) and the ERA for the other starters in the remaining eleven games is 2.17.

We all worried about Dexter Fowler during the off-season and spring training, and he’s returned to form.  Marcell Ozuna has been the player the Cardinals thought they were getting from Miami.  Kolten Wong has been pretty darn good offensively.  Heck, the one guy we DIDN’T get concerned about was Paul Goldschmidt, who has been a disappointment relative to his previous career norms and the resulting expectations.

Overall, the starting pitching has been inconsistent, but good enough to keep the Cardinals close.  And the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball.  For the perceived failures of manager Mike Shildt to field a lineup that conforms to the whims of many, only the Mets and the Dodgers have better second half records than the Cardinals’ 25-14.  While the lineup has struggled at times…as it has for much of the season…the second half ERA of 3.66 is third in the N.L. and the defense has been the best in the league.  And how do you win?  As that baseball sage Mike Shannon once said; “pitching, pitching and pitching.”

The Cardinals are in first place in the National League Central as of August 24th.

I get that we live in a society that’s overwhelmingly negative, especially when one spends lots of time in the morass of social media.  My choice is happiness and optimism.  I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.  I’m not worried about what happened yesterday.  The Cardinals have won 11-of-14, they have the fourth best record in the National League, and it’s almost September.  Why shouldn’t I be happy right now?