And so I’m officially in southern Illinois, a relatively short drive (compared to Thursday’s 12-hour job) away from Busch Stadium and the schizophrenic Cubs, who need to get healthy in a hurry and rest some of their bullpen arms if they are to hold off the Cardinals and Brewers in the second half of the season.
Of course, that’s an argument I won’t be making in the building tonight, as Cards’ fans know what it’s like to have a bevy of injuries and yet still win. Tony La Russa, as much as I wouldn’t mind seeing him make seven trips to the mound tonight as the Cubs obliterate Cardinals’ pitching (OK, so La Russa could make seven trips to the mound in a game the Cards were winning), has to get credit for perhaps his most masterful job of managing in a career full of masterful jobs of managing.
Anyway, I’m only hours away from the Arch and seeing this rivalry from the other side. Already I’ve incurred a small portion of the Cards/Cubs wrath, hearing from Melinda Pierson’s otherwise delightful aunt and uncle that the Cubs will surely fall from first place before the end of the season, and maybe before Monday. (But they liked Ron Santo!)
There is a chance of that happening, with the Cubbies just 2 1/2 games up on the Birds in the NL Central standings heading into the three-game set. Like last year, when I drove 15 hours with a buddy to see first place hang in the balance between these two heated rivals for 2 1/2 innings before the rains came, a lot is on the line tonight, and it should be palpable.
There should be some fireworks tonight. And then some after the game as well.