Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cardinals Preview

I have been remiss in my blogging duties. A lot has happened in the sportsworld over the past 2 weeks, and I won't bore you with trying to recap it here. However, a few points of order:

- Never bet on Kansas to win the NCAA tourney as long as Bill Self is the coach.

- The only thing better than Villanova making the tournament was watching North Carolina collapse at the end against Georgetown. I've not enjoyed a college basketball game as thoroughly as I enjoyed that one in a loong time. Although you can safely put me in the 'not a fan of Georgetown' camp, there are few teams in college basketball I despise as much as Duke and North Carolina (or the entire ACC for that matter).

- Yesterday's final 4 was singularly disappointing. The Final Four team I like least will play Ohio State for the national championship. As far as Florida's last opponent, UCLA: Howland is a pretty good coach, but how he could get schooled two years in a row is beyond me. In both games Afflalo was taken out of the game by Brewer (in yesterday's contest, the officiating didn't help much either). By midway through the second half, it appeared no one on UCLA wanted to take a shot.

- Joakim Noah wears his hair like Aurora at Pure Platinum. Also, he pushes off under the rim (and gets away with it) more than any big man in recent memory. If the refs from the OSU/G'Town game work FLA/UCLA instead, it may have been a very different outcome.

- I've entered a fantasy baseball league this season. I hope to do well, but since I (a) passed up Manny Ramirez to draft Ichiro, and (b) drafted Kiko Calero, I may end up in the cellar. This is why I picked the Browns as my team name: "First in booze, first in shoes, and LAST in the American League." Seemed appropriate.

2007 Cardinals predictions:
I feel like Bill Simmons - making predictions without doing any research. Will Leitch published a cute preview last week, but it was too much 'I'm so happy we won last year, this year doesn't matter' that it left me wanting. I am second to none in my glee at last season's result. But I think everyone is missing something about this season's team:

83 wins.

I really, really, REALLY believe that deep down in the psyche of this club, they will/are carrying this gigantic chip on their shoulder; all because the smart boys said they didn't deserve to be the champs because of their regular season record.

For crying out loud, Pujols still holds a grudge against the SCOUT that SIGNED HIM because his report allegedly said AP couldn't hit at the major league level.

Add to that, the consumate competitor in Chris Carpenter, a Scott Rolen eager to prove LaRussa wrong for benching him twice in September/October (and to regain his 2004 form), what I expect to be a monster year from Adam Wainwright, the resurrection of Ken Bottenfield (as Kip Wells this time).....the list goes on and on.

Competition in the division will be tougher this year, and the race will be much tighter. StL can't afford three 8 game losing streaks this year, or they'll finish out of the money. But this team will win more than 83 games. Write it down. Anything less than 90 would be a surprise to me.

Yes, this is a Cardinals website, first and foremost. Yes, I'm an unabashed fan for the birds on the bat. But these guys are competitors, and competitors don't just reach the Promised Land once and call it good.

Can't wait. Carp against Glavine in just under 3 hours. The first title defense in 24 years.

Go Cardinals.

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