>And now for the only division that really matters….

NL Central
Cincinnati Reds (49-41)
The Reds have been one of the biggest surprises in baseball this year.  When they briefly took over first play in May, people everywhere forgot that it was May and suddenly thought it was 1975 once again.  But, this team is not the Big Red machine, and Dusty Baker is not Sparky Anderson.  Tell you what Reds fans.  Enjoy it while you can.

St. Louis Cardinals (47-41)
In spite of the fact that the Cardinals have been at or near the top of the division all season long, overall, they have underperformed to this point in the season.  Pujols is still at the top of the league in several statistical categories, but he is having one of the worst seasons of his career (which isn’t fair given the lofty standards he has set).  Their pitching staff still has three of the top pitchers in the league, and they are a scary offensive team when everybody is playing up to their potential.  I fully expect them to be running away with the division by the end of August.

Milwaukee Brewers (40-49)
It’s hard to say the Brewers are underachieving so far this season, even though many would have thought that they would be better than they’ve shown in the first half.  Offensively, they are stacked.  The emergence of RF Hart as a power hitter has only improved their offense.  The problem is their pitching… they don’t have any.  When you don’t have pitching, you aren’t going to win in the majors.

Chicago Cubs (39-50)
I was at a concert last week, wearing my Pujols jersey, when somebody started chanting, “Here we go, Cubbies, here we go.”  He was clearly drunk.  The only place the Cubs are going is downhill.  Strangely enough, this is mostly the same team that won back-to-back division titles just two years ago.  As Cub fans know, this team is cyclical through the years, and they are on their way down again.

Houston Astros (36-53)
About the only positive thing the Astros can say about this season is that they play in the same division as the Pirates… and that they have a really nice park.  But, seriously, Houston, what’s the deal with a hill at the center field wall?

Pittsburgh Pirates (30-58)
I saw a Pirates game last season in September against the Padres.  There couldn’t have been more than 5,000 people at that game.  It’s not going to be that much better this season, Pirate fans.  On the bright side, you aren’t going to get your hopes dashed upon the rocks like fans of other franchises that will simply fall apart.  Yeah, I’m talking to you, Reds fans!