The St. Louis Cardinals have a problem and it isn’t the fact they aren’t in first place any more.  Yes they are two full games behind the first place Pittsburgh Pirates and only a game and a half in front of the Cincinnati Reds but that isn’t the problem.  The problem is they can’t beat any of the teams they will be playing in the playoffs.  Although I suppose it is possible the Cardinals might not make the playoffs if they keep playing the way they have as of late it is highly unlikely.  It would take a total collapse on their part and a massive surge by the Arizona Diamondbacks for the Cardinals not to make the playoffs. 

Obviously we don’t know who they will play or even where they will finish in the standings but it is almost certain they are going to the playoffs as either the division winner or one of the two wild card teams.  In fact, the entire National League playoffs are pretty much set as far as what teams will be in, it’s just a matter of what order they finish in.  The Dodgers and Braves don’t have their divisions locked up yet but the key is in the lock and it will be turned sooner rather than later.  It is pretty much also a lock that the Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds are going to the playoffs.  We just don’t know what order yet.  In my mind there is no question the Cardinals are going to the playoffs but at this point I have to wonder what good it will do them.  The Cardinals until recently had played pretty well against the Reds this year but they have stopped doing that as of late.  I’ve talked about their struggles with the Pirates here several times so there is no need to rehash that.  They have played the Braves OK but haven’t played the Dodgers well at all.  The question we have to start asking is how far can the Cardinals go in the playoffs and the answer at this point is not very far.  They have stopped hitting consistently, key players are banged up or at least hurting, the starting pitching which had been their strength has begun to struggle and when they do get good quality starts like last night they can’t score any runs.  There isn’t a lot of life to this team right now and unless that changes we may be looking at a very short playoff run for the Cardinals.  In the past it has gone down to the wire before they were able to squeeze into postseason play and then they would have a nice long run in the playoffs.  This year we pretty much know they are going but unless things change it will be a very short trip. 

The Kansas City Royals are actually playing better baseball than they have played in years but don’t have much to show for it.  There is still an outside shot of them being able to grab the last wild card spot but their destiny is not in their hands at this point.  They are doing everything they are supposed to do but it will take a long losing streak by a team in front of them for them to move up in the standings either for a wild card berth or the division title.  The AL Central title is pretty much out of their hands but a prolonged losing streak by the Tampa Bay Rays coupled with the Royals continuing to win on a regular basis might get them to where they need to be but it will be a longshot. 

This blog has taken a rather negative tone today so let’s talk positive for a while.  The Missouri Tigers looked great in their dismantling of Murray State last Saturday.  The defense played extremely well and obviously the offense was able to score at will.  Toledo comes to town on Saturday and there is no reason to think that trend won’t continue. 

There is a sense of optimism at Truman State that hasn’t been there for a while as the Bulldogs prepare to start their 2013 football season on Saturday.  The offense has looked especially sharp thus far as they have several key starters returning from last year led by quarterback Conrad Schottel.  The defense is young but there are veterans there as well and I am looking forward to seeing what this team can do as it opens the season Saturday night at 7:00 at Stokes Stadium against former MIAA foe Southwest Baptist.  I’m also looking forward to seeing the new bleachers as well. 

The Truman State volleyball team will be in Michigan to kick off their season this weekend.  They are coming off another good year although it ended in a disappointing way.  Usually they just reload and continue winning the following year and I’m sure this year will be no exception as this is one of the best college volleyball programs in the Midwest. 

The Kirksville High School Tigers fall sports season is well underway with the girls softball team off to another excellent start and the girls volleyball team starting their season with a tough loss against Marshall last night.  The girls tennis team has also performed well thus far and the cross country team has their first meet of the year next Tuesday.  As everyone knows by now the football team began its season last Friday with an impressive victory over Southern Boone.  We’ll preview this Friday’s road game in our Friday blog. 

Serena Williams continues her march toward another U.S. Open women’s title as she has virtually destroyed everyone who has had the misfortune of stepping onto the court with her.  At an age when most tennis players are talking retirement Williams just keeps getting better. 

We’ll be back on Friday with a look at all this weekend’s sports action as we are into the busiest stretch of sports action of the year.  Thanks as always for checking out this and all the other blogs on this site.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!