Dear Cardinals,

This is to inform you that, due to your maddeningly inconsistent play, your inability to beat bad teams regularly, and your amazing ability to tease with late inning rallies that fall short or winning streaks that are then followed by losing streaks, that I’m stepping back from this pennant race.  More power to you, but I don’t think I can go up and down like this for another month.
Look at this week, for example.  After falling to three and a half behind those Reds, you go out and dominate the first game against a team that, frankly, you should dominate against.  All well and good, especially when the Reds lost anyway.  The upward climb was going well with a three-game winning streak.
Then the car reached the top and started downward.  A frustrating loss with Adam Wainwright on the hill with a 2-0 lead was mitigated somewhat by the Reds also falling and Albert Pujols being one batting point away from a Triple Crown.  It wasn’t much, but it was something.  A team that is serious about contending, though, doesn’t lose a series to Pittsburgh, especially when they are trying to make up ground on a leader.  
Yet that’s exactly what happened with last night’s performance.  The Pirates started a guy that had an ERA close to the mark of the beast, which might have been appropriate since he then went out and bedeviled the team last night.  A guy that had walked six last time he faced St. Louis wound up pitching six three-hit, scoreless innings, with only two walks in there.
Finding a hero in last night’s game is tough.  Felipe Lopez did get a home run that broke up the shutout, but much-maligned Aaron Miles came in as a pinch hitter and went two for two, driving in the last run in the ninth.  Which is indicative of the bigger problem; you know you are struggling when Miles is the best part of a game.
Even the consolation prize of a possible Triple Crown took a hit, with Albert Pujols having a rare 0-4 game.  Coupled with Joey Votto going off against the Giants, AP is now back seven points in the batting race, slipping to third behind Carlos Gonzalez.
How can a team that is this talented, who was supposed to be comfortably ahead in the division right now, have a series where their star says, “We didn’t play to win the series and they did”?  How is it even possible that you don’t roll into Pittsburgh, take at least two of three if not sweep and then look to Washington?
Derrick Goold has done the math on how hard it will be for the Cards to overcome 3.5 games this late in the season.  However, even thinking about a sustained tear for this team seems implausible at best.  At the end of April, they stood 15-8 and three games up in the division.  Since then, 53-48, never getting too high, seeming to pull out of tailspins.  To think that this team is suddenly going to play .600 ball over the next month seems, well, inconceivable.  And yes, I do know what that word means.
So I’m done.  I’m not done being a fan or watching games, nothing like that.  I enjoy the baseball and will miss it significantly when it’s gone in the coming days.  I’ll still cheer and hope they win, but I am going to do my best to not worry about the pennant races, not get caught up in wins or losses.  Just try to enjoy the game, as the Cardinal Diamond Diaries ladies have suggested.
Besides, I can already see how this season is going to pan out.  About late September, this team will finally put on a run.  Cincinnati will falter somewhat, so it will come down to the last day with a chance for the Cardinals to tie for the division and force a playoff.  They’ll have the tying run on base in the ninth….and fall short.  It seems to be the way of things this year.
I hope that with Chris Carpenter on the mound, who shut down Washington earlier in the year, going against Jordan Zimmerman, a talented young pitcher but one who is still adjusting from coming back from surgery, that the team will play to win tonight.  Cincinnati doesn’t play, so we can pick up the half-game….which is something I won’t be worrying about tonight.  
Really. Promise. Maybe.

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