Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bob Nightengale ready to crown Cardinals division champs: 'Pass the Bud Light'

Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports penned a piece today that is sure to draw the ire of every team in the National League Central outside of the St. Louis Cardinals.

To sum it up, Nightengale basically implies that the Redbirds face no real opposition en route to the division title nor league pennant in 2014. The veteran columnist uses such phrases as...

"...the Cardinals might as well practice popping the bubbly in spring training, just to make sure nothing goes wrong in their real celebration."

"No one is going to come close to stopping this runaway train in the National League Central."

"The road to the National League pennant is I-70 through St. Louis, with the Cardinals one game away from having three consecutive World Series appearances."

"Pass the Bud Light and bring on the Clydesdales."

Call me old fashioned, but some of these lines come across as unprofessional, pretentious, and arrogant, especially for a guy writing for as big an entity as the USA Today. These statements also put Nightengale at risk of looking like a fool once October comes around. Just ask the 2012 Miami Marlins, 2012 Los Angeles Angels, or 2013 Toronto Blue Jays. Each of those teams entered the spring as consensus favorites to win a title. Not one made it to the postseason.

With that being said, I will concede that the Cardinals should be rightfully viewed as the frontrunner for both the division and league crowns this year. They return virtually every piece from last year's squad while finally addressing their black hole at shortstop, too. They have depth, they have talent, and will be competing against (what appears to be) a weakened NL Central. However, championships aren't awarded on paper, contrary to what Nightengale believes, and that's what makes baseball (and sports in general) interesting to watch. If it's one thing we should know by now about baseball, it's that anything can and usually will happen. Always be expecting the unexpected.

Let's all file this piece away by Nightengale until fall and see whether or not it proves to be a work of prophecy or a work of short-sighted foolery.

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