Obviously, I’m excited about the Cubs being in 1st place. I am by no means content, as the Cubs will have to play a few teams superior to the Reds, and the Cardinals will have to play a few teams inferior to the Phillies as the season winds to a long, unforgiving close.
But I’ll take it. Still, to add some perspective to where the Cubs stand right now, I thought I’d look at things from the point of view of the other NL Central teams and their fans. When they look up at the Cubs, what do they see (besides my shaking, taunting booty)?
1. The St. Louis Cardinals
I honestly and truly believe the St. Louis fanbase is not at all worried about the Cubs. They view Chicago’s recent foray into first as a mosquito sneaking a bite—it hurts a little now, and it will continue to itch the rest of the season, but they think their newly remodeled Cardinals are poised to swat the Cubs into oblivion. I wish I could dismiss their beliefs with certainty, but they have made some good moves. Still, their pitching staff leaves a lot to be desired, and I don’t see those desires being met in time to stop the Cubs from running away.
2. The Houston Astros
No matter how out of it the Houston Astros seem to look each and every year, no matter how late, they seem to find a way to become the hottest team in baseball at just the right moment. That moment came much earlier this season, and it’s brought them right back into the thick of a very thick NL Central divisional race.
To them, the Cubs are just the hill standing between them and the boys and girls in the valley who can’t wait for their toys and dolls and after-dinner treats. They aren’t afraid of the Cubs, the Cards, or anybody else. This is a team that makes a living out of playing the Underdog, and they do a much better job than that joke of a live-action movie ever could. Carlos Lee: Cub killer. Jason Lee: cartoon killer. Hopefully, though, the little engine that could will run out of steam before completing too many homer-celebratory laps around the Juice Box outfield.
3. Milwaukee Brewers
Really, Milwaukee, I am your father. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. Bug your eyes out and yell, “Noooooo!” all you want, but the Cubs = your daddy.
Call it a psychological edge. Call it a big-brother complex. Call it Cecil to your Prince. Call your sons, call your daughters, call your neighbors. The Cubs kind of own the Milwaukee Brewers. There will be plenty of times that the Brewers get the best of the Cubs, but they will all take place too long before the end of the season for any of them to matter all that much. They can go ahead and acquire whatever big name pitcher they want, the superstars will leave at the end of the season, and they’ll take the Brewers hopes of vanquishing their nemesis with them.
Luke never kills Darth Vader, fellas. He lives on as the single most marketable character in the history of licensing. Sound familiar, Bernie?
4. Cincinnati Reds
Reach in there and find my wallet. It’s the one that says ‘Bad Fukudome.’
Say ‘what’ again. I dare you. I Fukudome double-dog dare you. Say ‘what’ again.
Sewer rat might taste like pumpkin pie, but I’ll never know, ‘cuz I ain’t gonna eat the filthy Fukudome.
Oh, you play for the Reds? Then I’m superfly TNT. I’m the guns of the Navarone. I’m a mushroom cloud layin’ Fukudome, Fukudome.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
Heaven help me, I just don’t have it in me to make fun of these guys and their fans. The only view the Pirates have of the Cubs is the vain hope that the Cubs will acquire one of their favorite players and give them a sentimental rooting interest in the playoff hunt.