Don’t even bother to look at the standings until Memorial Day.
That’s a piece of well-worn advice I received from an especially well-worn baseball writer when I complained to him about my Pirates’ maddening, sluggish, you-can’t-even-beat-the-Twins?! start to the 2015 season.
That saying has gotten plenty of run out here in my current Pacific Northwest home, too, as long-tortured Mariners fans have been rewarded for their display of offseason faith with yet another dose of underwhelming play.
By this point, though, reactions aren’t kneejerk. The season is nearly a quarter gone, and habits are beginning to calcify into something more. The Cardinals—*clenches fists*—are beginning to pull away from the travelling pack.
Memorial Day is almost upon us. It’s time for a holiday-flavored NL Central heat check.
1. St. Louis Cardinals (27-14) Heat check: That first muggy day of summer—you know which one I mean.
You thought you were looking forward to this. Through the long, lonely months of winter, the idea of summer sustained you. Tubing down the river, sipping a Corona out on the back porch. Then you stepped outside into that fog of heat and immediately started sweating. You always forget about the humidity. Man, you think, this isn’t pleasant at all. Go back inside, crank up the A/C, and start looking forward to those crisp days of autumn. Baseball is supposed to be enjoyable. You always forget about the Cardinals.
2. Chicago Cubs (23-17) Heat check: Four-day outdoor music festival.
Man, this is fun, isn’t it? A long weekend with a few thousand of your closest friends, complete with all the booze you can drink and drugs you can take, if you’re into that sort of thing. You’re young and unencumbered and your parents were pretty strict, so all this is new to you. Enjoy it while you can, kids. Reality will grind you down before you know it. (The Cardinals represent reality in this analogy.)
3. Cincinnati Reds (18-22) Heat check: That little patch of shade still available under the awning.
Don’t overexert yourself. It’s a long summer. There will be plenty of time to get a tan, to work up a good sweat. The last thing you want to do is get overheated and light-headed. You’re just trying to relax and enjoy your holiday without having to put on any sunscreen—don’t judge. You do you, man.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (18-22) Heat check: Charcoal grill manned by an inexperienced cook.
Is this thing even on? Nothing even seems to be cooking. (*Gingerly pokes a hot dog with his pointer finger*) Everything is still cold. Everybody told me that going charcoal was the only way to grill, but I’m starting to have my doubts. Hand me that lighter fluid. We’ll get this party started one way or another.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (15-27) Heat check: The late-spring snowstorms that Wisconsin probably gets.
I’m sorry, Milwaukee. That was just mean.