Originally Posted by Chip R
The Cardinals won the Series last year, the Astros made it to the series after beating the Cards in the NLCS the year before that and the Cards made it to the Series in 2004. So the last three NL pennant winners came from the "Comedy Central".
I think there's really something to be said in this division for playing to the quality of your competition. I almost wonder if the teams in the NL Central have become accustomed to mediocre play during the season, then they turn up the talent when they have to. Certainly it's not conscious; I'm sure the Cardinals would rather blow the rest of the teams out of the water every year instead of struggling all season and ekeing it out at the end. But I think subconsciously they know they don't HAVE to all season, and then at the end -- and during the playoffs -- the "oh crap" factor sets in and lights a fire under them. And the Astros in particular have been a September team the last few years.
The Yankees do the same thing -- every year they choke against the three crappy teams in their division, plus Kansas City and whoever else, and then when they face their stiffest competition and the late-season playoff elimination possibility, they buckle down and perform. It's equal parts frustrating and exhilarating. It's more frustrating when it affects every team in an entire division, though.