DAILY DIRT: From worst to first for Cardinals?

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Daily Dirt for Sunday, March 3, 2024

The National League Central will be one of the two worst divisions in MLB this season, but it should be a lot of fun … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 882 of The Daily Dirt.

1. The St. Louis Cardinals were an abysmal baseball team in 2023.

That last-place finish in the National League Central was no accident. This year, however, should be different.

No, the Cardinals will not be world beaters, but they should be improved, and in the NL Central that alone can make a huge difference.

Realistically, any one of four teams can likely win the division, but I’m leaning toward St. Louis because:

A. The club’s starting pitching will be better. (It couldn’t be any worse unless the ghosts of the ’62 Mets show up to pitch at Busch.)

B. Someone has to win the division. It’s a rule.

Milwaukee has traded away ace Corbin Burnes, Chicago will be able to tread water (much like last summer), but will be less than spectacular (also like last summer), Cincinnati is young and exciting (I can’t wait to see more of Elly De La Cruz!) but is realistically another year away from true contender status and Pittsburgh is … well, Pittsburgh.

Here’s how The Daily Dirt sees the NL Central:

1. St. Louis: It may only take 85 wins to claim the NL Central pennant, and the Cardinals are capable of that. Not much more, but 85 wins is within reason. I love the addition of Sonny Gray atop the rotation and Miles Mikolas is dependable — he’s no No. 2 starter, but we can live with him in that spot in this division. The key is likely being able to hold together the likes of Kyle Gibson, Steven Matz and Lance Lynn to fill out the rest of the rotation.

2. Cincinnati: Easily the division’s most exciting offensive team, the Reds will need another season to sort through their assortment of young arms. St. Louis had better hold off the Reds this year, because much of the ensuing decade is going to belong to Cincinnati when it comes to the NL Central. 

3. Chicago: Bringing back slugger Cody Bellinger was important. Hiring Craig Counsell as manager was even more important. The Cubs are coming and desperately needed a solid baseball mind like Counsell to guide the current generation of Cubs through what should be an interesting pennant race. Keep an eye on Justin Steele as one of the league’s emerging aces.

4. Milwaukee: Losing Counsell as manager is going to hurt. Making matters worse is a rotation consisting of Freddy Peralta, Wade Miley, Colin Rea, Aaron Ashby and D.L. Hall. Yikes. 

5. Pittsburgh: The improving Pirates actually spent some money in the offseason, but remain far from contention. We’ll check back with the Bucs in 2026.

2. Sunday’s a good day to acknowledge more of the greatness that is Chuck Norris:

  • Santa Claus DID exist, until Chuck Norris stopped believing in him.
  • Chuck Norris was killed yesterday. Today, he’s feeling much better.
  • Chuck Norris went to a feminist rally and came back with his shirt ironed and a sandwich.
  • Chuck Norris does not churn butter, he roundhouse kicks the cows and butter comes straight out.
  • When Chuck Norris sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself crouched and ready to attack. Chuck Norris has never had to pay taxes. Ever.
  • Chuck Norris doesn’t turn on the shower, he just stares at it until it cries.
  • Chuck Norris one shot down a German fighter plane by pointing his index finger and yelling, “Bang!”
  • When Chuck Norris pays with his credit card, HE gets the money.
  • Chuck Norris can cook minute rice in 30 seconds.
  • There are no steroids in baseball, only players Chuck Norris has breathed on.
  • Chuck Norris can clap with one hand.
  • Time waits for no man, unless that man is Chuck Norris.
  • How many pullups can Chuck Norris do? All of them.
  • Chuck Norris does not have a reflection. Mirrors are just too afraid to copy him.

3. For my money, 1987 was the finest year of the Big ’80s when it came to pop music.

Here’s Billboard magazine’s top songs from that special year, with comments provided by your resident Ohio State fan:

  • 1. “Walk Like An Egyptian,” the Bangles:  Did you ever notice how lead singer Suzanna Hoffs moved her eyes back and forth at different moments in this song? Hard to believe she’s 65 years old now.
  • 2. “Alone,” by Heart: My favorite non-Rod Stewart song of the 1980s. Ann Wilson was a tremendous vocalist in her prime. And speaking of ages, she’s 73.
  • 3. “Shake You Down,” by Gregory Abbott: One of the absolute smoothest songs of the decade. A tremendous vocal from Abbott.
  • 4. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” by Whitney Houston: This was Whitney in her prime. Ther were none better.
  • 5. “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” by Starship: Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas were co-lead singers at this point in their careers.
  • 6. “C’est La Vie,” by Robbie Nevil: As they say in the stands at some basketball games — overrated.
  • 7. “Here I Go Again,” by Whitesnake: Remember Tawny (“The Video Vixen”) Kitaen in those Whitesnake vidoes?
  • 8. “The Way It Is,” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range: The second dud in the top 10.
  • 9. “Shakedown,” by Bob Seger: Not his best effort.
  • 10. “Livin’ On A Prayer,” by Bon Jovi: The best effort from this band. Ever.

Special mention:

  • 11. “La Bamba,” by Los Lobos: It was impossible NOT to sing along with this remake of the Ritchie Valens classic.
  • 18. “I Think We’re Alone Now,” by Tiffany: Speaking of remakes, Tommy James and the Shondells had to be proud of this.
  • 31. “Head To Toe,” by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam: I always thought Lisa Lisa could have been Paula Abdul’s twin.
  • 35. “Keep Your Hands To Yourself,” by the Georgia Satellites: I once named a fantasy baseball team after this group.
  • 53. “I Heard A Rumour,” by Bananarama: One of the best videos that year.
  • 86. “Brilliant Disguise,” by Bruce Springsteen: Bruce could sing the phone book and it would sound good.

Steve Thought O’ The Day – In case you missed it, the average MLB salary in 2023 was $4.5 million.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. If the Cardinals suck again, there had better be a bloodletting in St. Louis.

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