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Cardinals Fever: Sort of Like Swine Flu

B EckContributor IMay 21, 2009

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 27:  Chris Duncan #16 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after committing an error on ball hit by Magglio Ordonez #30 of the Detroit Tigers in the top of the fourth inning during Game Five of the 2006 World Series on October 27, 2006 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

If you're a Cardinals fan, then April was awesome.

And if you're a Cardinals fan and thought April was awesome, then May is the exact opposite of April.

The phrase "Cardinals Fever...Catch It" should be something closer to "Cardinals Fever...Penicillin's Your Best Bet."

Ah, April! When we last met, the St. Louis Cardinals were on top of the NL Central, and other than the already-known injury to Troy Glaus and what seemed like an inevitable injury to Chris Carpenter, the team was healthy. Pitching was coming through, and other than the bullpen, everything was coming together. 

I guess that's why fans of the game don't get too excited in the spring and early-summer months. 

The Cardinals have struggled with Glaus and Carpenter not in the lineup, and now Rick Ankiel goes all-out for a ball and in one of the more grizzly crashes I've seen ends up on the DL. Then, Ryan Ludwick followed up shortly after with a hamstring, and Brendan Ryan ended up making a stop on the DL as well. 

Add to it David Freese battling his previous injury from a car wreck, general all-around ineffectiveness, Joe Thurston more than leveling off, Brian Barden realizing he wasn't actually Ted Williams, and the rotation doing its best impersonation of Sidney Ponson, and saying that May has been "disappointing" is being awfully kind.

And what now? Milwaukee, who wasn't supposed to have a rotation, is streaks heavily, and just like that, we're looking at the top dog from a step or two back.

Luckily for the Cards, the Cubs has had their own injury issues, as well as the Reds. It's not that I wish illness or injury on any players, but it is fortunate for St. Louis that some other teams are having to deal with adversity as well.

Last night, Carpenter made his return, and while he wasn't quite as sharp as he was at the beginning of the season, he was still what most would consider dominant.

Ankiel should be back any day, which should help out at a position that, oddly enough, was such an overkill of a strength at the beginning of the season but now (due to Skip Schumacker getting moved to the infield and the injuries to Ankiel and Ludwick) is a cause for concern.

There's also only 10 more days left in May. I think we're all just hoping we make it out in one piece. 

Interestingly enough, ESPN the other day mentioned that the NL Central might be the best division in baseball, which is nice to hear from someone other than NL Central fans.

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