Cheap Seats

How safe is a nine-game lead?

Feeling comfortable with the Cardinals' nine game lead with about a month to go in the season?

Probably not if you have been a fan of the Cardinals since way back in 2006.

While the five-game advantage the team held at the end of August was four games smaller than the one it enjoys now, St. Louis stretched it's legs in September and extended the margin to seven games over the Astros as late as Sept. 20.

That's when the wheels fell off. The Cardinals lost seven of their next eight games, and the next thing we all knew we were sitting at Busch Stadium on the last day of the season counting on Anthony Reyes to beat the Brewers -- or the Braves to beat the Astros in Atlanta -- to avoid a one-game playoff for all the marbles.

Reyes got bombed from the start, and 44,133 Cardinals fans did the tomahawk chop in St. Louis as Atlanta dashed Houston's post season hopes.

Of course, the Cardinals went on to win the World Series. But it will be a long time before ANY lead seems safe to St. Louis fans after the Redbirds nearly suffered the most spectacular collapse in Baseball history since they were 11 games out on Aug. 23, 1964 only to come back and steal the pennant from the Phillies on the last day of the season.

The math is on the Redbirds' side if they can keep winning. With 31 games left, the Cardinals can force the Cubs to go 27-8 to catch them if they just play about .500 ball, winning 16 and losing 15. But if the Cardinals can keep up a good pace, say going 19-12 the rest of the way, the Wee Bears would have to win 30 of their 35 remaining games to force a tie.

The bottom line is that things look pretty darn good. But let's leave it up to the Cubs to make predictions of inevitable victory while the Cardinals just keep going out there everyday to grind out wins.