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I sure hope we don't find there was an actual reason behind Cardinals' team slump

I know I've been conspicuously absent on the subject of the St. Louis Cardinals losing streak.

It's not because I have jumped off the band wagon. And it's not because I'm trying to soft sell the gravity of the current situation. Frankly, I haven't had much to say about it because I am totally at a loss as to how a team that had the best record in baseball into late July can suddenly turn into the Bad News Bears.

The hallmarks that led to this team having one of the best records in the history of the franchise past the All-Star Game have turned into it's biggest weaknesses. The team setting records for its clutch hitting prowess now can't do anything right with men on base. The men who were getting on base at a breathless pace now can't find first with a road map. The statistically sound defense is doing all the wrong things at the worst of times.

It doesn't make sense because the Cardinals aren't the team which hasn't had a winning record in two decades. They're the team that has been to the World Series three times in the last decade, winning two, and which came within one game of a fourth trip to the Fall Classic just last season.

So what's with the shrinking violet routine when the games that matter pop up on the schedule?

A thought that has crawled into my mind is all of this talk about un-named players being suspended from baseball for their involvement in a performance enhancing drug scheme. It's completely speculative and based in nothing but fear and paranoia. But, while there have been no rumors about Cardinals players it's tough to imagine what else could cause a team to get stiff and tense -- everyone all at the same time -- besides a persistent fear than the other shoe was about to drop.

Maybe it's something else. Maybe the Redbirds players knew that Yadier Molina was about to break down. Maybe there's tension with the manager. But something's rotten.

Two or three bad games in a row I could see. But we're beyond this being a fluke. The Cardinals are tight as a drum since about the time that Ryan Braun's 50-game suspension was handed down.