Hey Astros, Don't Get Too Excited

It's reality-check time for the Houston Astros.

Yes, you just swept the Chicago Cubs. Yes, you're only 8.5 games out of first place. Yes, if you sweep the Brewers this weekend you're only 5.5 games out of first place.

And I know the team's excited by its prospects, by how just one more sweep puts the team back into the pennant chase.

But remember reality.

Pitching for the Astros this weekend: Jason Jennings, Wandy Rodriguez and Woody Williams. I might feel a little better if the name Roy Oswalt popped up in that series rotation, but it doesn't.

The Astros are currently 8.5 games out of first place. The Astros are also currently 4.5 games out of last place. The Astros are closer to last than first, and after this weekend, the Astros go out on the road for seven games. The Astros have the worst road record in the NL Central, so another standard Astros road trip and this team's conceivably in last place.

The Astros are still starting Jason Lane in centerfield. And Lane's average has yet to meet the Mendoza line. Mark Loretta's in a slump. Lance Berkman's still not hitting like Lance Berkman.

I know Jesus is now in the Astros' corner, but each time the Astros beat the Brewers this weekend will help the St. Louis Cardinals move closer to first place as well. And the Cards, who have been without Chris Carpenter, their equivalent of Roy Oswalt all season, and have suffered through more injuries and slumps than the Astros this season, are just as poised to jump into the void and take first place as the Astros. Especially since Tony La Russa's a far far far far far far superior manager to Phil Garner -- despite what Jesus Ortiz thinks.

I hope the team's enjoying itself now. But they need to remember reality. They suck. – John Royal

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