The St. Louis Cardinals managed to take 2 out of 3 games from the Pittsburgh Pirates winning the first and last games in extra innings and losing the middle game.  The Cardinals find themselves 2 games out of first place heading into this afternoon’s series opener against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.  The Cincinnati Reds have moved to within a half game of the Cardinals so the Cardinals really need to sweep this series with the Cubs and put a little distance between themselves and the Reds and hope the Pirates can lose a few games. 

In an effort to jump start their offense which is badly in need of a boost at this point the Cardinals have promoted top prospect Colton Wong from Triple A Memphis.  Wong was their first round pick in the 2011 amateur draft and has had a good year in the minors.  He is a speedy second baseman with some power and will probably be used primarily as a pinch hitter although he could be inserted into the lineup at second base thus allowing Matt Carpenter to go back to his natural position at third and David Freese could be benched for a while as he tried to get himself out of what has basically been a season long slump.  It’s hard to believe the Carpenter hasn’t been playing his natural position all year since he has played such a stellar second base this season.  The return of Yadier Molina to the lineup will also hopefully improve the offense which has struggled mightily during his absence.  The struggles actually started a little before he went on the disabled list but he is such a valuable part of their lineup that I think his absence exacerbated the problem. 

The Kansas City Royals didn’t do themselves any favors by losing two out of three games to the Miami Marlins and losing the first game of an extremely important four game series in Detroit against the Tigers.  The Royals missed a golden opportunity to make up some ground in the Al Central this week and need to get back to playing the way they were last week if they want to go anywhere at all in the final month and a half of the season. 

One of the more highly anticipated pre season NFL games takes place tonight as The San Francisco 49ers visit Arrowhead Stadium to play the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Chiefs of course are led by their starting quarterback Alex Smith who this time last year held that same position with the 49ers before losing his job mid season after an injury.  The Chiefs looked much better last week than they did this time last year but are obviously a work in progress. 

The Green Bay Packers visit the Rams in St. Louis this weekend as well as the Rams try to rebound from their loss in Cleveland last week against the Browns.  Both the Rams and Chiefs have a lot to prove this year and in my opinion will continue improving as the pre season and regular season go along. 

NASCAR is in Brookline, MI for races this weekend as I believe all three of their main series have races there.  With only a few races left before the Chase for the Cup starts many drivers will be jockeying for position during Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. 

The Truman State Bulldogs finally were able to begin football practice yesterday.  The Bulldogs who have traditionally opened the season at the end of August do not have their first game until September 7 which is why practice was not able to start before now.  The Bulldogs go into this season with a lot of optimism as they return several key players from last year’s team and begin their first season of play in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.  We will obviously have much more about the Bulldogs as practice continues leading up to the first game of the year on September 7. 

In what could mark the beginning of a very interesting time in the world of sports television FS 1 debuts on Saturday.  FS 1 is the rebranding of the Speed Channel by Fox into a 24 hour national sports channel which they claim will have more live sporting events than ESPN.  I’m not sure whether the channel will initially be available locally or not but I’m sure it soon will once cable and satellite operators come to terms with Fox on contracts.  This is a big risk for Fox and I have to believe they are going to do everything they can to make sure the channel is available in as many households as possible.  ESPN has seen the level of competition greatly increase over the past few years with NBC’s introduction of the NBC Sports Network last year and CBS’ CBS Sports Network which is still trying to gain a foothold in a crowded field.  FS 1 already has some major contracts in place as they have existing deal with NASCAR, the UFC, Big Ten and Bit 12 college football and the revamped Big East conferences.  They will also start carrying MLB games in 2014.  Some of this will still be available on over the air TV but it does continue a gradual shift of major sporting events from the traditional over the air networks to cable TV.  It will be very interesting to see where this all leads and how the sports television landscape changes over the next couple of years. 

We’ll be back on Monday with a look back at all this weekend’s sports action plus a look ahead to next week’s schedule as things start picking up as we approach the busiest time of year in the sports world.  Thanks as always for checking out this blog and please do the same for all the other blogs on this site.

Have a terrific weekend!