Who won the NL Central in 2001?

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The Cardinals and the Astros, then both in the NL Central, shared identical 93-69 records in 2001. Due to the Astros winning more head-to-head matchups that season, they were given the higher playoff seed and faced Atlanta in the NLDS while the Cardinals had to go on the road as the wild card team and face the eventual World Series champion Diamondbacks.

Based on the seeding, most people would probably say that the Astros were the true NL Central champs that year, at least assuming they had anything approaching an opinion about it. But today Jorge de Jesus Ortiz, writing about the once hot Houston-St. Louis rivalry, reminds us that the Cardinals took a different view of things:

If you think Houston fans are upset about Chris Correa’s hacking, you should have heard even the most mild-mannered Astros players after their first visit to Busch Stadium II in 2002 . . . The Astros were livid when they walked out for batting practice and saw a pennant declaring the Cardinals NL Central champions. Young Astros slugger Lance Berkman, who would eventually help the Cardinals win a World Series at the end of his career, called me in the press box to make sure I saw the banner.

I vaguely remember that as a controversy and thought it was rather meaningless even then. I can’t for the life of me remember if that banner is still up. I figure it is (the pic at the top of the page is old but shows that it was still there four years later). For whatever it’s worth, it’s still a running issue on Wikipedia, as this rather amusing discussion on the Wikipedia Talk page for the National League Central makes clear.

As controversies go this is about as pressing as the one in which, between them, Alabama and Ohio State football claim about 75 national championships that they and only they believe they won at one time or another. I choose to treat this Cardinals-Astros thing the same way I treat that whole deal when I talk to my fellow Ohio State alums: “That’s nice for you. If it makes you happy, that’s all that matters.”

Phils’ Hoskins tears knee, expected to miss significant time

hoskins injury
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CLEARWATER, Fla. — Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins needs surgery for a torn ACL after injuring his left knee Thursday fielding a grounder in a spring training game and is expected to miss a significant amount of time.

The Phillies did not say when Hoskins would have the surgery or exactly how long the slugging first baseman might be sidelined.

Hoskins hit 30 homers with 79 RBIs last season for the reigning National League champions.

He was backing up to play a chopper on Thursday when the ball popped out of his glove. Sooner after, he fell to the ground and began clutching his left knee. Teammates gathered around him before he was taken off of the field.

Hoskins, a free agent at the end of the season who turned 30 last week, hit six homers in Philadelphia’s playoff run last season. The Phillies lost to the Houston Astros in the World Series.

The injury was another blow for the Phillies, who will be without top pitching prospect Andrew Painter for another few weeks because of a sprained ligament in his right elbow. And slugger Bryce Harper isn’t expected back until around the All-Star break after undergoing Tommy John surgery in November.