Summertime and the living is easy.

Well, it was when I was a younger man anyway. As I wrote last week, most of the days of the long, hot summers past were spent at the local swimming pool or in the backyard or nearby lot playing baseball.

Another summer tradition of the males in the Hogan household was following the St. Louis Cardinals – the Midwest's version of the “Boys of Summer.” Dad had been a staunch supporter of the Cardinals since he was a teen listening to the games on KMOX in the evenings. I started out as a Yankee fan, particularly Mickey Mantle, but after the Fall Classic of 1964 I was in Dad's camp all the way.

Summertime and the living is easy.

Well, it was when I was a younger man anyway. As I wrote last week, most of the days of the long, hot summers past were spent at the local swimming pool or in the backyard or nearby lot playing baseball.

Another summer tradition of the males in the Hogan household was following the St. Louis Cardinals – the Midwest's version of the “Boys of Summer.” Dad had been a staunch supporter of the Cardinals since he was a teen listening to the games on KMOX in the evenings. I started out as a Yankee fan, particularly Mickey Mantle, but after the Fall Classic of 1964 I was in Dad's camp all the way.

My brother, Mike, was the last to be converted. He started out as a loyal follower of the old Kansas City Athletics, now the Oakland A's. He would listen to those lovable losers on his transistor radio late in the evening. Only the inept New York Mets and the lowly Washington Senators, now Texas Rangers, lost more games than the A's. He finally gave up when the A's finally packed their bags and moved to Oakland.

Meanwhile, Mike got married and moved to Missouri, eventually within 90 miles of Busch Stadium. Needless to say, he, like Dad and I, was hooked.

Dad and I watched the Cardinals religiously on the weekends. WMC-TV in Memphis carried all of the Cardinal Sunday road games. Coupled with three or four appearances on the national Game of the Week and eventually Monday Night Baseball we might have seen the Cards 20 to 25 times a year.

Thanks to my big brother and some friends, I got to travel to St. Louis and see my favorite team in person. Some of my relationships with my friends were based on our mutual love of the Cardinals.

Some of my favorite players through the years were Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver, Ken Boyer, Orlando Cepeda, Ozzie Smith and Albert Pujols just to name a few. During my 50 plus years as a Cardinal fan I have seen them capture five world championships and 10 National League pennants.

So success on the big league diamond was also a summer tradition. Rarely, were the Cardinals not in contention for a league or division title and they were almost always in the playoff hunt.

Cardinal fans are among the most loyal on the planet – right up there with the Razorback faithful. However, over the years they have become somewhat spoiled. They have come to expect their team to be in the thick of the pennant race.

This year, St. Louis, you might say, stumbled out of the starting gate and is struggling to play .500 baseball. As of this writing (Wednesday) the Cardinals were 32-37 and wallowing in fourth place in the NL's Central Division. However, there is still a lot of baseball to be played and they are still only four games out of first place.

For most of the year the Cardinals' bats have been silent ( I frequently refer to them as the boys of slumber) and for the most part on defense they apparently wear a glove on their right hand for no apparent reason. The starting pitching has been shaky at best and on more than one occasion the bullpen has been a total bust.

It seems a couple of seasons ago, the Cardinals opted to go for younger players, thus putting a lot of pressure on some unexperienced talent. However, there are still some exciting players in St. Louis. Matt Carpenter is a hustler and perhaps somewhat of an over-achiever. Jedd Gyorko has been solid with the bat and Derrick Fowler has been a pleasant addition to the outfield. Hopefully, Stephen Piscotty will be a future star. And I can honestly say I have never seen a better caliber defensive catcher than Yadier Molina. He also can be very exciting with the bat.

In some cases it appears the Cardinals have made a few bad investments. It is becoming obvious that Kolten Wong may not stay healthy long enough to establish himself as a big league star. The jury is still out on Aldymus Diaz as the Cards' shortstop of the future. Outfielders Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez and Randal Grichuk seem to need more minor league seasoning.

On more than one occasion this summer it seems that the minor league Memphis Redbirds have flocked to St. Louis while many of the Cardinals have flown south to Memphis.

Regardless of how the Birds do on the diamond, I still love the game of baseball and will continue to follow them as Suddenlink brings us the games.

Sometimes though it is very difficult to watch this year's edition of the boys of slumber.