With it being America’s birthday this week, it seems appropriate to look at what’s going on with America’s favorite pastime, baseball.

For our area, that means the St. Louis Cardinals and American Legion baseball.

For the first time this season, the Cardinals are struggling a bit as they entered a series against Albert Pujols and the Angels.

Every team goes through a few rough stretches during the season. It’s hard to complain about the first half of the season for the Cardinals.

The good news is that the Reds are having a hard time lately as well. The bad news is the Pirates are surging.

The Pirates have taken over first place in the National League Central Division standings.

Everyone wants to know if the Pirates will still be around in September. They haven’t had a winning season since 1992.

I believe the Pirates are here to stay and it will be a three-horse race for the NL Central title.

Rosters for the All-Star Game July 16 in New York (Mets) will be announced Saturday.

The Cardinals have had the best record in baseball for most of the season and deserve a strong showing.

Really, there are seven Cardinals who deserve to be there. Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran and Adam Wainwright are locks.

Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn and Edward Mujica deserve to go as well.

Detroit’s Max Scherzer (12-0), who attended Parkway Central and Mizzou, will no doubt be the American League’s starting pitcher.

It would be neat to see Wainwright start for the National League against Scherzer.

The problem is the game is being played at the Mets’ home park, which makes me believe Matt Harvey of the Mets will get the start.

It’s been another great American Legion baseball season for our area.

The Washington Post 218 Seniors just don’t get tested much in the Ninth District, other than against West.

It’s good that Post 218 plays against a few quality non-district foes. Their three losses have come against House Springs, Eureka and Creve Coeur, three District 10 teams.

They should be tested Sunday against Festus and Jackson and then head to the Blue Springs Wood Bat Tournament, where they will go against the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s in bracket play.

It’s difficult to keep track of who some of the other top teams are in Missouri, but we’ll take a shot at it.

Jefferson City was 23-1 at last report with its one loss coming against Moberly, who had an 11-5 record following that win. Washington likely will see both of those teams at the Zone Tournament.

Jackson is 26-5 on the season after finishing third last weekend at the Paragould 7Up Classic in Paragould, Ark.

Festus is not as strong as its been in the recent past, but still worth keeping an eye on with a 12-6 record as of last week.

Eureka is unbeaten in District 10 and is 20-6 overall. Creve Coeur had an 11-8 record at last check.

The Joplin Miners, who forfeited out of last year’s state tournament, appear to be the top team in the southwestern part of the state again this season.

In the Kansas City area, there appears to be three strong teams with the A’s (18-5 last week), Post 499 Fike (17-7 last week) and the Lee’s Summit Hawthorn Bank Outlaws (29-3 last week). All three teams join Washington at the Blue Springs Tournament later this month.

Props to the Washington Post 218 and Pacific Post 320 Junior teams for their great seasons. Washington won the Ninth District regular season title with just one loss. Pacific was second with two losses.

Post 218, which features players from last season’s state championship Freshmen team, ended the regular season with a 22-2 record.

Post 320 is 24-3 heading into postseason play.

Both teams are loaded with pitching, which bodes well for postseason play.

Washington and Pacific both also have solid Freshman teams this summer.