Sunday, June 24, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

Hey there, sports fans!

Wow, there’s so much going on in baseball right now, it’s hard to even care about other sports, though I know some guys (the TRUE meatheads) who are already pining for the gridiron game. I’ve still got too much baseball left in my tank to think about football for long—who wants to hear about how many crimes Adam “Pacman” Jones has committed before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell finally gets up the chutzpah to ban him from the league once and for all?

In the AL East, the Yankees have finally stumbled a bit again, and as of this writing, even though they beat San Francisco last night, they are still 10.5 games behind the Red Sox for first place. So much for those arrogant, cocky New York fans who insisted that the Bronx Bombers would overtake the Sox by mid-July. I don’t think so! Sure, A-Rod has had an incredible month, but then the Yanks went and got swept by the God Squad in Denver this past week. The Rockies must have started eating their Wheaties, because even though they just lost a pair to the Blue Jays, they are hot, hot, hot! Colorado is actually in contention, only 4.5 games off the pace of the Dodgers, who are also playing thumbs-up ball.

While the Red Sox have started playing better again, the Yanks also have the distraction of one Jason “Juice” Giambi, who isn’t even on the field these days due to a foot injury. Juice has bowed to the pressure put on him by Commissioner Bud Selig, and will discuss his past steroid use with Senator George Mitchell, who is heading a congressional investigation into baseball players and steroid use. Even though Juice has sworn not implicate other players, any guys who have used and abused steroids in Giambi’s presence must be shaking in their boots. In addition, so many Yankees players are asked their opinion of the situation by the New York feeding frenzy—er, media—every day, they must be very tired of it by now and wishing that Giambi would get suspended or thrown off the team or something. Poor Juice—isn’t he just an upstanding example of what steroid users can expect when they get caught? Couldn’t have happened to a nicer sellout—um, guy.

In the AL Central, I’m not too surprised the Tigers have passed the Indians for first place. I’m not even that surprised the Twins are only a game over .500. I’m most surprised at how truly bad the White Sox are turning out to be this year, losing 21 of their last 26. They struck out 12 times on Friday against Carlos Zambrano and the other Chicago team. I know the Sox had injury issues, but who hasn’t at this point in the season? Today, they were beaten in the ninth inning on a suicide squeeze by the Cubs. The Cubs! Even though the Cubbies are in second place in the NL Central, they are still 8 games behind the Brewers for first. That Brew Crew looks pretty solid this year! (Wow, can you believe I just wrote that?)

In the AL West, the Angels are keeping up their incredible pace, and everyone else is falling by the wayside. The A’s, who dumped Milton Bradley this week due to a glut of outfielders, are playing terrific ball now, and they’re still losing ground to Anaheim! There may not even be hope for the wild card in Oakland, unless the Athletics can keep up their streak from the last few years of being the hottest team in baseball after the All-Star break. The only way they might gain on the Angels is if they win a bunch of the head-to-head contests—13 of them!—the teams have yet to play.

Over in the NL, it is absolutely Amazin’ that the Mets are still (barely!) in first place in the East after suffering a spell of bad baseball in which they’ve lost 15 out of 19. They may be feeling a little better about themselves after routing the A’s in New York last night, 9–1, and helping Tom Glavine to his 296th win. Meanwhile, the Braves were shut out for three games in a row for the first time in 19 years, and as of this writing, have scored just one run so far against Detroit today. They’ve only won 8 of their last 22, and while that’s better than the Mets, it hasn’t been good enough to overtake them. The Phillies are actually playing better than both the Mets and the Braves, but they put themselves in such a hole to start the season that they are only tied with the Braves for second, still 2.5 games behind New York.

Since I’ve already mentioned Milwaukee’s impressive lead in the Central, we’ll skip right over to the West, where the biggest story is commanding as little attention as it deserves. Sure, the Dodgers are going great. Sure, there are three other teams within striking distance. But the team that stinks the worst, San Francisco, is floundering 11.5 games behind L.A., and is not even worth watching anymore, even as Bighead Barry Bonds, juicemaster extraordinaire, has come within six of tying Hank Aaron’s home run record. Boy, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were hitting ’em out in 1998, the coverage was nonstop. Now, even here in the Bay Area, it’s rare that I see more than a cursory report of Bonds’s home run chase. Perhaps the Giants’ poor campaign this year is divine justice for owner Peter Magowan and General Manager Brian Sabean signing Bonds to a one-year contract in the past off-season. If things continue the way they are, Bonds will set the record not with a big bang, but with a tiny whimper, and hopefully he will be out of baseball next year.

SEASONINGS: Too bad for Miguel Tejada, who had the longest active streak of consecutive games played before fracturing his wrist last Wednesday when he was hit by a pitch. Miggy had played 1,152 games in a row—the fifth-longest streak in baseball history. (Just for some perspective, however, he was not even halfway to the record of 2,632 by another Orioles infielder, Cal Ripken, Jr.)

By the way, did you hear about the disharmony in the Atlanta clubhouse? And it’s not because Andruw Jones is only batting .199. Chipper Jones complained that he felt pressure to come back from a groin injury when he appeared in the lineup today after sitting out on Friday, saying that some people didn’t believe that he was injured. Wow! Of course, isn’t it fishy that Jones, who was a fearsome slugger just a few years back, has spent time on the disabled list the last four years in a row? Not that I’m one to start rumors, but did anyone think that maybe something else was involved besides bad luck? Several players who have been known to pump themselves up with substances have also had frequent, nagging injuries as they age. What is one to think about poor ol’ Larry? (I know, I know, innocent until proven guilty….)

1 comment:

Ed Attanasio, Freelance Writer, Journalist, Baseball Historian, Comedian and Ad Copywriter said...

Nicely done once again Meat! You're right on the $$ with you're comments about Bonds.