Friday, July 6, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

Time for analysis at baseball’s halfway mark! The season has whizzed by up to this point. Much of what was predicted has come true, but much hasn’t. (Surprise!) I’ve been busy going to games this week—always fun to go around July 4. I was at the Coliseum when Oakland got roughed up by Toronto Monday night, and I was there again Tuesday when the A’s barely squeaked by the Jays with a 3–1 win on superb pitching by Joe Blanton. I was there yet again last night when the A’s beat the Mariners 3–2 behind even more superb pitching by Chad Gaudin and home runs by Nick Swisher and (gasp!) Bobby Crosby. Great game!

I hope Ed can forgive me for not doing picks for the All-Star Game, as we had planned. I’m strictly a stats guy myself, and the selection of players for the All-Star Game is such a popularity contest—also, the fact that every team must be represented throws the whole thing out of whack and always leaves out some deserving players. In addition, I think it’s ridiculous to have home-field advantage for the World Series decided by the outcome of the All-Star Game. Home-field advantage should be awarded to the team that has the best record—what’s so hard about that? Isn’t it the fairest way, after all?

Suffice it to say that I might tune in to some of the All-Star stuff, but it won’t be a top priority on my viewing list. I mean, just how did Bighead Barry Bonds get all those last-minute votes anyway? It sure would’ve been a hilarious story if Bonds didn’t get invited to the All-Star Game in his own park, especially in the year he will set the home-run record.

As for me, I’m set for the second half and hoping the A’s can go on some kind of run….


In the AL East, the Red Sox seem to be having little trouble maintaining a double-digit lead over the Yankees and the Blue Jays in the standings. Today, the Sox are 12 games up over both teams and playing at a fantastic clip. As impressive as this is, remember that we’re only halfway through. I would love to leave the Yankees for dead, but my experience shows me that this is never wise. True, they are also 8.5 games out of the wild-card spot, but stranger things have happened than Joe Torre’s Yankees coming back to make a run in the playoffs after being written off.

In the Central, Cleveland and Detroit continue their seesaw for supremacy, with Detroit behind by a game. Minnesota is still lagging 7.5 games back, but the Twins are only 6.5 games out of the wild-card spot, and we all know they’re perfectly capable of going on a run. Even though the White Sox are finally playing acceptable ball (for the moment, anyway), they’re still 12.5 games out of first place in the division and 11.5 games out of the wild card—still safer to leave them for dead than the Yankees.

In the West, the Angels continue their furious pace, but Seattle is hanging in there, 4.5 back and only 2.5 games off the wild-card pace. The Athletics can’t seem to keep a consistent streak going, so who knows if they even have a chance for postseason play? At 8.5 games behind Anaheim and 6.5 behind Detroit for the wild card, they can start by taking the current series from Seattle. Texas has become the Kansas City of the West. Can anyone say “doormat”? I feel for poor Rangers manager Ron Washington, one of the good guys in the game.

Ah, now for the senior circuit! In the East, the Mets are playing better ball, although they were swept by the Colorado God Squad in three games by a total score of 34–12 earlier this week. The Amazin’s beat the Astros yesterday, so maybe this will finally be the series that helps them regain their steady winning ways. The Braves remain 3 games back, and the Phils, after being humbled by the Mets in losing three out of four last weekend, are holding at 4.5 back. Both teams are also the same number of games back in the wild-card chase.

I am astounded at the run that the Cubbies are making now—they are 21–10 since June 3 and are now only 4.5 games behind Milwaukee for the lead in the NL Central. The Cardinals also seem to be playing better ball, but I can’t remember the last time a World Series champ struggled so much the first half of the following season. With all the trials and tribulations St. Louis has experienced this year, I just don’t know if they have it in them to make a run at the postseason.

In the West, there’s still a cluster at the top of the division, with the Padres on top, L.A. just a game behind, and the D-backs (who seem to be fading) 2.5 back. The Rockies have fallen back a bit, too—guess Yahweh wasn’t paying attention—but are still only 6.5 behind the Pods. The Giants are a giant flop, still 11.5 games back and 10.5 games off the wild-card pace. Surely the only thing that keeps fans coming to the park is the hope that the team’s bigheaded mutant of a left fielder will finally hit a few home runs, darn it, and break Hank Aaron’s record already so we can all stop pretending to pay attention.

Now comes the All-Star break, and then the dog days kick in. In the heat of the 2007 summer, we’ll see who has it in them to keep playing into the cool October night! If any of you out there wants to let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you…!

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