Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

Here we are in the first week of August. Less than two months before the baseball playoffs begin! But of course, football training camps have begun, the true indication that summer is rounding the bend toward fall.

So—let’s see where we stand at this juncture. The Red Sox are still 7 games ahead of the Yankees, and the rest of the division is 11 or more games out of first. The Yanks are only 2.5 games behind the wild card leader, however. The difference between these teams really seems to be their records on the road. While the Sox have only won one game more than the Yankees at home, on the road, Boston is 7 games over .500, while New York is 5 games under .500. And here I thought early on that the Blue Jays might be able to challenge for the AL East! How na├»ve of me! Instead, the Jays are 7 games out of the wild card, their best hope for making the postseason. I’d bet that Toronto and Baltimore fans are pretty tired of watching their teams fall behind the two money-spending juggernauts who duke it out every year. As for Tampa Bay fans, they probably just hope the team will reach .500 one year (not this year!), and many of them probably go to the park to see Boston and New York when they come to play.

In the AL Central, the Tigers have fallen a half-game behind the Indians for first. Third-place Minnesota is 6.5 games out of first and 6 games out of the wild card—I believe this is the Twins’ poorest campaign in a little while. Meanwhile, the White Sox are little better than the Royals, and next year probably can’t come soon enough for Chicago’s AL fans.

In the AL West, Anaheim is still dominant—I saw the Angels beat the A’s live on Tuesday, and Vlad Guerrero had two homers. Man, can he hit! The Mariners are only 2.5 games off the pace and only a half-game out of the wild card. Like the Twins in the Central, the lousy A’s—12 games behind the Angels and 10 games out of the wild card—are having their poorest showing in a few years. The bright side is that there are a lot of new faces who have a chance to show what they can do before next year. The dark side? No playoffs this year!

Over in the NL East, the Mets have been playing better ball and have managed to recover from a few injuries, leading the Phillies by 5 and the Braves by 5.5 for first place. Rumors are swirling in New York over the return of Pedro Martinez, which doesn’t seem as inevitable as it once did. On the other hand, the wild-card chase in the NL has five teams that are within 2 games of San Diego for the lead, and Philadelphia and Atlanta are right in that mix. Florida and Washington have each fallen at least 9 games out and don’t seem to have a chance before 2008.

In the NL Central, the once-hot Brewers have steadily declined, and a once-certain first-place finish is threatened by the red-hot Cubs, who are only a game behind. The Cubs are also included in the muddle at the top of the wild-card standings and have a good chance of making it to October. St Louis is both 7 games out of first and 7 games behind in the wild card, but I suppose they could improve their chances with a stellar run—does anyone see that happening? The Astros, Reds, and Pirates all looked hopeful at the beginning of the season, but they have all fallen by the wayside.

Lastly, in the NL West, the surprising Diamondbacks have taken over the lead, while San Diego, who leads the wild-card chase, has fallen back 1.5 games, and Los Angeles is 2 back. The Rockies are hanging in there, 3.5 games behind Arizona, but also one of the teams within 2 games of the wild card. And anyone who is even watching Barry “Bighead” Bonds chase the home-run record knows that the Giants are in last place and the third-worst team in the Senior Circuit. Rumor has it that teammates of Bighead are beginning to get disgruntled with the attention that the home-run record is garnering and wish that the focus would be more on winning and less on stroking Bighead’s ego. I loved this quote from the New York Times describing a fan heckling Bonds during batting practice in L.A. this past week: “We don’t hate you because you cheated!” the fan shouted. “We hate you because you’re a jerk!”

SEASONINGS: Kevin Garnett to Boston, eh? Now of course, any team should be glad to have Garnett, who could be a Hall of Famer despite his playoff resume. But still, was Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge thinking clearly when he gave up five players and two future first-round picks for Garnett? Maybe he was—the Celtics now have three All-Star players in their starting lineup, counting Paul Pierce and the newly acquired Ray Allen, and they should be instant contenders in the weak East and the really weak Atlantic Division. I sure wish Isiah Thomas had the guts and acumen to make a move like Ainge’s. I guess New York Knicks fans are due for another horrible season while the rival Celtics compete for the main prize.

Moving on to the NFL, Michael Strahan must be the most immature 35-year-old ever! When will the New York Giants defensive end either come to camp or retire already? Strahan’s contract, which was seen as incredibly lucrative when he signed, has him due to make $4 million this year. While I’m sure Strahan’s ego demands that his salary be commensurate with those of the other elite defensive linemen in the league, I wonder if his messy divorce settlement last year has anything to do with his desire to make more money. Strahan has been ordered to give his ex $15 million (That’s almost 4 years’ salary!), but the settlement is being reviewed, so it may not end up being that much. Those payments of $18,000 every month for child support must hurt, but Strahan shouldn’t let the mishaps in his personal life affect his Hall-of-Fame football career. Money notwithstanding, in support of Strahan, I can see why his heart might not be in the game this year. New general manager Jerry Reese has done little to prop up the sagging parts of the Giants defense, and why would Strahan want to play on a bad team with Coach Tom Coughlin carping at him all the time?


johnny rodragio said...

U R so rite abour Strahan. He is a big child and has a HUGE ego.

big Ed said...

Don't feel bad, Meat -- everybody liked the Jays and they really should be perfroming better. Also, don't count out the Twins yet. They could make a decent run here down the stretch.