Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Yo, Meathead!

Hope everyone had a happy July 4! Sounds as if the real fireworks were in Colorado that night, when the Rockies came back from a 13–4 deficit to win 18–17 against Florida. My sister was at the game with her family, and she said she’d never seen a game like that and probably never would again. She also said that if it hadn’t been fireworks night, she would have left by the time the God Squad was 9 runs down! Of course, being a Mets fan and seeing the Marlins lose this one didn’t make me too sad, either.

Hard to imagine the All-Star break is upon us. The baseball season isn’t really going the way anyone predicted, so it will be real interesting to see how it all shakes out in September. Let’s have a look at the standings at the halfway point.

No one can say that the AL East doesn’t look different this year! While there were many that thought the Tampa Bay Rays’ hot start was just a fluke, here they are 4 games ahead of the Red Sox and 8.5 ahead of the Yankees for first in the division. As Harvey Araton of the New York Times points out, the Rays are winning with a total payroll more or less equivalent to the 2008 salaries of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez combined. While the Yanks are 5 games over .500, it’s not nearly enough to compete with the Rays’ 55–33 record as of today. Lucky for the Bronx Bombers, A-Rod’s divorce troubles and alleged affair with Madonna don’t seem to be hurting his production any, allowing the team to at least stay in the playoff chase. Meanwhile, even though this was supposed to be a different year for Toronto, the Blue Jays are mired in last, 13.5 games behind Tampa Bay, and though they are a game over .500, the always-hapless Orioles are only 3 games better than the Jays.

In the Central, the White Sox rule, but not by much, as Minnesota is only 1.5 games back. Detroit, which has been labeled the AL’s biggest disappointment of the first half, has battled its way to a .500 record but is 7 games back--and if the playoffs began today, the Tigers would be in seventh place for the wild card, also 7 games back. Not good. Which can also be said about perennial small-market loser Kansas City, as well as Cleveland, 12 and 14 games behind respectively.

The West has the Angels solidly in front of Oakland by 6 games, but the A’s are only 3.5 back in the wild-card chase. Somehow, Billy Beane has again jettisoned stars and created a winning team. Granted, Oakland has a ways to go before it can compete for real against L.A., but the A’s have often been stellar in the second half of the season in recent years (not counting last year!), so we’ll see what kind of baseball they’ll play. Ron Washington has Texas 2 games over .500, but the Rangers are in the same boat as Detroit and Baltimore in terms of the wild card--there are too many better teams at the tops of the divisions. I almost want to just issue a “No comment” on the Mariners, my current hometown team and one of the two very worst in baseball this year. I can see the smoke rising from Safeco from my porch on sunny days.

Over on the Senior Circuit, the Phils are on top of the East, but the Fish are only 1.5 games back, and the Mets are only 2.5 back. The Mets, the NL’s biggest disappointment of the first half, are lucky their less-than-impressive start only cost them their manager’s job, not too many games in the standings, as the Marlins and Phillies fumbled hot starts to keep the three-way race close. The Amazin’s took 3 of 4 from Philly in the City of Brotherly Love over the weekend, and have gained back ground under Jerry Manuel’s stewardship so far. Atlanta lags 6 games back, and Washington is done, at 14 behind.

It was nice in the past few years to see both the Red and White Sox win it all after long, long championship droughts, so if this is indeed the Cubs’ year, as everyone keeps saying, then who am I to argue, once the Mets have dropped out? The Baby Bruins lead the Central, 3.5 ahead of St. Louis and 4 ahead of Milwaukee, which just acquired C.C. Sabathia to make a playoff push. The rest of the division is a mess, with Cinci, Pittsburgh, and Houston 10.5, 11.5, and 12.5 games back in that order--ouch!

Out West, the D-backs and Dodgers are tied for first at a game under .500--double ouch! This whole division smells, but San Fran is only 5 games off the pace, and Colorado is 6 back. The worst team in baseball as of today, the Padres, are only 9.5 games in back of the division leaders. Ugh! In this division, any win is deserving of celebration!

So baseball fans, I’m looking forward to the second half! Hope you are, too!

1 comment:

Raoul Mendinka said...

Some succulent prose, Meat.