Finally, for all of you baseball diehards out there like myself, we can move past the lengthy NBA and NHL playoffs and into the back half of the MLB season. Is it just me or are the professional seasons just blending together? I feel like we’re already getting geared up for Lebron to hit the court in their home opener any day now!
But more importantly, let’s talk baseball. If you’re like me, you’re waiting around for Tim Lincecum to throw like he did in his ’08 and ’09 Cy Young award years. I’m no Giants fan, but I love a phenomenal pitcher. Like C.C. Sabathia and my boys the Yankees. They’re holding on to a thin margin in the A.L East by a few games and for the first time in what seems like awhile, it’s the Orioles giving them a run for it, while Boston tries to figure out how to clean up the mess in the clubhouse. Josh Beckett sports the team’s best ERA at 4.14 and that’s just sad. Looks like Terry Francona got out while the gettin’ was good and left Bobby Valentine scratching his head.
It’s fairly tight all around here. Cleveland holds just a .5 game lead over the White Sox, but if you know baseball (and why would you bother with this article if you didn’t?) that tide can turn within the week. The only team here that seems to be sitting this season out is the Minnesota Twins. After a strong run for the first decade of the new millennium, the Twins have some serious work to do. After finishing last year with 99 losses, they’re on pace to almost replicate that record. Maybe they should hire a kid to manage the team as they did in Little Big League?
The smallest of the divisions also has a team boasting the best record in baseball. Josh Hamilton, who Sports Illustrated compares to Mickey Mantle, and the Texas Rangers are looking to prove to everyone what they’ve been unable to prove the last two years…We will win our first World Series, damnit! That’s okay with me, even as a Yanks fan, I say Josh Hamilton deserves it…and so does Nolan Ryan. Seattle Mariners, as usual, rounds out this division. They are, as of this writing, 13.5 games out of first. So even if they win a few by the time this article goes up…they ain’t goin’ nowhere.
Ah, the land of the bat-swingin’ pitcher: The National League. Does anybody remember the Montreal Expos? I do, and boy did they stink up the place. My dad and I went to Reds games all the time with free tickets from his company. I think they were free because they were always Expos games. I’m pretty sure the Reds won every single game I went to. But now, the Expos dissolved and after a few rough years, and never making it to the playoffs, these boys are poised to show the American League what-for come October. These guys are good. They’ve not even scored a whole lot of runs either. With a guy like Stephen Strasburg on the mound, you don’t have to score a lot of runs to win games. DEFENSE, baby! And here’s the big surprise of the year: The hottest team in the National League of the last few years, the Philadelphia Phillies have a win percentage of .471. I’d say they’re not contending for the pennant this year.
The Reds, the Pirates and the Cardinals are fighting for number one here. The Reds have been a strong team over the last few years and continue to build on that. Johnny Cueto is throwing well, Joey Votto is a beast at the plate along with Jay Bruce, and the wins continue to roll in. Arroyo, despite his crazy leg kick, can’t seem to iron things out. And after getting pounded by the Indians on Wednesday, he drops to 3-5 on the year. No surprise here as the Cubbies struggle to maintain their pride in the face of a curse much worse than The Babe. Look, it’s been 103 years since they won a championship. No other professional American sports team has even come close to that. That’s why I never understood the Red Sox fans complaining all those years. Reverse the Curse, please. I say give these guys all of Barry Bonds leftover steroids and let’s get it over with. Unless Sammy Sosa took them all with him…
Magic Johnson must be doing something right in the City of Angels. This man knows how to win, so he must be putting something in the water. The Dodgers lead by a four game margin with the Giants hot on the tail. Otherwise, the division is struggling. San Diego boasts the worst record in baseball right now at 24-46. They’re lacking in power and run production, and their defense isn’t so hot either, allowing over 300 runs (compared to scoring only 240 for the year so far. The 2012 season is heating up as we head into the All-Star break. And as any baseball fan knows, the back half of the season is where things truly get tense. Each game becomes more important as does each injury, a thing that strikes fear into every fan. I’ll sit back and hope that guys like Derek Jeter can hold up for another 80 games at their age. The time is coming. We will see if young guys like Bryce Harper and Jason Heyward can produce when their teams need it most. We will witness the moments that will go down in history. The first half has been interesting (what with Johan Santana of the Mets pulling down the Mets first no-hitter…and believe me, Mets fans here in NYC are still talking about it), but let’s see what happens when the pressure is on.
What are your thoughts on the young season so far? Let us know in the comments!