It’s hard to believe it has been a year since my good friend Sean Thornton and I took in the All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium, a time that is among the best baseball experiences of my life. Well, the All-Star Game is back…neither of us are going…and if it wasn’t for some work-related stuff, I’d be catching snippets of the game in between Dog With a Blog or Sam and Cat or something kid-related.
Anyways, the season is officially past the halfway point, but this is always a time to look at the first half of the season and see who may have a good chance of making — and missing — the upcoming playoffs.
In the playoff mix: Boston, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland, Texas.
Boston is making it verrrry difficult to not be the AL favorite for the second half of the year. Oh, sure, Detroit looks good at times and Oakland continues to surprise (maybe it shouldn’t anymore), but the BoSox are just rolling now. Tampa Bay shot up the AL East charts with a huge run leading up to the break, and as much as I hate to say it…right now I’d pick the Rays over Baltimore if it comes down to those teams fighting for a wild card. I don’t see Chris Davis getting all the mistakes he’s seen so far, and the Oriole rotation/bullpen still has some holes. I have no idea how to call the Oakland-Texas race, so I won’t.
On the outside looking in: New York Yankees, California (excuse me, LA) Angels.
I’m sorry, but I just see the Yankees riding a geriatric roller-coaster the rest of the year (translation: more injuries, a lower winning percentage in August and September). The Angels? Well, what do you do with Hamilton and Pujols? And is this Scioscia’s last year at the helm? Angels brass would be stupid to push him out, but that’s possible.
Better start looking at winter resorts: Toronto, Kansas City, Minnesota, Chicago White Sox, Seattle, Houston.
A couple of these teams (Minnesota, Houston, Seattle), you knew this wasn’t their season. On the other side, so much was expected in Toronto with that big infusion of free agents. Look at how well that went. The wheels are coming off the Robin Ventura experiment in Chicago (he’d have a better chance if the White Sox weren’t so fundamentally bad). Which leaves Kansas City, tantalizing with its talent, deluded in its thinking if Royals management decides to make a playoff push. The first two series (Detroit and Baltimore back-to-back) after the break decide whether the Royals sink or tread water.
Fighting for alpha dog status: Atlanta, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati
A three-team race for the East Beast title. Pirates fans are hoping another summer swoon isn’t just around the corner like what happened last year. I like the Reds, but my guess is Atlanta and St. Louis will take their respective divisions pretty handily. If the Pirates can stay afloat, pardon the pun, it’s bye-bye Reds for this year.
Scrambling: Washington, Philadelphia, Arizona, Los Angeles, Colorado
I did not expect the Nationals or the Dodgers on this list when the season began. Like the Royals, I think both the Nats and Dodgers have to come out of the break on fire to have a chance. Philly needs that too, but they remind me of the National League’s version of the Yankees. Really, when it comes to the West, put the Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Rockies logos under a hat, shake it up and pull out a name. That’s who wins. The others stay home.
Done: New York Mets, Miami, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee, San Francisco, San Diego
You knew Miami would be embarrassingly bad, but they are pushing that benchmark lower as the season progresses. And, honestly, I could say I expected most of these teams on this list at this time of the season. I was not expecting the Giants, though. After last year, I had anticipated they would be well ahead of the NL West. Lincecum’s no-hitter was a nice bump of momentum, but don’t expect it to last long. The team with the biggest headache (aside from the record) is obviously the Brewers as they await MLB’s ruling on Ryan Braun. What a hangover that could be. Maybe that’s not the term I should use. Sorry.
There you have it. Go O’s. Go Royals. Go home Yankees. And go enjoy the second half of the season.