Search

Free Samples of a Sleep-Deprived Brain

…or what happens when family meets work meets severe weather meets baseball…

Category

Baltimore Orioles

Signs of Change 

nyy tor

Less than a week is left in the 2015 MLB regular season, and as the season steams to a close I noticed a couple things about my own baseball preferences which, quite honestly, disturbed me.

First off, and I can’t believe I’m saying this…I have been rooting for the New York Yankees here as the season ends. The fricking Yankees. The only team on the planet I despise more than anything associated with the University of Texas.

Yes. I have been rooting for them.

“Hello, I’m Chuck and I’m apparently a seasonal Yankees fan.” “Hi, Chuck…”

It hasn’t helped, at least for the most part. The Yankees, who led the AL East for much of the season, got passed by Toronto a few weeks ago and are now 5.5 games back with five games left. So they won’t win the division, although they do have a 3-game lead in the wild card race. Doesn’t sound that bad, except when you consider who the Kansas City Royals could face in the playoffs, either in the Divisional Series or the League Championship Series.

Put simply, the Royals match up much better against the Yankees.

The Blue Jays are the team nobody wants in this year’s playoffs. At any level. They mash the ball. Their pitching has improved. And say what you want about some of the whining antics or manufactured outrage coming from a Jose Bautista or Josh Donaldson…but the Jays play for each other very well.

One other thing you may have noticed since the trade deadline: if the Jays are involved in a close game, something now almost invariably happens to tilt the scoreboard in their favor.

Like I said: nobody — and this includes the Royals — wants any part of Toronto starting next week.

My rooting for the Yankees goes against everything in my baseball being. (Apparently this is more deeply-rooted than even I knew. Last year, my dad told me he wouldn’t have known what to do with me if I had become a Yankees fan growing up.) So that’s unnerving all by itself. But when the Royals went to Baltimore earlier this month, I had no rooting interest for the Orioles. And I’ve been rooting for them since 1975. The Orioles are the team I latched onto when I started learning about baseball — and now it’s just, well, meh.

Have the Royals finally become my favorite team? Initially, I’d say yes. However, the Orioles did next to nothing last offseason after the Kansas City sweep job in the ALCS. They hardly did anything near the trading deadline to improve the club and bolster a playoff push, even though they still were pretty much in the thick of things at the season’s midway point.

It’s almost as if upper management didn’t care. That spoke volumes to Orioles fans like me.

The Royals, meanwhile, did what they could — leading the division for most of the season and also adding pieces (Ben Zobrist, Johnny Cueto) designed to bring the trophy home. That hasn’t worked recently as the Royals have had a month-long slide, but it’s a push we Royals fans have never seen before — or least not in the past 30 years. That says a lot to baseball. And it says a lot to your fan base.

royals lose

I’m still calling myself an Orioles fan, but I’m not sure my heart is in that statement. Ask me again when the Royals and O’s do battle next year.

orioles

Advertisements

First Takes and Second Helpings: Aug. 24, 2015

images

Filling your plate with an unhealthy diet of my thought processes. Not exactly spanning the globe to bring you a variety of sports…

Austin Willis snapped up by the Buffalo Bills. That didn’t take long, although I didn’t think it would. Released by Oakland on Aug. 18, Willis signed with Buffalo over the weekend. What was surprising — pleasantly so — was the series of reports indicating several teams wanted Willis. That says volumes about Willis’ speed, athleticism and also his work ethic. Congratulations to Willis. Here’s hoping the Bills’ revolving door at quarterback doesn’t hurt Willis’ chances to make the team.

Emporia State upgrades its football experience. Hornet fans should have a blast once the Dennis Shogren Videoboard is totally up and running. The new scoreboard should be among Division II’s best. Now we’ll see how the Hornets upgrade after a forgettable 4-7 season. As mentioned last week, the Hornets don’t have to get back to the playoffs to reclaim the momentum seen in 2012 and 2013. Finishing above .500 with their schedule would do, although seven wins or better would certainly help.

New blood in Lincoln. Can’t wait to see how Mike Riley does as Nebraska’s head coach this season. I like the Riley hire, maybe because he reminds me more than any other D-1 coach of Tom Osborne — a happier, more media-understanding version of Osborne, I should say. I believe prior coach Bo Pelini fostered a toxic atmosphere in Lincoln and did nothing to stop the festering before he was booted out, and that more than anything was what led to his dismissal. I know he’s the Pelini antitype. Now it’s time to see if he’s the Pelini antidote and can move the Huskers to the next level.

Royals-Orioles. The rematch of the 2014 ALCS really doesn’t have that much buzz going into Game 1 tonight, in large part because the Orioles have been scuffling to stay above water all season long while the Royals continue to blister most of their opponents. As an O’s fan, it would have been nice to see the team with more significant upgrades last offseason and again before this year’s trading deadline. Buck Showalter is an amazing manager, but it would have been nice if he had been given more to work with this season. By the way, Mike Moustakas looks like he’s refinding his stroke, but even though his average has shed points like I need to lose pounds over the past six weeks, he has still had some of the Royals’ best at-bats of the season. Long live #OppoMoose.

Bowyer bounceback. After being set free by Michael Waltrip Racing (granted, at the end of the 2015 season), Clint Bowyer did extremely well at Bristol, finishing fifth. There are two more Chase for the Cup races before the field is set. Two more Top-5 finishes would go a long way towards solidifying a spot in the Chase, or if nothing else building momentum as Bowyer gets ready to make his next move.

The sobering side of racing. The racing community is praying for IRL driver Justin Wilson, who was severely hurt when Sage Karam crashed and a big piece of debris hit Wilson in the head at speed. If you remember, Dan Wheldon was killed during an IRL race when his car sailed over a football field worth of distance in the air before his head smashed into a pole at nearly 200 mph. Believe it or not, these kinds of accidents don’t happen all that often for open-wheel racers. The question now is what IRL, Formula 1 and other open-wheel series will do to protect their drivers so this doesn’t happen again.

First Takes and Second Helpings: April 2015

042815 baltimore

As you can see, this post will cover a gamut of topics…some serious, some not.

The serious first: Baltimore blew up the past two days after the death and subsequent funeral of Freddie Gray.

This tears me up because Baltimore has been a city I’ve wanted to explore more since I was a child. We didn’t travel much to Baltimore during our two years living in Bel Air, Md., about 35 miles northeast of downtown Baltimore, and when we did we never made it to an Orioles game (something that still eats at me). But what I saw as a five-year-old I liked. I have no idea whether the Baltimore of 2015 mirrors the Baltimore of 1975. All I know is people are destroying anything they can get their hands on.

I understand the anguish and anger over alleged police issues, but there’s no excuse for what we’re seeing. It’s humanity at its worst. It’s now happening with less provocation. I’m not sure which of those last two sentences is scarier.

To the silly: Weird work-related things.

042815  notebook

News is not always hard-core, and I’m grateful we’re not always talking about riots or shootings or fatal accidents or fires or budget shortfalls. Thankfully, we started our Feel Good Friday segment a few years ago to balance out all the nasty or the mundane we report on daily. And sometimes, that balance is totally unintentional or unexpected. Couple cases in point:

Earlier this month, I’m searching through district court documents to see what court cases of note are coming up. I didn’t see anything pertaining to my newscasts, but I did see this:

weird

That’s right. Officially, the state of Kansas is in trial proceedings against a car (a luxury car, mind you, although the status of rich Corinthian leather is to be debated). Not sure if this is a regular occurrence. Also not sure how John Stewart hasn’t picked up on this yet.

Yesterday, I’m typing up a story on court proceedings stemming from a combination battery and shooting incident early in April. Instead of typing “aggravated battery,” I punch up “aggravated batter.” Talk of deep-fried food crimes and misdemeanors follows. Insert your own joke here.

Now to the sad:

042815 fiala

Broadcasters outside the state of Nebraska may not have known Adrian Fiala, and that’s a shame.

Fiala passed away recently after a lengthy respiratory illness. He was a legend in Nebraska sports as a football and baseball player, and he then made his mark as a color commentator for several Big Red sports.

He was well-respected, even revered, for several reasons. Being a player, he brought a locker-room perspective to his broadcasts, and he did so realizing most of his audience weren’t former players so he educated without being pushy or overbearing. He was thoroughly prepared for his assignments and studied game trends. And, what I found most important, he was himself behind the mike.

I first met Adrian Fiala as a rather fresh part-timer assigned to run the board for SportsNightly, the Pinnacle Sports Network’s signature weekday talk show. He gave me a warm smile and a firm (very firm) handshake. Just that made me feel like I was part of the team — no small amount of welcome and assurance for somebody struggling to prove I belonged with some very polished broadcasters. On top of that, though, Fiala never — and I mean never — big-timed anybody on his broadcasts, either on or off mike.

This is a business filled with massive egos and a tendency for those egos to get loose, trampling anybody and everybody either lower on the totem pole or outside the field, treating those individuals as if they are less important or not important at all because they don’t have a four- or five-hour air shift to spew opinions couched as facts.

Adrian Fiala was a rare individual in this field. I’d like to be part of his broadcast crew at that next level.

And finishing up with the superlative.

Alex Gordon, Play of the Year candidate. Do I need to say anything else?

Long Live…the Royals

royals wx2

In many cases, succession or ascendancy is pretty easy to spot. It may be a boring process, and sometimes there’s a lot of tension in the rise to power, but it’s pretty obvious to all what’s happening.

Sometimes, though, the rise to the top is as sudden as a coup at 0300 hours. And most people don’t see it coming until the new leader is on the throne (usually just because it happens at 0300).

Regardless of how the World Series ends, we’re seeing that coup in broad daylight thanks to the Kansas City Royals.

Not guaranteed a playoff spot until the third to last game of the regular season and scrambling to dig themselves out of a hole and win in heart-shocking fashion in the Wild Card game against Oakland, the Royals have used a combination of pitching, defense and timely hitting — not to mention an approach that went out of style some 25 years ago — to advance to the Fall Classic and captivate baseball fans everywhere.

So what if the Royals were playoff virgins or half the team (or whatever the figure is) wasn’t even alive the last time the Royals won the World Series? So what if they were last in both walks and home runs? So what if the manager made some, um, head-scratching decisions that at certain points of the season jeopardized a playoff push?

And so what if they had to go through the American League team with the best record (the stupidly-long-winded Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) and the team with the biggest power numbers (the Baltimore Orioles) to cement their place in baseball history?

So what?

Would you have scripted the Kansas City playoff story the way it has unfolded? Did you have Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas playing vital roles on offense when the team needed it most? Lorenzo Cain batting over .500 in the series? Did you write in the defense making statement play after statement play?

And would you have every Ned Yost move shining like gold?

That’s what happened.

royals wx

This playoff ride has been an inexplicable meld of factors, but in my mind the two things that stand out are revival and exorcism.The All-Star Game two years ago showed the baseball world Kansas City was a dormant, not dead baseball town. In effect, it was a dry torch waiting for a light. Watching the Royals not only find the match with the 2014 playoff appearance but share those moments with a starved fan base has fanned that flame with the force of Santa Ana winds.

The exorcisms taking place during this inconceivable run go well beyond the 29-year playoff exodus:

The defense of Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Nori Aoki all offset one of the plays capturing how far this franchise had fallen, the Terrence Long-Chip Ambres stare-at-each-other-and-jog-into-the-dugout-while-a-fly-ball-falls-behind-you-by-15-feet back in 2005, while the leather flashed by Moustakas makes up for Ken Harvey’s portfolio of misadventures on the other side of the diamond.

Yost’s postseason success provides the comfort after Tony Muser learning of his firing from a reporter, Tony Pena dancing in the shower, Buddy Bell’s infamous “never say it can’t get worse” statement and Trey Hillman nuking Gil Meche’s career.

Raising the American League trophy erases decisions on Dan Reichert (a potential bullpen stud if ever given the chance), the revolving door of managers, Jose Guillen, Neifi Perez and Eduardo Villacis. And others. Well, maybe erase is too strong a word. But it sure helps to repress those memories.

And now, after 29 years losing and now finding their way, the Royals are back in the palace. The way things are going, they may well claim the throne. It’s the only end to the season that’s fitting.

Let’s go Royals.

ws trophy

Bullpen Basics (translated: How Playoff Chances Hinge on Relievers)

BzDGxWaIMAAKyzs

Earlier this fall, right around the time when he said he didn’t see any reason why the Kansas City Royals couldn’t make the 2014 playoffs, Hall of Fame broadcaster Denny Matthews made an interesting point.

Time was when teams could not only get to the postseason but could make a deep run if they had four quality starters and a top-notch fireman (yes, I just dated myself). Go back into baseball history and look at some of the best starters in the game. How many games did they go start to finish?

You could start seeing things change as teams went from four-man to five-man rotations in the 1980s, but still the emphasis was the same: quality starters plus shutdown stopper equaled an above-average playoff chance.

Matthews’ point was this: the game has further evolved where the entire pitching corps has to be solid. If you want the best chance of a deep postseason run, you need a solid offense, good defense and no weak links in your pitching staff. A lockdown relief corps has now become a necessity, not a passing fancy.

This is why the Detroit Tigers, now down 0-2 in the American League Division Series to the Baltimore Orioles, should have no business advancing to the World Series, let alone the ALCS.

Some of the initial regular season numbers don’t look bad (Joba Chamberlain, 69 G, 63 IP, 3.25 ERA; Phil Coke, 62 G, 58 IP, 3.88 ERA; Al Albuquerque, 72 G, 57.1 IP, 2.51 ERA), but some look positively awful (Joakim Soria, 13 G, 4.91 ERA; Joe Nathan, 62 G, 4.81 ERA despite 35 saves). Tigers relievers had a 4.29 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP during the regular season.

Then you see these numbers, both starters and relievers, in the first two games against Baltimore:

tigers pitchers

Granted, Tigers relievers didn’t get any help from their defense in Game 1. On top of that, short series tend to throw stats totally out of whack. But in this case, the stats just don’t lie.

Strange things happen in the playoffs. If the Tigers advance, some very, very strange things happened along the way.

Thoughts from ALDS Game 1s

Division Series - Detroit Tigers v Baltimore Orioles - Game One

Two similar games (for the most part), two wins for the good guys.

A few comments after watching parts of both:

Orioles-Tigers (Orioles up 1-0)

tigers os nelson cruz

1. Nelson Cruz may have been toxic last offseason, but he is a critical reason why the Orioles ran away with the AL East and his home run in the first inning was an enormous tone-setter for the contest. Happening just after Adam Jones’ double play seemingly took all the steam out of the first inning, the homer fired up the dugout, fizzed up the crowd and — more importantly — gave what turned out to be a shaky Chris Tillman an early lead.

2. Max Scherzer shook off his first-inning woes and pitched extremely well. Tillman, however, was wobbly pretty much throughout his five innings of work. The O’s bullpen held things together until…

tigers os bullpen

3. Detroit’s defense and bullpen struck. The Tigers aren’t anywhere close to the best defensive team, and they couldn’t stop the bleeding after an error in the eighth. The error is one thing, but failure to stem the tide falls on the relievers. Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus really needs complete games every time out from his starters and he just won’t get that. It won’t matter what the score is — as soon as a Detroit reliever enters the game, the Baltimore chance of winning increases exponentially.

Angels-Royals (Royals up 1-0)

royals angels mooooooooose

1. I’m kicking myself for not setting aside enough time to write about the Royals being built to go deep into the playoffs…if Manager Ned Yost didn’t blow up those chances in the regular season or torpedo them once they secured a playoff berth. Anyways, you saw again the flaws and the strengths of this team in Game 1. The offense simply looks overmatched at times (most of Thursday night), but pitching and defense keeps this team in enough games to give it a chance in the late innings. And when the Angels kept wasting opportunity after late opportunity, you had a sense the game would turn on one swing. Not sure anybody felt it would come from Mike Moustakas, but wasn’t that fitting, though? That’s how it turned out and the Royals got the jump they needed.

royals angels scisocia

2. Mike Scioscia #yosted his club’s chances to win, while #theoriginalyosted’s Game 1 choices actually made sense. Erick Aybar won’t be asked to bunt a lot more (I don’t think). Meanwhile, the forearm tightness Kelvin Herrera experienced had a lot of us feeling tight in other places…notably the chest. And the Game 2 choice of Yordano Ventura as your starter just scares me after his Sunday and Tuesday outings.

3. The TBS crew calling the Royals-Angels series did not do its homework heading into either this series or the wild card against Oakland. The talk about Cal Ripken snoozing in the late innings aside, all you need is one example of what I’m talking about:

Nori Aoki is at best the Royals’ fourth best outfielder defensively. He’s taken worse routes to balls before (just this season, mind you) and, well, failed miserably. There is also this classic:

And yet, when Aoki was pulled for Jarrod Dyson late, color commentator Ron Darling said: “I can’t believe they are taking Aoki out for a defensive replacement.”

I kid you not.

On a separate note: happy birthday, Nash Holland. Daddy nailed down Game 1 without any issues.

On to Game 2.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Baseball

mlb playoffs 2013

Follow hockey much, and as the playoffs near you hear broadcasters talking about “desperate” play.

If you don’t know what that means initially, you figure it out pretty quickly. Stars throwing themselves in front of 90-mph rubber disks. Puck battles all over the place. Goalmouth traffic more intense, goalie scrambles more spectacular and urgent.

Desperate has several meanings in the dictionary. Among them is “having an urgent need or desire.” So desperate is the perfect word as near-playoff teams fight like mad for positioning — or just to get in the door.

I’ve never heard of desperate baseball before, but that’s exactly what’s happening in the American League.

Three series remain for each of the wild card hopefuls: Tampa Bay, Texas, Cleveland, Baltimore, New York and Kansas City. Some teams have a fairly easy road ahead, but others have to go through one or several playoff contenders to punch their tickets.

Tampa Bay Rays

tropicana stadium

Series remaining: Versus Orioles, at Yankees, at Blue Jays
Playoff chances: Likely

Solidified their playoff push with a good showing against Texas. Perhaps the toughest road ahead, though, among the wild card hopefuls. The offense has been sporadic, but the pitching has been stout — as usual — recently. Too bad Floridians aren’t bothering to root, root, root for the home team.

Texas Rangers

ron washington

Series remaining: at Royals, versus Astros, versus Angels
Playoff chances: Likely but softening quickly

Will the Rangers pull out of their death spiral? Royals series now appears to be the key to Texas’ faltering playoff hopes.

Cleveland Indians

Jhonny Peralta, Asdrubal Cabrera

Games back: 0.5
Series remaining: Versus Astros, versus White Sox, at Twins
Playoff chances: Uhhhhhhh…maybe?

The easiest road to hoe among the wild card contenders — which is good, because Cleveland hasn’t been lights-out recently.

Baltimore Orioles

chris davis

Games back: 2
Series remaining: At Rays, versus Blue Jays, versus Red Sox
Playoff chances: Unlikely

Orioles have done a good job of beating the teams they are supposed to beat, such as the Jays. They have not done well down the stretch in beating teams either at their level or ahead of them in the standings, such as the Rays or Red Sox. This does not bode well for the O’s returning to the playoffs this year.

Kansas City Royals

royals indians

Games back: 3
Series remaining: Versus Rangers, at Mariners, at White Sox
Playoff chances: Slim, but…

Seriously, if it wasn’t for Ned Yost…if this team didn’t show the amazing ability to crash and burn right after sizzling through a 14-2 stretch…this would be a done playoff deal. A lot of fans (myself included) are holding our breath over the last week of the season. We’ve been conditioned to the bottom falling loooong before this…

New York Yankees

yankees 2

Games back: 3.5
Series remaining: Versus Giants, versus Rays, at Astros
Playoff chances: Losing steam

They are too old. Mariano Rivera is finally showing some cracks. And yet the Yankees have surged the past six weeks to be in the discussion. Aside from the Rays, it’s a fairly easy road the rest of the way.

The playoffs have effectively been underway since early August. Hope you’re ready for the real deal.

Braun Gone and a Sea Change in Attitudes

braun5

“This is BS. I am completely innocent.” — Ryan Braun, December 2011.

“I truly believe in my heart and I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point.” Braun, December 2012

“When you know you’re innocent of something, it’s extremely difficult to prove it in a process where you’re 100 percent guilty until you’re proven innocent.” — Braun, February 2012

“‘I realize now…’ and right there I checked out.” — Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy

“The sample collector that Braun bashed and tore apart should get the rest of Braun’s entire contract.” — former A’s pitcher and current ESPN analyst Mark Mulder

”Watching him talk right now makes me sick. I have an autographed Braun jersey in my baseball room that I’ll be taking down. I don’t want my son identifying what I’ve worked so hard to get to and work so hard to have – I don’t want him comparing Braun to me.” — Dodgers outfield Skip Schumaker

Fifteen years ago, players like Ryan Braun ran rampant.

Too strong a statement? Probably. But you can’t deny the arrogance proudly on display from players like Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and others who enhanced their performances chemically.

What is different now versus then is the outcry from Braun’s fellow players. You could expect former MLB greats to sound off on what Braun’s stern denials of drug use and what appears to be his Biogenesis line to all sorts of disallowed substances means to the game. But look at the comments from McCarthy, Schumaker and others.

braun

This simply would not have happened when baseball — and many fans — essentially turned a blind eye to the obvious in the 1990s and early 2000s. Would not have happened, at least not for the media’s benefit.

Were players scared to step forward? Likely so. The union was continuing its defend-at-all-costs, baseball-be-damned approach, and the blowback from the media only seemed to steel the union’s backbone. As I remember, there was very little public support for the players who were clean, and especially for those who decided to speak up.

Man, how things have changed.

Personally, I love the fact Braun has largely (unfortunately, not universally) been blasted for his lies. I understand a lot of pundits and talking heads have taken to hyperbole to express their shock (!) and dismay about Braun. That’s wasted effort, especially now that players are finally stepping forward.

It’s a total change, and it’s the only one which can move the sport forward. It’s the change from within needed to start marginalizing the baseball drug culture.

The thing that’s needed now is a bigger stick. A 100-game suspension or the 65 games Braun is receiving simply won’t do. Players are increasingly calling for a no-strike policy — you’re busted, you’re confirmed, you’re done. You’re out of the game.

Another option likely won’t happen for years, but it’s worth considering. Listening to Kansas City’s 610 Sports this week, The Drive hosts Danny Parkins, Carrington Harrison and Jayice Pearson discussed linking a contract status to drug use. In short, you’re caught and your club can void your deal. After burying their heads in the closest sand for so long, and with the public tide on drug use dramatically turning — as evidenced by Braun — it only makes sense for owners to jump on the PR train before it leaves them behind. The union may balk, but I think you might be surprised to see how many players approve the idea if it can feasibly clean up the game even more.

braun3

I’m not stupid. The drug culture is simply going underground for now. But the response of players to Ryan Braun and the others likely doomed by Biogenesis is encouraging for baseball moving forward — and keeping that drug culture on the margins of the sport instead of near its heart.

“I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.” — Braun, July 22.

“The truth still hasn’t changed.” — Braun, July 9.

No, Ryan, it hasn’t. You and every other cheater, regardless of the sport, need to be banned.

braun4

MLB at the Unofficial Halfway Point

asg 2012

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.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

In the playoff mix: Boston, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland, Texas.

redsox

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.

yankees woes

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.

ventura

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.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Fighting for alpha dog status: Atlanta, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

braves

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

dodgers diamondbacks

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

giants

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.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

The North Pole Post

The (not necessarily) News from the North Pole

KSNT News

Topeka Kansas News and Weather

The Baseball Bloggess

Loves the 4-6-3 and the Serial Comma.

Betrayed Mermaid

Just a 20 something year old wanting to be heard.

The Minivan Princess

for mommies who like to read and share funny sh*t

Coco J. Ginger Says

Poems and stories of love & heartbreak.

SeanMunger.com

Official site of author and historian Sean Munger.

Ashlynsully

Lifestyle / Beauty / Fashion