I know what you, the devoted readers of this blog, are thinking:
7/19? That’s certainly a random spot to check in on the MLB standings. Come on, Bob, you gave us updates on 5/1 & 6/1, WHERE WAS OUR 7/1 UPDATE?????
I don’t mind the agitation. Given the heat index outside, it’s expected. However, as always, I have an answer. Perhaps not THE answer, but an answer. Allow me to pontificate…
Baseball is a great summer game; often, leisurely in its pace, much like the season itself. However, there’s a point at which summer itself shifts into high gear. Granted, people still take vacations, but there’s that great big something looming ahead that makes it tough to fully disengage from that which we’re trying to take a vacation.
What is looming ahead? Obviously, the end of summer. Because of that, there’s a tendency to race through these final weeks, trying to jam everything in all at once: all the fun, leisure activities you set out to do when summer was about to arrive. Now, you’re realizing that there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it in.
Likewise, a number of MLB teams are reaching similar conclusions around this time of the season. There may have been hope in April, May, and even June, but July tends to turn up the heat on those teams that have not been built for the long haul. Clearly, some other teams have been built better, but in certain situations, issues largely beyond any one person’s control have been impactful on a team’s bottom line record.
So, July 1 could have been a point at which to check in on the races, but in my mind, not enough had happened to really separate the teams from where I’d lumped them last. The All-Star break is ceremonial, and besides, it’s not the mathematical midpoint of the season.
7/19 is a fine time for my specific brand of analysis: we’re into the second series of the “second half” of the season, so there’s a bit more data to look at than there was at the All-Star break, meaning that there’s less likelihood to make knee-jerk analyses such as “the Brewers can’t win on the road.” Besides, our very own WQOW News 18 website is telling me that today will be “Dangerously hot.” So, what better day to sit indoors, at home, with the shades drawn, typing away on a computer keyboard?
(Note: the categories have been modified, slightly, from how I’ve grouped teams before)
Right on track, still on track, and will remain on track: Red Sox (58-37), Yankees (56-38), Rangers (56-41), Phillies (60-36), Giants (57-41).
As was the case on 6/1, each team still has cause for some concern, but it’s the type of concern a millionaire has about the high price of gas. These teams still have more talent on the field (and especially, in the rotation), than any others in MLB. Barring any unforseen calamity, these five will be playoff teams.
What about us, Bob, can we be playoff teams? Huh? Why not us, Bob?: Rays (51-44), Indians (51-45), Tigers (51-45), Angels (51-46), Braves (57-40), Pirates (51-44), Brewers (52-46), Cardinals (50-46), Diamondbacks (52-45)
Like annoying children in the back of a vehicle on a long trip, or like the flies & mosquitoes that make any summer outdoor activity irritating, these teams are just talented and well-managed enough to make a run at a playoff spot–but obviously, not all will actually get to the postseason. Eventually, the kids will be quiet because they have to go back to school (either that or a parent or other adult yells at them), while the flies & mosquitoes will be stymied by that first bout of cool, fall weather (or by some other, more insidious, chemical means).
Of this group of baseball teams, the Rays seem to be the pestiest; and therefore, the most likely to benefit if some sort of misfortune befalls either the Red Sox or Yankees. Likewise, the Angels, Braves, and Diamondbacks appear to have enough on each roster to stay relevant through August. Some team will have to win the AL & NL Central Divisions, which figures to make each race wildly entertaining–especially, a team like the Brewers, if the mercurial and unpredictable Nyjer Morgan continues to get regular playing time as well as regular interviews.
Eternal summer slacking?: Blue Jays (48-49), White Sox (47-50), Twins (45-51), Mariners (43-53), Athletics (42-55), Mets (48-48), Marlins(47-50), Reds (47-50), Rockies (46-51).
Like the college kid home for the summer who has yet to start looking for a job through 7/19, there’s a certain level of annoyance with these clubs, all of which have enough talent to be contending in their respective divisions, but are, frankly, not contending. Granted, I’m painting with a broad brush in this category, so don’t infer that I think laziness is the only issue with all of these teams, or even an issue at all. All I’m saying is that each of these teams has potential, but all have yet to realize that potential. Possibly, they never will, much like the mythical college kid who really never gets that summer job, but who still wants money when heading back to school.
Give them an “atta-boy!”: Nationals (48-49)
Washington’s reward this season won’t be a playoff spot, but merely a proverbial pat on the back for formulating a plan, and sticking with it, regardless of the short term results. More than likely, this is a plan that will pay long-term dividends (especially when Steven Strasburg does return to the rotation, and with Auburndale native and former E.C. Express standout Jordan Zimmermann, will give the Nats a 1-2 pitching punch that will be the envy of many in the NL).
Formulating a plan and sticking with it, regardless of the short term results…could that work elsewhere in Washington, D.C.? Sorry, that’s a topic for a political blog…perhaps one of those exists elsewhere in the blogosphere?
Still time this summer for a nice garage sale: Orioles (39-55), Royals (39-58), Cubs (39-59), Astros (32-65), Dodgers (42-55), Padres (42-55)
Far be it from me to say that these teams are no longer relevant, because I’m positive that fans of these teams can still go to their respective ballparks and enjoy a game. What those fans won’t be enjoying is any semblance of a playoff race. So, whether selling off high-priced (but no-longer needed ) talent is the answer, the fact remains that a playoff race is just not going to happen this year for any of these clubs. I won’t even apologize for being the bearer of bad news, since there’s a good chance the average fan already knows that it’s over long before Yogi Berra would think it’s over. My advice: go to the ballpark with your kid, your dad, your wife, your buddies, or even by yourself, and try to enjoy everything else about baseball that makes it enjoyable, and try not to dwell on the obvious, harsh reality, that your team isn’t going to win anything this year. Maybe next year, maybe not. Enjoy what’s left of summer, because it’ll go quickly…it always does.
Your thoughts? Your opinions? Your comments? Please feel free to add them to this blog–I’d hate for this to be a one-sided conversation.
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on July 20, 2011