Summer, summer, summer time. Nearing the midway point in the MLB season, and it’s been a good one so far. All of the sudden pitching is dominating the sport, with 19 pitchers taking no hitters into the 7th inning as of 7/5/10. (Editor’s note – make that 20 with the Reds starter… Wood something, taking a perfect game into the 8th). Many theories going around about that, mixing between steroids, watered down lineups, injuries. I think it’s part steroids being less prevalent, amphetamines and greenies being banned, and just a natural cycle of defense starting to take over. It’s also time to bust out one of my fave sports trivia questions: what are the two days a year in which none of the four major sports is playing a game? Hint: they don’t fall on the same day every year, e.g., December 25th is Christmas. The two days occur at the same time every year, but not necessarily on the same date. Answer at the end.
So while the lazy days of summer/baby countdown are upon us, let’s check in on Logical Betting’s fearless predictions for the baseball season. Since this is a “report” of sorts, our unofficial sponsor will be the Colbert Report’s Sport Report. Really need to get back into that show. And a one, and a two, and…
AL Central (current standings/my pick) – standings entering Sunday 7/11/10.
1. Tigers (2nd), 2. White Sox (4th), 3. Twins (1st), 4. Royals (3rd), 5. Indians (5th).
I had the Royals as a sleeper, and that got out pretty good, but have since gone back to being the Royals. The Twins have not been able to hit for whatever reason. And the Indians have been the Indians. They should bring in Bob Uecker to call games, that’s the only way anyone is watching. If the White Sox hadn’t won something like 24 of 28 games, my beloved Tigers would be cruising. Dominating this weekend’s series with the Twins so far. Loving that. Hopefully my cousin is ripping his wife and in-laws who all grew up in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Go get ‘em, cuz, do it for all of us Tigers fans.
1. Ys (1st), 2. Rays (3rd), 3. Red Sox (2nd), 4. Blue Jays (4th), 5. Orioles (5th).
Toronto is having a nice year, playing .500 ball, which of course earns them a 4th place spot and no hope of the playoffs. They are launching balls out of the park at will, so at least fun to watch and could play spoilers in the division down the road. The Rays got out hot, then started to fade hard, and now have won 8 of 10 to get within a couple games of the lead. The Red Sox, aka the Boston Infirmary, are hanging around. I still like them if they can somehow sneak into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Ys are humming along with the best record in the majors. If they had gotten Cliff Lee, I would have jabbed myself in the belly repeatedly with a spoon. They’ll probably get him in the offseason, but still. I do love how bad Joba has been, though. One of those prospects who was thought to be better cause he was a Ys prospect. See also, N**** D*** quarterbacks.
1. Rangers (3rd), 2. Angels (2nd), 3. A’s (4th), 4. Mariners (1st).
Oops. Yeah, so I liked Seattle. Hell, until the Lee trade I still liked their roster. I have no explanation why they are as bad offensively as they are. I told you about them Rangers, though, and with Lee on board and the resurgent Josh Hamilton, they could even be playoff contenders. Pitching is supposed to be their weakness, but they are currently 5th in the AL in ERA. Definitely winnable for them. The Angels are done, which is nice cause everyone is sick of them.
1. Braves (tie 2nd), 2. Mets (5th), 3. Phillies (1st), 4. Marlins (tie 2nd), 5. Nationals (4th).
I honestly don’t think the Mets are that good. R.A. Dickey? Seriously? The Phils are another team fighting off injuries, and if they can hang around, they are one of the top 2 teams in the NL, along with the Braves, who, with breakout years from Prado and Heyward, a resurgent Troy Glaus, and an already strong pitching staff, are looking like the class of the NL. Don’t be shocked to see those two in the NLCS, though I think the NL West would have something to say about that. Rumor has it the Nats are gonna limit Strausberg’s innings, and they have another great pitching prospect. Definitely a team on the way up. Good for them.
1. Reds (2nd), 2. Cards (1st), 3 (tie). Cubs (5th), 3 (tie). Brewers (3rd), 5. Astros (4th), 6. Pirates (6th).
Not too shabby, eh? This is a two horse race, with the Reds taking a 2 game lead into the final days play before the break. The Reds are a pretty young team in general, so I wonder how long the kids will hang in there against the veteran Cards. Tough to beat that Carpenter-Wainwright one-two punch over the course of a whole year. The Cards just seem like the better team, and the Reds have won a lot of close games, this past weekend not withstanding. The Astros are worse than their record (that’s .409 ball), so I would flop them and the Cubs in my original picks, and hold the rest.
1. Padres (5th), 2. Rockies (3rd), 3. Dodgers (1st), 4. Giants (2nd), 5. Diamondbacks (4th).
Okay, I had the Dodgers “almost by default and the Padres as one of the worst teams in the league. 4 games separate 1-4, so this is anyone’s division. I hold by my Giants sleeper… if they could hit at all, they’d win the division by 5 games. But they can’t. The Padres pitching has been beyond sick. Also a young staff in general, so wonder about them, too. But they have the second best record in the NL, so you can’t overlook them. I’m going to stick with the Dodgers, but let’s just say I don’t have a lot of confidence. Probably the second best division in baseball right now. Actually, for fun, here are my “divisions standings” so far.
1. AL East, 2. NL West, 3. NL East, 4. AL Central, 5. AL West, 6. NL Central
Big drop off from 3-4 there. Interesting. Out of principle, I’ll stick with my Red Sox over Phillies World Series pick, but if I had a second team in each, I’d go with the Ys and Braves. Those are solid teams, save the Ys bullpen, which I’m sure Reggie will now email me with a list of reasons why they aren’t as bad as I make them out to be. Maybe not, but for 220 million or whatever their payroll is, I think it should be better. Anyways, here were my playoff predictions, and I quote:
AL – Red Sox over Twins, Ys over Mariners; Red Sox over Ys (completely out of principle, no way in hell do I pick the Ys, even though I think they’re the better team)
Not too shabby, other than the Seattle thing. If the Sox get healthy, they could still get there. I’m starting to like my Tigers more and more, though. They really have not played well and in all reality, shouldn’t be in first place. Me likes me omen. So let’s say Ys, Sox, Tigers, Rangers now.
NL – Phillies over Giants (5 game series with have of Philly standing ready to jump off the Ben Franklin Bridge during Game 5), Cardinals over Dodgers; Phillies over Cardinals.
Hmmmm… well. Yeah. The NL is a mess at the moment, so hard to rule any of that out. I think the Wild Card is coming out of the NL East now, probably the Phillies, even though two teams in the West have a better record. So I guess now I’m going with the Braves, Phils, Cards, and Dodgers. I’m not convinced with San Diego and Cincy, though I think Cincy is actually the better of those two teams.
And for the grand finale, my “random” picks, named famously for my Random Notes pieces, where you first heard LeBron was going to Miami. I am so sick of that already, and it’s only been a couple days. That said, the wife and I are going to be mini-season ticket holders for the Sixers if we can get a Miami game in there.
AL MVP – Alex Rodriguez (read my lips: MONSTER year) – hopefully you weren’t reading with your money, cause that one missed. The roids may have been more of a factor than we thought. I’m going with Miguel Cabrera, just because I want to and cause he’s having a good year. And it’s my blog, so even if he’s not the front runner, I’m gonna make him that way. Yes, I’m typing this early in the morning, it’s raining, and only on coffee number one. But he is an outside Triple Crown threat, so he’s as good a pick as any. Josh Hamilton has to be in that discussion, too, for the same reasons.
NL MVP – Albert Pujols (seriously, go see this guy play) – did you see him play yet? Shame on you. He’s still a candidate. If the Reds win the division, then I say Joey Votto, same with the Padres and Adrian Gonzalez. In reality, a pitcher should have a shot at this, since Johnson and Jimenez have been so good, but neither team is likely to win the division… well, maybe Colorado. Honestly, a pitcher isn’t winning, so let’s just move on.
AL Cy Young – Felix Hernandez (the kid is due) – well, he’s due, but he’s still due. He’s having a pretty good year, but probably not good enough with a 6-5 record. Jon Lester and David Price are your current frontrunners. Nod goes to whoever’s team makes the playoffs.
NL Cy Young – Roy Halladay (scary what he could do against NL teams) – this pick looked good until a month ago. Right now it’s a two horse race between Josh Johnson of Florida and Ubaldo Jimenez of Colorado, neither of whom most of you have heard of. Johnson is better of late, and has better overall numbers. Jimenez is 15-1 and threw a no-hitter. I’m leaning Jimenez for now, based on the win total, but this could go either way.
Teams better than you think: Rangers, Royals, Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Marlins, Reds – Looks like I hit with a couple, missed a couple, couple ties. We’ll say I went 3-3-1.
Teams worse than you think: White Sox, Rays, Cubs, Mets, Indians – Well, airmailed the White Sox and Mets. Rays are hanging around, but I think the jury is still out. I’m saying 2-2-1 on this for now.
Mojo texted the other day that he’s considering getting the second half MLB package to break his soon-to-be child into baseball, specifically Tigers baseball, immediately. I’m considering the same, but given that one of our plasmas just went out, might be tough to convince the wife, especially since her Phillies are on every night. It’s been a great baseball season so far, and really looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. Grab and beer, relax, and enjoy the dog days of summer. But, before we go…
Quiz answer: the day before and the day after the MLB All-Star game are the only days none of the major sports have official games played. Cheers if you got it.