Right on: Baltimore's poor pitching, Oakland's good pitching.
Way off: Cleveland's talent level, Texas' standing.
Right on: the entire N.L. East, San Diego's potential.
Way off: Houston's ability to win, Milwaukee's surprising young talent.
My second half predictions:
For the most part, I'm sticking with my original picks, except I'll substitute St. Louis for Houston because St. Louis might slip a little but it's unlikely that Chicago AND Houston will pass the Cardinals. In the end, I think Philly will emerge for the East and San Fran will hold off San Diego and L.A. If Bowa doesn't blow his stack, the Phillies should find themselves in the World Series.
In the A.L., Chicago has made a major effort to pass Minnesota, but I'll stick with the Twins since they were my original pick. I don't know if Boston can find the magic to overtake the Yankees, but it won't matter because Anaheim will hit better than Oakland pitches in the ALCS, and the Angels will carry that momentum into the World Series as they defeat Philadelphia in six games.
Pitching problems will catch up to Texas, the N.L. East will stay bunched up for most of the year, the Dodgers will slip and finish a distant third, Milwaukee will never threaten for the division but will be the reason some teams don't make the playoffs, Toronto will play over .500 in the second half, Chicago and Minnesota will put themselves close to 10 games ahead of the rest of the Central, and Anaheim will play just well enough to sneak into the playoffs (and win).
A couple comments about the All-Star Game, which, for the most part, was uneventful:
- What was the deal with the newly created award given to Roger Clemens for no reason and in the middle of the game, no less?! They should give one to Piazza for having the decency to sit behind the dish and catch him with nary a complaint.
- While it may be silly to have the game decide home field advantage in the World Series, the teams shouldn't pretend that it doesn't matter. The team with home field advantage in the World Series has won 14 of the last 17 years, including EIGHT STRAIGHT Game 7's! Joe Torre himself experienced a heartbreaking Game 7 loss on the road to Arizona with the postseason's best closer on the hill several years ago, so you think he would realize the importance of the moment. Instead, the managers and players refuse to give in to the silly rule put in by Selig. Let me tell you, when I play poker, I'm not crazy about playing games with wilds, but if somebody calls "deuces wild" and I'm holding a "2," I'm not throwing it away just because I don't like the game. Torre's team ended up winning the game, but he may not realize the importance of it until Mariano Rivera is pitching the ninth of Game 7 in New York rather than in St. Louis, San Fran, or elsewhere.
The players are taking a break, so I think I will too. I'll be back in a few days with a first half review and some second half predictions.
So why is baseball the best sport in the world?
A few reasons:
- The three largest markets, New York, LA, and Chicago are all abuzz with playoff talk for both teams in each market (including Anaheim).
- With the season half over, some small market teams are putting on their best "David" impression, hoping they can catch Goliath in the second half. Pittsburgh's recent tear has them playing meaningful games for once, Milwaukee is eyeing the wild card, and Minnesota is in first place (again).
- Franchises going nowhere are suddenly in the hunt, with Texas leading the A.L. West and the Mets knocking on the N.L. East door.
- With only four playoff spots in each league, these midseason games become important to a team's playoff existence, rather than just a mere shuffling of playoff matchups. The NFL is similarly intriguing, but you can't catch an NFL game on a Wednesday evening and follow it up with a few more the next day.
- Of course, we can't forget the individual attractions: the streaks, the slumps, the injuries, the oddities, and everything else that makes baseball what it is: America's Pastime.
With the long holiday weekend on tap, there's no better way to spend it than to pore over the latest FPS Reports as you pour yourself a cold one. Study up before the fantasy world passes you by in the second half!
With June behind us, this stat bears mentioning: catcher Ivan Rodriguez hit over .500 in June. Now this stat bears repeating: catcher Ivan Rodriguez hit over .500 in June! He is the first catcher to ever hit .500 in a month and, if my short term memory serves me correctly from last night's Baseball Tonight, Pudge is only the fifth player to EVER hit over .500 in a single month. Congrats to I Rod.