Well, it’s been a fun summer hiatus. Some of us have moved, some of us have started new jobs, others have finished old jobs, and still others have stayed exactly where they are. Were I a writer of lazy sensibilities, I would talk about how this turbulence is reflected by the chaos of the Major League Baseball season. However, not only is this turbulence a part of life for any and all, it is also an annual rite of August baseball that teams’ fortunes are in a perpetual state of rise and fall.
Sparky Anderson once said the season begins for real right around June 1st. The logic follows that if you’re right around .500 at the start of June, you’ve got just as good a chance at making a run as anybody in baseball. If you’re below…well, the Trade Deadline should be exciting this year.
Right now, the best stories are of those teams that once were lost but now have found some semblance of identity. And there’s two of them competing in the Central Divisions of both the American and National Leagues.
As of today, many teams will be playing games #41 and/or #42. If you divide 162 by 4, you get a mess (or 40.5), so it’s safe to say that we are a quarter of the way through the baseball season. Granted, that’s a lot of baseball left to play, but it’s also not an insignificant number. Several teams have played themselves into excellent position throughout this year’s first leg. Others have dug themselves a hole. Still others started slow, yet are coming on strong as the year moves onward.
MLB usually tries to come up with some kind of gimmick to make the All Star Game more
palatable marketable less void of purpose entertaining. In years past, this has included the All Century team and granting the winner of the exhibition contest home field advantage for the World Series. (Just ask Kansas City how that worked out last year.)
I was going to write about a fun feature that MLB will be doing for the All Star game this year – having fans vote for the four greatest players of each individual franchise, in addition to the four greatest living players, four greatest old time stars, and four greatest Negro League players. It was set to be a fun column.
And then this happened…
The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is one filled with peaks and valleys. Different teams will peak at different times, and others will face dark days sporadically and unpredictably throughout the year. This monthly feature takes a look at three teams doing terrifically well…and three teams that aren’t doing so hot.
The baseball season is long and arduous. It’s often compared to a marathon, which credits the enormous physical toll that 162 games can exert upon the human body. The comparison, however, serves a slight discredit to the immediacy of the individual games themselves. Careers are made and broken on a nightly basis, and a lost or blown game here or there can have a monumental impact upon the postseason race in September. Think of it as something similar to the Butterfly Effect (not the movie), where a butterfly flapping its wings in April can blow the course of a season off pace when a monsoon takes out a pitcher’s elbow, or causes a game winning home run to die on the warning track. In a game of inches, that damn butterfly can wreak untold, and often unknown, havoc.
It’s also pretty damn fun.
Baseball is back, and with it, a plethora of scintillating story lines. The Atlanta Braves are on pace to go 162-0. The Colorado Rockies have hit more doubles than God. Hanley Ramirez is on pace to hit 324 home runs. The Cubs are still terrible.
There’s moving and shaking going on. As I mentioned in Friday’s piece, I’ll break down each team in a brief season-preview – covering things to look for, intriguing story lines, and expectations for the year. These may be high, or these may be low, but there are expectations moving forward. I’ll try and pick which teams make the playoffs as well, an easier proposition given that a third of baseball’s teams make the postseason now. If I get even four out of ten right, I’ll be pleased as punch.