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Thursday, June 02, 2005

[Sport-MLB] "Swing away" - Mel Gibson, Signs

The MLB season is in full swing now. Most teams have played almost 60 of the 162 regular season games and have settled down into an early pecking order. It is important to note that very little can be read into the standings at this stage. Teams are still settling, pitchers are still warming up, and a lot of teams don’t really start to fire till mid-summer/post all-star break. The following is a shake-down of the standings to date.

AL East (Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, Devil Rays)

A bit of a surprise here as Baltimore currently leads this division with a 31-20 record. They have some streaking players (Brian Roberts, a bit of a journeyman, think Caleb Ralph, good but never great, is hitting .368 and has a 20 game hit streak going) and some solid pitching and while Camden Yards isn’t a difficult place to travel too, they have only lost 6 of 20 on the road. They lead the rotten Red Sox by 3 games who in turn lead the ‘Jays by ½ a game, who lead the Yankees by the same margin.

The standings between places 2-4 could change over night and the Yankees could be second by tomorrow. All four are well of ahead of AL east whipping boys the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I’ve often wondered if they chose to be in the ALE when they joined the league a decade ago. Okay, you get crowds and good players coming to your stadium but your never, never, gonna win.

AL Central (White Sox, twins, Indians, Tigers, Royals)

This year's form team with 35 wins, the Chicago White Sox, still lead this division by about 6 games over my early pick, the Twins. It won’t last, and the twins will win. Everyone else is 5-6 games back of Minnesota except for Hadyn’s team The Kansas City Royals. They are a hefty 21 games back.

My advice to Hadyn, probably hold off on the plans for a fall classic coronation, for perhaps the next 10-15 years. The MLB draft doesn’t always have a huge effect, but 10 number one picks in a row must make a difference sometime, surely.

[Ed: I only think the name (KC Royals) is cool, my actual team (if i really bothered to follow baseball at all) is the Twins]

Al West (Rangers, Mariners, Angels, Athletics)

The Rangers have just won their 9th straight game and have snuck back to the top of the standings in the west, ½ a game ahead of the Angels. The Mariners and the A’s are about 10 games back, but this division usually has one very late starter who can sneak up and steal a wild card from some in the east before anyone realises what’s happened.

A’s fans would like to think it will be them but with the formerly formidable pitching rotation now in tatters (Mark Mulder is pitching up a storm in St Louis, Tim Hudson getting some wins in Boston), this appears unlikely. If the Mariners can settle, the hitting is there and they just need to find some pitching consistency, I'm picking them to steal second spot.

NL East (Marlins, Braves, Capitals, Mets, Phillies)

This is the tightest race of all and your guess is as good as mine for an outright winner. The Florida Marlins lead this race with a 27-22 record. They head off Atlanta who aren’t any games behind, have a 28-23 record and lower average but due to the odd system the MLB has for calculating mid season standing (cos you have to take into consideration the games you play against the your fellow division stable-mates), they are pretty much dead even.

First and last are separated by only 3 ½ games with the Phillies bringing up the rear. This should be a close contest but its still my pick of the Marlins to slip the shackles of the Braves and rob them of NL East title for the first time in about 10 years, perhaps more.

NL Central (Cardinals, Cubs, Astros, Brewers, Pirates, Reds)

What a surprise, the Cardinals (32-18) and the Cubs (26-24) lead this party. The biggest surprise is that the team with the best pitcher in the league (Houston’s Roger Clemmons) is coming last. Amazingly, even with the killer bees, he has had no run support all year, or the relief pitchers have blown his lead.

The Cubs don’t lead the Pirates and Brewers by much, 1 & 1 ½ games, but they will pull away. Milwaukee and Pittsburgh are like the mighty Bay of Plenty, they were great, will always give 100% might have the odd solid run, but are generally just honest toilers. I like these teams and have a lot of respect for them. They have some heritage and put a lot of stock in rearing home grown talent (probably cos they can’t afford to buy anyone – but that’s bedside the point).

NL West (San Diego, Arizona, LA Dodgers, San Francisco, Colorado)

Last and, I reckon, least, is the NL West. Just a bunch of BALCO supporting Hollywood types with more ass than class. Apart from the Dodgers, I think this division is the most uninspiring of the lot. The upstart Padres (Podrays) lead this division (33-19) after winning their last 6, ahead of the Diamondbacks, who have plenty of hitting and could yet steal first come October. LA are 4 games back and the Giants, 1 back from them. The Rockies, after having all their hitting talent pinched over winter, bring up the rear about 18 games from the Christians.

As I said earlier, it’s still far to early to make accurate predictions. Things really start to get interesting after the all-star break which is being hosted by ALC’s Detroit Tigers. I’ll do a post shortly on who the leading contenders are for starting spots. Random stats, A-rod (Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees) leads the league in Home Runs (17), Kenny Rogers - Texas, in wins (7), and Reed Johnson of the Toronto Blue Jays must be really ugly, have slept with a lot of players missus or have some sort of baseball magnet in his skull, coz hes been hit by the pitch (an MLB leading) 9 times.

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