You know what? I need some cheering up and nothing makes me happier than checking in on the state of baseball. Let’s start with American League and run it down old school. Boo Yeah!!!
* All stats as of 5/27/08
Tampa Bay Rays (31-20): NOTE: This is not a typo. The Rays really are in first place. Put away the guns and come out of the fallout shelter. While we all suspected they would be better than usual, this is still surprising. Pena is keeping up his power numbers from last year, Upton is proving he belongs, Crawford is Crawford. But the biggest difference has been the pitching. 4th in ERA, 5th in quality starts and 5th in saves. FIFTH!! That’s like one below fourth! The Rays! Tampa Bay! Holy shit, this might become a regular place for them if this keeps up. Who knew dropping part of their name would have this much effect.
Fun Fact: Carl Crawford has been on the Devil Rays/Just Rays for six years and he has already won more games this year than all the other years combined.
Boston Red Sox (32-22): While they’ve still been killer at home, Red Sox Nation is a bit worried about their lackluster road record. After dropping an entire series in Oakland, they now stand at 11-17 away from Fenway. Granted they’ve had one of the toughest opening schedules, it’s still not comforting.
Fun Fact: I still haven’t been to a game this year. Wait, that isn’t fun at all.
Toronto Blue Jays (28-25): After cutting ties with Frank Thomas, they’ve sort of come together. Still have stellar pitching with Halladay, Marcum and now Jesse Litsch (who should level off at some point). Throw in Ryan as closer and this is a tough team to score runs on. Fortunately their lineup has been bordering on anemic. The Rolen trade has been a wash, Wells still hasn’t figured out what made 2006 so spectacular and Overbay at .280 something is their most reliable hitter. I suppose if they get healthy a run is possible, but look for this team to trade for hitting if things don’t straighten out soon.
Fun Fact: With Frank Thomas and the Jays having words last month, Toronto has now had two ugly parting of ways with their players. That said, Shea Hillenbrand getting into a fist fight with the manager then calling the GM gay will never be topped.
Baltimore Orioles (25-25): It says a lot about a team that being at .500 at the end of May is considered a pleasant surprise. Take a look at their batting stats and wonder how they’re even at this spot. Ugly! They don’t have one regular hitting above .260. No really! LOOK! How the hell has this team won 25 games? Look for a crash to earth real soon.
Fun Fact: Kevin Millar still thinks he’s playing for the 2004 Red Sox.
New York Yankees (25-26): Once again the Yankees have their entire fan base freaked out by a slow start. Sure they’ve been here before, but this year feels different. Their lineup is creaky and aging; the young pitchers they were hoping would transition smoothly are shitting the bed in dramatic fashion; their loud, crazy owner is pressuring management to put their one reliable setup guy into the starting rotation and it seems like nobody talks to any other guy on the team. Just a weird vibe with this team. Which of course means they’ll win 12 games in a row very shortly.
Fun Fact: Jason Giambi has now gone 282 straight days without washing his hair.
Chicago White Sox (28-22): When you think of the White Sox, what do you think about? Right, their borderline insane manager. But after that, you think of their potent lineup. But this year it’s been their pitching getting them through. They lead the league in quality starts and fewest runs given up. The lineup has been decent (Thome, Swisher and Konerko all hitting below .210 is a MAJOR concern) except for one Carlos Quentin who has been nothing short of spectacular. How does .302/14 HR/44 RBI sound? Before friggin’ June? Sounds like a potential MVP season in the making is what it sounds like.
Fun Fact: Unbeknownst to the White Sox, Jim Thome is trying to hit nothing but home runs this year.
Minnesota Twins (25-25): There is a lesson here. I’m not sure I know what it is, but when a certain team is constantly in the pennant race every year despite having one of the cheapest owners in history, then other teams need to take notice. My guess is the difference is scouting. And not just young players, but other team’s players. I’ve lost count of how many prospects they’ve acquired from other teams that – after a year or two of minor league seasoning – start making an impact at the pro level. If you need an example, watch Carlos Gomez play. 22 years old, came over in the Johan trade and is only replacing Torii Hunter.
Fun Fact: Downtown Minneapolis is connected by over seven miles of skywalks which are held together by bubblebum and string.
Cleveland Indians (23-28): Here’s the thing. Cliff Lee is 7-1 with a ridiculously low 1.50 ERA and we all know he can’t keep pitching this well. CC Sabathia is 3-6 with a 4.74 ERA and we all know he can’t keep pitching this badly. So do those two even themselves out? I say yes. But the bigger problem is this lineup which seems to be regressing before our eyes. Hafner and Sizemore seem like impostors, Jhonny Peralta leads the team with 10 homers but is hitting a paltry .218. At what point does Cleveland fire their hitting instructor?
Fun Fact: Eric Wedge costarred with Cher in ‘Mask’.
Kansas City Royals (21-30): Just when they look like they’re pulling themselves out, they lose 8 straight (and counting). Unlike the Twins, this team can’t seem to get any home grown talent to blossom. They keep calling up young ‘uns with great promise only to watch them flame out. I actually root for this team to do well, because I remember their glory years with Brett back in the 80s. It’s sad to see a franchise with this kind of history dwindle to insignificance.
Fun Fact: George Brett and Brett Michaels are not related, despite Michaels’ claim.
Detroit Lions (21-30): On the other hand, they aren’t the Tigers. Holy shit what is going on here? They’ve got one of the highest payrolls in baseball and a manager everyone respects and they still suck. And I mean that in the worst way possible. The lineup is still decent, but not nearly as scary as it looks on paper. The starting pitching has been awful with the bullpen downgrading to abysmal. It’s a horror show whenever this team gets into the later innings. Needless to say, I’ve been highly entertained by this team. I love when a team rolls the dice with an blockbuster trade (is Dontrelle Willis still on the team?) and massive contract to a star player only to go blind when things blow up in their face like a prank cigar. Good times!
Fun Fact: Jim Leyland burns himself with a cigarette every time his bullpen blows a game.
Los Angeles Angels (31-22): Considering the makeup of this team in both pitching and hitting, you would think they would be running away with this division. That’s the thing about the AL this year. There are no stand out teams, yet. We’re two months into the season and most of the teams are solidly average. Anyway, with a starting rotation consisting of Santana, Garland, Weaver (Jered, not Jeff - sorry Mariner fans), and Lackey, this team should be building a mountain of wins and hiding until October. Instead they’ve only built a 2 game lead on Oakland, a team nobody expected anything out of. If they don’t start piling on things could get dicey after July.
Fun Fact: Even though they are called the LA Angels, they play at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. OK, maybe that wasn’t such a fun fact.
Oakland Athletics (28-23): Once again the A’s have pulled young pitching out of some bottomless pit of an organizational ass. Where do they come from? Do they have a pitching cloning contraption in the basement or something? This year’s ‘Who the fuck are they’ award goes to Dana Eveland who, despite sounding like the latest Vivid Video star, has an ERA of 2.90 and Justin Duchscherer who nearly no hit the Red Sox last weekend. How does this keep happening? Is Satan scouting for them? I demand an investigation.
Fun Fact: Of all the teams in the AL, the Athletics are the team most likely to sign Barry Bonds then prance him around San Fran hoping to run into ex-fans of his.
Texas Rangers (26-27): Meet Josh Hamilton. Perhaps you’re familiar with his work. He’s currently hitting .327 with 12 homers, 53 RBIs and has everyone talking about our beloved Yaz. Why? Well, Mr. Hamilton is in the running for the triple crown at the moment. We know it won’t last, but let Hamilton enjoy his time in the limelight. Like Chipper Jones hitting .400, we know it won’t last, but it’s fun to talk about. The team itself is surprisingly competent, although that will probably go to shit once they sell Michael Young off to the highest bidder.
Fun Fact: David Murphy is hitting .286/6 HR/35 RBI. Wonder what happened to Eric Gagne?
Seattle Mariners (18-34): Here’s all you need to know about this team. King Felix is 2-5 with a 3.60 ERA. The rest of their starters are as follows. Silva (5.14 ERA), Bedard when healthy (4.60), Batista (6.09), and Washburn (6.54). Basically the Mariners have to score at least 7 runs every game in order to have a chance at winning. In a completely related note, they are currently hitting .250 as a team. Alrighty then.
Fun Fact: Richie Sexon is currently hitting .200 which makes that one point in his batting average per million dollars he’s being paid.
That’s it folks. I just saw that Dice K is hurt and the Sox lost to the Mariners last night. Fingers crossed that he won’t be out long.
Today's distraction: Bush's old spokesman is releasing a book in which he thinks...uh...he's pretty sure he lied for the President when defending the Iraq war and the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. That he hasn't said anything until it came time to promote his book is questionable, at best, but does this really surprise anyone?