Now Things Will Heat Up

June 1, 2010

Today marks the first day that baseball becomes relevant to those who aren’t passionate fans of the game. We are about to enter into the crucial part of the season where the teams that have it are going to try to extend their leads or make their runs, and the teams that don’t have it are going to look at that trade deadline and hope that they can pull some strings to get a head start on next year. As “The Boys of Summer” begin to take center stage in the sports world, here’s a look at what happened during the first two months of the season.

American League

Best Team
Tampa Bay Rays

After the Yankees won the World Series in 2009, not very many people predicted that anyone but New York would be leading the AL East this late into the season. However, the Rays rediscovered their 2008 form, in which they surprised everyone by making it to the World Series. Tampa Bay is finally reaping the fruits of their labor from prior years’ drafts, as Evan Longoria and David Price have blossomed into complete players that are capable of leading their team. Obviously, it would be foolish to count New York, and even Boston to some extent, out of the AL East pennant race, but Tampa Bay has certainly put themselves into a good position. If they keep up their stellar pitching, the Rays may be sitting pretty come playoff time.

Biggest Disappointment
Seattle Mariners

So far the 2010 campaign has been a huge disappointment for Seattle, who was supposed to be a contender in the weak AL West. Instead, they are last in their division, and don’t look to be making a move out of the cellar any time soon. Of the nine teams they play in June, six of them are in first or second in their respective division. One of the biggest surprises is that their ace, Felix Hernandez, is just 2-4 on the season. However, possibly the bigger problem is that Hernandez is not getting very much support from his offense; Seattle ranks 27th in team batting average and runs scored. If the Mariners don’t want this season to be a lost cause by July, then they need to bring the bats out soon.

Biggest Surprise
The Competitiveness of the AL East

It was expected that at least two teams, maybe three, would contend for the AL East lead, but four? New York, Toronto, and Boston are all within five games of Tampa Bay, who has the best record in all of baseball. The biggest surprise has been Toronto, which has been led by Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista, who are both experiencing “comebacks” of sorts. If all four teams can keep up the intensity, then they will make the end of the summer very interesting. Chances are one of the three that doesn’t win the division will claim the Wildcard.

Best Performance
Dallas Braden’s Perfect Game

I’ve already commented on Braden in a previous post, but his name must be mentioned again when talking about the best performances in baseball this season. Relatively unknown before the season began, he first made a name for himself with his public discontent for Alex Rodriguez. However, after his perfect performance on Mother’s Day, he etched his name in history, becoming only the 19th pitcher in Major League Baseball to toss a perfect game.

National League

Best Team
St. Louis Cardinals

Currently, they are tied for the NL Central division lead with Cincinnati, but as of late have been playing better baseball than the Reds. The scary thing is that so far the Cardinals have not been as good on offense as they have been in prior years. Assuming that they will regain their offensive prowess as the season wears on, the Cardinals have nowhere to go but up. That should send chills down the spines of all the other NL managers. Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Jaime Garcia are the core of a pretty solid pitching staff that has shown the capability of carrying this team even as the offense struggles. The bottom line is, if things come together for this team, they will be a force in September.

Biggest Disappointment
Arizona Diamondbacks

Considering that no one in the NL is that much ahead of anyone else, this was a hard one to pick. However, in the NL West, everyone is supposed to have a chance, and at 11.5 games back, Arizona doesn’t have much of a chance left. Granted, San Diego has been a surprise, but if you’re 11.5 games back in the NL West at the beginning of June, then you are probably pretty bad. Nothing has been going Arizona’s way this season, and last night’s loss on a balk in the bottom of the ninth is just a taste of the Diamondback’s woes. With the worst team ERA in baseball, the first thing that the Diamondback’s need to address is their pitching. However, it’s going to take a lot more than that before they can find any silver lining in this disappointing season.

Biggest Surprise
San Diego Padres

Many people thought that the Padres were going to be the worst team in the NL West, not the team with the best record in the entire National League. The Padres have had great pitching so far (which isn’t a huge surprise considering that Petco Park is a pitcher’s paradise), which is what has helped them get out to such a great start. If they are still in the hunt in August, then the Padres should be extremely pleased and could be looking at a possible playoff bid; that month, they play the Diamondbacks eight times and a three game series against the Pirates.

Best Performance
Tie Between the Play of Ubaldo Jimenez and Roy Halladay

These guys have been seemingly trying to one up each other all year. Jimenez has a no-hitter, Halladay has a perfect game. Halladay is 7-3 with a 1.99 ERA, Jimenez is 10-1 with a freakishly low 0.78 ERA. So far, it has been the Year of the Pitcher, and these two men are the class of the field. Jimenez’s teammate and catcher Miguel Olivo predicted earlier this year that Jimenez would win the Cy Young award, and if he keeps pitching like he is now, then that prediction will become a reality.

Tomorrow I will give my opinion on MMA-style fighting in high school, as well as who I think is the worst franchise in pro sports. In a few days, I will begin to give my breakdown and predictions for the 2010 World Cup, and then sometime after that I will post the article about the juggernaut fencing team I mentioned a few posts ago. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please do by clicking “Follow” on the left hand side of the page and doing whatever it asks of you, as I would really appreciate it. Thanks everyone.

-K. Becks

2 Responses to Now Things Will Heat Up

  1. andrew b on June 2, 2010 at 9:48 am

    but kyle, enough about boring baseball and how about the question everyone has been asking. what are the chances that the browns will suck and go winless in the AFC North again? haha not to mention the odds that you could be chosen to be part of their poor excuse for a wide receiving core haha

  2. K. Becks on June 2, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I had a hard time leaving the Cleveland Browns off of the "who is currently the worst franchise in pro sports" poll, if that is any evidence of how bad I think they are. As with every new season, there are Cleveland fans who think that this team is capable of going to the Super Bowl. Needless to say, they are dreaming. I'll talk more about them when I do an early NFL preview, but for now I will say this: they won't lose every game against AFC North opponents again, but their progress will be in baby steps. Small baby steps, possibly with some stumbles in between.

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