Baseball enthusiasts all know that July 4 is the half-way point in the season. The All-Star game, often called the mid-summer classic, takes place next Tuesday, July 10, in San Francisco. This is the time of the year teams take stock and decide to become buyers or sellers in terms of the talent they need for the second half of this season or for their future talent if they think they can’t win this year.
I saw the White Sox last evening. It was my eighth game of the season. I am now 4-4, thus not a total jinx. But my record is going backward lately. The Sox are done I believe. I hate to see them trade a few stars but they need to go younger sooner than later. They have next to no chance at the post-season this year. It is amazing but they went from World Series Champions two years ago to a major disappointment in one and a half years. Their pitching has failed, their bats are cold, and the team looks terrible right now. No fire in the gut at all. With three very good teams ahead of them (Cleveland, Detroit and Minnesota) I give them no chance to catch up in their division. There are too many good teams to pass even it the Sox got hot in the second half.
My life long favorites, the Atlanta Braves, are another story. This year’s team is younger and more competitive than they were this time a year ago. They were two games out when the day began this morning, July 7th. This time last year they were already buried after a horrid month of June. Many of their young players are getting better week-by-week and I still have hope for them to excel as the season wears on. Their division is truly wide open.
The Cubs, whom I do not like at all, are in it to the very end I think. I believe the Brewers are a good young team but the Cubs should catch them. The Cubs spent a lot of money and they are a better team than this time a year ago by miles.
The biggest surprises so far? Maybe how good the Angels are at this present moment. I thought they would be good but not this good. And maybe the misery of the Yankees. Who thought they would be this bad? At this moment no one stands out as so dominant a team that a lot could not change in the second half. It should be a fun push when the "dog days" of summer come in August. This is a game of endurance, fighting with injuries, surprises every day, etc. Who will survive the grind is often the pressing issue. I would bet on the Angels, Indians and Red Sox to win their divisions. I think Detroit may be the wild card. In the NL I would bet on the Mets, the Cubs and the Dodgers right now, though San Diego has great pitching. I am hoping for a Braves wild card. Once you make the post-season anything can happen, as recent years have proven again and again. This is what makes it all so fun for the fans. Stay tuned. Enjoy the games if you are a fan. And if not pray for those of us who love this game if you think we’re nuts! Maybe we are but then maybe you do not understand why we love this great American game.
Former player Andy Van Slyke, who is himself a Christian too, once said this all well: "A baseball season has its peaks and valleys. What you have to do is eliminate the Grand Canyons." Well said Andy. The teams that avoid the Grand Canyons will likely hang around till September and one will win it all. Hope springs eternal for real fans.