MLB at the Break
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Home Run Derby - Monday Night - 8:00 est - ESPN...All-Star Game - Tuesday 8:00 est - FOX - Both from Anaheim, California...The Major League Baseball season has come to the halfway mark as the All-Star break has been reached. And while I have been derailed lately from my normal watching due to the World Cup and the world of Lebron, the second half of the season should be very interesting to keep up with. After all, the Braves are in first place, and as long as they are in the mix for a world title, I'm into it! Here is a quick glance at the first half of the season.
After many, many years of keeping up with the MLB, I learned something new just as I sat down to type this: the All-Star break doesn't fall at excatly the halfway point of the season. It is always real close, but not exactly at the 81-game mark. This year, the break falls as most teams have played 88 games. And that makes sense as the second half of the season features playoff games. I'm not sure why little things like this are interesting to me, but anyway...
We will get to the rest of the division leaders in a minute, but to me the Atlanta Braves have to be considered among the biggest stories of the season's first half (and not just because I am a fan). I hope I am saying that about them again after the second half! The Braves have a four game lead in the East, after many thought this wouldn't be a big year for them. Considering they have a guy on their staff who is 1-9 in Kenshin Kawakami, that's even more amazing! Can Atlanta get it done in Bobby Cox's final season as manager? That is the big question in Hotlanta right now. Same for Chipper Jones. Can they send the bruised and beat up superstar out with a World Series crown just like in his first season of 1995 (ok, I know he hasn't said he is retiring yet)? This team is scrappy, and also has good pitching. They will be fun to keep up with.
What is not a surprise is the Yankees in first place in the AL East. The defending world champs will have a fight on their hands the entire way with Tampa Bay, but I would be surprised if NY isn't back in the World Series for a back-to-back opportunity. They feature Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texiera and Robinson Cano. Cano is doing the most damage of the three with a .336 batting average and 115 hits. On the hill, the Yankees have CC Sabathia (12 wins), Andy Pettite (11 wins) and Phil Hughes (11 wins) all having hot first-halves. Boston can also not be forgotten in this division (five games back).
San Diego, Texas, Cincinnati and the Chicago White Sox are the other four teams thinking big at the halfway mark. Personally, I'd like to see the Reds make a run for old time's sake!
With only 18 perfect games ever being tossed in the history of the sport coming into 2010, there were two in the month of May, and another one June 2nd - but one of them didn't count! In what may have been the blown call of the century, first base umpire Jim Joyce messed up Armando Galarraga's perfect game bid with two outs in the ninth in a game between Detroit and Cleveland. This was a scarring moment for the game, and instant replay is one topic that has been discussed heavily during the 2010 season post that event.
My birthday is Tuesday night, and the All-Star Game will be fun entertainment for that. But first things first, and Monday night's Home Run Derby. This event is one of my favorite in sport to watch every year, and here are the contestants for 2010. Last year's champ was Prince Fielder of the Brewer's who hit 23. The all-time record is 41 by Bobby Abreu in 2005.
National League Sluggers
Chris Young - D'Backs
Corey Hart - Brewers
Matt Holliday - Cardinals
Hanley Ramirez - Marlins
American League Sluggers
Nick Swisher - Yankees
David Ortiz - Red Sox
Miguel Cabrera - Tigers
Vernon Wells - Blue Jays
I still wish home runs carried over. I think the fans love the big round where guys go deep and can't stop. The biggest thrill I ever got out of the event was in 2008 when Josh Hamilton went postal and ripped off 28 bombs. The crowd was beside itself. But he didn't even win the event that year because as soon as that magical first round was over, none of those homers mattered anymore! Justin Morneau went on to win that year with a grand total of 22 (Hamilton finished with 35)....I still love the Home Run Derby, though!
Moving on to the real thing Tuesday night and the All-Star Game, the obvious question front and center is "can the NL finally win another All-star Game?" It has been since 1996 the NL has won this game (tie in 2002), and with home field advantage in the World Series on the line should the Braves get there, I want the National League to win it this year...Here are the lineups for the game:
National League Roster
|C Yadier Molina, Cardinals|
|1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals|
|2B Martin Prado, Braves|
|SS Hanley Ramirez, Marlins|
|3B David Wright, Mets|
|OF Ryan Braun, Brewers|
|OF Andre Ethier, Dodgers|
OF Corey Hart, Brewers
American League Roster
|C Joe Mauer, Twins|
|1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers|
|2B Robinson Cano, Yankees|
|SS Derek Jeter, Yankees|
|3B Evan Longoria, Rays|
|OF Carl Crawford, Rays|
|OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers|
|OF Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners|
DH Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers
AMERICAN LEAGUE STANDINGS
AL EAST - NY Yankees, Tampa Bay (2 Games Back), Boston (5 GB)
AL CENTRAL - Chicago, Detroit (.5 GB), Minnesota (3 GB)
AL WEST - Texas, LA (4.5 GB), Oakland (7.5 GB)
NATIONAL LEAGUE STANDINGS
NL EAST - Atlanta, NY Mets (4 GB), Phil (4.5 GB)
NL CENTRAL - Cincinnati, St. Louis (1 GB), Milwaukee (8.5 GB)
NL WEST - San Diego, Colorado (2 GB), LA (2.5 GB)
American League Leaders
Wins leader: CC Sabathia, David Price (12)
Saves leader: Joakim Soria (25)
Batting leader: Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton (.346)
Home run leader: Jose Bautista (24)
RBI leader: Miguel Cabrera (77)
National League Leaders
Wins leader: Ubaldo Jimenez (15)
Saves leader: Heath Bell (24)
Batting leader: Martin Prado (.325)
Home run leader: Adam Dunn, Joey Votto (22)
RBI leader: Corey Hart, Ryan Howard, David Wright (65)
So there is a quick look at what is going on in the MLB. I will admit that when I watch the All-Star Game Tuesday night I will not know half of the folks on the field, whereas growing up I knew almost every player. Part of that comes with having other things to do and keep up with now at 31 years, 364 days old, while the other half has to do with the fact that there are just so many dadgum teams and players out there now. Regardless, baseball is a great sport, and let's just hope the TV folks don't ruin this All-Star Game thing with too much cheesy promo crap!
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