Summer is here and baseball is just past the quarter season mark. Aside from one championship basketball series and the Olympics, America’s pastime is about to dominate SportsCenter for the better part of three months. It would behoove you to stay at least conversationally aware of what is going on in the big leagues. After all, if the sport is good enough for Rudy Giuliani, W, and Billy Crystal, it’s good enough for you.
Texas Rangers 33-24
After starting the season at a remarkable 17-6 in April, the Rangers have returned to earth putting up a .500 record for the month of May at 14-14. Coming off two World Series appearances and a hot start, the Rangers are the easy favorite in the West. After costing the team nearly 130 million Japanese/Iranian, phenomenon Yu Darvish is near the top of the AL in wins with 7. He has 2 Japanese Cy Young awards, is the baby daddy of the Japanese Britney Spears, and comfortably posed naked for a magazine. He’s legit. I know it’s early, but watching Josh Hamilton so far this season has been reminiscent of watching Big Mac and Sosa slug it out in ’98. Hamilton is hitting .343 with 21 HRs and 58 RBI. Six years ago the guy was a 160 lb. meth addict. Not bad. Pitcher Neftali Feliz was added to the DL last week prompting the signing of aging 3-time All-Star Roy Oswalt. Look for the Rangers to make one more blockbuster move before the deadline by adding a veteran bat like Kevin Youkalis from Boston before the break.
L.A. Angels 29-29
After owning the West for the majority of the decade, the Angels have let the pennant slip to the Rangers two years in a row now. They dropped a combined $331.5 million dollars on Albert Pujols and pitcher C.J. Wilson in the off-season. Baseball money. Ace Jered Weaver’s no-hitter was headline news recently, but an ominous back injury has him sitting on the 15 day DL. Anyone who’s turned on a TV in the last couple months knows Pujols got off to a slow start this year, but per usual, Sports Center made it a much bigger deal than it actually was. Pujols is already swinging a hot bat again. Expect him to be his dominant self for the Halos moving forward this season. Also noteworthy is the play of young sluggers Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout. Trumbo is a natural first baseman but has taken on a super utility role due to his bat. Outfielder Mike Trout is on pace to unanimously winning AL rookie of the year. He’s a 5-tool player with a great name. The kid can do it all. The Angels were 6-14 before they pulled Trout up from Triple A this season, and they are 23-15 since. Rangers/Angels looks to become a rivalry that will be in its prime over the next few years.
Seattle Mariners 26-33
Not a lot of hope for the 2012 playoffs for the perennial failure of the West, but the season is too young to give up on even these relentless losers. The deadline deal that put Cliff Lee on the Rangers in 2010 included the Mariners receiving 24 year-old first baseman/slugger Justin Smoak. A less prominent deal put the Yankees 5-star catcher prospect, 22 year-old Jesus Montero on the Mariners. Both have now found their way into the Mariners everyday lineup. Also involved in the Cliff Lee deal, the Mariners took minor league pitcher Blake Beavan from the Rangers, who is already in their rotation. Jason Vargas has quietly become a solid mainstay in the Mariners rotation, and let’s not forget they have a 25 year-old who won the A.L. Cy Young two years ago in King Felix Hernandez. Guy is a straight Cholo and he slings it. They’re a young, but talented, team that has brighter years ahead. Their time isn’t now, though. Also, it’s always fun to tune in and watch one of the greatest sub-150 lb. hitters of all time a, Jap and gentleman, Ichiro Suzuki.
Oakland Athletics 25-32
190 runs scored this season (28th), .214 Team Batting Average (30th), .291 Team OBP (29th), slugging percentage .339 (30th). These are important offensive statistics followed by league rating in a 30-team league. What this means is I could randomly pick nine guys from the stands at an Oakland game, fit them for cleats and jerseys, hand them a bat, throw them in the lineup, and they would, at worst, be neck-and-neck with the real Oakland Athletics in these four offensive categories. You CAN rule out these relentless losers this early. Their lineup is a pitcher’s wet dream. This organization is Major League Baseball’s version of the Elephant Graveyard from the Lion King. Hitters go here to die. Keeping with the Japanese theme, hitter Kurt Suzuki is a solid catcher with a nice stick, but he can’t do it alone. The pitching staff does boast the 9th best ERA in the majors with ex Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon and Brandon McCarthy leading the way. And pitching does win championships, just not with this team. Never with this team. It is early and the team COULD collectively start swinging a hotter bat to match up with their pitching staff, but looking at the no-name filled roster, it’s not likely.
Up next: AL East