Halfway home, here’s a look at baseball’s races
July 2, 2016
The Cubs (last title in 1908) have the best record in baseball. The Indians (1948) are on fire. The Rangers (never won) lead the Junior Circuit in wins.
Yes, the All-Star Game is a week or so away, but we're pretty much at the halfway point of the baseball season with most teams having played 81 games.
Where are we and what do we expect from the second half and beyond?
Well, well, well. Look at that.
Yes, we are incorrigibly biased about the San Francisco Giants, who lead by six games, but, perhaps, we are biased with good reason. The Even-Year Wonders overcame a slow start with 31-9 stretch over 40 games recently.
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The Giants are doing it without Hunter Pence, Matt Duffy, Joe Panik and Matt Cain, and all should be back before season's end.
The difference in the West is pitching, though. The Giants have it, and the Dodgers don't. And the latter's situation is further imperiled by Clayton Kershaw's recent trip to the disabled list.
The Giants will be overshadowed by the Cubs' quest in the postseason, and that's just where we want to be.
This is THE year for the Cubs. Certainly, it's the story of a lot of media outlets, most particularly espn.com, which has been particularly noxious in its Cubs' love.
Some of it is justified — the Cubs are playing great ball, but the regular season and the postseason are completely different animals. Yes, Chicago probably wins the division, but three rounds of playoffs are precarious.
The Cubs should win the division, but don't be surprised to see the Cardinals make a run. St. Louis should slide in as a wild card.
The Mets were a trendy pick at the beginning of the season, and they're by no means out of the postseason picture. With that pitching staff, they're the type of team you don't want to see in the postseason, even as a wild card.
But New York caught lightning in bottle last year in the second half, and lightning rarely strikes twice.
The Nationals are nice case of a team entering the season under the radar with a lot of talent, and it should be no surprise they're leading the pack. Washington takes the division with the Mets meeting the Cards in the one-game playoff.
This is why baseball has 162 games, people. The Rangers have been in the pole position from the start, but has anyone noticed what the Astros have been doing of late? And does anyone know why the Astros are in the AL West? (Shut up, Freud.)
Seriously, Houston got off to a wretched start, and the 'Stros are starting to play ball. Don't be shocked if the Astros run down the Rangers. Either way, the state of Texas should be well represented in the postseason.
Again, this is why we have 162 games. In April, everyone was really excited about an all-Chicago Fall Classic.
The Tribe finally lost on Saturday after a 14-game winning streak that vaulted it to the top of the pack. Yes, the Royals are fighting injuries with Mike Moustakas out for the year. Everyone keeps counting out the Royals, which is simply rude after what they've done the last two years.
Tribe wins the division with Kansas City in tow for the postseason.
I am about to hack off my Facebook baseball-discussion group because this division really is irrelevant. The Orioles, Red Sox and Blue Jays can hit and none of them have pitching depth, which becomes a problem in October. (And if you're thinking about the trade deadline, there really isn't much out there to be had come July 31.)
If David Price figures it out, then the Red Sox win the East and make a quick exit.
Since a rule of sports writing is never pick your own team so as to put on the jinx, let's call it Nationals-Indians, but don't be surprised to see a 1954 rematch.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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