"A Summer of Baseball"
Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 02:05
Let’s take a look at the state of baseball before we leave you with our final issue this year. Everything seems backward. Baltimore is in first place of the AL East, wait, Baltimore is in first place? Yes. The Orioles are a full game up on the Tampa Bay Rays and 2.5 games ahead of the New York Yankees.
Last year’s favorites to play in the World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox, are in last place in their respective divisions. And winter’s big spenders, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, are below .500 as well.
Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers is on track to break Barry Bonds’ single-season home run record. He had nine home runs in the last seven games, including four in one game against Baltimore. Finally, on Mother’s Day, the Angels learned how to contain him. Well, at least inside the park, Hamilton had three RBI’s and two hits in a 13-6 win and sweep of Los Angeles.
There are more storylines to watch this summer, however, besides Hamilton’s rise to the top from his alcohol and drug addiction a few years ago.
As I said, my team, the Phillies, are in last place in the NL East. Even the best pitching staff ever assembled needs a bullpen and more than one run a game to win. Cliff Lee went the on 15-day disabled list, but returned to throw a no decision against the Mets. Gee, thanks bullpen. Seven bullpen pitchers have an ERA over 4.50. The team has lost Roy Halladay’s last five starts.
The hitting hasn’t been any better than the bullpen. Without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the Phillies have knocked in only 133 runs this year and have a .258 batting average. Now everyone knows the Phils are a second-half team, but there is some cause for concern. At least Jonathan Papelbon is 10-for-10 in saves.
But no one could be more disappointing than the Red Sox. Boston is 15-19 and no one needed a better start to the season more. Boston’s collapse in September was one of the worst of all-time and they didn’t make the playoffs for the second time in a row.
After a complete upheaval of a new coach and general manager, Boston was poised for a great season with the talent on the roster. New head coach Bobby Valentine was brought in for Terry Francona, who lost control of the club. Reportedly, pitchers drank beer in the bullpen. Valentine was supposed to fix those problems, but now starting pitcher, Josh Beckett, who has an injured back, goes golfing the next day after missing a start.
The Red Sox have been without Carl Crawford all year. Jacoby Ellsbury moved to the 60-day disabled list and Kevin Youkilis is on the 15-day D.L. 34 games into the season and Boston may be looking at another early fall, especially with the upstart Orioles and Rays.
Even the Yankees haven’t even been able to control the AL East as usual. Losing Mariano Rivera for the season did help an already shaky bullpen for the Yanks. However, New York is the likely team to overpower the young Orioles for the wild-card.
Baseball hasn’t had this kind of switch in the standings in the last few years. Even though some anticipatory fans may be disappointed, the current standings will set the stage for an exciting summer.
So with the baseball world upside-down, hockey playoffs coming to an end and the sun setting on another spring semester, summer promises more than just tan lines and the beach, but it promises yet another thrilling summer of baseball. What teams will make their playoff run and what team will make history by completely blowing their playoff chances?
The outcome? I don’t know, but see you in the fall with all the answers.
Ryan Marshall is the managing sports editor at The Review. Send questions, comments and a bullpen for the Phillies to email@example.com.