The AL East: Fighting Off the Sharks

Thomas H.Correspondent IJuly 3, 2009

BOSTON - JULY 24:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees gets into a fight with catcher Jason Varitek #33 of the Boston Red Sox after Rodriguez was hit by a pitch in the third inning on July 24, 2004 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

In the wild, the strongest animals seem to live. A lion does well on its own, having few predators on its tail. The same with tigers in the jungle, and especially a shark in the ocean as it rules its territory.

What happens when you put a group of the best lions or tigers together, well I suppose they are both on land.

What about sharks? They are easily the best of the whole ocean, when you put those together you know whats going to happen.

The best fight of them all.

Welcome to the 2009 AL East, land of the sharks. Six of the last eight World Series have had an AL East team in the game, easily more than any other division.

One would have thought last year was a tough AL East. That was nothing. The Yankees and Blue Jays were nothing close to the Sox and Rays. The Sox weren't in their best season, not as good as the last seasons at least.

Yet both teams in the American League Championship Series were from the east, and they were still easily the best.

Now, it is a whole different league. It began with the rise of the Rays last year, making them officially contenders for 2009. Think of the Rays as the young shark, though they are still rookies of the battle its very possible for them to take you down with their speed.

It begins with this: Evan Longoria is going to be a All-Star starter over Alex Rodriguez.

Jason Bartlett also has been very impressive this year, while adding Pat Burrell (off to a slow start so far) could be key in the second half.

Carl Crawford has also been huge in the outfield, not to mention David Price becoming a good starting pitcher.

The next step was the New York Yankees bouncing back from a poor season last year, as they made sure the free agent season was their season.

The Yanks are the shark that, though they are old and had stopped fighting, now fully rested are back into the game, and maybe even better before.

In the offseason, they grabbed Mark Teixeira, the first basemen who was hitting perfectly for the Angels. Next was picking up pitchers A.J Burnett and CC Sabathia on the rotation, though neither have had a spectacular first half.

Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera are becoming good hitters, and with veterans Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada still around the group has mentors.

Chamberlain is pitching well in the rotation, but Chien-Ming Wang is doing awfully. As Heartbeat of the Bronx wrote lately on Bleacher Report, Chien-Ming Wang won't become a 300-game winner until 2263.

*Here's the article.*

The Yankees are easily in the mix though, and they are back to playoff form.

Then the Toronto Blue Jays were added to the mix. The shark that might not be as ferocious all the time, but has the occasional hard bite.

A.J Burnett is gone, but Roy Halladay isn't. He has one of his best seasons yet, and he is getting really noticed.

Adam Lind is putting but All-Star numbers, but its doubtful he will make it to the game.

Barajas, Rios, Overbay, Wells, and Rolen add up to a solid lineup. They have slowed down lately, but they are not gone. Nor will they let these AL East teams beat up on them, see what they do at the break though if they try to pick up an additional hitter.

Next comes the Red Sox, currently on the top and the team that has been the most consistent of late. They are the shark that rule the domain as the rest of the sharks come into the fight, they are the top dog and are at their prime.

That doesn't mean that one of the sharks won't be able to take them down though.

Jason Bay, slightly slower at the moment but great overall, is a nice compliment to a lineup of the consistent Youkilis and Pedroia. Jacoby Ellsbury has been able to sit around .300 lately, and with J.D Drew and Varitek having a combined 21 homers halfway the team is looking set for the full run.

They have the best bullpen in the majors, and one of the best closers in Jonathan Papelbon.

The rotation includes Tim Wakefield, who has had a great season, plus red-hot Jon Lester and Josh Beckett.

If Matsuzaka can get back to his normal good fastball, they might be able to have a very good rotation (especially with John Smoltz back and Penny pitching well).

The fight of these sharks is the same as the fight will be in real life, you walk in not knowing who will win. You will go into mid-August not knowing who will win.

You do know this though, whoever wins is the best of the best. When that shark takes down the rest, the dolphins aren't going to give them any trouble.

My bet? I'd say the Red Sox shark, already the dominant fish, takes the rest. The Yanks will get the wild card though, and the veteran heart of the shark will help in October.

It will be one amazing ride, and the only advice for your team is this:

Be the last shark standing.