Like Bon Jovi, the MLB is Halfway There
Only a week removed from the All Star break, the MLB playoff races are in full swing.
Some teams have already been eliminated, and some divisions will come down to the last week, like they always do.
Though it seems that right now my favorite team, the Red Sox are literally Livin' On a Prayer, there are teams out there, like the Dodgers, that are simply Bad Medicine to their opponents. There are also teams on the opposite side of the spectrum that have already died in a Blaze of Glory, losing enough games where it's improbable they could even make a run at the playoffs.
I'm done with the bad puns and Bon Jovi songs, I promise. Read on and let's break down my suspicions on who will win the pennant in each division.
AL East - Those Hated Yanks
Let's go over the most important division first. The AL East is easily the most competitive division in all of baseball.
The competitiveness is great for a fan, but the outcome may not be too positive for Boston.
That's right, this Boston diehard/blowhard is convinced the Yankees will win the division. It wouldn't surprise me if they were able to pull off a trade for Roy Halladay and destroy the competition. However, even if they don't, I believe they can still win the division.
CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and whatever other initialed stars they employ have been able to settle down and lead the team to the best record in the AL as of July 23rd. The pressure destroyed them early in the season, but they seem to have everything under control. Their pitches combined with Teixeira's bat are now as scary as they could have been from day one.
Don't get me wrong, the boys from Beantown will give them a run for their money, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Yankees were unable to beat them for the rest of the season, but that (sadly) hasn't hurt the Yankees thus far.
Toronto and Baltimore are out of the race in my eyes. Baltimore is no real shock, but with the way the Blue Jays started out the season, it's a bit surprising to see them fall flat on their collective team face. Tampa Bay still has a shot, but let's be honest...it happened once, it'll never happen again.
No matter the true outcome in the AL East, it'll be close. It always is.
AL Central - The Canada to the AL East's USA
This is not a slight on Canada. Canada is great. So is America. They're just very different, yet very similar at the same time. The AL East and Central divisions are much like that relationship. They both have great competitiveness and talent, but the Central is often overlooked because of the "biggest rivalry in sports" that occurs to the east.
The Tigers are tied for first place right now with the White Sox, and after the perfect game today, the White Sox are the chic pick. I'm not a very hip guy, which is obvious because I just said "hip," but I have to see the greatness in this team.
Ozzie Guillen will always be able to light a fire under his players, and annoy anyone who doesn't find his antics amusing. However, he's also a pretty good coach. There are a lot of household names on this team like Jim Thome and Paul Konerko, along with younger up-and-coming stars like Alexei Ramirez. Evidently, the pitching isn't awful, either.
I believe that with players like Joel Zumaya and Justin Verlander, the Tigers actually have a better pitching staff, but a perfect game is the sort of thing that shifts the way the team views itself.
A four game series, one game being a make up, starts between the two teams vying for first place tomorrow. I predict the White Sox will win 3 of 4 and take a lead in the division that they will never relinquish.
It's also important to note that the Twins are not out of this thing yet. Cleveland and Kansas City are, but the Twins are only two games behind.
I see the Twins making a run, but the White Sox will shut them down.
On a personal note, the Indians being so awful is one of the biggest shockers in baseball to me. It shouldn't be that surprising, looking at some of the players, but like their Native American brethren, the Braves, they're always at least competitve. Apparently, nothing is "always."
AL West - The Insomniac Special
Unless they're your favorite team or you live on the west coast, you probably don't stay up late enough to see the AL West games to their completion. I know I don't. That's partly because I hate the Angels, and partly because they always won the division no matter what.
But not this year.
The Texas Rangers (let's not make Chuck Norris jokes, as Trivette was much cooler than Walker anyway) are going to stun those pesky Angels.
Maybe I just feel this way, because if a team sweeps the Red Sox, they have to be good and I need to rationalize it to myself so that I can finally stop crying about the last three games.
Honestly, that isn't the case. I truly feel that this team has more talent than the Angels. However, in a division with only four teams, it's still a three team race. Seattle is not in the cellar for once and could make this very interesting.
Kinsler. Young. Hamilton. People actually know the guys playing on this team for the first time in a long time.
The Angels seem to have a lot of injury issues, and I'm not sorry to say that the Halos are going to have to hang up their hats early because of it.
AL Wild Card - 2004 Repeat
You didn't think they'd miss the playoffs entirely, did you?
Good. They won't.
Whoever doesn't win the division in the AL East will grab the wild card spot. The Yankees and Red Sox have been splitting time between leading the division and leading the wild card for what seems like the entire season. It doesn't seem to be too much of a leap to say it'll stay that way.
The Red Sox have been the wild card team before, and they slaughtered their Goliath in an epic fashion. But can they succeed in this seed again?
NL East - The Meltdown
It seems that a year doesn't go by where a team doesn't melt down at the end of the season in this division. It's usually the Mets, but they appear to have done that early.
The Braves and Marlins still have a chance. I just don't think they have the talent to win the division. The Marlins started out great, and then faltered, while the Braves haven't been making many headlines outside of trade rumors.
As defending World Champs, the Phillies were the team to beat since the beginning of the season. They're still the team to beat, and will be for the rest of the season. The bad news for the other NL East teams is that they won't beat them.
Oh yes...the Nats don't have a chance, if you weren't aware. They're still great fun to watch flounder around, stumble and fall, though.
NL Central - There Are Players That Aren't Named Pujols, ESPN
One of those players is Lance Berkman. He is the heart and soul of the Astros. If you watch only ESPN, you might think that Albert Pujols plays every position on every team in the NL Central, but he plays on only one team and is only one man.
The Cardinals are currently in first by one game, with the bottom-feeding Pirates only 7.5 games behind. No one is running away with this division, and like the AL East, it will come down to the wire.
It amazes me that Pujols can still walk after carrying the Cards on his back for so long. Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of talented players on the Cards and on every team in this division, except for the Pirates.
The Pirates used to have talented players, but they decided they didn't like them so they just traded them all away. They have Freddy Sanchez and those two Indian pitchers that won their roster spots on a reality show.
Anyway, it always seems to be Pujols who has to come through for the Cards. He can't do it forever.
The Astros have talent on their team, as well, and will narrowly escape with the division. I believe the other five teams will be on their heels in the last weeks of the season.
NL West - It's Already Over...
In a decision that will shock no one, I pick the Dodgers to win the NL West.
Manny is back. They were winning without him. The other teams in the division were losing without facing him. No point in writing anymore about this, seriously.
Rockies fans: Colorado is doing great this season, with a nice record to show for it. They just aren't going to make that historic run for the playoffs like they did in 2007. They just can't. The Dodgers are unstoppable.
NL Wild Card - No, That Picture is Correct. Really.
Like I said...sorry Rockies.
I know the Reds are in second to last place in the NL Central. There's just something I like about this team. I think it's Bronson Arroyo. I miss him.
The 2009 Reds will be the 2007 Rockies.
The Reds are going to start closing in on the division lead soon, but eventually lose to the Astros. The wild card will be close between the Reds and Rockies, but the Reds will win it by at least two games.
Make me proud, Mr. Arroyo.
Like I said, the 2009 Reds will be the 2007 Rockies.
The Reds will make the same unbelievable run for the title that the Rockies did.
Then, they'll be swept by the Red Sox.
I honestly think that the addition of LaRoche is really going to help the Red Sox. I see them turning it around and being the champions this homer knows they can be. And yes, I see unicorns walking on rainbows too.
A guy can dream.