Thursday, June 20, 2013

Talkin' Baseball

Those of you who know me well know that it there's one thing I'm more obsessed with than politics and public policy, it's baseball.

I'm such a baseball geek that when I have insomnia, which is often, I try to put myself to sleep by creating All-Time All Star Teams based on the player's last initial.

I got this idea from baseball guru Bill James, who said, without going through the whole process, that he thought the "R" team (three Robinsons, Ruth, Ripken, Rose..) would be hard to beat. But he said their pitching would be a little weak and maybe the Bambino would have to take a turn on the mound. With Ol' Hoss Rasbourne, Nolan Ryan and Robin Roberts at the top of the starting rotation and Marino Rivera in the pen to close out games, I don't see their pitching as all that weak. Their weakest position would be center field.

But the "R" team wouldn't be the best.

The "S" team (Schmidt, Sandberg, Speaker, Sosa, Al Simmons, Ted Simmons..with Spahn and Seaver for a lefty/righty pitching punch) would be awesome.

But the "M" team would be the best. It should be enough to say that the outfield would be Musial/Mays/Mantle, but the infield of Willie McCovey, Joe Morgan, Eddie Mathews and Rabbit Maranville (team is so good the shortstop doesn't have to hit) is almost as good. Thurman Munson would be the catcher.

Pitching? The rotation starts off with Christy Mathewson, Greg Maddux and Juan Marichal.
Definitely the best.

Before I wandered into this longish tangent, I'd been intending to talk about this baseball season.

I'm a Red Sox fan in the American League and a Cubs fan in the National League (My Cubs loyalty has been wavering since the Richmond Times-Dispatch decided to treat the Nationals like the area's home team), because I like to be equally frustrated and crazy in both leagues.

The Red Sox have been atop the American League East for weeks now.

I'm not buying it.

That's not just the knee-jerk pessimism of a life-long Red Sox fan. Looking at their roster I just can't see  a playoff team. So I'm expecting the Sox' typical summer swoon. At least it won't be the Yankees who beat us. They've got a better team on the disabled list than they can put on the field. The Orioles look to me to be the class of the AL East.

The real story in baseball this year is on the left coast. Both Los Angeles teams spent money as if they were trying to make the Yankees and Red Sox jealous in an attempt to field all star teams. As of today, the Angels are third in the American League West, 8 games under .500, and the Dodger are dead last in National League West, five games behind the fourth place team.

I'm happy to see the Dodgers floundered since they got about half of their "all star" team from the Red Sox in a late season trade last year.

The Angels are puzzling. This is the second year in a row they've signed the most sought after free agent, Albert Pujols in 2012 and Jeff Hamilton this year, only to field mediocre teams.

Since I'm sort of half rooting for the Nationals now, I have to say they need to get their act in gear soon. They are second in the NL East, but under .500. It will take a lot of wins to get in the NL playoffs this year because two teams in the league, Miami and  Houston, seem capable of losing 110 games apiece. Someone will have to win those games, so it wouldn't be surprising to see two or three teams in the NL pushing 100 wins.


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