The NFL draft and the winter sports playoffs have left me a little hard pressed to find the time to talk about my favorite sport – the national pastime (well, it was 50 years ago anyway) baseball. Thus, today I devote all nine innings of this column to that wonderful summer game, which soon will be the only sport we have to watch until football returns in late August/September.
I’ll just get this out of the way, the defending World Series champions (and my personal team) the Boston Red Sox aren’t very good this year. I think we’re all getting a good lesson in just how a team can play over its head for an entire season and also how replacing proven veteran players with rookies is often a bad idea. I don’t think things will really get better for the Sox, but asking for two in a row seems like bad form anyway.
The same excuse cannot be made for the Los Angeles Dodgers. They spent like crazy last year and then spent some more over the winter yet they find themselves in third place in their own division. As the New York Yankees proved time and again in the 1980’s, teams made up of all-stars you have purchased from other teams are not always successful. The Dodgers just might be finding this out. However, unlike the Red Sox, I think this can be fixed and will be surprised if the Dodgers aren’t playing in October.
Speaking of the Yankees, it is hard to watch Derek Jeter play. If you are a fan of the guy (or aren’t) you kind of have to wish he’d just called it a career after he got hurt last season. It’s always tough to watch a great athlete struggle through a final season when their body just isn’t up to it. Not everyone can go out like Mariano Rivera did last year and Jeter appears intent on proving this point to us.
Hate to see Jose Fernandez go down to Tommy John surgery. The kid seemed like he was on his way to a special year. That said, I’m sure he’ll be back to dominating by this time next season.
It has been a rough time for injuries in general. The MLB’s leading home run hitter, rookie Jose Abreu is also lost for a while. I guess this means Barry Bond’s season mark is still safe.
Apparently Miguel Olivo, now playing in Triple A, has a taste for human flesh – eh? I would love to know why he decided to take a bite out of teammate Alex Guerrero’s ear. I mean, even if they’re fighting, why bite?
The Astros, Cubs and, surprisingly (for me at least) the Diamondbacks all seem on their way to 100 losses. Throwing Arizona out of the equation, you’ve got to wonder how much longer fans of Houston and Chicago can put up with following teams that are out of the pennant race two or three weeks after the season begins. Oh wait, I’m talking about Cubs’ fans. They seem to be able to put up with anything.
The Oakland A’s have the best record in baseball. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming.
Finally, we’ll send in our closer for the ninth inning – a little baseball history. Toronto Blue Jay Edwin Encarnacion has 11 home runs in the month of May. You might think this is a lot (and it is) however with nine days left he is still seven home runs away from the American League record for most home runs in a month, held by Rudy York who hit 18 in August of 1937. He is also nine home runs from tying the MLB record of 20 which is held by Sammy Sosa who, aided by the miracles of modern medicine, clubbed 20 in June of 1998. He is just five short of the record for most home runs hit in May, which is held by Mickey Mantle who hit 16 in 1956. Will he get there? I doubt it. But does it matter? The fun part is watching him try.