One-third of the way through the baseball season, here are 13 musings from a guy who has no hair to get in the way of rational thought:
1. The NL Central, full of flawed teams, is up for grabs.
The high-priced Cubs would seem to be the best of the bunch but how good can they be if they lose one player (Aramis Ramirez) and fall apart? The Brewers have iffy pitching and lousy fielding. Even with a healthy Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals are short on arms. The Reds are too young. The Astros spent far too much dough on old hitters. The Pirates being the Pirates, they already have moved into fire-sale mode.
2. Ditto the AL Central, except even moreso.
The Tigers have serious bullpen issues. The Twins don't have one starting pitcher any opponent fears. The White Sox are poorly constructed, with too many big-bucks oldtimers, too many not-ready-for-prime-time kids and too few ballplayers who are just right. The Indians are loaded down with injured players, one-dimensional guys and one-hit wonders. The Royals have Zack Greinke and, um, did I already mention Zack Greinke?
3. At least the NL Central has a chance to produce the wild-card team.
If you don't win the AL Central, you finish 10 games out of the playoffs. If not 20.
4. Chris Carpenter is a marvel.
He's like one of those old-time bobo dolls: Punch him in the nose and he keeps popping back up. Except he has much better stuff and much less to say.
5. If I tried to sell a screenplay about Bobby Scales, it would have been thrown back in my face as farfetched and corny.
"A 31-year-old substitute teacher who spent 11 years in the minors suddenly contributing to the mighty Cubs? Tell me another one. And what's that? They sent him back down to the minors but had to call him right back up after Ryan Freel got hurt - and he immediately helped them again? Have another drink, doofus."
6. Zack Greinke and Roy Halladay are baseball's best pitchers.
But if I had to win one game, I'm not sure I'd choose either over Johan Santana.
Or Bartolo Colon.
(Just wanted to make sure you were still paying attention.)
7. Whatever injury Joe Mauer had, we all should be so lucky to get.
Here's hoping he didn't buy his medicine at Manny & A-Rod's Pharmaceutical Emporium.
Unfair? Of course. But that's the problem with juicers, folks. Every single ballplayer is guilty by association.
8. After trying to decide between Raul Ibanez and Milton Bradley, the Cubs went with the fragile, disruptive dude with, like, half an RBI.
Right now, it seems Ibanez is the only NL player with a chance to challenge Albert Pujols for MVP honors.
Wait. Who am I kidding?
Unless the Cardinals go completely into the tank, Prince Albert's got it in the can.
9. It's the Damn Yankees and the Freakin' Red Sox. AGAIN.
Thanks for playing, Blue Jays and Rays. Enjoy the lovely parting gifts.
10. While Manny Ramirez is busy getting pregnant or whatever he's doing with his drugs of choice, the Dodgers just keep winning thanks to ... Juan Pierre?
If somebody had asked me to pick a less likely hero before the season started, I'm not sure I could have. And as my girlfriend Jessica Biel would attest, I have a very active imagination.
11. Don't pitch to Adrian Gonzalez. Ever. Period.
I mean, look at the rest of that Padres lineup!
Any manager who lets any pitcher throw a hittable strike to Gonzalez should be fired before the baseball settles into the upper deck.
12. A pitcher who beans a batter just because he can't get said batter out is a chickenspit loser.
That's right, Vicente Padilla, I'm talkin' 'bout you!
The weak-willed Padilla is one of the many reasons I am still not buying the Rangers' pitching renaissance and am still predicting the Angels in the AL West.
13. Right now, it's a three-way race for AL MVP between Jason Bay, Mark Teixeira and Ian Kinsler.
It's still plenty early for Evan Longoria, Justin Morneau and Miguel Cabrera to do something about that, though.
Should be a fun four months, huh?