Archive for May 2014
I feel like I’ve been living in a dream state for the better part of the last week. It has nothing to do with spring finally having sprung here–the grass greening, birds chirping before dawn, afternoons on the balcony. It has nothing to do with the end of the school year being in sight. It has nothing to do with my summer plans coming together (more on that in a few weeks). What it is is that the three baseball teams I care anything about are each at the top of their division. For perhaps the first time ever, Baltimore, Detroit, and Milwaukee are all in first place.
I first realized this last Saturday, after having caught parts of all three of their games Friday night while I lazed on the couch. The exact standings wavered a bit for a day or two after that when Baltimore fell into a tie with the damn Yankees, and then fell behind them before pulling even and then a game and a half ahead as I write this. Since then, all three teams have been flying high.
I don’t hate to say “I told you so!” since my last entry herein promoted the idea that Detroit would be in the World Series. And they’ve been doing it exactly as I said they would, with power pitching and an on-base game that benefits from timely (but not mandatory) power hitting. They’ve pieced together an 8-game winning streak and haven’t lost more than two in a row all season. All this bodes well for the Tigers to be playing in late October. I’m not sure how Baltimore is doing it, exactly. They have a few solid batting and pitching stats, but otherwise are pretty average. This tells me that they might be a frustrating team ’round about July and August. Still, I’ll take it right now.
Milwaukee, though, has been one of the biggest surprises in baseball. They’ve opened up a 5-game lead in the division, and still boast the best record in the National League. I’ve been up to see them twice, and haven’t been disappointed. They, too, play a good on-base game with some timely power hitting (four guys with 5+ home runs), but it’s the pitching that’s getting it done for them. They’ve had surprises in their starting rotation with a top-6 ERA and 315 Ks (4th best in the league). This from a staff that was predicted to be slightly above average. They also have 20 holds and 16 saves, so if they can get the game into late innings with a lead, they’ve got a good shot at winning. And they’re still winning despite freak injuries.
What’s happening with the Brewers right now shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody who has happened upon my baseball musings the last few years. That’s because I’ve noted numerous times that when animals and baseball cross paths, good things happen. One of the early stories out of Brewers spring training was how the team was found and adopted by Hank the Ballpark Pup. The gritty little critter has obviously brought the team good fortune, and even has his own doghouse out in center field. A few years ago, it was the portentous appearance of a Cooper’s Hawk that helped Milwaukee reach the National League Championship series. Maybe this domesticated beast will help the team go further.
These are good days for baseball, but they are also early days. The season hasn’t reached the quarter post yet, so lots of things could still happen. It’d be great to write about the same things in August and September. We’ll see.