Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Are these bottom-dwellers legit?

Baltimore Orioles: 6-1
Kansas City Royals: 6-2
Chicago White Sox: 5-2
Florida Marlins: 5-3

It's only been a week, but you've got to ask yourself these questions. The Royals have looked impressive with a team earned run average of 2.25, a sweep of the Detroit Tigers (central favorites), and they've taken the first two from the Yanks.

Same story in Baltimore. This team was labeled as one that would "struggle to win 50 games" this season. They swept Seattle and busted out six straight wins in a schedule a little less impressive than the Royals', but six out of seven is six out of seven any way you look at it.

Driving home listening to John Sterling, who was calling the game alone tonight(...very odd, by the way. Rather than fill the gaps of Suzyn Waldman's analysis with some insight of his own, he just left dead air, the #1 faux pas of broadcasting. Especially on radio when there is no picture to speak for itself), I considered the possibility of an all-around Cinderella season since there has been so much hype put into the Tigers, BoSox, Mets, etc...

Are these teams contenders? I answer with an emphatic, resounding NO. Common sense, I know, but bear with me.

The best analogy I can give is men's college basketball. How many times do you see Central Michigan jump out to a 12-2 lead over Purdue, maybe keep it close at halftime, then get blown out midway through the second half? It happens all the time, and it's happening here. Yes, K.C. has incredible pitching, but how many of these guys in their rotations have made more than 30 starts in a season (three, two of which have done it multiple times), and then how many have made 30+ starts AND had a successful season? ZERO. I could throw the stats out there, but basically it's they either made a ton of starts and finished below .500 for their season record, or they finished a few games above .500 with an E.R.A. over 5.00.

The wear and tear of the central is going to dessimate their staff, and the offense just can't keep up. It goes the same way all around. Orioles, Marlins, you name it. The most legit bottom-dweller hasn't even been mentioned yet. It's Tampa Bay. But they play in the A.L. East, so they're aiming to finish .500 for the year, but would be completely satisfied with 75 wins.

The Yankees looked terrible tonight, but I equate this to the same thing that's happening with the Tigers, Mets, Red Sox, Braves, and Dodgers. They've got proven guys throughout the lineup and can persevere. Nobody can tell me that A-Rod won't hit at least 35 homers and drive in 120 this year. You can't tell me El Capitan won't have 200 hits (though I pray he doesn't) at season's end. I won't believe Bobby Abreu will finish with an on-base percentage of less than .400. Same with Giambi if he stays healthy. These teams are in no rush to perform. It's just been a long offseason and we've forgotten it as fans. Just wait for that defining comeback win from the Yankees. I guarantee it comes this weekend against Boston. That flame will be reignited under their ass, early season jitters will be tossed out the window, and they'll get going.

Where were they last year at the All-Star break? Under .500.
The only thing that will drag them down is if Joe Girardi turns into a Lou Piniella, or if Hank steals the show and makes himself larger than the game. Other than that, I expect some excitement down the stretch.

And I hope the Phillies make four errors every game against the Mets. We need all the help we can get. More on the Mets soon.

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