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Surveying the Baseball Landscape

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Cubs are "on the road" this afternoon playing the team with the best record in baseball. I'm sure this is the lede in virtually every other Cubs/Sox story today, but seeing as I haven't read any of them, its pretty original don't you think?

Despite the fact that our natural rivals, the White Sox, are one of the best teams in baseball, the Cubs players at least get the advantage of sleeping in their own beds. This isn't true for most of the teams, like the Cardinals, who get softer natural rivals (the Royals in this case), but still have to travel.

Having never traveled like a pro ball player, I don't know if this makes much of a difference, but the announcers seem to think it does. So, perhaps there is some silver lining in playing across the city, rather than across the state, or across time zones.

Since I've been a basketcase this past week and have only loosely followed the Cubs games, while ignoring the rest of the league, I figured it would be a good opportunity to survey the baseball landscape.

If the playoffs were today:
The Orioles, White Sox, Angels, Nationals, Cardinals, and Padres would win their divisions. The Phillies and Red Sox would join as the wild-card entrants. The first round matchups would be as follows:
White Sox vs. Red Sox
Angels vs. Orioles
Cardinals vs. Phillies
Padres vs. Nationals

Prognostications: We're sneaking up on half-way through the season, but I wouldn't be suprised to see Baltimore, Washington, and the Phillies lose their playoff spots. I believe the Twins, Braves, and Cubs will fill out the playoff picture... but that is why we play the games.

In the NL East, the Nationals went on an extended winning streak and managed to put a few games (3.5) between them and the rest of the division. However, the four remaining teams are within 3.5 games of each other, and only the Mets who are 2 games below .500 are below the breakeven point.

In the NL Central, the Cardinals and Cubs are the only teams over .500, with the Cubs barely making that mark (36-35). The rest of the division is well below .500, and it looks like the NL Central is probably the weakest division in baseball.

The NL West looks like a lot of teams that didn't play as well during the first half as they might have expected. If Barry Bonds comes back, or the Dodgers make a good mid-season trade, there is hope for both the Dodgers and Giants, but their prospects are bleak.

The AL East has the closest race in baseball as the Red Sox have started playing well again, and are only half a game behind the Orioles. The Yankees have their heads two games above water... largely due to sweeping the Cubs this past weekend. However, the Yanks seem to have too many players performing below expectations. However, you can never rule out the Yankees because of their willingness to spend, and the star power they already have on their roster.

The AL Central appears to be a closed book. The White Sox are 27 games above .500 with a 9.5 game lead in the division. Sure, things happen in baseball... but not typically. The Twins are a good team however and are playing well enough to be 1.5 games out in the Wild Card race.

Finally, the AL West race is pretty much over unless Texas picks up a few studs at the trading deadline. They're going to be hard pressed to catch the Angels who have a 3.5 game lead, and a lot more talent.

Chicago Cubs Media Guide Trivia Nugget of the Day:
Page 108: Entering the 2005 season, Greg Maddux has started 604 big-league games. He has lasted at least
6 innings 496 times (82%)
7 innings 371 times (61%)
8 innings 203 times (33%)
and has 104 complete games (17%)

He has issued 2 or fewer walks 484 times (80%) and no walks 180 times (30%).

Posted by Byron at June 24, 2005 2:47 PM | Bookmark and Share | BallHype: hype it up!
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