Monday, July 29, 2013

Violent (R)Evolution

After Emile Griffith's death on July 23, I researched him and the controversial fight between him and Cuban welterweight Benny Paret. It made me think of the concept of violence in sports and how it has evolved into something that is so common that people don't give it a second thought anymore.

Unless you live under a rock--then again, if you did you couldn't read this post; I digress--then you should know that to some capacity, every mainstream sport is a physical one and that there are a lot of risks and dangers in being an amateur or professional athlete. Freak injuries could occur, lives could be affected forever, and you could even risk your own life. For example, March 24, 1962 is a very infamous date in the world of boxing. On that day at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Welterweight title was on the line in Paret-Griffith III. The fight was so well-hyped that it also received a national broadcast on ABC. The first eleven rounds of the fight were back-and-forth, filled with excitement and edge-of-your-seat action. However, the twelfth round is what would cast a dark shadow over the sport for an amount of time.

Screen capture from
You would think that seeing his head rock back and forth would have resulted in the fight being called sooner.
During the twelfth round, Emile Griffith opened the round with a flurry of punches, sending Benny Paret into a corner where he had difficulty in holding his guard. Within a twenty-second period, Griffith landed nearly thirty punches on Paret, and referee Ruby Goldstein stopped the fight. As he did so, Paret slowly slid down the corner of the ring and fell unconscious. The pomp and circumstance went on after this initial scene, as many spectators and analysts believed that Paret had collapsed of exhaustion. However, the next scene a few minutes later was an indicator as to how serious the matter was. During the post-fight interview, Paret was seen being stretchered out of the ring while medics checked on him. Obviously startled, Griffith had hoped that his opponent would be okay. Paret later slipped into a coma and died from his injuries ten days later on April 4.

After the fight, fingers were looking to point at a culprit to blame Paret's death. Some believed that it was Griffith, who had retaliated after Paret called him a "maricón," a Spanish gay slur (Griffith was identified as bisexual), during the pre-fight weigh-in. Others had placed the blame on referee Ruby Goldstein, in which they thought he took entirely too long to call the fight after the onslaught of punches brought on by Griffith. Both men have later expressed their guilt and their sorrow over the tragedy that happened that day, and both careers were never truly the same afterward.

On the other hand, the one major blip on the Paret radar was the period between his last fight and the previous was three months. Three months. Not to mention that Paret was completely destroyed in the previous fight and didn't have the motivation for the next fight. This was also his fourth fight within a whole year. You don't see anything like that today. A grown man today would cry if he had to fight that much. You couldn't blame him though, considering that money was tight in his family, and this was going to be his last fight considering his recent downturn.

Have we learned from this event? Has it made us more aware of the dangers of ultra-physical sports and events such as boxing and MMA?
I don't think so. Not in the eyes of spectators.

However, it has affected the awareness of serious (and fatal) injuries that can occur during an event.
Sure, we can't put pads on every single little thing that our bodies have, but we should also learn that bodies need to heal. We need to make money and perform at our peak, but when lives are on the line, is it truly worth it? Some athletes don't think that way. There's the mentality of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" that exists in society, whether its in a mental form, emotional form, or in this case, a more physical form. One thing that has differed from that time period is the enforcement of strong official rulings and the advances and drive to achieve peak physical health and fitness. I'm not saying that the men from fifty years ago were not in good shape--they totally were compared to the average male--but there have been advances in sports science that have given athletes the opportunity to use equipment to better attain their physical needs. Also, the cases of official rulings through board members and trainers enforce the policies of the sport, such as whether an athlete can be "cleared" to do any kind of physical activity. If you would like to throw drug testing in this category, you can do that as well. They're also there for that reason.

Certain sports aren't for the faint of heart, like boxing or MMA, but we as a society have become so desensitized to the near-glorified violence shown today that the main issue at hand is blurred. In other words, what should be an issue isn't seen to be an issue at all by today's standards! When Paret-Griffith III occurred over 50 years ago, seeing a man injured to the point where he later died of his injuries a week and a half later was shocking by the standards of that day. Plus, this was also broadcast on live television. That was a big deal back in the day, and seeing a scene like this almost put the practice to shame. While it would still be shocking in today's society, I don't think it would actually have a strong chance of occurring thanks to the reasons I had mentioned above. Also, there are the graces of the seven-second delay that occurs in most television broadcasts in case if something horrifying occurs. Sometimes the censors do not catch something soon enough, but when a death occurs, heavy discretionary measures are weighed.
[Note: There are several media examples of this that I choose not to get into since this is not a news-themed blog.]

Going back to the "issue that isn't an issue" at hand, more of these sports are being televised nationwide and more spectators have access to the sport than ever before. What used to be the case many years ago was that you either had to be there to experience the full effect or you had to listen to the radio to find out what happened. The announcers could add the emotional effect and paint a good enough mental image for you to know what was going on, and something like that doesn't have a humongous effect on a certain audience since that particular audience isn't seeing the real violence. Do we know where we're going with this? Yes. I'm talking about the children. Today, cable television is all the rage, and children now have the ability to see these events happening either in real-time or in recorded form. While it is up to the parents to decide whether their children are mature enough to understand what is going on, the desensitization of violence in sports begins at a young age. I could be overdoing the analysis on this because I am not a parent myself, but there were certain things that I was not allowed to watch as a young person, and since I'm not in that role yet it's hard to measure standards. In retrospect, I don't think my Dad cared if I watched Friday Night Fights with him, but that's beside the point. I think there are some moral things that could be learned beforehand and children could understand things at faster rates. Not everyone my age is a murderer or has an uncontrollable temper, so something was done right.

In conclusion, the violence revolution hasn't exactly progressed, per se, but it has become more commonplace in short bursts. We don't view men and women literally killing each other, but harsher programming has become more accessible in today's day and age. Seeing brutal punches, kicks, choke holds, and tackles don't mean as much to the human eye and brain as it once did. Seeing other people do it and seeing the pain on their face doesn't exactly translate well to immature eyes, and it could lead to people "trying things" on each other. It happens a lot with kids who watch wrestling, even when they suggest to not try what they do at home. Stuff like this could also lead to bigger and even more dangerous underground workings, but that is a concept that is too complex for even me to get into in a post like this. Heck, what goes on there may have nothing to do with violence in sports; in fact, it could just be out of stupidity for all we know.

Violence is becoming common in society, but is it for the best? It can't be stopped, though accidental death can be prevented. Violence is a key part in sports. What did they do in Rome? People getting eaten was their form of sports entertainment. However, we're not as barbaric as we once were. I'm sure we could see athleticism without a bunch of hungry lions. Can we see athleticism without showing as much brutality? In some cases, no (boxing and mixed martial arts), but in other sports it can be. Baseball, soccer, and basketball do not show as much physical brutality as other sports, and while injury still occurs, it isn't always because of a fight.

I guess if it sports violence hasn't affected one person, it might not affect another in the same way. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Has the level of violence evolved in sports to you? What do you think?


Monday, July 22, 2013

Drug Wars: The Other Side of the Tracks

This post has become a challenge. I really wanted to look at other sides of the story and see if anything else has been put out there when it comes to players' views on drug use in Major League Baseball. I also knew I was going to have a hard time sitting down and putting all of this together. When you're out of school, you tend to avoid that lifestyle as much as possible. That's okay, I've been saving myself for this. Here we go.

"Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has been suspended for the remainder of 2013 and came clean Monday about violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, an outcome of the league's extensive investigation into a Miami wellness clinic." -- Adam McCalvy,

The early 2000's was an edgy time in Major League Baseball. There were numerous findings that a number of professional baseball players were not playing the game fairly. While people thought that the game had been upped in cases that records were being shattered and injuries were fewer and in quick recovery, other officials didn't think the same way. Something was wrong. Very wrong. An investigation began and names from the likes of Roger Clemens to Jason Giambi were being thrown around as being suspicious players to have been growing in numbers as well as growing in size. During this period, suspensions and fines were thrown around the league and to its alumni, but records were never reset, and some of these men are still eligible to be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

Back in late January, there was a monumental finding that shook the baseball world again, and this time, things would be cracked down even harder. A drug clinic in Florida named Biogenesis of America had been targeted by sporting officials, claiming that they were selling supplements that contained performance-enhancing drugs (PED's) among other illegal substances that are banned in MLB. Four players--Ryan Braun (mentioned above), Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, and Alex Rodriguez--were considered main links to the Biogenesis clinic. Although the business is no longer functioning, MLB sued a number of personnel from the company in March claiming that they had provided banned substances to players. Weeks later, ESPN broke that as many as 30 players' records were under investigation, and particular MLB staff were checking whether these athletes had been provided illegal drugs or had any other link to Biogenesis. As it stands, investigations are still being performed, and while the baseball season is officially in the second half, fans and followers are wondering when the gavel will come down on the case.

Since then, questions have stemmed from the timing of these investigations and news breaks, such as why they are waiting until after the All-Star Break to announce definite suspensions, and how did this get so bad and so immense so quickly. With all of the fuss over illegal substances in baseball looming over the heads of the athletes, why are athletes still taking these drugs and thinking they can get away with it? Theories of this span of time include the revenue and ratings of programming such as the Home Run Derby (which didn't seem affected either way) and the MLB All-Star Game and people's opinions over MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, his handling of his job, and his imminent departure from his position.

People who are fans of teams who have no players involved with the scandal are standing back and awaiting these hearings with curiosity and "I'm not surprised" remarks, while there are fans who follow and admire these players asking "Why?" and are expecting disappointment and disgust.

Any drug that promotes growth, strength, or affect of hormones is considered an illegal substance. Some of these illegal substances can even be found in the smallest of doses in prescribed medications or in various muscle treatments. This means those little steroid packs too, ladies and gentlemen. It shows up in your urine, and it's a small amount of PED's. No player can have anything that affects physical performance in the system at any time. An example of this was when Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz was suspended by Major League Baseball for use of illegal substances found in Adderall, a stimulant most commonly used for people suffering from ADHD or narcolepsy.

While the investigations are ongoing and people are placing questionable players under the microscope, professional ballplayers from all around the world are letting their opinions known on the scandal, as well as their views of certain kinds of drug use in sports. While some praise the system, others question it, stating that it shouldn't be as harsh, and that these drugs are needed when it is a strenuous atmosphere.

In praising the system, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee stated: "I think this is just proving that the system works ... You’re not getting away with it anymore. It’s not like it’s a lingering issue. It’s proven that we’ve taken care of the issue," and he even stated that he's glad he wasn't a pitcher in the 1990's when the PED was in full-swing and flying under the radar (

While pitchers like Lee are supporting the system, others are somewhat against it, stating that not all PED's are bad, and some may actually be useful in the rehabilitation process. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Ryan Madson, currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, would like to see a change in the system, believing that there are no harsh side-effects in the use of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is currently banned by Major League Baseball. In an article, he says: "But I will still believe, even if I get healthy without that, that it should be legal, in the right dosage, under supervision, with doctors, for the only purposes to help heal and get players back in the Major Leagues ... I think it would be good for the game; I think it would be good for the fans" ( 

From another perspective, substances such as HGH and other performance-enhancers still exist because of the length of the season in a particular period of time, the finances that come with the sport, and the extreme competition of the game. Former Colorado Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs, who is currently playing for the Seibu Lions of the Nippon Professional League in Japan, wrote a lengthy blog post about the Biogenesis scandal, his insights on particular drugs such as Adderall, and why he himself never desired to experiment with PED's. In a nutshell, he writes: "...I am not condoning the use of anything, but merely pointing out that some of the events and sports we’ve created (MLB, NFL, NBA) are pushing athletes too far without giving enough proper rest to allow them to recover. Again why are seasons so long? Money! Because sponsors, cities, owners and networks all make money ... When the risk so far outweighs the reward, it’s no longer a serious issue, even if the punishment doesn’t quite fit the crime" ( 
[NOTE: I highly recommend reading this article. Do it when you're done here. You won't be disappointed.]

Only time will tell when the harsh penalties will be thrown down on baseball players accused of illegal substance use. Yes, it is obvious that the MLB season is extremely strenuous, and there are numerous factors as to why money is very important in a game like this. There are also players out there with a clean conscience that are grateful for their skills, and would like to not only play fairly, but play because they enjoy it and know they can make a living off of what they can do. There are players that disagree with this philosophy, but that's life. People will try to make the most of it in any way possible, and if they're caught cheating, the damage has already been done.

The Biogenesis scandal, in my opinion, is being handled extremely well by Major League Baseball, and it has taken me a while to accept that it's going to take longer than most people would wish to make sure that the final verdicts are handled and determined as effectively as possible. When this is a large-scale investigation, there certainly isn't any cutting corners in the matter. Of course, the purist in me thinks that a scandal like this is dirtying the game and exposing it for having underground practices that have destroyed reputations and records, but you will see an equivalent like that in any kind of business you will encounter (hopefully not, but just stranger things happen). In the meantime, analysts and fans alike are on the edge of their seats looking to see how the game will change from this point forward. It's a tough time for the front offices of Major League Baseball, and the next couple of weeks will either make this sports organization higher above the rest or make it look like a big joke that waited entirely too long and didn't do enough for the players or their audiences.


Monday, July 15, 2013

The MLB Midseason Slant for 2013 - Uphill or Downhill?

It's Slant season, ladies and gentlemen. Let's roll.

There has been a massive movement in Major League Baseball this year. The Houston Astros are in the AL West now, big-name players such as Mariano Rivera have announced their retirement, and up-and-comers like Yasiel Puig have been making headlines around the country just as men like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper last year. Also, there has also been a lot of controversy surrounding the league when it comes to the Biogenesis scandal (more on that in the next post!!). With these things mentioned, it has been a year full of uphill struggles and downhill triumphs for many teams. Which ten teams will survive and make it to October? It's anyone's guess at this point...

Let's take a look and see how they're looking after almost 100 games played!




Eastern Division

Overview: If you look strictly at statistics, this looks like one of the streakier divisions in the whole league. Most teams here have either been plagued with injuries or have hopes of passing the torch to younger players. Some of these transitions haven't been the absolute best. Could this be a sleeper division in the second half? If the rivalries are hot, then definitely yes.

Atlanta Braves (54-41) - After an extremely explosive April, these guys have somewhat stalled and played .500 ball since then. Guys like the Upton brothers, who were extremely hyped in the offseason, have been under-performing and clutch hits have been hard to come by. However, the pitching staff is one of the best in the NL, and efforts from hitters like Freddie Freeman (fresh to the DL) have been picking up the pace. Health and a change of pace is needed for a playoff push.

Washington Nationals (48-47) - If this team scores more than two runs in a game, they have a good chance of winning. That isn't the best sign at all. That line should tell you that the hitting is poor; they have the second-lowest team AVG in the National League, and the only way they have been staying in close games is through strong pitching in their bullpen. Sure, Ian Desmond, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman have been doing rather well, but in order for this team to go back to the playoffs, it has to be a team effort in offense.

Philadelphia Phillies (48-48) - Afflicted with the chronic injury bug and a flimsy bullpen, it's hard to ride on any kind of winning streak in Philadelphia. Although it's good to see guys like Chase Utley, Domonic Brown, and Cliff Lee in good form, injuries to guys like Roy Halladay and a struggling Ryan Howard have shown that this team is aging as is desperate for a fountain of youth/production. Did I mention their bullpen is shaky and their starters have to go deep into games to prevent any kind of riots in Philadelphia? I sort of did? Oh.

New York Mets (41-50) - Here we have an average team that is still working through injuries and looking to make more big players alongside David Wright. You can tell of the youth and green eyes when you see their amount of team strikeouts (walks are okay too). While they are holding their own and playing the spoiler when they can, a quick shot of health and good vibes for a weakened staff could be the cure. While they can't win the division, they can win as spoilers and ruin dreams along the way.

Miami Marlins (35-58) - It's bad enough that they have to tarp off the second tier of the ballpark. This team doesn't hit very well at all (one of the lowest team AVG in the ML), and inconsistent lineups are proof that whatever they've tried over their 93 games played hasn't worked well at all. Their bullpen isn't the most consistent thing either; and most games where there is a lead early on is lost. Double-edged swords aren't always pretty at all.

Central Division

Overview: This division is always known for their pushing and shoving in the top three spots in the division. They are failing to disappoint here thus far. Pitching has been stellar as usual, and the bats are still fresh. This is what I love to see. You're always guaranteed a strong game during each NL Central matchup, bar none.

St. Louis Cardinals (57-36) - This, ladies and gentlemen, is the most disciplined hitting staff that the National League has to offer. Not just that, but it also has one of the stronger rotations you'll see in the league. The baseball gods have been good to them thus far, so it would be best not to jinx them. With so many major contributors to mention, we could see a team that's a total threat to take the National League pennant this October. What else can I say?

Pittsburgh Pirates (56-37) - From someone who lives on the other side of the state and constantly sees them in their woes by September, this is incredibly refreshing to see. Their pitching staff is jam-packed with talent this time around (Grilli Cheese, anyone?), but the Pirates' hitting crew is a slippery slope at times. Striking out a lot can be a problem here. This year, they have the honor of being the first team to win 50 games in the Majors. Are we looking to break a curse of 20-straight losing seasons? Please, I think that would be nice to see.

Cincinnati Reds (53-42) - Dusty Baker's squad is never a bore to watch. Outfielders Shin Soo Choo and Jay Bruce are like judge and jury, and Joey Votto is putting up excellent numbers again at the plate and at first base. The starting rotation looks a sharp as it should, and Aroldis Chapman is a fiery closer.  Things could get interesting with this team. Although the injury bug could start affecting them, they've been on fire in the second half in years' past, and they could burn their way through that possible issue.

Chicago Cubs (42-51) - Okay, they've been worse at this point. In fact, they're not looking all that bad. Although the looming rumor that starter Matt Garza is out is spreading, this should hopefully light a fire under the rest of the team to start dealing or they have to sell to contenders. Although they aren't doing a terrible job, injuries and streakiness has dealt a strong blow to the core of the team. You really have to be "Committed" to stick with this team. It hasn't been pretty at times.

Milwaukee Brewers (38-56) - There has been a lot of proof that things haven't been clicking on all cylinders for the Brew Crew. Their hitting crew is anything but patient, but they're consistent, and it shows in their lack of walks and strikeouts. Unfortunately, you can't say the same thing about the pitching when it comes to consistency. Being near the bottom of the barrel in ERA, the team's offense has had to battle in high-scoring games, and that can take quite a toll on the team. It's going to take a lot of willpower to be contenders again. Maybe not this year, but next year. Can they spoil? Abso-flippin-lutely.

Western Division

Overview: We've seen a lot of flip-flops in positioning and records in this division so far. Fireworks from debuting pitchers, hitters, and fielders have been the major drive, but the Win-Loss column really hasn't been evident of these bursts of star power. While Interleague play has a chance to dampen this division a little further, August is the key month for these five teams. Nobody's really out of it here.

Arizona Diamondbacks (50-45) - Arizona has had a lot of scientific experiments done on their pitching staff, and once there's a sign of life and health there and in their lineup, these guys could be ridiculously scary in the coming weeks. If Patrick Corbin and Paul Goldschmidt isn't enough proof for you that it's possible to make hitting and pitching contagious, it will be soon. Is the second half theirs? They have to want it badly, otherwise it'll be an uphill struggle for them.

Los Angeles Dodgers (47-47) - Deemed "Yankees West" due to their exorbitant payroll this season, it almost looks like some financial decisions have blown up in the face of the front office. After losing guys like Chad Billingsley to the dreaded Tommy John surgery and seeing big-name acquisitions like Hanley Ramirez falter to injury early in the season, things looked bleak. However, win streaks and the "ManBearPuig phenomenon" has brought them out of the basement and into contention in the NL West. Good vibes are coming from this team.

Colorado Rockies (46-50) - Right now, this is one of the best-looking teams as far as hitting goes. CarGo, Michael Cuddyer, and Troy Tulowitzki are taking their smart hitting to the next level and keeping the opposition at bay. Wait a second, they're four under .500. Why is that? Oh, that's right. The bullpen and lower-tier starters are almost the pits in the National League. A beefier bullpen should be in high order for these guys; otherwise, this is going to be a rough second half.

San Francisco (43-51) - Remember October? I do. It seemed so long ago. The starting rotation has never looked so shaky. Aside from Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum's no-hitter this past weekend, things haven't looked strong at all. The hitting staff isn't terrible at all--if you look at the roster, just about everyone's a hitter (Hello, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence), but the pitching staff goes into such a hole at times that it's tough to come back. This second half could get ugly if the rotation and the bullpen doesn't wise up.

San Diego (42-54) - The pitching staff is like...messed up. While there are some bright spots like Jason Marquis, I see guys like Huston Street and scratch my head a lot. When Carlos Quentin doesn't have a hot temper, he doesn't a relatively good job at the plate. Things don't click very well with the team. Curse? We can't make that the cause of all the problems. The front office might have to make some personnel changes. Things don't look like they're getting much better, and the leadership could be the root of that.


Eastern Division

Overview: This is the scariest-looking division I have written about in my three years of doing this. While not every team is over .500 here, they have the talent and the ability to burn out their opponents and make a statement. It would be rather sad to see this trend burn out within the next few weeks, which it totally could after the All-Star Break (among other controversy).

Boston Red Sox (58-39) - Ouch. If you want to top the AL East, you definitely have to have the best record in baseball. Check. Devastating hitters in the middle of the order? Check. Strong pitching not just in the rotation, but also in the bullpen? Check! The BoSox have been blessed with good fortune thus far in the season, and it could only be smooth sailing if they keep the opposition on their toes. Gotta stay #BostonStrong, right?

Tampa Bay Rays (55-41) - The pitching from the Rays makes quick work of the opposition, and that's nothing new from these guys. What is new is seeing some unsung heroes stepping in on offense and picking up when bigger names like James Loney and Evan Longoria can't pick up the pace. They certainly can make a good run for the playoffs. Heck, even the Wild Card. The sky's the limit for these guys.

Baltimore Orioles (53-43) - I could just put "Chris Davis leads the majors with 37 home runs" and that could be enough for this, but I won't go that route. The hitting is rather all-or-nothing, and the pitching doesn't always come through, but when they do, they certainly do. While they're fun to watch right now, they need to be extra careful. The act might not last very long.

New York Yankees (51-44) - Well, this is awkward. Although they're doing better in wins and losses than half of the teams in the National League (It's totally true), they're in fourth place in this monster of a division. Why? Don't know. Just happened to be that way. While age has been graceful to guys like Raul Ibanez and Mariano Rivera, it hasn't been to guys like Derek Jeter and A-Rod, who have still been waiting to see the light of day. Are we seeing a changing of the guard here?

Toronto Blue Jays (45-49) - On paper, these guys looked like they were going to contend before the season started. Things have been rocky, but so far, they are holding their own. They just look rotten because of the division they're in. R.A. Dickey hasn't had the strongest of stuff since his Cy Young win, and Mark Buerhle hasn't looks as hot as he has in years past. It doesn't always help either that the offense doesn't kick in when they should. Teamwork is going to be key here from here on out.

Central Division

Overview: Please don't ask me why I have such a hard time getting around to writing about you teams. I swear, I have nothing against you, but there are so many wheels falling off from weird areas and you guys are so weirdly streaky and stuff. Do I get points for trying?

Detroit Tigers (52-42) - Here we see the Tigers in their habitat, where Max Scherzer is 13-1 and Miguel Cabrera has a .365 batting average. Let's not forget the other guys...they've had as much of a hand in this as the guys I have already mentioned. This team is well-disciplined, and they're looking to return back to the Fall Classic as they did last year. However, I'd like to mention that they wanna win it this time. Gotta keep going.

Cleveland Indians (51-44) - We have a well-rounded team right here, and that's incredibly nice to see after numerous struggles we've seen in the past. The rotation looks spiffy, and the offense is good as a unit. This is a good example of a team that feeds off of each other's successes. While I'd like to see them as a Wild Card contender, the AL East could make that tough, so these guys will have to use their super-friends powers and make that extra push in the coming weeks. Just don't sign Charlie Sheen or Wesley Snipes, that's all.

Kansas City Royals (43-49) - These guys aren't really a home run-hitting team, but even so, their batting average is just that...average. However, it doesn't always come through when the pitching has been supportive. Then again, isn't that usually the case? There isn't enough back-scratching on this team, but you can't blame them due to injuries and other forms of scratching when it comes to lineups. There is a chance for these guys, and a good second half of health could give deliver problems for their AL Central opponents.

Minnesota Twins (39-53) - When you see this record and some of the statistics put up by this team, you can tell that the only thing that is driving this team is the star-power that they have, and those guys like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau can't always save the team. The starting rotation is extremely weak, and injuries to these guys isn't making matters any better. I think it's time to start playing the end music to The Incredible Hulk.

Chicago White Sox (37-55) - Statistically, these guys are in the middle of the pack in most hitting and pitching categories; why are they so far into the basement? You could blame injuries, you could blame lousy management, and you can even blame their errant fielding. Errors and simple mistakes cost games, and that is evident in where they're standing right now. To try to make a good run in the second half, it's time for the ChiSox to go back to basics and remember how the heck they made it to the majors.

Western Division

Overview: Ladies and gentlemen, your OCD has now been regulated. There are now five teams on the AL West. Anyway, there's a lot of unknowns on this side, but there is also a lot of star-power in tow. Problem is, these two things I mentioned are oil and water here, meaning that there are unknowns in abundance on one squad, and too many stars on another. This could lead to problems, but for now, things are rather tranquil on that front.

Oakland Athletics (56-39) - Despite their massive issues with stadiums and media markets, these guys look spiffy on the field. Although they aren't the strongest-hitting team collectively, Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie have been leading the way for the offense, and smart, patience at-bats have been key. Did I mention that their pitching staff looks hefty too? I'm not saying that because Bartolo Colon looks like a freight train on the mound, either. These guys are earning their spot thus far; it's going to take some effort from the smaller-seeming players to get this team back to October.

Texas Rangers (54-41) - The injury bug doesn't seem like it has been a massive issue here, as their bats and their throwing arms have looked pretty consistent over the past few weeks. Yu Darvish and Derek Holland have been doing excellent out of the rotation, and clutch hitting has been in good form for the boys from Texas. Looks like these boys are winning the wars in Texas right now. They could make things interesting in the West for the rest of the season.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (44-49) - Oh, and look at this star power. People outside of the circle often laugh at this team since there are so many endorsements for their players and they're playing sub-.500 ball. Aside from Mike Trout: the Boy Wonder, a lot of these guys are either A - getting weird injuries, or B - severely underperforming. The pitching staff doesn't look so great either, but that's often because of run support. If you only have one guy in the rotation that has a winning record thus far, you have a serious problem on your hands. They're not doing's just the hitting needs to be tweaked and disciplined.

Seattle Mariners (43-52) - The hitting staff looks really bare without Ichiro, I'll tell you that much. It shows. Their team AVG is pretty low, and their plate discipline could be much better. On the other hand, we have some excellent starting pitching, and it's often enough to finish out the games...that is, if they go deep enough into those games. They need to be sellers and get some bullpen guys and some utility men. Things are looking rotten at Safeco if nothing is done.

Houston Astros (33-61) - Oh Heavens. Here we are again. Let's make a note of this, though: the Astros have the lowest payroll in the whole league. Alex Rodriguez makes more money than the team as a whole and he hasn't played a ML game this year. Anyway... Weak pitching and weak hitting are the main causes of failure here. You know it's bad when I only know about six or seven guys on the staff and most of them are injured. There isn't much else to say here but hope that they don't hit 100+ losses again this season.


I'd like to think that this was a pretty basic analysis. I'm usually not ready for this kind of stuff when it comes around, but I love baseball. Whenever I do research and do analysis, it makes me closer to the sport and it makes me feel better about myself. Really. I'm not joking.

I'm hoping that the rest of the season fares out well for most teams. Not everyone can fix their problems and reach the playoffs, but usually one man's failure is another man's success. It's only downhill from here, you peoples.