Alright, with World Cup in full swing, this is going to be an abridged version of TWIB.
You know what would just make too much sense? If MLB used Interleague paly to determine home-field advantage in the World Series. Just throwing it out there. The AL has dominated over the past 5 or 6 years, and we assume it will continue this year as well. However, there is definitely something to be said for what seems to be unusual depth in the NL. No one, Nats included, is a pushover in the NL East, There are no pushovers in the NL West (San Diego’s horrible Interleague record notwithstanding). The NL Central could be better, but the Cards and Reds seem strong enough to make my point at least valid. On the other hand, we see the AL being abnormally weak. There is no great team in the AL West, though there are 3 decent ones. The AL Central is pretty bad right now. Of course, the AL East is monstrous with 4 really good teams, but Baltimore should be fodder for most teams.
Even with all that said, we see year after year teams like the Royals killing NL teams with a record twice as good theirs, and teams like the Padres heading into Interleague play and getting toasted. So what are we to think of Interleague play? Most importantly, it is a lot of fun for the fans. It gives them a chance to see their club in different places, ad sets up rivalries that would otherwise never be realized. Inerleague play is just plan fun for fans. I know we did not really reach any shocking conclusions there, but not every topic deserves a radical conclusion. Moving on.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are on fire. We wrote them off a little early, and it may turn out that they do not have the pitching to make any moves, but few teams are playing better than the Dodgers right now. Clayton Kershaw is having a great year and is turning into an ace. Perhaps most impressive about him is his youth as he is only 4 months older than Stephen Strasburg. Manny is being Manny once again, Andre Ethier is playing great when healthy, and just imagine what would happen if Matt Kemp remembered how to hit a baseball. The Dodgers are in fine form right now but their test will be to see if their pitching can hold up and keep that bullpen safe and healthy. If they can do that, they could sneak their way into a playoff run.
New York Yankees
I will not pretend to be unbiased. I hate the Yankees. I could write a 10,000 word post on it, and if I get bored enough, I just might. However, they are playing great and, in my mind, are still the World Series favorites. They will definitely go through rough patches as Jorge Posada inevitably gets injured again and someone else gets dinged up, but they are just loaded. Add to that that they could go out and add a guy like Roy Oswalt or really whomever they would like and you have to consider them the odds-on favorites. Frankly, my more cynical side hopes the Yankees win a bunch of World Series in a row so we might see a salary cap, but that is a story for another time. The Yankees are rolling.
The Oriole Effect
There is talent on this team. Brian Matusz is a top prospect, Matt Wieters is a top prospect, Adam Jones is a good player, and there is a lot of reason to be hopeful for O’s fans. However, we are seeing what I am going to call the Oriole Effect. It is not a novel idea really, but it is a little different from NFL and NBA situations because of the dynamic of the game.
The O’s are losing. Not only are they losing, they are doing so with remarkable efficiency. Losing takes its toll on everyone (look at the Nets), but rarely does it happen to so many young talented players at the same time. Plenty of people had the Orioles down as their sleeper team. They are loaded with young talent at key positions, but this is not like the Nets where Brook Lopez put up great numbers on a bad team. These young talented guys are adding to the stench. Why? Baseball is made up of a lot of individual matchups, but when things are going bad, they snowball. I feel that Brian Matusz, Matt Wieters, and the other talented guys are victims of this. They do not have the leaderships skills at their young ages to do anything about it personally, so they are stuck to get caught in the snowball. They go to the ballpark everyday thinking they are going to lose, and it rubs off.
Do I have anything to prove any of this? No. Is there more than enough reason to believe that the putrid-ness of the O’s has rubbed off on their talent? Absolutely. I see the same thing with Matt LaPorta in Cleveland. Well, maybe he just isn’t good, but we will have to pretend that is not a possibility for my sanity’s sake. I hope the Orioles start winning. Not because I respect the franchise, or because I think Camden Yards is a great park (it is), but because I do not want to see great young talents like Wieters and Matusz getting sucked under. They are caught in a riptide of losing, and I just hope for O’s fans and for teh players that they are not dragged under.