As we rapidly approach MLB’s trade deadline, the two leagues could not look more different, at least as far as the standings go.
In the National League, the West and East are all but wrapped up, even with the Nats and Dodgers seeing injuries hit the pitching staffs in the persons of Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw, respectively. Only the Central remains wide open; even the Wild Card is looking firm for the Rockies and Diamondbacks…for the moment.
Andrew McCutchen: Can he make the Pirates upwardly-mobile, or will he need some help?
And then, over in the American League, everything except the West is wide open. If your preferred team is not leading the Central or East right now, just wait a few days–they’ll probably reach the top before you know it, and then quickly sink back into the very crowded field of contenders.
Two teams, one in each league, are of particular interest. Both teams have been making a push this last week, ascending the ladders in their respective Central divisions rapidly and making it seem, at least for the moment, like they have a shot at real contention in both the regular season and the playoffs. One of them, the Kansas City Royals, looks like a decent bet to be playing in October. The Pittsburgh Pirates, on the other hand, probably still have a long way to go.
Continue reading On Royalty and Piracy
NOTE: This post is the third in a series of Features describing the author’s first visits to various MLB ballparks around the country. The first two visits, to San Diego and Anaheim, happened during an April visit to Southern California. The third stop, at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, was the first of several stops planned during a cross-country trip from California to Philadelphia and back.
I screwed up.
I was in Pittsburgh on Saturday, June 10th, having arrived in the Steel City the day before after four days of cross-country travel. I woke up early enough to take in downtown Pittsburgh’s Saturday morning scene, including a walk down to the Fort Pitt site at the famous confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, before returning to my hotel room for a little relaxation and a pre-game nap.
The nap part, it turned out, was a mistake.
The great Clemente stands guard over Pittsburgh at PNC Park.
I set my alarm for 5pm, certain that that would get me to the ballpark in plenty of time for the game. Unfortunately, that night’s game was actually that afternoon’s game, with a 4pm start. When I woke up, they had already reached the third inning, and I had to hot-foot it back through downtown and across the iconic Roberto Clemente bridge to join the game in progress. By the time I found the available open entry–most of the gates were closed by the time I arrived–got up to the third level, bought my food, and settled into my seat, it was already the top of the fourth inning and the visiting Miami Marlins were ahead 3-1 over the homestanding Pirates. Continue reading A View From The Park: Pittsburgh
The recent trend has seen a lot of commentators, including those at the national level, showing a great deal of enthusiasm for the idea of the Cubs reaching the playoffs. Indeed, “a great deal of enthusiasm” may be soft-peddling it. Even seasoned baseball reporters have been treating the idea of Chicago making the postseason with the same level of ecstasy as a kitten on its back clawing at a string being dangled above its head. You’d think they’d never seen the Cubs in the playoffs before.
In fact, they have–as recently as 2007. Not exactly the Blue Jays there. Furthermore, the big problem with all this delight is the fact that it might very well be premature: there’s a good chance the Cubs won’t make it into the playoffs at all.
Continue reading Second City Second Thoughts