Baseball, at the turn

Have you taken a look at the baseball standings recently? It’s going to be a hot summer. Every division remains competitive, usually with at least three teams contending.

In the National League West, only the Padres can really be written off. With Colorado’s pitching doing better than expected, and their high-powered offense, being 8 games out in July hardly puts the Rockies out of contention. The likely winner will be the Giants, but if the Dodgers add some hitting, they could make a serious run at first. Even Arizona, thanks largely to a spate of overperforming rookies, is looking strong.

The NL Central has three teams within a half of game of each other (St. Louis, Chicago and Houston), while Cincinnati is only three games out. Granted, the Reds, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee (the Brewers especially) probably don’t have the talent to make a serious bid for first, the division remains tight from top to bottom.

You might assume that Atlanta is running away with the NL East, but both the Phillies and the Expos both have the fire power to make a charge, and you can’t completely discount the Marlins at this point.

The American League is just as tight.

The West, like the NL East, is seemingly dominated by one team (Seattle), but Oakland and Anaheim are terribly talented and the Mariners should feel comfortable.

Kansas City is a huge surprise in the Central and may be too young of a team to hold onto their present lead, but the real blow to KC’s aspirations was Chicago’s acquistion of Roberto Alomar and Carl Everett. Minnesota still has the talent to run away with the division, though.

The AL East is probably just a two horse race (New York and Boston), but Baltimore and Toronto, playing Beaneball, are proving pesky and just won’t go away.

At this point, I’m picking San Francisco, St. Louis and Atlanta in the NL, and Seattle, Chicago and New York in the AL, with the Phillies and Oakland grabbing wildcard spots. The series will most likely be Atlanta and New York. The all dark horse series would be Expos and Kansas City, but wouldn’t a Chicago vs. Chicago series be great?

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