Suddenly This Summer

Here it is July already and I still haven’t decided whether to feed the grass or kill the weeds. Is there a petroleum product available that slows the passage of time? We really are at the halfway point of the major league baseball season and the big question this year is: what the hell is going on?

Clayton Kershaw has joined the legions on the disabled list so the question is raised: Will we have a repeat of the 1994 fiasco with the season ending in August, this time because there are no players left healthy enough to perform?

The San Francisco Giants are on pace for exactly 100 wins despite having player after player fall to serious injury, which is very similar to what happened last season with the St. Louis Cardinals. No team seems to be able to count on any pitcher lasting more than a month without needing surgery. Maybe steroids weren’t such a bad idea. Some people think that athletes today are weaker due to poor nutrition early in life as a result of processed foods, empty calories, sugary soft drinks, and any number of other results of the food supply being controlled by giant corporations that can afford to spend millions advertising on television for junk food that costs a buck. Other folks suspect that today’s athletes may over train, especially with weights, and that over developed muscles are causing problems with hamstrings and tendons and perhaps brittle bones. Another angle is that because even .219 batters and 5.78 ERA pitchers are now multi-millionaires, aches, pains, and injuries are not ignored or trivialized the way they were in the past since a precious investment must be protected and jocks aren’t a dime a dozen anymore.

There are other items of interest as the All Star Game approaches. One is the relative ease with which the Texas Rangers pulled away from the rest of the A.L. West teams despite little help so far from Prince Fielder. It looks like the only challenge they will be getting will come from the Houston Astros, who have recently come out of the ether and played well. Newly minted outfielder Ian Desmond has been a difference maker there. And whoa, daddy, Cleveland! Terry Francona‘s club is threatening to never lose another game and where did that come from? I say that it’s the oldest of reasons–solid pitching, along with Francona’s contagious good attitude. It helps them that Kansas City has been sorely missing Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon but Gordon is back now and the Royals still have that great defense although whoops! There goes Lorenzo Cain to the disabled list.

The Baltimore Orioles are so much different than the Orioles of my youth. That team would beat you 1-0 if they couldn’t beat you 2-1, but these are the Orioles of the incessant long ball in that homer happy yard. If Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy can stay on the field together for a while they are a good bet to stay in contention.

Over in the superior league, the Cubs’ dominant pitching is beginning to be tested as hot weather takes over so things could get more competitive. Chicago should clinch that division by Labor Day although there is still some hope that St. Louis will get hot. No such expectation for Pittsburgh, however. It is sad indeed to see the Pirates become a .500 team at best after three good years. They have what is probably the best outfield in baseball but you have to have solid infield defense and consistent pitching if you’re going to avoid losing streaks and the Bucs just don’t.

Hats off to Dusty Baker and his Washington Nationals, who seem to be winning more than they should. The Mets have health issues, but as we said, who doesn’t? The Dodgers seem to have a lineup that compares favorably with the Giants, who have been playing their “B” team for quite a while now, but Los Angeles lacks pitching, and when is the last time you could say that? Well, they have Kenley Jansen.

Finally, welcome back to the show Tim Lincecum. The El Segundo Angels were desperate and you were available and here is hoping that it all works out.

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