Waiting ‘Til Next Year

Scheduling a playoff game at night in Chicago in October is like scheduling your company outdoor picnic for January 25 in Buffalo. It’s still possible to have a good time, but it’s likely to require a flask. Safe and warm at home or perhaps in some exotic location not yet eradicated by global warming, most major league baseball players can enjoy the playoffs now because they are not directly involved. While most licensed pundits bore you to tears with too much information about the teams still pursuing the World Series through rain, sleet, and snow, we will instead focus today on the squads that also ran and what their prospects might be to join the fun at the start of next year’s flu season.

 

It has been well established for some time now that the Baltimore Orioles will hit home runs. It is also old news that they play good defense. To get back into contention, it’s no secret that the Orioles will need pitchers who get people out. Right now they have Darren O’Day and Zach Britton. When they first moved to Baltimore from St. Louis, the Orioles played in a yard that was very stingy about home runs, which was very pleasing to the likes of Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally and other hurlers of note. The current staff more closely resembles the old Browns of the late forties and early fifties such as Cliff Fannin and Karl Drews. Buck Showalter and the brain trust can look to the Colorado Rockies for inspiration in finding young pitchers that can handle a hitter friendly yard.

One of the great mysteries in baseball today is this: what the hell kind of team are they trying to build in that other Chicago organization, the White Sox? They are kind of the Oakland of the Midwest. Hey, we found a good player, who wants him? 2005 seems like decades ago to followers of the Pale Hose.

Detroit has disassembled the team that got to the World Series five years ago and now the venerable Miguel Cabrera, whose tremendous strength and stamina may finally be fading, is left to see how long it will take  to get strong again. Cleveland did it relatively quickly. It’s been time for new faces for a while, and now they will appear.

The Royals of Kansas City, like voters in most elections, are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The Royals paint themselves as sort of a small market, necessarily tight fisted organization, and that strong core of everyday players such as Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are at the stage in their careers when the free agent market or else the trade temptations are beckoning. It seems like Salvador Perez is going to last forever but, alas, no one does. What will management do? The thing that evaporated like U.S. currency in Iraq for Kansas City was the great pitching they had in 2014 and ’15. Change now or wait, like the Giants did, until it’s too late? We will start to know the answer this winter.

No one is proving that quantity over quality in pitching currently rules more than the La Habra Angels. It’s like doubling the water volume in your coffee; you keep going back for more but you’re never satisfied. It is indeed a shame that Mike Trout is wasting his prime years helping Mike Scioscia keep his job while Albert Pujols uses a golf cart to get from the dugout to the on deck circle. They teased us for a while this summer but Ricky Nolasco is the ace? Please.

The P.T. Barnum of baseball, Billy Beane, wants to be taken seriously when he tells the patient fans in Oakland that a plan is in place to have a pennant contending team by the time the new baseball facility is built. He also has it on good authority that the new yard will be somewhere in Oakland. The Las Vegas (howdy, Raiders!) odds on a stadium being ready in Oakland before 2027 are currently 800-1.

It proves that yours truly is a bad judge of talent when the Seattle Mariners look good to me every Spring and then, well, the season starts. For a few years they didn’t hit. Now they hit but so do the other guys. Has it all passed King Felix by? Maybe if I give up on them they’ll do well. They still have Kyle Seager, Nelson Cruz, and Robinson Cano. Plus, it’s a great town to visit.

There are many fine ballplayers on the roster of the Tampa Bay Rays. You don’t know who any of them are, but you should. Florida will soon be under water again so perhaps the Rays should move to a nice Midwestern place like Indianapolis and call themselves the Raylettes. Only a near genius like Joe Maddon could steer a turf team with an average attendance of 894 at home and on the road to a World Series.

Remember the Texas Rangers? Wasn’t that long ago that they were the scourge of the American League. They don’t have the curse of Josh Hamilton anymore, so what happened? They sent 46 boxcars of prime beef to Japan for Yu Darvish and apparently forgot about everything else. Or is it the curse of W, always threatening to be in a luxury box? I don’t think we’ll be worrying about the Rangers for a while, and too bad for a genuine Hall of Fame guy, Adrian Beltre.

Another recent powerhouse that suddenly got its outhouse overturned is Toronto. This is another team cursed by turf, which contributes to the rapid aging of stars who have to play on it. I don’t think we’ll be seeing them much in October for a while either. Of course, not too long ago I said that about the Yankees.

Next time out we will review the teams in the National League who also ran. In the meantime, let’s continue to hope and pray that Winter stays away a bit longer. Enjoy your flasks.

 

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