Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Here's my wrap-up of the first half of the 2006 season as I sit here watching the All-Star Game. It's coming from the incredible PNC Park in Pittsburgh, someplace I have to get back to someday. I'll throw in an All-Star comment, too, as the situation warrants.

I'll start with the National League tonight and I'll do the American League tomorrow.

National League West: The division is a heck of a lot better than last year, when there was a very real possibility that none of the teams would finish above .500. This year at the break, all the teams except last place Arizona have won more than they lost. The Padres lead by two games at the break this year, but the division is wide open - only 5 games separate first and last place. The Padres could hold on, especially if Jake Peavy comes back in the 2nd half - he was only 4-8 at the break. The Dodgers look pretty good, too, with Nomah making a bid for comeback player of the year. I am, of course, rooting against the Giants and Barry Bonds just on general principles.

Vladimir Guerrero just hit an astounding home run - a 98 MPH fastball from Brad Penny up around his shoulders on the outside part of the plate and he goes the opposite way and hits it over the right field fence. He's an amazing bad ball hitter. I saw the replay 4 times and I still have no idea how he hit that with any power.

NL Central: The Cardinals lead by 4 at the break, despite losing Albert Pujols for three weeks. The Reds certainly had a nice run, led by some better than expected pitching, but have fallen back a bit and are only a game over .500. The Brewers are a game under, but have a really interesting team with guys like Carlos Lee, Prince Fielder and Chris Capuano. Houston is still dangerous and will likely compete for the wild card. The Cubs have been a huge disappointment; it's starting to look like Mark Prior and Kerry Wood may end up in the "unfulfilled potential" file.

NL East: What else can you say other than that the Braves streak of 14 consecutive division championships looks like it's over. The Mets lead the division by 12 games over the Phillies; the Braves are 13 back. They aren't going to do anything this year, but the Marlins have played pretty well after getting off to a terrible start. They have a raft of great young players, led by Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. With guys like Hanley Martinez and Dan Uggla learning on the job in the Major Leagues, this could be a dangerous team in a couple of years.


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