The Junk #2

Originally posted on “Is It Sports?” by Ryan. Ryan discusses all sorts of things, like baseball, Steven A. Smith, HP Computers, Billy Corgan, and racial ambiguity.

At long last, I’m back. As opposed to writing a long post about something or other, I think the best thing to do is to bring you another edition of the Junk.

-Let’s start with baseball, shall we? Since Kevin decided he wanted to rehash the baseball preview, well, I guess I’ll just have to go through the divisions and reassess them. Let’s look at the NL first, since I don’t care about it as much.

NL WEST: Surprises abound in this division, namely, the division is terribly mediocre. Despite the mediocrity, San Francisco still can’t contend, something that has to do with age and injuries, which in sports tend to be one in the same. The Padres appear to be leading this division only because they aren’t coming up as lame as the rest of the West. Looks like all these teams have serious holes they need to address, but I don’t think any will.

NL CENTRAL: This division is going about as well as I suspected. The Cards are running away with it and there is a heated battle for every other position. The Astros are charging fast and will probably end up in second again. I expect the Cubs to make a boneheaded trade that doesn’t help at all, although I’m impressed they have staved off the rest of the division thus far. They’ll drop to at least third, maybe further should the Brewers continue to play well. Both the Bucs and Brewers look like they don’t have much longer until they are legitimate contenders, what with the maturation of their respective squads. The Reds have issues. Their previously reliable pitchers have decided to start throwing underhand and as a result, they are in dead last.

NL EAST: So, I had the NL East order right so far, except the Nationals are in first, instead of last. It goes back to the maturation process. You can never tell when things are all going to come together, and it’s magical when it happens for a bunch of guys on the same team. It’s really awesome when Chad Cordero is on your fantasy team. All the other teams have a well defined strength, such as the Marlins and pitching, but then drastic holes, like Marlins and offense that isn’t named Cabrera or Delgado. It will be interesting to see if the Nats can hold it together like the ’02 Twins, or if they fall apart like the ’01 Twins.

AL WEST: This is going as expected. The Angels aren’t the best team out there, but they’ll be good enough to sneak in to the post season. The Rangers’ pitching is going to hold them back, especially now that Kenny Rogers appears to have totally lost his mind. Oakland and Seattle are just flat out bad this year.

AL CENTRAL: The White Sox are much better than expected. Much better than anyone, including Steve expected. Here’s the thing though. All the problems I expected are there. Injuries have befallen El Duque and every time I see Contreras pitch he’s weaseling his way out of a jam. The real thing that changed was what nobody expected. Scott Podsednik and Tadahiro Iguchi are constantly on base and scoring, and the bats at the front of the lineup have been absent the past couple years. Buehrle is pitching like the machine he has always been, and to say John Garland has been a pleasant surprise would be an understatement. The overall numbers of most of their players aren’t dramatically different from career numbers, but they have improved across the board. The key for this team is the top of the order. As for the rest of the division, the Twins and Indians are in a dogfight and the Tigers are right behind. The Wild Card will be one of those three teams, and I don’t expect the Sox to remain at the clip they’re at (too many close games) but they’ll still win comfortably.

AL EAST: Not unlike the maturation process, the aging process is fickle. This was the year that the Yankees got old, and nobody saw it coming. This is a team that needs a total overhaul if they want to be any good next year, but good luck on that happening. Boston appears to have woken up from their hangover and I anticipate that they will run away with the division. Baltimore needs to snap out of their slump soon if they want to get to the post season. The Devil Rays ended up being a lot worse than expected and it goes back to their starting pitching. I thought they had some solid prospects, but as it turns out, their pitching is just awful. It doesn’t help that their manager is dying to leave.

– Ok, I want to talk about the Twins for a bit. They have the raw talent to annihilate the bottom half of their division, as well as many of the other teams in the league, but they have two gaping problems. Their first is the first inning pitching. As an example, Brad Radke is rocking a 10+ ERA in the first inning and about a 2.5 ERA for the rest of the game. This would be an interesting fluky thing if it was just a Radke issue, but it isn’t. All five starters have this problem. The only key to solving this problem is to wait things out and hope things get better. However, it is always tought to win a baseball game if you start in a hole, like my Twins always have.

The second problem is the offense. They don’t HAVE any. Now, the Twins, as I said, have a diabolical amount of raw talent, by way of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, but these guys are young and a couple years off from being perennial all stars. Shannon Stewart is doing his job at the top of the order and Torii Hunter is doing better than anyone should have expected in the middle of the order. Part of the offensive problem is a middle infield ravaged by injury. There are currently about 8 middle infielders on the DL. Not 8 Twins. 8 Twins middle infielders. Without someone reliable to play second and short, it’s tough to be consistent.

The best way to fix a gaping hole and revive a flat lineup is to make a deal. I suspect the Twins will be in the market for Joe Randa from the Reds and maybe Placido Polanco from the Tigers, though I don’t see that happening. Another less likely option would be Bret Boone from the Mariners. Less likely, that is, unless the Mariners are willing to eat some salary.

– My dog, for some inexplicable reason freaks out every time Billy Corgan is on TV. I thought this strange, but then I don’t think being irritated by Corgan is an uncommon occurrence.

– I don’t want anyone to say that Andrew Bogut is a bad pick for Milwaukee. A large lumbering white man in southern Wisconsin? Fits like a glove.

– Speaking of the NBA, I’ll come out and say it. Stephen A. Smith is the most annoying person on ESPN, maybe in all of professional sports. I don’t think it’s too much a secret, but the man hates white people, something I take a little offense to. He seems constantly ready to rip out Tim Legler’s windpipe, for no reason than the fact that he’s taking away his own airtime.

But seriously, you can always tell what team Smith is going to like in a series or game. The most
obvious example is the NBA Championship series, where he constantly backed the Pistons, whose only white guy is so deep on the bench that you have to send a search party to find him. The Spurs on the other hand, field a lineup with prominent players like Ginobli, Barry, and Nesterovic. Not only that, they have graduates of the Will Smith school of the racially ambiguous, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Needless to say, Smith picked the Pistons every single game I saw.

Now, if you are an analyst, I have no problem picking the team you see as better, even if local biases are influential, but racial biases are archaic and not so much offensive as they are depressing. It’s problematic that someone with such archaic beliefs is on a national network.

– The All-Star game is perfect as it is. It’s a showcase for the fans, so if they want to see Albert Pujols play, he should start instead of Derek Lee. Stats shouldn’t matter, because it’s all about the fans.

– I don’t know what it is about parents, but they seem to always want to interfere with life. They no longer have the authority to motivate me for my school work and now I’m busting my butt to get a job, so they have become extremely interested in my romantic life. Let me tell you, they have terrible taste in women.

– HP commercials have become creepy but mesmerizing. Too bad they make a terrible product.

There was some other note I was going to drop here, but it totally escapes me at this point, so I’m going to let it go. Until next time. -Ryan