Well the Mid-Summer classic is upon us baseball fans meaning it is time for many of the Boys of Summer to take a much needed break from the daily grind that comes with playing a season that last 162 games. With at least half the games in the books for every team the divisional races are starting to shape up across the boards.
Before I get to the good stuff I just have to say this is what I like about baseball. Now you can see where the strategy comes in with playing certain guys more, others less, and watching your matchups. The game becomes more than just a collection of hits, outs, runs, and strikes; it’s like the players are chest pieces with pawns like Jose Bautista kicking butt and rooks like Ubaldo Jimenez dominating whenever they play.
The AL East is still the toughest division in the league. Toronto has fallen off pace and the Red Sox even appear to be having trouble keeping up this year. Tampa Bay ruled the division early on, but is now shaping up for the wildcard behind the defending champion Yankees.
Chicago has made the AL Central more interesting with their 15 run explosion on Sunday launching them into first place. It had been the Tigers and Twins trading off all season long, but it seems as if the Twins might be losing gas.
I would not be surprised if it ended up being the Rangers and Yankees in the ALCS. Texas has just gotten better and better as the season goes on. The addition of Cliff Lee definitely makes them the odds on favorite to win the AL West for sure.
In the NL East there was a time were all five teams were within legitimate reach. Going into the break the Nationals are in all too familiar a place with the Marlins not doing much better than them. Both New York and Philly are within reach, but will have to overcome a combination of poor play and injuries to compete with the Braves. Hats off to those guys for making manager Bobby Cox’s last season memorable.
The NL Central is just dreadful; there is no better way to describe it. Two teams have stood out above the rest almost the entire season—the Cardinals and Reds with barely a game or two separating them most of the season. They could really go either way, but right now I would have to side with the Reds; their young pitchers are dominating, the old ones are playing up to par, and the young bats are swinging big.
San Diego in the NL West is the surprise of the season; no one expected them to dominate as much as they have. A combination of young pitchers and a little veteran talent have been one of the best starting staffs since the season started. Colorado and Los Angeles finish the season 2 and 2 ½ games back with San Francisco only 4 back. This division could very well come down to whoever gets hot at the end.
In the meantime folks it is time to sit back and enjoy the break. The Home Run Derby has a few serious long ball hitters; here’s hoping Big Papi (David Ortiz) can find the pop in his bat once again,
Beer: In honor of the Mid-Summer Classic I want to feature some of my favorite beers here. Their made by some of the more well-known micro-breweries, but don’t hold that against them.
My longtime favorite has been Pete’s Rally Cap Ale from Pete’s Brewing Company in San Antonio, Texas. These guys combine pale and wheat malts with Mt. Hood hops and lemon to create one of the most refreshing, crisp, and downright tasty beers I’ve ever had. How can you not love a summer beer with a baseball player on the label?
A more recent find (for me at least) is Samuel Adams Summer Ale from the good people at the Boston Beer Company in Boston, Massachusetts. Along with malted wheat these guys throw in some lemon and Grains of Paradise, a little extra something from Africa that helps give this beer a fruity, refreshing taste like no other.