To kick-off the second-half of the baseball season the New York Yankees will play host to the Tampa Bay Rays.
It’s number one vs. number two team of not only the AL East, but across the MLB.
Entering the All-Star break the Yankees lead the Rays by two games, but this series will be watched because it sets a tone for which team is better. It’s a great reality check for the Rays to show their stuff, as this battle might go down to the wire.
Pitching will dictate the series, so let’s break down the two AL East Rival weekend match-ups:
Sabathia has won his last eight starts, pitching a minimum of seven innings and a 2.37 ERA. Sabathia has 12 wins this season and at the break was the best pitcher in the AL. Sabathia is historically better in the second-half, so expect big things for the ace.
Sabathia will face James Shields who has not had the best first-half with a 7-9 record and an ERA of 4.20. Shields has 109 strike-outs and issued only 26 walks. That makes for a great strike-outs to walks ratio, which shows the youngster has the stuff to be much better.
Winner: CC SABATHIA has the advantage as everything from velocity to location is working great. The Yankee bats cannot go silent, as Yankees middle relievers tend to give up runs.
Not only was he the Boss of the Yankees, but he was beyond generous to the less fortunate. The Boss would beat you to the punch by asking, “What do you need?” Just fly down to Tampa, FL and ask anyone what he has done for the city.
Being able to make fun of yourself is what defines an extraordinary man, this makes a man authentic and enables people to relate. This was signature of the Boss.
It makes his passing so surreal on the day of the All-Star Game, as George Steinbrenner was an All-Star of sports and he will be sorely missed by all of New York City and especially his Yankee fans.
Let’s continue with summing up the wild first-half of the MLB season, by looking at the National League.
One thing is for sure, the NL is no longer “the other” league in baseball. The NL is providing plenty of drama and talent to compete with their AL counterparts.
The hottest team in the NL is the first place Atlanta Braves. Braves fans finally have something to cheer about. After a sluggish start to 2010, the Braves have been on fire once everything started to click. Rookie sensation, Jason Heyward who was voted an All-Star but due to a deep bruised thumb will not participate. Thus far, the 20-year old Heyward has 13 doubles, three triples, 11 home-runs, 45 RBIs, 42 walks and five stolen bases. The Braves strong pitching staff lead by Time Hudson has made this team a real force.
Coming in second are the New York Mets, who are four games. Right on the Mets heels are the 2008 and 2009 NLCS champion Philadelphia Phillies who are just a half-game. Mets David Wright is back on his game again, but Mets fans are starting to believe again. Jose Reyes and the nifty Angel Pagan make-up a solid line-up. It’s the pitching that will dictate their future.
Hopefully, the Mets won’t give-up and pout if the Phillies squeak past them down the stretch. It would not be the first time, so the Mets have to mentally stay strong.
The Phillies, like the Red Sox are injured all-around. The Phillies are getting their stride back as of late, so don’t be dumb and count them out. The 2009 Yankees were exactly where the Phillies are now, not in first but getting momentum from all the walk-off wins.
The Marlins (10 back) and Nationals (13.5 back) have fallen to the back of the pack. Still both ball-clubs have bright futures, the Marlins have young ace Josh Johnson and hard-hitting and headed Hanley Ramirez. The Nats have prodigy pitcher Steven Strasburg. Strasburg is on a 110 innings limit for good reason and already has the hottest selling jersey in all of MLB.
The All-Star break is upon us, which means half the MLB season is over.
Still, there is a lot of baseball to play and the second half looks to be even more drama-filled than ever.
Division races are no longer an AL East only feature, as each division is still up for grabs. It looks to be a second-half for the books and baseball fans should be elated.
Let’s look how each division at the halfway point, starting with the American League:
The New York Yankees have the best record in baseball for the first time since 2004. The Yankees know that means nothing when you share the division with the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. The Yankees are not just getting by anymore, they are playing really well just earlier than normal. Tex and Arod are on fire which is plain out lethal.
The young and talented Rays are only two games behind the Yankees. The Rays will visit the Bronx immediately following the All-Star break. It doesn’t get easier with series against the Twins, Tigers and Yankees again, with the O’s and Indians somewhere in between. This will be a telling test for the Rays.
The Red Sox are hurting, literally hanging just five games off New York’s pace. Pedoria, Ellsbury, Martinez, Bucholtz and Beckett to name just five of the 11 active players on the DL, a team’s worst nightmare. No pity party for the Red Sox is needed as this team’s experience will keep them in the running, so don’t think it’s over in Boston ever.
Lebron, the brand was something the NBA desperately needed after there were no Jordans’, Birds’, Clydes’ or Magics’ left. Still, he lacked grace on the court and made me think maybe Jordan took ballet classes or something.
The problem or difference with Lebron is he thinks he is king, but of what himself?
Any pro-athlete that can’t shake hands after a loss in the playoffs, or follow up with the media who helped them get fame needs a reality check. That sends a message that Lebron is bigger than basketball.