So Much Good is Going on In Major League Baseball

The big story surrounding Major League Baseball is the impending suspensions of several players regarding their involvement with Biogenesis, the infamous lab located in South Florida.   The biggest name involved, of course is Alex Rodriguez and anytime A-Rod’s name is brought up, particularly “juicy” story such as this, everything else around the game takes a back seat, even the just-concluded trading deadline.   Well, as you know, I have had it with all of the negative press about baseball lately.  So I figured now is about the time to look at all of the GOOD things that are happening ON THE FIELD, you know where the actual games are being played.  All of you need to stop listening to the drama and the angst and all that is wrong with the game and focus on some wonderful things that are taking place as the calendar shifts to August.  There are a ton of great things and frankly I could probably write about something positive about all 30 teams.   Here are some items that will make you feel good as a fan even  if it doesn’t involve your team.

Wise up, forget A-Rod and pay attention to guys like Jason  Donaldson.  Image:  sfgate.com

Wise up, forget A-Rod and pay attention to guys like Jason Donaldson. Image: sfgate.com

The Oakland A’s are proving last season was no fluke.   Oakland has the second-largest lead of any division leader as they are up 4 1/2 games over the Texas Rangers.  On the mound, Bartolo Colon will garner serious Cy Young Award consideration with a 14-3 record and a 2.50 ERA.  Grant Balfour has 28 saves and has blown only one opportunity since last August.  Third baseman Jason Donaldson is showing All Star voters the folly of their ways by leading the club in hitting at .297 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI’s.  First baseman Brandon Moss has picked up for other struggling hitters leading the A’s with 17 homers and has driven in 49 runs.  July and August is usually the time Oakland’s teams under GM Billy Beane are at their best so I see no reason why the A’s won’t repeat as American League West Champions.

The Pittsburgh Pirates will REALLY finish over .500 this season…….and make the playoffs.  The last two seasons have been unkind to the Bucs down the stretch.  It will be much different finish for Pittsburgh this season.  This week saw the Pirates face the St. Louis Cardinals in a crucial showdown to determine who enters the next month leading the National League Central.  The Pirates won the first four games, sweeping a doubleheader on Tuesday, and are now up 2 1/2 games on the Cards.  Third baseman Pedro Alvarez is one of the game’s true power hitters as his 27 dingers proves.  Center fielder Andrew McCutchen has thrust himself into the MVP race as perhaps the game’s premier up-the-middle outfielder.  The bullpen has been simply dominant and Francisco Liriano has been the free agent signing of the year with an 11-4 record  and a 2.16 ERA.   All of those losing seasons resulting in high draft picks combined with  shrewd free agent signings and trades have made the Bucs the feel-god story of the season.

The Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians are legitimate division threats.  Most people, including me, figured the American League Central would be won easily by the Detroit TigersAfter a rough month of May by both KC and the Tribe, that seemed to be the case.  However, Cleveland at 3 games out and the Royals at 7 1/2 games behind, are not going away.  Cleveland obviously stands the better chance at the moment.  When you have the ageless Jason Giambi ending a game with a home run for you,  anything is possible.  Second Baseman Jason Kipnis is having the best season no one has heard from with 15 homers, 68  RBI’s , a .295 average and 21 steals.  Justin Masterson is pitching like a true ace with 12 wins and a 3,42 ERA.   The Royals are still probably a year away but they are providing their fans with some hope that the corner has been turned.  Ervin Santana and James Shields have provided everything management was looking for when they were both acquired this past Winter.  They both have ERA’s less than 3.10 and are on track to throw close to 200 innings.  If they somehow get one more bat before August 31st, they could throw a real scare into the Tigers.

Yadier Molina is having a wonderful season.  It seems as though Yadi has been around forever, gunning out baserunner after baserunner and getting clutch hits for the Cardinals.  For a while, Molina was leading the National League in hitting; right now he is third at .330.  He has eight home runs and his 54 RBI’s is on pace to surpass last season’s career high of 76.  As usual, his work behind the plate has been stellar, working with a cast of veterans and newcomers, all of whom swear by Yadi’s game-calling abilities.  Molina just landed on the 15-day disabled list with a knee injury, a rotten time for St. Louis as they fight to keep pace with the Pirates and ahead of the  Cincinnati Reds in the standings.  Molina will be a leading MVP candidate by season’s end but the Cards woudl just settle for him to be back healthy for September.

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Former First Baseman/Designated Hitter George Scott passed away on July 28th at the age of 69.  Big George had some serious power in the late 1960’s and through the 1970’s, slugging a total of 271 home runs.  He played on the pennant winning Boston Red Sox in 1967 and is a member of the Sox Hall of Fame.  While with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1975, Scott led the American League in home runs with 36 and RBI’s with 109. 

I always knew Scott was a big power hitter but I did not realize what a great fielder he was.  He won eight Gold Gloves at first and Nick Carfado of the Boston Globe wrote that he had never seen  a better fielding first baseman.  From what I have been reading about his life, he was a big, gentle man with a tremendous heart.  It is another sad passing of someone being taken before his time.

Rest in Peace, Boomer.

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Brian Wilson is backIt was a long, hard road for the fireballing reliever, one of the true characters of the game.  He underwent arm surgery and has not pitched in a Major League game in almost 18 months. Even though it was the Los Angeles Dodgers  who signed him, I am very glad that we will get a chance to see him pitch again.

Wilson has some tremendous seasons with the San Francisco Giants, topped off by a spectacular 2010 that saw the Giants capture their first World Series Championship in the Bay Area.  Wilson was tremendous, recording an NL-leading 48 saves and a sparkling 1,81 ERA.   For his career, Wilson owns 171 saves and a 3,21 ERA.  He will appear in a few Minor League rehab games until being called up to LA probably sometime before September 1st.

I wish nothing but the best for Brian Wilson, a good player, a great personality and a seemingly tremendous person.

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at www.venomstrikes.com

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