I tend to look at all Major League Baseball before the All Star Break as an extended Spring Training. Yes, there are stats being recorded and yes, the wins do count. But everything is just so abstract and whimsical during the first half of the season. If my Yankees go on a 3 game losing streak, I’ll be disappointed, but I will not lament a playoff berth-costing slide. If Frank Thomas stays healthy for three dozen straight games and bangs out thirty homers, I’m not going to assume he’ll play all 162 and break Bond’s record. It is very easy to look at a team firing on all pistons in the spring and early summer and just assume the trend will continue as the season begins to grind away at everybody. Perhaps I’m more cynical than most, but the first 75 or 80 games are glorified tune-ups.
Keeping that in mind, I’ve got a couple of observations I’d like to share about the regular season now that we’ve got about a week’s worth of this extended Spring Training in the book.
1. The Baltimore Orioles are not good. When your mashers are Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora, you do not have a good baseball team. Brian Roberts will likely get caught trying to sneak out of Charm City on a mail plane, and Nick Markakis will spend the next three years being drafted too low in fantasy baseball because no one will be on base when he is at bat. And there is no home field advantage, since Camden Yards serves as Yankees/Fenway South for all AL East games. Sorry, Baltimore, at least you have Duff Goldman and a temporary 0.800 winning percentage.
2. Mets fans should’ve expected Pedro Martinez to get injured in his first game. I mean, come on. The Gods of Sport are a humorous bunch, and they would not let a 36 year old whose delivery has been ruining his body for a decade last more than one game. That’s just how they operate and by now we should all know that.
3. The Cult of Joe Torre is going strong in Los Angeles. Sporting a 4-2 record and fresh off an ESPN story that treats him like Elvis, people flock from all over the West Coast in the hopes that his rhythmicly slow gait to the mound and his ability to put runners in motion in predictable situations will cure their ills and inspire them to greatness.
4. No one saw the Detroit Tigers starting out 0-6. It doesn’t matter, really, since these games hardly count, but it is worth noting.