Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the brave men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
It also marks the unofficial start of the summer season. Temperatures begin to soar and days are extended. As kids finish school, families begin to vacation and summer concerts & county fairs prepare for another season of entertainment.
Summertime is a period of the year set aside for relaxation and family time. As far as the sports world is concerned the NBA & NHL playoffs wrap up while the baseball season begins to hit full stride.
It’s long been said that Memorial day was the point in which you could take a serious look around major league baseball to see how things were going. Most teams at this point have played just around 50 games, nearly 1/3 of the regular season schedule.
1.) Dodgers – (32-15) Everything is going well in Dodger land as the young stars emerge as superstars (Kemp, Kershaw), free agent bargains work out (Capuano) and Frank McCourt is a distant memory as the organization moves forward.
2.) Rangers – (30-18) Josh Hamilton is the early favorite for AL MVP, (projected for 68 homers & 179 rbi). The offense is great and the pitching staff is underrated. They have an opportunity to reach yet another World Series.
3.) Orioles – (29-19) That is correct: the Baltimore Orioles are currently tied for the 3rd best record in the majors. Adam Jones is evolving from good player into a great player. The pitching staff has been the shocking surprise, specifically the unheralded bullpen that has put up sensational numbers starting with closer Jim Johnson (16 saves, 0.84 era).
4.) Nationals – (29-19) Despite a number of critical injuries, the Nats continue to win games. Werth, Ramos, Morse, Storen, etc. have missed large portions of the playing time. The Nationals believe Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg are stars that can win now. The NL East has a team to worry about for the foreseeable future.
5.) Rays – (29-20) The Rays organization continues to churn out home-grown talent. The pitching staff has been excellent and the lineup continues to do enough to win games. Even fan support has risen in Tampa which may be the biggest miracle of all.
1.) Cubs – (15-32) At some point you need to stop blaming the goat and start blaming poor decisions by management. Despite another poor start the Cubs have had several pleasant surprises in Jeff Samardzija & Bryan LaHair along with the continued growth of Starlin Castro.
2. Twins – (15-32) The Twins have fallen on hard times this season as has the atrocious pitching staff. You won’t win many games when your team ERA is pushing toward 5.50. The starting rotation has been especially bad as the veterans have been awful (Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn, Francisco Liriano, Jason Marquis).
3. Padres – (17-32) Josh Hamilton has out homered the Padres by two. Think about that. One player has hit more home runs then 25 combined Padres players. San Diego continues to rebuild and offense will continue to be the primary area of need.
1. Orioles – (29-19) While it isn’t a surprise that the Orioles are improved, I dare you to find someone who thought they’d be in this position on Memorial Day. Now the question will be where the team finds itself on Labor Day.
2. Indians – (27-21) The combination of the late season drop off in 2011 along with monster off-season moves by the Tigers led many to dismiss the Indians who find themselves atop the AL Central.
3. Astros – (22-26) Sure the Astros aren’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but based on expectations the early results in 2012 have been positive. If the positive play continues they may have an opportunity to improve the farm system by moving veterans Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Carlos Lee.
1. Angels – (24-25) While things have improved lately in Anaheim, the Angels’ rough start came as a shock to fans & experts alike. The additions of Albert Pujols & CJ Wilson was supposed to help this team win the World Series, not fight for 2nd place in the AL West. The offense will need to find a level of consistency as the season goes on if they want become serious contenders.
2. Tigers – (23-25) After nearly reaching the World Series in 2011 and adding prized free agent Prince Fielder the Tigers were expected to runaway with the AL Central by 10 games. There is still plenty of ball to be played so things may very well still work out in the Tigers favor but it doesn’t look like it will be the cake walk many expected.
3. Brewers – (19-28) Sure Prince Fielder skipped town but the Brew Crew remained nearly intact outside of his loss and had just completed one of the franchise best seasons. While you didn’t expect them to repeat last year, you also were not expecting a team with one of the five worst records in baseball. Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez and the bullpen need to turn things around very soon.
4. Phillies – (26-24) Like Angels things have begun to improve, but preseason expectation had this team making a deep playoff run. Offensive inconsistencies, a poor bullpen, and injuries have all been issues resulting in the up & down season.
Baseball is 1/3 through the 2012 season, there is a long way to go as the 2012 journey continues throughout the summer months ahead!
Summer is now upon us, therefore its time to sit back and relax.