Hello again everybody...
We did it! Friday's here! I've got nothing that I *have* to do this weekend! And I'm using too many exclamation points!
Okay. Enough of that already. Wow.
But the weekend lies within our grasp, and that's nothing to sneeze at. And after my 3-day "got stuff to do" marathon last weekend, I'm looking forward to just chilling this weekend.
I'm not sure how much baseball I'll be watching though. The fork's been in the Diamondbacks for a while. I'm not going to put it in the Twins yet. I know I've been threatening that for a while, but they keep doing just enough to stay alive and fork-less.
"How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."
- Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004), 40th President of the United States
Oh, how I wish I'd had this quote for Wednesday's column!
The Sports Take Addendum: How do you tell a communist? They leave in the 8th inning!
I won't belabor the point. You know how I feel about this. Let's move on...
Because it's that time of the week again! You've waited for it. You've pined for it. It's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment...
Dan's Favorite Teams Update...
Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 58-63, in third place in the AL Central, 4 games behind the White Sox for second place, and 6.5 games behind the Tigers for first.
Well, what can I say that I haven't said already?
The Twins split their 4-game series with the Wild Card-contending Rangers this week. I'd like to take heart in that fact. But both wins were of the "come from behind" variety, after more poor starting pitching performances.
So as long as the starting pitching remains so woeful, it's difficult to get too excited about the Twins' chances.
And it's a shame, because they're basically wasting an MVP season from Joe Mauer.
At this point, the AL MVP race is really down to two players. Minnesota's Mauer, and New York's Mark Teixeira.
Mauer: .378 BA, .446 On-Base %, .643 Slugging %, and 1.089 OPS. All of those numbers lead the league. He's also got 25 HR, and 77 RBI.
Teixeira: .283 BA, 31 HR (which lead the league), 89 RBI. His On-Base % is .381, he's slugging .557, and his OPS is .937.
So outside of homers and RBI, Mauer leads Tex in most of the big offensive categories. So why is it even a race?
Simple. The Yankees have the best record in baseball, and the Twins are third in one of the worst divisions in baseball.
The question boils down to, should the MVP go to the best player in the league? Or should it go to the person most valuable to a contending team?
I tend to lean towards the latter. After all, how "valuable" can a guy be if his team is so mediocre?
That being said, I'm willing to wave that "you need to be on a contending team" axiom if a guy has a season that's SO outstanding, that it simply transcends his own team's mediocrity.
If you're in the Top 5 in the Triple Crown categories, that would qualify. Mauer isn't quite there yet, but he's damned close. We know he leads in Batting Average. 5th place in Home Runs right now is 28; he's got 25. 5th place in RBI right now is 84; he's got 77.
Those numbers put him well within range of that qualification. And when you throw in his league-leading OB%, SLG%, and OPS, I think he's in solid position to win the award, even if the Twins don't comeback to make the playoffs.
But in saying all that, I can't dismiss the impact that Tex has had on the Yankees. Nobody's screaming bloody murder about it yet, but the Evil Empire is back folks. The Yankees are kicking butt and taking names. And any honest evaluation of the contenders has to make them the odds-on favorite to win the World Series at this point.
And much of the credit for their surge this year goes to Teixeira. There's no question that the additions of Sabathia and Burnett have stabilized New York's rotation. And Phil Hughes' emergence has settled their bullpen down. But Tex's presence in the middle of that line-up, combined with the runs he's saved with his defensive prowess at first base, has been at the very core of New York's run.
It's for that reason, as well as his offensive production, that he's in the race with Mauer.
Don't ask me how this will turn out. I'm biased. But having Mauer leading the race for MVP gives us Twins fans a little something to cling to in what's otherwise turning into a dismal season.
The Twins are in Kansas City tonight for a weekend series with the Royals before returning home to finish August in the friendly, bubbly confines of the Metrodome.
Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 54-68, in fourth place in the NL West, and 18 games behind the L.A. Dodgers.
Well, so much for that charge for .500.
Last week, Arizona had won 5 in a row, and I was bullish on their chances to reach even-steven.
This week, they've lost 5 in a row, and 6 of their last 10. And just like that, .500 is beyond their reach again.
Arizona has 40 games left in their season, and would have to go 27-13 over those last 40 to finish 81-81.
Raise your hand if you see this happening... anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
Didn't think so.
So what's the goal? 70 wins? Dare I ask for 75? You're right. 70 is probably far more reasonable.
Who'd have thought it possible that a team would go from battling for the playoffs last year, to hoping to get to 70 wins this year?
Speaking of award contention, Dan Haren is still on the list of NL Cy Young candidates. It's a pretty open race too. St. Louis' Chris Carpenter, San Francisco's Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, and Florida's Josh Johnson are all in the mix. I have my doubts as to whether Haren can win it. 12-8 is the worst record amongst those contenders. And the Snakes don't seem to be able to help him a lot in that regard.
Again though, if your team's in the tank, it's stuff like this that keeps you watching when you might otherwise be tempted to tune into football of some kind.
Not that I'd ever do that.
Arizona is in Houston for the weekend, and then heads back West to visit San Francisco for 3 games next week.
So that's going to do it for this week. A good effort by everybody this week. Really, I'm proud.
Oh, and someone named Favre is debuting for the Vikings tonight. I'll be watching Twins/Royals. Mostly.
Okay, I'll have both games on in the studio. Favre's going to play two series tops, so after that, it's all baseball for me! Really! I promise!
I'll be back on Monday with more Sports Take goodness.
Until then, thanks for reading!