Huddle Up

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We’ve reached the halfway point of the baseball season, and just as I did at the quarter pole, it’s time to check in on the division and wild card races and handicap how things should go in the second half. (All standings as of yesterday.)

NL West – San Diego leads Los Angeles by 1 game, Arizona by 1½. The Padres were an easy pick for me until they picked up Milton Bradley, the single most evil person in all of baseball. Plus, despite they’re outstanding pitching (3.00 ERA), they’re not very good in one-run games (14-16). The Dodgers have the second most evil person in baseball managing them, but somehow, they’re 17-9 in one-run games. With James Loney in the lineup every day, they’re offense is superior to San Diego’s. The D’backs are doing it with mirrors and Randy Johnson can’t seem to stay healthy. They’ll be out of the hunt by the end of the month.

NL Central – Milwaukee leads Chicago by 6.5 games. The Brewers are a game under .500 since their torrid 24-10 start, but they’ve actually added a game to their lead since we last checked in. Some have the Cubs making a run at them, and they’ve been playing well lately, but they’re another Piniella meltdown away from being in disarray again. Milwaukee should pull away.

NL East – New York leads Atlanta by 4 games, Philadelphia by 5. The Mets had a wretched June and still enjoy a pretty decent lead, all things considered. They’re schedule this month should be a snap. The Braves would get a huge boost if Andruw Jones gives up his Julio Lugo impersonation. I picked the Phillies before the season started but I just can’t hang my hat on any of the pitchers after Cole Hamels. This will be a two-team race by August.

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NL Wild Card – Dodgers lead Diamondbacks by one-half game, Braves by 3, Phillies by 4, Cubs by 5. This will come down to the East and West runners-up, but I’m praying for the Cubs because it has such disastrous potential.

AL West – Los Angeles leads Seattle by 4 games. First of all, how does Orlando Cabrera not make the All-Star team? What a joke. Anyway, sorry Sox fans, but the Angels are the best team in baseball right now. It will be interesting to see how the Mariners react to their manager jumping ship. Not well is my guess. That leaves the A’s going on one of their patented second-half runs if the Angels are going to be challenged. They have 13 games left with the Angels.

AL Central – Cleveland leads Detroit by 1½ games, Minnesota by 6½ games. C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona and Joe Barowski are somehow getting it done. It’s not going to last. They have 24 games left with Detroit and Minnesota, although they have a combined 10-2 record against them so far. The Tigers have Kenny Rogers back, but Magglio Ordonez has to come back to reality, doesn’t he? The Twins have Joe Mauer back and Johan Santana is back to being Johan Santana. This is the race to watch.

AL East – Boston leads Toronto by 10½, New York by 11. Okay, I’m convinced. The Red Sox have this thing all but won. The offense is worrisome, but their second-half schedule is so weak, it’s not going to overwhelm their pitching. And hate to break it to ya, Yankee fans, but you already made your run. Thanks for playing.

AL Wild Card – Detroit leads Seattle by 1 game, Minnesota by 5, Oakland by 5½. Looks like the Central second and third-place teams and maybe the A’s will be fighting for this spot. Almost makes you hate the Wild Card for taking some of the zest out of the Central race.

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