Thursday, July 10, 2008


The Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays are the talk of baseball. And while their turn-around has been remarkable, another team has been overlooked and practically ignored.

The Orioles will probably finish 4th in the AL East, which has been their home for 9 of the last 10 seasons. But they might do something they haven't done since 1997: finish above .500. They're 44-45 coming into this weekend's series at Fenway.

Baltimore wasn't supposed to be this good. They were supposed to finish 5th in the division, and contend for the worst record in baseball. And although their pitching has been true to that prediction (12th best ERA in the AL), their offense has some teeth. They're 6th in runs scored, and 4th in homeruns. Former Ray Aubrey Huff has 18 homers. Nick Markakis has a .397 OBP and 14 dingers. Former Astro Luke Scott also has 14. Kevin Millar has decided to go back to being a baseball player, and has 12 HRs.

The Red Sox are only 5-4 against Baltimore this season. They were 12-6 against the O's in '07, and 15-3 against them in '06. But they're not that easy to beat anymore.

The Orioles won't be directly involved in the AL East race. But they will be a factor. Tampa Bay is 8-3 against Baltimore. The Sox are 2 games behind that record, and also 2 games behind the Rays for first place.



Those who read this site with any regularity know that I hate two things: sportswriters, and people from New York. So when I read Peter Abraham's column arguing for Mariano Rivera to start the All-Star Game, you can imagine my rage.

"But this goes beyond strategy. For all he has done in baseball, Rivera curiously has been left out at awards time. He has not won the MVP Award or Cy Young Award, and he was the World Series MVP only once in the four times the Yankees have won the title during his tenure. He has won a few of those Rolaids Relief Awards, but nobody gets too excited about that. This could be his last chance to get some real recognition. We're talking about one of the best players in the history of the game, the best relief pitcher ever. Has any professional athlete ever been better at his job?"

Recognition??? Everyone acknowledges Rivera is the best closer ever. What more recognition do you want? He'll get his due and proper in Cooperstown 5 years after he retires.

"But it would be nice if the starting pitcher was somebody people actually recognized. Justin Duchscherer? John Danks? No and no."

Abraham complains about recognition and then proclaims that Justin Duscherer (10-5, 1.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP) shouldn't get the nod as starter because he isn't a household name. Did you ever think that an All-Star start would help make him a household name? And just because someone doesn't pitch in New York or Boston, and you don't know who he is, doesn't mean they aren't a star.

Thankfully, Terry Francona has more respect for the game of baseball than he does for Mariano Rivera. He won't make a mockery of things by starting a reliever. He'll use Rivera if there's a save situation. Francona knows who Mo is, and has nothing but respect for him. But he won't pander to fans who only want to see the Yankees.