Sunday, June 29, 2008

Meandering Thoughts: Clichés

Turn on any news, sports, or entertainment station and chances are you'll be bombarded by clichés. In today’s era of shock, awe, and hyperbole, everything needs a cool nickname, an alliterative description, or at the least, a clichéd narrative. However, have you ever thought about the clichés that are so often thrown about?

· Are you never too old to learn, or is it impossible to teach old dog new tricks?
· Does absence make the heart truly grow fonder, or is it out of sight, out of mind?
· Is it true that haste makes waste, or is that the only way for the early bird to get the worm?
· If nothing is ventured, can you gain, or is it better to be safe than sorry?
· Do you make sure to never put off until tomorrow what you can do today or do you worry about that bridge when you come to it?
· If you are a nice guy, will you finish last or do you do unto others as you have them do unto you?
· Since talk is so cheap, how can a word to the wise be sufficient?
· If it’s only a penny for your thoughts, why do you put in your two cents?
· Should you look before you leap or will that hesitation make you lost?
· And finally, how can you be aware of Greeks bearing gifts you don’t look that gift horse in the mouth?

Until next time, keep readin’

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Photo Blogging: Yankee Stadium

As any baseball fan will tell you, there’s nothing like catching a game at the ballpark. I have been fortunate in my life to see games at many different ballparks, including Cincinnati (Riverfront w/ turf, Riverfront w/ natural grass, and Great American), Philadelphia (Veterans and Citizens Bank), Pittsburgh (Three Rivers and PNC Park), Baltimore (Camden), Cleveland (Jacobs Field), New York (Shea), and San Diego (Petco).

Despite a decent list of ballparks visited, there were still three “big ones” that I had never visited: Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, and Wrigley Field. As a baseball enthusiast, it’s been my goal to attend a game at each of the aforementioned parks at least once before I die. Of course, those of you who are on top of baseball happenings realize that Yankee Stadium is 40 some games away from being demolished for good. Luckily for me, I was able to catch a game (via a bus trip) there last weekend when they played my Cincinnati Reds.

First, the bad news… As it seems to be my luck, the game I attended was the only game in which my Reds lost while at New York. I suppose it was a good thing I didn’t bring along a broom to the stadium…

My seats were in the outfield bleachers, which aren’t nearly as bad as people make them out to be. First, the seats themselves offer a nice view of the ballpark. I had never sat in outfield bleachers before (in any stadium), so that was a unique experience for me. However, the seats offered me another great view of the weather…namely, a devastatingly strong storm that approached the ballpark during the middle of the game.

Now, mathematically speaking, the Yankee Stadium bleacher concessions section was not meant to hold all the people sitting in the bleachers at once. After the rains started, we all shuffled down to the covered concessions area…like a bunch of sardines in a can. (Speaking of, does anyone ever buy sardines in a can anymore?)

After about an hour of standing around in a cramped, smelly place, the rains finally stopped and we retook our seat. The game itself was rather uneventful for a Reds fan, except when Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 601st homerun of his career. That was exciting for me since I have always liked Griffey Jr, going back to his days in Seattle. I think Griffey should provide me with tickets though, since I appear to be good luck for him… When I saw the Reds play in Cleveland a few years ago, I watched Griffey hit his 498th homerun.

After returning to the bus for the trip home, I took a moment to reflect on Yankee Stadium. The Stadium is undoubtedly a place chockfull of history and mystique, there’s no doubt. However, the stadium itself is rather dumpy. It’s no mystery why the Steinbrenners wanted a new Yankee Stadium! That said, I highly recommend that you make the trip to New York to catch a game at Yankee Stadium this year. Oh, and you can wear opposing colors in the bleacher section – but at your own risk. I was fine with my Reds hat, but I did see another Reds fan get tossed from the stadium…

Until next time, keep readin’

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

MLB Power Rankings: June 23, 2008

Welcome to another edition of Fanofreds’ MLB Power Rankings.

All records accurate as of June 23, 2008 at 10:00 PM EST.

1. Chicago Cubs (48 – 28 ) (Last week: #1): The Cubs are an amazing 32 – 8 at home this year! The Cubs remaining opponents winning percentage for the 2008 season is 0.500 even, which is easier than the second place Cardinals remaining opponents winning percentage of 0.512.

2. Los Angeles Angels (46 – 30) (Last week: #3): The Angels have the worst run scored differential amongst the top 5 teams (in terms of winning percentage). However, with the Angels’ pitching staff seemingly hitting its stride, their run differential should improve drastically.

3. Boston Red Sox (47 – 31) (Last week: #2): The Red Sox have 9 games remaining against the Devil Rays and 13 games remaining with the suddenly hot New York Yankees. Those 22 games will most likely determine the winner of the AL East.

4. Milwaukee Brewers (42 – 34) (Last week: #12): The Brewers, fresh off a 7-3 stretch, jump up into the top 5 of the Power Rankings. The Brewers currently sit 6.5 games behind the Cubs (and 2 games behind the Cardinals).

5. Tampa Bay Rays (44 – 31) (Last week: #4): The Rays slipped slightly this week after losing 2 of 3 to the Houston Astros.

6. St. Louis Cardinals (44 – 33) (Last week: #6): The Cardinals remain at number 6 in the rankings despite being swept by the usual doormat rival Kansas City Royals this past week.

7. New York Yankees (41 – 35) (Last week: #9): The Yankees continue their march up the Power Rankings, despite having their 7 game winning streak snapped by the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend.

8. Oakland Athletics (41 – 34) (Last week: #7): The nondescript Athletics continue their quest for another division crown. The A’s have outscored their opponents by 63 runs so far this year.

9. Minnesota Twins (40 – 36) (Last week: #19): The Twins have been exceedingly streak of late. Last week they were mired in a 3-7 skid, this week they are riding a six game winning streak.

10. Chicago White Sox (41 – 34) (Last week: #8 ): The White Sox swept the Pittsburgh Pirates before they got swept by the cross town rival Cubs. I’m betting that they would have rather swept the Cubs and been swept by the Pirates…even if (mathematically speaking) they end up at 0.500 for the week.

11. Florida Marlins (40 – 35) (Last week: #10): The Marlins have dropped 6 of their last 10 games, and have a run differential of only +2… Perhaps the one spot slide this week will be magnified to a five or six spot slide next week in the rankings.

12. Philadelphia Phillies (42 – 35) (Last week: #5): The Phillies have lost 5 in a row, and have been outscored by 19 runs in the past week. Ouch!

13. Baltimore Orioles (38 – 36) (Last week: #13): Last week, the Orioles were at .500 even. This week, the O’s have climbed to 2 games over .500. Perhaps the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays should watch out for the birds in orange (or perhaps more likely, it’s too early to make that statement).

14. Arizona Diamondbacks (39 – 37) (Last week: #11): The Diamondbacks are barely in the top half of the Power Rankings, yet they lead the NL West.

15. Texas Rangers (39 – 38 ) (Last week: #14): The Rangers, whom I picked as a surprise team, have instead been a decidedly mediocre team so far this year. That said, they still have 14 games remaining against the Angels, so they still control their own destiny to an extent.

16. Atlanta Braves (38 – 40) (Last week: #20): The Braves managed to play .500 ball and move up in the rankings. Their +40 run differential suggests that they haven’t stopped moving up yet.

17. New York Mets (37 – 38 ) (Last week: #21): A new manager, but the Mets are still one spot behind the Braves (despite a slightly better record that the Mets fans are sure to point out).

18. Detroit Tigers (36 – 39) (Last week: #17): The Tigers were supposed to threaten 1000 runs for the year. Instead, roughly half way through the season, the Tigers have been outscored (though only by 2 runs at this point).

19. Cleveland Indians (35 – 41) (Last week: #16): Despite a relatively disappointing record, the Indians have outscored their opponents by 15 runs. Perhaps the Indians can put together a run, with 6 games against the lowly Giants and Reds, now is as good a time as any.

20. Toronto Blue Jays (36 – 41) (Last week: #18 ): As if 10.5 games out of first wasn’t bad enough, the Blue Jays are behind the Orioles AND the Blue Jays have a new manager (who was also an old manager).

21. Los Angeles Dodgers (35 – 40) (Last week: # 24): The Dodgers are only 3.5 games back in the NL West…but they are 12.5 games behind the league leading Cubs. If that doesn’t prove how dismal the NL West is this year, nothing will.

22. Pittsburgh Pirates (36 – 40) (Last week: #15): The Pirates dropped 7 spots, and threaten to drop further, after this weeks games against the Yankees and Rays.

23. Kansas City Royals (33 – 43) (Last week: #29): After bashing the Royals last week, they promptly swept St. Louis and took 2 of 3 against the Giants.

24. Cincinnati Reds (35 – 42) (Last week: #22): The Reds are 13.5 games back in the NL Central but they did manage to take 2 of 3 games from the Yankees in Yankee Stadium.

25. Houston Astros (35 – 41) (Last week: #23): The Astros have gone 2-8 in their last 10 games and now sit a mere half game out of the cellar in the NL Central. Of course, the Astros would be right in the thick of things if they were in the NL West.

26. Colorado Rockies (32 – 44) (Last week: #25): The Rockies have managed to drop into the bottom fifth of the rankings, but still sit in third place in the NL West.

27. San Francisco Giants (32 – 44) (Last week: #27): The Giants dropped 2 more games (overall) this week, putting them at 12 games under .500…but tied for third place with the Rockies (see above).

28. San Diego Padres (32 – 45) (Last week: #26): The good news is the Padres are only 7.5 games out of first. The bad news is they are in last place. The worst news is they are 13 games under .500 and sinking fast.

29. Washington Nationals (30 – 47) (Last week: #28 ): The Nationals have lost 2 in a row, and 6 of their last 10, which means they are now one step ahead of the worst team in all of baseball…

30. Seattle Mariners (27 – 49) (Last week: #30): Last week I wrote that the Mariners were hopeless by being 21 games under .500. This week, they managed to end up 22 games under .500…which puts them on pace lose over 100 games this year.

So there you have it, another edition of my MLB Power Rankings. As always, let me know what you think.

Until next time, keep readin’

Friday, June 20, 2008

2007 MLB Topps Allen & Ginter Review

Review: 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Review

The Basics:

What I opened: Hobby box (24 packs – 8 cards per pack)
What I paid: Approximately $105.00, after shipping, on EBay.
Box Breakdown: 143 (out of 350) base cards (no duplicates) (12 of the base cards were short prints), 22 (out of 30) Dick Perez Sketch Cards (no duplicates), 1 paper checklist
1 Hobby Exclusive box loader –Allen & Ginter N43 Box Loader of Barry Bonds
Inserts: 27 different (see below)

Unlike many reviewers, I believe the average collector cares more about the base cards (cards anyone will get when they buy a pack) than about the highest valued, nearly impossible pulls. The 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter base card features a person (not necessarily a baseball player) or landmark on a pleasingly thick stock card. Each base card is rather minimalistic, with a centered drawingesque-photo of the subject and a lot of surrounding white space. The fronts of each card are slightly glossy while the backs are not. I noticed in my box that the backs of some of the cards appeared to be pristine white while others looked yellow and aged (which certainly added to the “retro” feel).

Each pack (except those containing relic cards) also featured one of the Dick Perez Sketch Cards. For some reason, each card has a 1/1 printed on it, which is clearly a mistake because these are NOT rare cards. I found the Sketch Card set to be a major disappointment. Each of the 30 teams is represented by one player, which is nice, but the majority of the players aren’t even the best (or, in some cases, not even the top-5 or 10) players on their respective team. Furthermore, most of the sketches are terrible…many don’t even resemble people, let alone the specific featured player.

In addition, each pack contained one mini insert card. These inserts seem to be hit or miss with most collectors, perhaps mostly because there are not readily available plastic sheets to hold such a small card? The minis consist of three different versions, a regular shrunken version of the card (which I got 15, including 2 short prints), a shrunken version with a big (ugly) Allen & Ginter back (which I got 4 of), and a similar card with a serially numbered, Bazooka logo back (my box didn’t yield any of these). If that weren’t enough, there are also unnumbered versions of regular shrunken and the Allen & Ginter backs. I like the regular minis, but the ones without numbers seem rather useless to me (but they fetch decent money on Ebay). Finally, there are also black-bordered minis of the previous sets. My box had 3 black-bordered cards, none of which were shortprints.

Although each pack contains a mini card, they are not all variations of the base set. There are also mini insert sets of Roman Rulers (why?), country flags, and snakes (rare pulls). I have no idea why there are Roman Rulers and Snakes, but my box didn’t contain either so I cannot comment on them. My box did contain to country flags, Belgium and Peru. I have to admit, the country flag set would be a rather neat set to collect (assuming I could find plastic pocket pages that are built for the mini cards).

As for regular sized insert cards, since it is a 2007 Topps product, you know there will be the hideous A-Rod road to 500 insert card (which my box had 1). These cards are an eyesore in any set, and even more out of place in a retro set like Allen & Ginter or Topps Heritage (which I reviewed here).

All the hobby boxes claim to have two hits, and mine didn’t disappoint in that sense. I received a Miguel Tejada game-worn jersey card and a Robinson Cano game-used bat card. The relic cards were interesting to pull, but I found them to be rather blasé compared to other relic cards from other sets.

The Bottom Line:
I give the 2007 MLB Topps Allen & Ginter an 88/100.

Pros: I liked the base cards (though plenty of people probably won’t). The set is relatively small, so it’s not too difficult to complete. The short prints add a bit of a challenge (just enough). Mini flags are an interesting diversion, as are the base cards of presidents and other figures/structures.

Cons: A-rod insert is ugly and a waste of cardboard. The mini-parallels are a bit excessive, collecting all of them would be nearly impossible. Dick Perez Sketch Cards were disappointing, and compounded by being one per pack. Hobby boxes expensive, driven high in price by the hunt for rip-cards.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2007 MLB Topps Heritage Review

This post was originally written (and posted) in February of 2008 on my SportingNews Blog.

As an avid baseball card collector, I have often scoured the web looking for good, honest reviews of different baseball card products. Most of the reviews are generated by paid writers who opened boxes of cards provided to them directly from the manufacturer. I assure you, I have no such luxuries. That said, my reviews take into account the investment put into the purchase of the product. Whether you want to buy baseball cards for fun or profit, I hope my newest series (which will occasionally venture outside the realm of baseball cards) is of interest to you. Thanks for the visit.

Review: 2007 MLB Topps Heritage

The Basics:
What I opened: A hobby box, containing 24 packs, 8 cards per pack.
What I paid: Approximately $55.00, after shipping, on EBay.
Box Breakdown: 175 (out of 350) base cards (plus 1 duplicate – Brandon Webb) (12 of base cards were actually short prints, 2 were yellow name variations, and 2 were yellow team name variations).
1 Hobby Exclusive box loader: Philadelphia Phillies team emblem (felt)
Inserts: 15 different (see below)

Most reviews I’ve found focus solely on the insert cards. Does set X have a great autograph or perhaps an amazing historical relic within the set? The truth of the matter is, most people, especially those who only buy a few packs or a box or two, will never see those hard-to-find cards. What they will see is the base card – and that is what should make or break a given set for any casual collector.

The 2007 MLB Topps Heritage set has a great, retro base set. The base cards (almost entirely) feature the given player’s face with clear, easy-to-read player and team names at the top and bottom of the card. There are a few “action” photos sprinkled about the set, but they look nothing like the “action shots” in products like the old Topps Stadium Club or the new Upper Deck base sets. In addition to the base card, there exist approximately 175 different short print and variation cards. The variation cards are (admittedly) a bit lame in that the only variation is the coloring of either the player name lettering or the player’s team lettering. The short prints look exactly like the regular base cards (and are numbered within the set). In fact, if you use 9-pocket pages, each page will have 7 regular cards and 2 short prints within it. The base cards (and actually, all the inserts except the hideous A-rod insert cards) are printed on thick cardboard stock. Furthermore, since each pack comes with a piece of (individually wrapped) bubblegum, the cards all smell good too!

As for the aforementioned inserts, my box contained 15 different inserts – some good and some not-so-good. The worst of the inserts I got is the A-Rod Road to 500 card. For some unimaginable reason, Topps decided to print a card for each of A-Rods homeruns and then put them into EVERY SINGLE SET they made in 2007. The A-Rod card is flashy, and printed on thin stock…it looks nothing like any other insert card within the set and is clearly the only insert set that is a total dud within the 2007 Heritage set.

My box also contained 2 Flashback cards (of Eddie Yost and Al Kaline) and 2 Then & Now cards (Lew Burdette/Johan Santana and Warren Spahn/Chien-Ming Wang). Both of these insert sets fit the “retro” theme of the set and are pleasing to look at – not to mention they give a bit of information about players of the past as well as today. My box contained 4 Mickey Mantle Homerun Champion Cards (HR #2, 6, 20, and 30). These cards, like the A-Rod cards chronical Mantle’s homeruns one card at time. However, the Mantle cards are only found in Heritage and are printed on a heavy stock (with no foil). In that regard, at least they fit within the confines of the set. In a similar fashion, the New Age Performers insert cards (of which my box contained 2, Frank Thomas and Johan Santana) are also “new card” inspired but at least printed on heavy stock without any foiling. Clearly not the best of the inserts, but not terrible either.

I was pleased with the aforementioned inserts for the most part, but my box held two better surprises! The first was a David Ortiz game-used jersey. The Ortiz card is part of the Clubhouse Collection of relic cards and features a star-shaped swatch of jersey. Better yet, my box contained an autographed Milt Bolling card – red-ink version hand-numbered to 58! This pull is rather amazing and pretty much pays for the entire box on its own. Needless to say, I was happy about that.

Finally, there were two more insert cards, both chrome parallel cards (Moises Alou and Austin Kearns). The 2007 Topps Heritage has a parallel set (actually 3 sets) of 110 chrome cards. There are chrome cards, chrome refractor cards, and black-bordered chrome cards, in increasingly difficult odds to pull. These cards are the same as the base card, except they are serially numbered and feature Topps (patented) Chrome technology. These are probably the most divisive of the insert cards, some people love them for their difficult-to-complete-the-set properties whereas others hate them because they are “shiny” in a retro set. Personally, I didn’t like them at first but after completing my Heritage set, I decided to try and complete the Chrome set as well for another “challenge.”

The Bottom Line:
I give the 2007 MLB Topps Heritage a 90/100.

Pros: Nice base cards, easy to read teams and names. Relics fairly easy to pull and feature decent players/relic sizes. Hobby box team felt emblems nice and collectible. Plethora of short prints makes putting together the set fun if willing to trade or use EBay.

Cons: A-rod shiny and out of place. Mantle insert set redundant, no way to tell variation cards without online checklist (or Beckett). Chrome cards hit or miss depending on individual taste. Base cards lack any action shots.

I hope you enjoyed my first entry – I look forward to writing more reviews in the upcoming weeks (a great way to pass the time waiting for baseball season to start back up)! Thanks, and as always, leave your comments below.

Until next time, keep readin’

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

MLB Power Rankings: June 16, 2008

All records accurate as of June 16, 2008 at 6:51 PM EST. Also posted on my Sporting News blog.

1. Chicago Cubs (45 – 25): What happens when you’ve outscored your opponents by over 100 runs and you are TWENTY-ONE games over .500 at home? Well, you get ranked #1 in the Power Rankings.

2. Boston Red Sox (44 – 28 ): The Red Sox appear to be this decade’s New York Yankees. They seem to have dynasty written all over them.

3. Los Angeles Angels (42 – 28 ): The Angels have the third best record in baseball, BUT they have only outscored their opponents by a single measly run. It’s hard (but not impossible) to keep such a great record in tact while scoring essentially the same amount of runs as you give up.

4. Tampa Bay Rays (40 – 29): Despite playing .500 ball over the last 10 games, the Rays are hanging tough in the AL East. I’m not sold on them staying at the top of the standings all year, but they certainly have enough talent to go into September with a legitimate chance at winning the division crown.

5. Philadelphia Phillies (41 – 30): The Phillies have outscored their opponents by 90 runs and are currently 4.5 games behind the Cubs for the best record in all of baseball. My Philadelphia friends (always cynical) will tell me that the Phillies are going to collapse once they get to the playoffs…but at least it looks like the Phillies will get to the playoffs!

6. St. Louis Cardinals (42 – 29): I’ll admit it, I was completely wrong on the Cardinals thus far. I thought the Cardinals would be one of the worst teams in all of baseball…but instead they’ve been my first-half surprise team (beating out the Marlins and Rays for the “honor”).

7. Oakland Athletics (38 – 31): Seriously, Oakland?! I follow baseball quite closely, but I’m not sure I could name more than 2 or 3 A’s on this year’s squad. How they are doing so well is a mystery to me – which I’ll blame on the East Coast media not giving the A’s enough coverage rather than on any of my own shortcomings ;-).

8. Chicago White Sox (38 – 31): The Chicago White Sox are 6.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the best record in baseball. In other news, hell hath frozen over and a pig was spotted flying over the nation’s capital.

9. New York Yankees (37 – 33): The Yankees have won 4 straight and 7 of their last 10. Apparently they decided to get hot just before I head to New York City to watch my beloved (yet pathetic) Reds play them in an interleague matchup.

10. Florida Marlins (37 – 32): If I told you that both Chicago teams and both Florida teams would be ranked in the top 10 of the Power Rankings, you probably would assume I was talking about the “always next year season of high hopes and boundless dreams”.

11. Arizona Diamondbacks (37 – 33): The Diamondbacks are 8 games behind the Cubs for the NL’s best record, yet the Diamondbacks have a 5.5 game lead in the putrid NL West. In fact, the Diamondbacks are the only team with at least a .500 record in the NL West!

12. Milwaukee Brewers (36 – 33): Everybody’s perpetual preseason “sleeper” team still hasn’t exactly wakened up from their slumber. Who are the real Brewers, history says a .500 team since they’ve been outscored on the year.

13. Baltimore Orioles (34 – 34): The Orioles sit at the .500 mark…which means that over half of baseball is playing sub-.500 ball thus far this season.

14. Texas Rangers (35 – 36): The Texas Rangers (soon to be known as the Hamilton Rangers) have been playing decent ball despite being in third place in a four team division. Without Hamilton, the Rangers would probably be battling for the major’s worst record.

15. Pittsburgh Pirates (34 – 36): I recently visited Pittsburgh and attended a Pirates/Nationals game. Compared to the Pirates, the Nationals looked like a AA team…and the Pirates aren’t even that good!

16. Cleveland Indians (33 – 37): The Indians have been disappointing so far, but they’ve scored 22 more runs than their opposition suggesting that they’ve been more unlucky than bad so far. Statistically speaking, the Indians should see a 4 or 5 game improvement simply by playing the same and having the Law of Averages work out.

17. Detroit Tigers (32 – 37): Sure, the Tigers are 5 games under .500… However, they’ve won 6 in a row (meaning they were 11 games under .500 a week ago) and they’ve almost evened up their run differential. If any team can make an impressive climb from the bottom half of the rankings, it’s the high-powered Tigers.

18. Toronto Blue Jays (35 – 36): The Blue Jays are dead last in the AL East, currently 8.5 games back. Unless they figure out a way to have Halladay pitch every game, there isn’t a lot of hope for this year’s team, despite being a single game under .500.

19. Minnesota Twins (34 – 36): A 3-7 stretch over the last 10 games doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence about the Twins recent play and future hopes. If they don’t turn it around quickly, they’ll soon be looking up to the Tigers, Indians, and White Sox.

20. Atlanta Braves (34– 36): Have the Braves used up all their luck with no name players? The last few years the Braves have trotted out (seemingly) lousy lineups and still played competitive ball. Could this be the year that the Braves finally fall out of contention early?

21. New York Mets (33– 35): What happened to the Mets? Santana hasn’t been the savior, Reyes, Wright, etc haven’t carried the team. Can this team full of all-stars turn it around or will they finish the season behind the Phillies, Marlins, and the hated Braves?

22. Cincinnati Reds (33 – 38 ): The Reds are 21 – 14 at home, 12 – 24 on the road. A little more skill on the road and the Reds could easily shoot up the standings… Of course, as a Reds fan I know that’s about as likely as Pete Rose giving an honest apology and Selig sticking him in the Hall of Fame.

23. Houston Astros (33 – 37): Losers of 5 straight and 8 of their last 10 games means the Astros are on the road to no where good. Like the Reds, the Astros are already double-digit games behind the Cubs…it might be about time to start thinking about next year.

24. Los Angeles Dodgers (31 – 38 ): The Dodgers record isn’t very good, but they have only been outscored by 5 runs and they are only 5.5 games behind Arizona for the NL West lead. The Dodgers have hope mostly because their division has been awful.

25. Colorado Rockies (28 – 41): World Series hangover? The Rockies have been atrocious, especially on the road where they are 12 – 25.

26. San Diego Padres (31 – 40): The Padres, despite playing .700 ball lately, are quickly approaching the 100 mark…that is, they are nearing the point where they’ve been outscored by 100 runs… That doesn’t allow you to win many games.

27. San Francisco Giants (30 – 40): Without Bonds, the Giants are now getting used to playing lousy ball in front of lousy crowds. At least in previous years they had Bonds to get fans in the stands…

28. Washington Nationals (29 – 42): See the Pittsburgh Pirates comment.

29. Kansas City Royals (28 – 42): What can I say about the Royals… How about word association: Royals … Flush. Flush … Royals. That’s all I got.

30. Seattle Mariners (24 – 45): 21 games under .500 before the All-Star break isn’t exactly what Mariner fans were hoping for. To make matters worse, the Mariners are currently riding a three game losing streak…which means they may be 30 or 40 games under .500 by the time the All-Star game rolls around. Ouch.

There you have it folks. Let me know what you think!
Until next time, keep readin'