What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
For me, the All-Star break has always represented the “far turn” in the horse race that is the Major League Baseball season. This is the point when general managers acting as jockeys must decide whether they are contenders or pretenders; whether to go to the whip (trade for talent to augment a “stretch run”) or “wait for next year” (have a fire sale).
This is why the rumor mills are always abuzz in the weeks around this time. Even before we can get to that buzz, the Blue Jays have decided they are selling, and the Rangers are clearly buying. The Braves grabbed a veteran shortstop while doing a bit “addition by subtraction” by sending perennial underacheiver Yuniel Escobar to Toronto in exchange for Alex Gonzalez. On the other side of the coin, the Rangers finally discovered that pitching might be the key to a run through October by acquiring all-star caliber pitcher Cliff Lee from the Mariners, who were clearly over-rated to start the season.
Speaking of pre-season ratings, the far turn is also a good place to really look at how wrong your prognostications were. While the Blue Jays gave us a nice surprise for a while, ultimately they are showing they don’t have the ponies to run with the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. Meanwhile teams that looked to be at the front of the pack are running like they shattered a collective leg.
For example, the Phillies entered this campaign as the defending National League champions; for 10 weeks they played as such. However, for the past six, they have forgotten how to score, and for large stretches of that time the ageless wonder Jamie Moyer has been a more effective pitcher than the bazillion-dollar ace Roy Halladay. The turning point came during that Mets series in June when the Phillies’ seemingly discovered how to score negative runs.
In contrast, the Minnesota Twins never really had such a clear-cut moment spelling doom. Instead, the Twins seem to be on a march toward “death by a thousand cuts;” every day brings a new seemingly small problem that while insignificant by itself, in total they become a blow to the system that can’t be overcome. The loss of uber-stud Justin Morneau to a concussion could have been that fatal blow if only the Twins weren’t 90% of the way to bleeding out by then.
Peruse the full rankings and draw your own conclusions. The numbers behind each team indicate change from the previous ranking. Teams with the biggest changes from the last ranking are in are in bold. The teams with the biggest difference between their preseason ranking and their current position are in italics.