So far, so good

1. The season so far, so good

People have been asking, so I’m answering: so far this has been a really good baseball season. We’ve seen perfect games and a nil-hitter (that was my attempt to please the World Cup fans) and many near no-hitters. We are seeing really good pitching and many exciting 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 games. We’ve got a number of batters who are hitting the ball well and thanks to the absence of Tropicana (that is “juice”), with more balls in play, we are seeing some outstanding fielding plays. Most importantly, we have seen an influx of a number of young stars and potential stars who are on their way to transitioning the game to the future.

I know it is just the ides of June, but here is a quick look at each division with still about a 100 games to be played:

AL East: Four games separate the top three teams with the Yanks and Rays tied for first and the Red Sox on the ascension. Great job by all three managers here as Joe Maddon has his Rays thinking like winners and Joe Girardi and Terry Francona have had to battle through injuries and key players slumping. The Jays have gotten off to a good start and remain five games over .500 at 35-30. Last year at this time, Toronto was 34-31 with Roy Halladay.

Central Park

AL Central: This looks as if it will be a two-team race between Minnesota and Detroit. The Tigers currently trail by just 2.5 games and have gotten great performances by rookies Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch. No other team is above .500 and no other team is likely to be above .500. It will be interesting to watch the ChiSox at the trading deadline.

AL West: Four games separate the top three teams with the Angels trailing Texas by just a game and Oakland (32-33) hovering just under .500. The Mariners have been a disaster and after finishing with 85 wins last season are threatening to match their 101 losses of 2008.

NL East: Six games separate the top from the bottom in this division. The Braves are en route to making it a grand finale for Bobby Cox, while Mets’ manager Jerry Manuel went from the chopping block to just a game and a half from the lead. The Phils boss, Charlie Manuel, has got to be wondering what has happened to his team which is 3.5 games back, making them closer to last place than to first place. The Marlins at 31-32 are remarkably consistent with a 17-5 home record, 20-22 against teams over .500, 4-6 in their last 10 games, 9-11 in their last 20, and 15-15 in their last 30. The Washington Strasburgs are on their way to being exciting to watch and follow. This division could finish with every team .500 or better.

Grand Central Station

NL Central: Neither Central Division is blessed with good baseball teams but they each have good races for the top spot. Today the Reds lead the Cardinals by one game with everyone else under .500 for good (actually that should probably be “for bad”). The Reds are another young and exciting team on the upswing with Mike Leake being a great story and a great combination of youth and experience with guys like Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Scott Rolen.

NL West: Just 3.5 games separate the top four teams with the Padres, Dodgers and Giants all tied with 27 losses apiece. San Diego has played and won one more game, which accounts for their half-game lead. The Rockies are just 3.5 back and I still think they will end up on top although it is a division with four teams that will finish over .500, four teams with outstanding talent, and four teams with flaws. The Diamondbacks are done for this year.

Some players to take note of including Robby Cano who leads all of baseball with a .371 average and fielding like crazy. Vlad Guerrero is the best free agent signing of the past off-season. Adrian Beltre is having a great contract season (again). Pay attention to Miggy Cabrera who is having a Triple Crown caliber season, leading the AL in homers and RBI but “only” hitting .330.

Andre Ethier is hitting .343 to lead the NL and I really don’t think people are too surprised. I do think some eyebrows have been raised with Marlon Byrd at .333 and Martin Prado at .332 however. Troy Glaus leads the NL in RBI with 49 in a great comeback season.

Ubaldo? Me baldo.

Ubaldo Jimenez is on his way to the Cy Young in the NL having faced 356 batters and allowing only 12 of them to score. Right now the AL CYA leaders are the rising superstar David Price and the rejuvenated veteran Andy Pettitte.

I would love to hear your opinion but I really do think, so far, so good for this season.

2. I feel the earth move, under my feet

If you are old like me, you understand this picture

At Petco last night, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the San Diego Padres, 6-3. John Buck homered twice and Aaron Hill had three doubles and three RBI for the Blue Jays. Shaun Marcum (6-3) picked up the win despite allowing solo homers by Jerry Hairston Jr. and Adrian Gonzalez.

Play stopped momentarily in the 8th inning as Petco Park swayed during the magnitude-5.7 quake that was centered about five miles southeast of Ocotillo in Imperial County, about 85 miles east of San Diego. Then again it may just have been BP trying to distract people by causing an earthquake.

3. The rest of yesterday

Blue Jays 6, Padres 3

Cardinals 9, Mariners 3, Adam Wainwright (9-4) became the third nine-game winner in the National League

Giants 10, Orioles 2, Pat Burrell homers again for the Giants

Brewers 12, Angels 2, Ryan Braun hit his third career grand slam

4. Today

Mets (Johan Santana) at Indians (Justin Masterson), 7:05

Nationals (John Lannan) at Tigers (Max Scherzer), 7:05

Phillies (Roy Halladay) at Yankees (C.C. Sabathia), 7:05, could be a great match-up

White Sox (Freddy Garcia) at Pirates (Brad Lincoln), 7:05

Diamondbacks (Ian Kennedy) at Red Sox (Clay Buchholz), 7:10, Drew v Drew

Rays (David Price) at Braves (Kenshin Kawakami), 7:10, could be a great match-up

Rangers (C.J. Wilson) at Marlins (Josh Johnson), 7:10, could be a great match-up

Dodgers (Hiroki Kuroda) at Reds (Aaron Harang), 7:10

A’s (Trevor Cahill) at Cubs (Carlos Zambrano), 8:05

Astros (Felipe Paulino) at Royals (Kyle Davies), 8:10, could be losing the will to live before I watch this series

Rockies (Aaron Cook) at Twins (Carl Pavano), 8:10, have you seen the Pavano-stache?

Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith) at Cardinals (Jeff Suppan), 8:15, Soup returns to the Cardinals

Brewers (David Bush) at Angels (Ervin Santana), 10:05

Blue Jays (Brett Cecil) at Padres (Mat Latos), 10:05, could be a great match-up

Orioles (Jake Arrieta) at Giants (Joe Martinez), 10:15

5. Goal Setting

I have two goals, one short term and one long term. The long-term goal is to become a regular contributor to Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN radiowhich I think is the best show on the air for any time slot, andy station, local, national or satellite.

My short-term is equally simple: make some money. I am looking for any writing work, baseball or otherwise. P/T, freelance, short-term, long-term, one time, multiple-times, web content, research, papers, blogs, ghost-writing, Tweets, it does not matter, it just needs to pay fairly.

Contact me if you can help me achieve either my short- or long-term goals.

FYI: I will not be joining the Big Ten

6. Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!

Bad match-up

Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball’s executive committee urged all 12 clubs to avoid any link with gang members after two sumo stablemasters were punished by the Japan Sumo Association for giving gang members ringside sumo tickets.

Ringside at a sumo match seems to be the least appealing location.

7. Happy Birthday

Hall of Famer Billy Williams is 72 today

Hall of Famer Wade Boggs is 52 today

Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte is 38 today

8. The Strasburg Report

Stephen Strasburg was named the National League player of the week after going 2-0 with 22 strikeouts and a 2.19 ERA in two major league starts.

Today he is prepping President Obama on his speech to the nation tonight and working with the English goalkeeper on hand skills.

Also according ESPN, Strasburg wears a size 15 shoe.

9. Something is not kosher at Citi Field

Kosher Sports Inc., the owner of three stands at Citi Field that sell hot dogs, sausages, knishes, hamburgers, beer and other food, claims that it has lost a half-million dollars in profits because the team does not permit it to sell food on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.

The vendor claims in its lawsuit, which seeks $1 million in compensation, that it received permission from kosher-certifying authorities to open the stands to sell food items on the Sabbath.

But Rabbi Shmuel Heinemann, who oversees kashrut for the Kosher Sports company, told the NY Post that he did not give the company permission to make sales on Shabbat, saying that if such sales took place, the stands could not be kosher.