We find ourselves smack in the middle of the dog days of August right now. The pull-your-hair-out, hang-on-every-pitch intensity of the final two weeks of a close pennant race is still a month's off, and it seems like with football starting up, Tiger winning another major and other news stories coming from elsewhere in the sports world, baseball is just dragging a bit.
It shouldn't be. There are seven teams with a legitimate crack at the postseason in the American League, and another ten in the Senior Circuit. Just as the games counted back in early April, and just as they sure as hell will count in late September, some critical contests are being played right now. A trip around the blogosphere should serve to stave off late summer baseball fatigue and reignite the passion we all have for the game.
Things got interesting quickly in the American League East. Once 14.5 games out in front of the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox found themselves just four up yesterday. For just the second time all season long, the Red Sox pulled out a win when trailing after eight innings. Mike Lowell hit the game-tying home run with one out in the ninth and then with two outs, Jason Varitek doubled and Coco Crisp played Varitek on a single to right field to give Boston a 2-1 win. Randy Booth at Over the Monster is relieved to have an exciting one fall Boston's way for the first time in what has felt like a long while. Red from Surviving Grady agrees with the sentiment. He just expresses himself a bit, um, differently.
It's been far, far too long since we've had a dramatic, drop-yer-beers-and-grab-yer-balls finish like that.Jimmy from Dewey's House reminds us of the potential impact Clay Buchholz could have on matters should the Sox call him up like they are rumored to be considering.
At The Replacement Level Yankee Weblog, they take a pretty sober approach toward things. The Yankees are an excellent team, but even they will acknowledge they have been playing a bit over their heads. SG documented the believers and the non-believers, and noted chronologically the progress New York had made in a post that went up on Sunday. They also took time to remember Scooter.
Alex Belth is no stranger to these parts, and he and his co-writer Cliff Corcoran always keep close tabs on the Bombers at Bronx Banter. Cliff offered up his own Rizzuto memorial, and Alex, as only Alex can, offered up a post on Sunday with a title that captured the essence of a good run in baseball as well as any other statement I've seen. It was called, "When You're Hot, You Win."
After New York was trounced 12-0 last night by Baltimore, Boston gained a game and their lead now stands at 5. Though well back of a playoff spot, this post from Orioles Hangout will give you a decent sense for the vibes being felt in and around The Charm City. They took two of three from Boston in dramatic fashion over the weekend and then went into the Bronx and laid the 12-0 drubbing on the Yanks.
Toronto is doing their typical thing, hovering around .500, playing decent ball but not really threatening anybody. Not giving up hope just yet, Mike Green of Batters Box took a look at some past late-season comebacks. D-Rays Bay, God bless their souls, hangs in their with their team through thick and thin and their latest entry is an interesting look at Jonny Gomes. I imagine they might be refreshing their browsers a couple of times today for a David Price update.
In the Central, the Tribe and Tigers are locked in a fantastic race. The division has become much more crucial now that the Yankees are in the Wildcard fold. Neither team has played well of late but hey, they all count. There is plenty of time for both teams to get things squared away. Bill Ferris of Detroit Tigers Weblog is not letting his team's recent play dampen his enthusiasm for the critical stretch of games the Tigers have coming up.
Am I crazy for being geeked about this stretch of games? Given the way the Tigers have played lately I probably am, but I guess I’m anxious to see what the team is made of. I’m not going to take the position that the season will be decided over the next 2 weeks, that’s just silly. Unless the team is 4-9 or worse, or 9-4 or better, their status probably won’t really change. Still, the chance to see them take on the teams they are competing with for playoff spots should be exciting.
Brian of Tigerblog recaps last night's 6-2 win over the Tribe to take a one game lead in the division. James Pete recaps the game from the Cleveland perspective with an analysis of the contest. Let's just say he's not all that psyched with Joe Borowski.
Looking down-division in the Central, Aaron Gleeman offers a comprehensive take on how the Twins got to where they are now, and how they should approach the rest of the season. The Cheat from South Side Sox offered a stream-of-consciusness post on some Pale Hose related matters on Sunday. Rob and Rany checked in yesterday with a characteristically snarky and enjoyable offering on the state of the Royals.
Out west, the Angels hold a three game lead over the Mariners but as Rev Halofan points out, they have a helluva grind comin gup over the next two-plus weeks. Dave Cameron offered a nice look at a major reason for Seattle's solid play of late - Jeff Weaver's resurgence.
Here's a look from Athletic Nation on some of Oakland's unlikely sources of 2007 good play. In Arlington, you'll take what you can get at this point and signing two promising draft picks is just about as good as any other news Rangers fans can be receiving at this point.
The National League East has tightened up, with 3.5 games separating the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. Pedro Martinez could end up playing a major role in the 2007 baseball season, and Matthew Cerone of MetsBlog has a look at his latest rehab effort. A Citizen's Blog details Tadahito Iguchi's contributions to Philly since he came over. How many of you were like me and counted Philadelphia out when Chase Utley went down? Will Schaffer of Chop-n-Change has Chipper Jones coming up huge again for Atlanta on a night when both New York and Philadelphia won. I am not sure if you have noticed, but the Washington Nationals have been decent of late. Chris Needham provides a comprehensive take.
Nobody wants to win the Central. The Cubs are 3-7 in their last ten and Milwaukee continues to play mediocre ball. Jeff at Brew Crew Ball thinks it's time to pounce on a soft week in the schedule (of course the Cubs also get CIN and STL at home). Al at Bleed Cubbie Blue had a nice vent on Sunday addressing Chicago's crummy recent play.
Will Leitch has a great take on the phenomenon that is Rick Ankiel and St. Louis Cardinals fans. Charlie at Bucs Dugout laments Pittsburgh's lacking organizational depth. JD from Red Reporter pointed me to the SI article recapping Cincinnati's 1990 sweep of the Oakland Athletics. Rare in sports that a contest is at once a major upset and also just a total drubbing.
Stay with the Snake Pit in order to keep tabs on the team with the National League's best record. Geoff Young from Ducksnorts reminds Padres fans not to panic while Dan Lucero has things looking up in Denver. Jon Weisman offers up his own most embarassing moment in light of last night's Mark Sweeney gaffe, though I am not sure the new Dodger will take consolation - not with the Dodgers free-falling in the standings as they are. As you can imagine if you have read his past work, John Perricone has some opinions to share regarding Barry Bonds.
So there you have it, a quick tour around the baseball blogosphere. Please post some other sites or good pieces from the web that you think capture fan sentiment in the comments section. We would love to check them out.