The major league all-star game goes tonight in Kansas City as the American League's best take on their counterparts from the National League. Once again, the winning league gets home-field advantage for the World Series (oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!). This of course will mean nothing if there are two outs in the bottom of the 9th and both the pitcher and batter are on teams that aren't in a pennant race. However, that being said, the fact there is an extra playoff spot on the table means more teams are in it. Sadly, the Cubs are not one of those teams.
The Blue Jays are in the middle of a playoff race. While being 9 1/2 out in the A-L East, despite being 500, I can't see Toronto making a run at the AL East title, but they go into the break just 2 1/2 back. Teams in front of them are the Angels, Orioles, Rays, Indians, Tigers, Athletics and Red Sox. Toronto can definitely take the wild-card spot, but they need to do something about their roster. If GM Alex Anthopoulos thinks this team has what it takes to make the playoffs, he has to deal an Adam Lind, an Eric Thames, a Travis Snider or one of their many talented prospects to get pitching help. The story of Toronto's pitchers has to be one of the big stories of the first half as Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and Luis Perez have all been lost for the season while Brandon Morrow has spent considerable time on the DL as has closer Sergio Santos.
The division leaders at the break are the Yankees (DUHHHH), the White Sox and Texas in the American League with Washington, Pittsburgh and the Dodgers leading the way in the National League. How tough would it be for Montreal fans to see the Nationals in the playoffs? How nice would it be to see teams that have been mainstays in the playoffs over the last few years not get in (teams like the Red Sox, the Rays, the Braves, and the Cardinals). Fresh blood is needed and it would appear as if some will get in this year which is good for the sport.
While the Yankees are the Yankees, I don't think they are the best team in baseball right now. That honor would have to go to the Texas Rangers. The Rangers certainly want to get back to the World Series after being one out away from winning it not once but twice last year. They are solid from top to bottom and they are led by the uber-talented Josh Hamilton who should be the American League MVP again.
SURPRISING TEAMS---Cleveland, Pittsburgh, the White Sox, Washington
DISAPPOINTING TEAMS--Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Colorado
SURPRISING PLAYER- R.A Dickey of the Mets
DISAPPOINTING PLAYER--Tim Lincecum of the Giants.
How does it all shake down in the end.
AL DIVISION WINNERS--Yankees, Detroit, Texas
WILD CARD TEAMS--Baltimore, Angels
ALCS---Angels beat Texas
NL DIVISION WINNERS--Atlanta, Cincinnati, Arizona
WILD CARD TEAMS ---Pittsburgh, Washington
NLCS --Arizona beats Atlanta
WORLD SERIES ---Angels beat Diamondbacks
If this happens, remember where you saw it first. If it doesn't (which it likely won't), don't be surprised.