MLB Week in Review (May 19-25)

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I have said time and time again that the MLB is the most stubborn unchangeable leagues in North America. The MLB is not a fan of change as they have fought against changing many parts of the game in order to preserve their connection to history. One of the biggest issues in the MLB is the fact that they refuse to change the aspect of human error. The MLB loves this aspect of their game as they regularly brag about how their game involves a human element that separates them from the rest of the big four in North America. It is true that baseball still holds a human element and a connection to their history and it is true that this creates a different kind of connection and experience. The issue with this thinking though is that baseball is quickly falling behind the other sports in terms of popularity. Attendance has gone down in almost every park and the speed of hockey, marketing of NFL, and party atmosphere of the NBA has taken focus. Along with the attitude towards the sport the MLB is also falling behind in terms of technology as, aside from the evolution of Saber Metrics, more often than not the MLB seems afraid to do anything new in terms of technology. It took the MLB a very long time to allow replay and even when it did it limited it to Home Runs only. Granted replay may slow down an already slow game but there have been many suggestions to expand replay and still keep the game’s integrity. Recently the discussion has had new life after a number of key blown calls by the umpires that have resulted in some angry players and fans. Whether it is Bill Miller calling two strikes on pitches that were clearly balls or Tim Welke calling a runner out at first when the first baseman was clearly 3 feet off of the bag umpires have been taking some real heat lately. With these calls many people are looking to technology to change the MLB and make everything much fairer. Of course there has been resistance, Commissioner Bud Selig came out this week to state that they will not expand replay anytime soon, with the MLB looking to stay traditional. There is something to say for the link that the MLB has to their history as it makes them unique but it is beginning to get out of hand. With TV continuing to evolve these controversial plays are scrutinized more and more and proof is building that umpires are not perfect. It may be time for the MLB to move into the 21st century as more and more money is at stake with teams looking for that massive TV deal to help them stay afloat in the MLB. If these teams lose games because of blown calls or worse lose out on a playoff spot or lose in the playoffs because of questionable calls these TV deals may dry up. I don’t have the answer to making the game relatively mistake free but the idea of expanding replay to allow a manager one challenge a game seems to be the best solution I have heard. The one challenge rule could solve many problems as there are rarely two bad calls in a game against one team and only allowing one will not slow down the game too much. It must be said as well that the umpires do not blow calls all that much but on the times that they do it usually means something big. Allowing one challenge may be the solution as it could have prevented Jim Joyce from stealing a perfect game away from Armando Galarraga. It won’t happen anytime soon especially as long as Bud Selig sits in the commissioner’s role but it is something that they should seriously consider after some big blown calls in a young season that has launched many people into the debate.

As the umpire debate rages on there is still baseball to be played and as teams continue to assert their dominance and battle for position the strongest division in the MLB is seeing a very unfamiliar sight. The AL East has been the most difficult division in baseball for two reasons, The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. These two teams spent hundreds of millions on player payroll and the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and Baltimore Orioles had no chance of keeping up. Then the Tampa Bay Rays found a way to win without breaking the bank and made the division a three team race with the top two making the playoffs and the third place team being eliminated. This trend looked to continue this year as many believed the Yankees would take the division again and leave the Rays and Red Sox to battle it out. Then all of a sudden the Red Sox stumbled out of the gate lifting the Baltimore Orioles from the bottom of the division. Not only did they get out of the basement but the Orioles were able to move to the penthouse as they have been able to take the top spot in the division and have kept it through almost two full months of the season. The Red Sox have remained at the bottom of the division unable to get out of the unfamiliar position. Recently the Yankees have also struggled and are fight with the Red Sox to stay out of the bottom of the division. The Rays remain at the top of the division but have not been able to unseat the O’s. The Blue Jays remain in the middle of the division but are hoping that the extra wild card can give them a shot at the playoffs as long as they can stay ahead of the Yankees and Red Sox. The big question is whether or not this can all last or will the O’s fall into old habits and the Red Sox and Yankees figure it out and be their dominant selves. Only time will tell but one thing is for sure as the AL East has become a little more interesting this year with almost every team in the mix.

 

MLB Standings

American League

East:

1. Baltimore Orioles (.630)

2. Tampa Bay Rays (.609)

3. New York Yankees (.533)

4. Toronto Blue Jays (.522)

5. Boston Red Sox (.489)

Central:

1. Cleveland Indians (.578)

2. Chicago White Sox (.522)

3. Detroit Tigers (.467)

4. Kansas City Royals (.386)

5. Minnesota Twins (.333)

West:

1. Texas Rangers (.609)

2. Oakland Athletics (.478)

3. Los Angeles Angels (.468)

4. Seattle Mariners (.438)

 

National League

East:

1. Washington Nationals (.600)

2. Atlanta Braves (.553)

3. Miami Marlins (.543)

4. New York Mets (.543)

5. Philadelphia Phillies (.511)

Central:

1. Cincinnati Reds (.556)

2. St. Louis Cardinals (.543)

3. Houston Astros (.489)

4. Pittsburgh Pirates (.467)

5. Milwaukee Brewers (.422)

6. Chicago Cubs (.333)

West:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (.667)

2. San Francisco Giants (.522)

3. Arizona Diamondbacks (.435)

4. Colorado Rockies (.386)

5. San Diego Padres (.362)

 

Key Scores:

Houston Astros 6 – 5 Texas Rangers

– The Lonestar Series kicked off interleague play for both of these Texas teams as the Astros were able to beat the Rangers despite the Rangers holding the best record in the MLB and looking like they could be back in the World Series this year

 

Oakland Athletics 6 – 2 San Francisco Giants

– The Athletics and Giants kicked off the Bay Bridge Series as the surprising A’s were able to get past the struggling Giants as Oakland looks to stay afloat in against the best team in the MLB the division leading Rangers

 

Washington Nationals 5 – 2 Philadelphia Phillies

– The Nationals were not supposed to be the team to beat this year in the NL East as they were expected to be a contender but have surprised everyone including the former team to beat in the Phillies

 

San Francisco Giants 14 – 5 Miami Marlins

– The Giants’ have not been known for their offence but the bats finally came alive as they rattled off 14 runs against the Marlins with most of their runs coming after the 6th inning as they chased Anibal Sanchez and roughed up the bullpen

 

Next Week:

Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals (May 27th; 2:15 pm ET)

– The St. Louis Cardinals are the defending champs and are playing like it as they sit atop their division while the Phillies are still looking to regain that magic they had for the past few years to get out of the basement of their division

 

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants (May 29th; 10:15 pm ET)

– Arizona and San Francisco are not far apart both geographically and in the standings as the giants have recovered from an early season stumble and the D-Backs are looking to keep up in the NL West

 

Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox (May 30th; 7:10 pm ET)

– The Tigers were a popular pick to be a great team this year but have failed to meet expectations while the Red Sox have also disappointed as both teams look to get something going by stringing together some key wins

 

Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels (June 1st; 10:05 pm ET)

– The Rangers and Angles were supposed to fight it out for the AL West but the Rangers have taken off becoming the best team in baseball and the Angels have struggled to get anything going putting them at the bottom of the division

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