Baseball’s All Star game is next Tuesday at Chase Field in boiling Phoenix, Ariz., so lets take a quick overview of what happened the first half of the season and what may happen in the grueling second half with the NFL still on the bubble.
First, a look at the American League.
BASEBALL AL EAST
This is still a three-team race with the Yanks and Red Sox trading places in the No. 1 spot and the Rays just lurking in third place hoping to get hot. Things could turn sour for Tampa Bay, which heads to New York for a four-game series starting Thursday.
The Red Sox are home all week long playing the Blue Jays and Orioles. Advantage Red Sox, who could retake first place by the All Star break and never relinquish it again.
BASEBALL AL CENTRAL
The Indians, one of the surprise teams in the first half of the season, are in a battle royal with the Tigers. This division shapes up almost identical to the East as we have the White Sox lurking in third place.
Cleveland stays home all week long but starts the week with a three-game series at home with the Yankees. Then it’s a four-game series against the Blue Jays. They need to go at least 4-3 in the seven games.
The Tigers head to the West Coast and play the Angels in a three-game series and then to Kansas City for a four-game set against the last place Royals. The White Sox could be in a good spot – home all week long starting with a three-game series against the Royals followed by four with the Twins. Advantage, White Sox.
BASEBALL AL WEST
In this four-team division no one really looks like they can or want to win the title. Whatever team does win probably has an early exit in the postseason. The Angels and the Rangers keep trading the top spot with the Mariners right behind despite playing under .500 ball.
The Halos stay home all week long with three against the Tigers followed by a huge four-game series against Seattle that could make or break both. The Rangers also stay home all week long with three against the Orioles followed by a four-game series with the A’s. Advantage Rangers.
BASEBALL NL EAST
The Phillies, even though Chris Lee lost on Sunday as a -180 road chalk (ugh). They still look to be the dominant team in the league with their pitching alone.
The second place Braves made a big run this past week winning five of six interleague games and look to be the main candidate as far as the Wild Card goes. This is just a two-team race!
BASEBALL NL CENTRAL
What a race this has turned into. Four of the six teams are battling it out and look to have a shot, including the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates who are just 1½ games behind the Brewers and the Cards with the Reds sitting a half game behind the “buccos” as of Monday morning.
The week starts with the Reds and Cards battling it out in a big three-game series in St. Louis. Then the Cards host Arizona for four at Busch.
Cincinnati stays on the road to Milwaukee for another huge four-game series, one that could spell doom for the Reds. The Pirates start the week with three at home against the last place Astros.
Pittsburgh gets Thursday off before the Chicago Cubs roll into town for three games. Advantage, Cardinals and Pirates.
This division is going down to the wire if all four contenders stay healthy. Don’t look for Pittsburgh to be trading any of its up and coming stars this year.
BASEBALL NL WEST
The Giants are the best team and I believe will draw away by August. The second place Diamondbacks are playing good ball and will try to stay in the hunt in this two-team race. San Fran starts the week with a four-game home series against the Padres and gets the Mets for three in San Francisco.
The Diamondbacks travel to Milwaukee for three games and then head to St. Louis for four. Big advantage, Giants.
Yes, the second half of the baseball season looks to be a barn burner in the “dog days” of summer, especially if the NFL does not settle in time for Week 1 action.