Sunday, May 31, 2009

Reaction to the NL Central after 50 Games

1st Place - Milwaukee Brewers (30-20)
This should be no surprise to baseball fans in Wisconsin, but is a huge shock to the rest of the baseball world. The biggest concern the Brewers had coming into this year was pitching. After the first week of the season, I was very concerned, but since then, pitching has become their best attribute. Great pitching wins championships, lets see if Gallardo, Parra, Bush, Suppan and Looper can keep up the quality starts. How bout Prince Fielder, he has been amazing, he has been reaping the benefits from batting behind Ryan Braun, consistently being among the leaders in RBIs in the National League, great work after signing that contract. You can definately tell that he is more relaxed. One concern is the loss of Rickie Weeks who looked amazing in the first 40 games or so, right now Craig Counsell is filling the role and doing a good job of putting the bat on the ball. Ryan Braun leads outfielders in the NL in all-star voting and so does J.J. Hardy for NL shortstops (those girls must really like him!!!!)

2nd Place - St. Louis Cardinals (29-21/ 1 GB)
Another team that has benefitted from great pitching, even though half of their starters have been banged up througout the first fifty games. Chris Carpenter looks back to form and Adam Wainwright has some nasty stuff. Albert Pujols has been Alberty Pujols, just hasn't had much help from the young players filling the rolls of the banged up starters. The Brewers should watch out because when Ryan Franklin and Rick Ankiel are back and healthy, they could be very dangerous, very much like they were in the beginning of the season.

3rd Place - Cincinatti Reds (26-23/ 3.5 GB)
No one expected the Reds to have this kind of start, they have looked very good at times. One thing is for sure, they can swing the bats, Joey Votto has great power and can still hit for average while Jay Bruce provides even more power and some great defense. Everyone thought the Reds were losing a lot when trading Griffey and Dunn away, but they've basically upgraded with younger players who do the same thing they did, arguably better. Pitching has been inconsistent, Arroyo has looked great and just plain awful, Harang the same, Volquez is definatley their ace, while Cueto looks like he has a lot to learn still. Brandon Phillips is playing good baseball, don't sleep on the Reds, they could be in contention at the end of the year. I think their pitching is by far too inconsistent, but they have the ability to score and win when their pitchers give up a lot of runs.

4th Place - Chicago Cubs (25-23/ 4 GB)
Did anyone see Zambrano in the dugout the other day, calm down buddy, we are only fifty games into the season. I definitely think his actions sum up the Cubs start to the season, very frustrating. I don't know what to think about this team, they obviously have the talent and potential to be the favorites in this division. Aramis Rameriz being hurt for most of the season has not helped, but where has the pitching been, not nearly as dominant as last year. Don't worry Cubs fans, they will contend for a division title, they're just too talented not to, stay patient in the windy city.

5th Place - Pittsburgh Pirates (22-28/ 8 GB)
I believe the highlight of the Pirates season will be Freddy Sanchez's 6-6 night, a great accomplishment in this day and time. Actually the Pirates have looked a lot better than previous years, they are scoring runs consistently and their young phenom pitchers have looked very good at times, the only problem is they look bad most of the time. Can't be too dissapointed in Pittsburgh, you have a team in the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl winning Steelers and the Pirates who seem to play exciting games, even if they are losing more than half of them.

6th Place - Houston Astros (20-28/ 9 GB)
I don't know how George Bush can attend these games, Barbara has the right idea when she's reading a book or falling asleep during the game. The Astros have been terrible to start the season, Oswalt looks washed up and Lance Berkman has forgot how to hit the ball. The only bright spots on this team have been Michael Bourn and Wandy Rodriguez. Wandy has seemed to take over the ace roll in the Astros rotation and Michael Bourn is doing what he can as a lead0ff man in Houston. But we all know that Houston always likes to stink it up in the beginning of the season and come on strong in the second half, but for some reason, I don't feel that happening this year.

Nick's Prediction: The division race will be very close all year round, but the Brewers will take the division with the Cubs in second, followed by the Cardinals, Reds, Pirates, and Astros.

My Thoughts On The Upcoming NBA Finals

Who saw the Orlando Magic winning the NBA Eastern Conference Finals? Besides the fans in Orlando, I don't think anyone envisioned a Lakers-Magic Finals. I won't lie, I knew the Magic matched up very well with the Cavs, but before the series, I thought it would go seven with Cleveland being victorious. Regardless of what I thought, here we are with the coast to coast matchup between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant. It's not quite the dream matchup that LBJ and KB would have provided, but I think viewers should still tune in to watch some great basketball. Dwight Howard vs. Andrew Bynum/Pau Gasol has great potential as well as the great perimeter play of the Magic vs. the scrappy Lakers defenders. But in the end, Kobe will get that fourth ring, Gasol will make Spain proud and Bynum will be provided with the motivation to start a great career in LA.
Nick's Prediction: Lakers in six