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It's not magic, it's parity anybody's World Series

July 7, 2014
Bob Madison - Chronicle Sports , Shepherdstown Chronicle

The "Mid-Life Crisis".

It's not the certain finding that comes to an introspective 45-year-old on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

No, it's the halfway point of the Major League baseball pennant races, where few are the teams showing much fever or leave-them-behind quality.

In Baltimore, the Orioles faced last-place Tampa Bay in a day-night doubleheader and weekend series that only revealed the flaws and scarce starting pitching the team has as the All-Star game approaches

With Bud Norris on the disabled list, the Orioles foundered as Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chin and Kevin Gausman couldn't fool the bats of what had been baseball's most disappointing team.

Tampa Bay had the fewest home runs of any team in the big leagues. That didn't stop them from hammering five home runs in a 12-7 win that continued the troubles of Gonzalez and relievers Evan Meek and Brian Matusz. The Rays won three of the four games and didn't even use their two best pitchers -- David Price and Chris Archer.

If the Orioles didn't have the outfield production of Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Steve Pearce then they could be scrambling to stay away from Tampa Bay's cellar spot in the standings.

Underwhelming seasons from Chris Davis, Manny Machado, its catchers, its second basemen and its mostly thread-bare bench have only made the season-ending surgery for Matt Wieters a theme for the first half of the six-month season.

However, Boston has been way back in the shadows and New York has so many free agent busts it has been unable to do much with Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts providing so little offense.

Toronto was in last place at the All-Star break in 2013.

Nobody is conceding anything to the Blue Jays because their nucleus of Bautista, Encarnacion, Reyes, Cabrera and Lind have been injured so often that the blue jay is a bird whose wings can be clipped before even the end of August.

Milwaukee is happy with its season. So is Oakland and the Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels.

But avoiding eye contact with critics and season ticket holders alike are the Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins and the less-than-cuddly Chicago Cubs.

What will the second half bring?

Injuries.

Injuries are about the only certainties in Major League baseball.

Pitching staffs will usually shrink in quality, except maybe in St. Louis and with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Down by the Anacostia River and Ward 8 in Washington, D.C., the Nationals have tried to deal with injuries, the same as all teams do. Bryce Harper, Wil Ramos, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth have been missed. And of those four players, only Werth has contributed more than a meager batting average and any run production.

Washington will stay on the surface only if its effective middle relief pitchers hold together.

With Desmond, Espinosa, Ramos, R. Zimmerman, Harper and a do-nothing bench the Nationals can ride high in the East Division saddle only with Fister, J. Zimmerman, Roark and Gonzalez picking up wins on a consistent basis. Stephen Strasburg has the look of a pitcher whose arm surgery couldn't restore him to his previous all-world talent level.

It's the mid-life crisis.

Little or nothing is certain. . . except your favorite team will be placing too many players on the 15-day disabled list.

 
 

 

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