We have gone directly from winter to summer and I do love summer. For me it is time to eat barbecue four times a week, have a cold beverage, work in the yard, play golf daily and kick back to enjoy our national pastime.
No doubt the NBA and NFL will still provide us with topics of discussion but love the great times summer offers. This year the Royals will be testing fan loyalty. We knew what to expect realizing full well that it could be a summer of pain and heartache.
I still think Dayton Moore and the Royals organization made the right move to go all in to compete in the 2014 World Series and win the 2015 World Series. A small city franchise has few opportunities to make it to the mountain top, so the timing was right. You will not hear me complain about the trades done with our young talent. That ship sailed with championship rings as proof.
The first 25 percent of this season has the two best teams in baseball in the same division. It clearly shows what money can buy. The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are loaded in all areas. We will see a lot of both teams throughout the summer. Even if you are not a fan of either team, you would still have to enjoy watching these two teams lock horns.
As the defending world champions, the Houston Astros are the third best team in the major leagues currently. They have a real shot at winning back to back World Series. They can play!
In the National League, there are more surprise teams doing well. The Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies are turning heads by leading their divisions at the quarter mark.
Right now, you would have to take the American League teams as much stronger than the National League teams, but baseball is a process of grinding out 162 games and it can get ugly quickly. That is part of what makes baseball such a great game. The most talented team does not necessary win in baseball. You never know what will happen from one game to the next.
On the flip side of the coin, there are several teams that have fallen flat on their faces already. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been dreadful. This is a team with all the money in the world but have not been able to get it going. Cincinnati and Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins team are as bad as Kansas City, Baltimore and the Chicago White Sox.
The three most balanced divisions are all in the National League. Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington and the New York Mets all have a shot to get hot and do something in the East. Milwaukee, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs all have a boxer’s chance to reach the playoffs in the Central division. The weakest National League division is in the West. It looks as if only Colorado and Arizona are legitimate playoff contenders.
That brings us back to the Yankees and Red Sox as the two best teams in baseball and are in the same American League division, the American League East. The American League West may be the most competitive division with Houston being the frontrunner and Seattle, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland all hanging around for a possible wild card berth.
The worst division is the American League Central. Cleveland is playing .500 baseball right now and is leading the division, which is pitiful. The Chicago White Sox are in last place but not entirely out of it yet. Minnesota and Detroit are still in the hunt for a division playoff berth.
In baseball it is sometimes better to be in the right place at the right time than be good. It is obvious that the Cleveland Indians have the best team by far in the division. If they go through a hot streak, things could be over in a hurry.
The Royals’ lineup is not horrible by any stretch of the imagination. The pitching, both starting and the bullpen, is a crapshoot. Ned Yost is doing nothing more than drawing numbers out of a hat to make pitching moves. Hopefully, Danny Duffy will build on his last start and pitch up to his potential. The rest of the starters need some better outings as they go through the summer. Hopefully the rotation will get better with time. Let’s all pray. The bullpen is a huge pain except for Kelvin Herrera.
This needs to improve right now or the 2018 baseball party is over. However, it is still summer and baseball season. What’s not to love? We all just need to relax and enjoy the game.
• Congratulations to Coach Ben Baier and the Blue Springs South Jaguars for making another run in the state championship final four. Coach Baier has built a consistent and successful baseball program during his tenure at South.
• My quote of the week comes from Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield: “To me, close is for losers. I play ball to win.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.