The Baseline: Sliding into home

Story by Emily Gresbrink

It is time for the spring 2012 inning to end and for school and summer to switch positions — school, you’re out. Summer, you’re at bat.

It is with a heavy heart that I slide into home with “The Baseline.” I’ve had a wonderful time with you, friends, during this semester of baseball magic.

But enough with the fluffy junk, let’s move onto some real talk.

Baseball, as of right now, is in a strange but fascinating place. It’s like a train wreck (injuries, trades, send-offs to the minors) but with laser beams and kittens coming out of it (Amazing wins! No hitters! Underdogs rising!).

I’ll divvy it up by divisions; it’s easier that way.

American League
This is where things get a little loopy for me — the big names aren’t in the top spots as of this week! Not that this is a bad thing, by any means. But you’d expect teams like the Tigers and Yankees to take the top spots, but they don’t have them.

In fact, the only standing that really makes sense right now is Texas (who is first in the West division).

We have Baltimore and Cleveland in first place for East and Central (respectively), and that surprises me. I’m not sure why it does, but when I think of the division competition — both Sox, Tampa, Boston — that’s tight competition in the past. Sure, Baltimore and Tampa are neck-and-neck for overall standings, but … I can’t say I would have called those two being in the top two spots.

Perhaps for the AL, this is the year of the underdog. Perhaps these teams that for so long were kicked to the dirt will finally have their day. I mean, I would love to see Texas go down at some point and see another team, like … Kansas, for example … rise up and win the division.

That would be pretty cool.

Good things have happened to even the bottom-dwellers, too. Look at the Angels: dead last in their division, but their pitcher, Jered Weaver, threw a no-hitter last week, and it was insane.

How can we say that they are “the worst” in their division when that happens?

Then again, the bottom can be a scary place.  Minnesota is last, Morneau is out with an injury (called it!) and everything is in shambles. They are dead last in all of baseball.

The Cubs are better than the Twins are right now, and … that is all I’m going to say about that.

National League
This is just as screwy for me as the American League. Would someone kindly explain to me why the Nationals are first in their division? And why are Arizona and Colorado only in the middle? What is going on?!

Much like the National League, the only non-surprise is the Cards, who have it on lock for the Central Divison. But … why? Shouldn’t Milwaukee at least be better than Cincy? They sure forked out some pretty pennies in trades and whatnot during the offseason. Where are the results?

All of that aside, the National League is faring quite well for themselves. A lot of their teams are currently in the top 15 teams in the majors, which is nice to see. It’s good to see some of the bigger budget teams in lower positions — it perhaps goes to show that money isn’t everything.

Once again, I think this is the summer of the underdog. To see a team like Washington rise up and, heck, even the Dodgers? That’s pretty cool to me.

I think my favorite moment so far in the NL is just the fact that Washington is winning their division. I have a secret, special place in my heart for them. I may prefer other NL teams more than them, but they’re just so fun. I want them to do well.

I never would have guessed they’d be on top like they are.

But that’s the allure of baseball, I guess — it flips around, it goes up and down, and it’s all the thrill of the game. You can predict away all that you want based on stats, favoritism, whatever, but in the end, it’s just as surprising and wonderful as when your favorite batter blows out a grand slam.