среда, 7 марта 2012 г.

Do surprises await in 2nd half?

Barry Bonds likely will take down the Hammer's home run recordsoon. The fates of the surprising Milwaukee Brewers, the WorldSeries champion St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees are farmurkier.

With baseball still buzzing about Ichiro Suzuki's sprint aroundthe All-Star bases, the talk turned to the dash to October.

"Now the fun starts," San Diego outfielder Brian Giles said.

Can Alfonso Soriano and Lou Piniella lead the Chicago Cubs intothe playoffs? Will Jake Peavy and the Padres emerge from the packedNL West? Are David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox going to breeze therest of the way?

Some things are fairly certain. Surely some trades are on deckbefore the July 31 deadline -- Ken Griffey Jr., anyone?

The second half opens today with Bonds just five homers shy ofbreaking Hank Aaron's career record of 755. The only question seemsto be whether commissioner Bud Selig will be there to see it.

Tom Glavine will start this week going for win No. 298. AlexRodriguez is six home runs short of joining the 500 club -- FrankThomas already made it this year. And the Philadelphia Phillies willreach a much bigger and more dubious mark: Their next loss will makethem the first team in major league history to drop 10,000 games.

The race for records will soon give way to the chase for playoffspots. Almost half the teams are within 5 1/2 games of a postseasonberth, including clubs in two hard-luck cities.

There is joy in Seattle, where the Mariners are just 2 1/2 gamesbehind the Los Angeles Angels after finishing last in the AL Westfor three straight seasons. Fans there may get some other good news,too: Suzuki, MVP of the AL's 5-4 win Tuesday night, is close tosigning a long-term contract extension.

The summer also is a lot brighter in Milwaukee, where PrinceFielder and the Brewers lead the NL Central by 4 1/2 games over theChicago Cubs -- buoyed by their major league-best 30-13 home mark.

Milwaukee has not finished a season over .500 since 1992 -- whenit played in the American League.

"They all have a lot of confidence in their abilities, and theyall are extremely talented," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "I'lltake my chances with them."

Even for teams like Texas, Cincinnati and Kansas City that seemto be out of contention, the trading deadline could bring hope forthe future.

The Rangers, with slugger Mark Teixeira and relievers Eric Gagneand Akinori Otsuka, could be major players. And the Reds are boundto get a few calls, with Adam Dunn among those available forcontenders looking for a boost.

The Yankees could be buyers or sellers with their string of ninestraight division titles in trouble.

Despite the considerable efforts of Rodriguez -- the major leagueleader with 30 homers and 86 RBIs -- New York (42-43) was 10 gamesback of AL East-leading Boston and under .500 at the break for thefirst time since 1995.

The Yankees haven't missed the playoffs since 1994 -- when thepostseason was wiped out by a strike.

"We've got a long way to go," shortstop Derek Jeter said.

Do surprises await in 2nd half?

Barry Bonds likely will take down the Hammer's home run recordsoon. The fates of the surprising Milwaukee Brewers, the WorldSeries champion St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees are farmurkier.

With baseball still buzzing about Ichiro Suzuki's sprint aroundthe All-Star bases, the talk turned to the dash to October.

"Now the fun starts," San Diego outfielder Brian Giles said.

Can Alfonso Soriano and Lou Piniella lead the Chicago Cubs intothe playoffs? Will Jake Peavy and the Padres emerge from the packedNL West? Are David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox going to breeze therest of the way?

Some things are fairly certain. Surely some trades are on deckbefore the July 31 deadline -- Ken Griffey Jr., anyone?

The second half opens today with Bonds just five homers shy ofbreaking Hank Aaron's career record of 755. The only question seemsto be whether commissioner Bud Selig will be there to see it.

Tom Glavine will start this week going for win No. 298. AlexRodriguez is six home runs short of joining the 500 club -- FrankThomas already made it this year. And the Philadelphia Phillies willreach a much bigger and more dubious mark: Their next loss will makethem the first team in major league history to drop 10,000 games.

The race for records will soon give way to the chase for playoffspots. Almost half the teams are within 5 1/2 games of a postseasonberth, including clubs in two hard-luck cities.

There is joy in Seattle, where the Mariners are just 2 1/2 gamesbehind the Los Angeles Angels after finishing last in the AL Westfor three straight seasons. Fans there may get some other good news,too: Suzuki, MVP of the AL's 5-4 win Tuesday night, is close tosigning a long-term contract extension.

The summer also is a lot brighter in Milwaukee, where PrinceFielder and the Brewers lead the NL Central by 4 1/2 games over theChicago Cubs -- buoyed by their major league-best 30-13 home mark.

Milwaukee has not finished a season over .500 since 1992 -- whenit played in the American League.

"They all have a lot of confidence in their abilities, and theyall are extremely talented," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "I'lltake my chances with them."

Even for teams like Texas, Cincinnati and Kansas City that seemto be out of contention, the trading deadline could bring hope forthe future.

The Rangers, with slugger Mark Teixeira and relievers Eric Gagneand Akinori Otsuka, could be major players. And the Reds are boundto get a few calls, with Adam Dunn among those available forcontenders looking for a boost.

The Yankees could be buyers or sellers with their string of ninestraight division titles in trouble.

Despite the considerable efforts of Rodriguez -- the major leagueleader with 30 homers and 86 RBIs -- New York (42-43) was 10 gamesback of AL East-leading Boston and under .500 at the break for thefirst time since 1995.

The Yankees haven't missed the playoffs since 1994 -- when thepostseason was wiped out by a strike.

"We've got a long way to go," shortstop Derek Jeter said.

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