Turning Two is a new, bi-weekly feature to Not Another Sports Blog. It’s a two week re-cap of the top stories in Major League Baseball.
First and foremost is the centennial of the greatest remaining ballpark in America, Fenway Park. The home of the Boston Red Sox turns a hundred years old today, and Red Sox legends will be on hand for this afternoon’s game against the New York Yankees. So much history has taken place at Fenway that it is difficult to summarize it in one post. It’s where Babe Ruth rose to stardom, and where Ted Williams proved that he was the greatest hitter there ever was. It’s where Carlton Fisk waved a ball fair to win a World Series game, and where Bucky Dent broke hearts. It’s where Pedro Martinez struck out six batters to start the All-Star Game, and where the greatest postseason comeback was sparked by Dave Roberts. When the Yankees brought the wrecking ball on their own cathedral in 2008, the torch was passed to Fenway to bear the title of greatest ballpark in the majors, and it shows no sign of letting that torch go out.
Old Boss, Same as New Boss
On the topic of the Red Sox, their slow start following last season’s September slide has many Red Sox fans on edge. Surprise, surprise. But let’s remember that they started out even worse last season before being the best team in baseball from May through mid-August. Perhaps there is more cause for concern this year, because the pitching has been even worse, and they are really feeling the effects of a Papelbon-less bullpen, but then again, maybe not. Remember what sparked Boston to life last April – their first series against the Yankees, in which they took two out of three games and scored 17 runs. This weekend, with the Red Sox at 4-8, perhaps playing their rivals will once again wake them up. Also, take into account that the Red Sox have not played any team with a sub-.500 record. They have played one of the most difficult schedules in the league by playing the Tigers, Blue Jays, Rays and Rangers to start off the season. It doesn’t get easier against the Yankees, but it will next week when they play the Twins and White Sox.
A Little Magic
Most people thought that once the Los Angeles Dodgers got beyond the ownership distractions that plagued them last season, that the team would improve. Through the first two weeks, although they have had a very weak schedule, they have been one of the best teams in baseball. Matt Kemp and Andre Eithier are both on pace for MVP type seasons, and even though he is winless, Clayton Kershaw’s 2.35 ERA is only 0.07 points above what it was at the end of his Cy Young campaign in 2011. But not everything for the Dodgers have gone right. In their first ten games, they played the Padres and the Pirates, who are a combined 8-18. When they played the 5-7 Brewers this past week, the Dodgers dropped the series, scoring just 10 runs in three games, well below their five runs per game average in their first ten games of the season. While things have certainly started out well in the Magic Johnson era, it will still take time to see if the Dodgers have what it takes to beat the National League elite.
The Washington Nationals are percentage points behind the Dodgers for the best record in the National League. Washington was seen by many to be the surprise team in baseball, but their start may have even surprised those that picked them. Of the starting pitching trio of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez, the highest ERA among them in Gonzalaz’s microscopic 2.04. Pitching has been the key to their success early on. However, like Los Angeles, they may be a product of their early schedule. The New York Mets are the only team that Washington has faced that currently have a winning record, but supporters can take comfort that the Nationals took that series at Citi Field. Get ready for an exciting series next weekend in L.A., as the Nationals will play three games out there next week in what could be a very early playoff preview.
Wait ‘Til Next Year
Theo Epstien’s regime with the Cubs could not have gotten off to a worse start. After having their bullpen blow their first two games of the season, things have not improved at all. The Cubs sit a 3-10, which is the second to worst winning percentage in all of baseball. As a team, the Cubs are hitting just .233, 23rd in all of baseball, and are 24th in runs scored. Even more dreadfully, the Cubs’ team ERA of 4.90 is second worst in the National League, and fifth worst in all of baseball. It may not take one or two years for Theo to turn things around, it may take five years, at the rate this is going. Nothing about this team is good, or close to being good.
Texas Still Strong
Forget about Texas being emotionally distraught after two straight World Series loses, because the Rangers have been the best team in the American League. The Rangers are leading the league in every offensive category, and have the lowest ERA in the American League. Their schedule has not been exceedingly difficult, but they have done incredibly well, scoring over six runs per game. Last night, they defeated what many feel is the second strongest team in the AL, the Detroit Tigers, by a score of 10-3 to kick off a four game weekend series. If the Angels can not find their way before long, it may very well end up being a one horse race in the AL West.
Come back here in two weeks for another Turning Two, and follow me on Twitter @JustinCirillo