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Mid-April Thoughts on the Evolving Baseball Season

In the old days one didn't make an intelligent comment on the current baseball season until Memorial Day. Of course in the old days there were only 16 major league teams, eight in each league, and everyone played each other 22 times, 11 home and 11 away.

With the crazy quilt schedule of today, all symmetry is lost. The Yankees are hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks this week and the LA Dodgers come into Baltimore over the weekend. The sense of "league" is gone even though the dh remains in AL home games for both teams and no dh for anyone in NL parks.

I'd like to see the dh abolished but it likely won't happen. But I would like to see one year or two where the dh is used in the NL parks and no dh in the AL parks. And then one could decide on that experience its future.

Early analysis of any season is always risky but it sure looks the consignment of Yankees and Red Sox to the nether regions of AL East was premature. New Red Sox manager John Farrell (their former pitching coach) has seemingly revived the potent one-two punch of lefty Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz and free agent signings, the speedy Shane Victorino and first baseman Mike Napoli, have provided punch. Longtime dh David Ortiz returns to action at end of this week and right now Boston has the early lead in the AL East.

Close on Boston's tail are the Yankees Newcomers, leftfielder Vernon Wells, corner infielder Kevin Youkilis and dh Travis Hafner, have provided big hits. As his speedy center fielder Brett Gardner. They won their recent first series over the Orioles behind sturdy pitching of CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda.

In the first game they were aided by a three-run error by Adam Jones, the Gold Glove center fielder of 2012 who has been clanking too many balls in 2013. I count at least three games already where Jones, seemingly more interested in styling than catching, has not made plays that must be made if your team is really a contender.

It may be too early to jump off a bridge while proclaiming the return of a team I used to call the Woerioles. But there are clearly chinks in the armor of the surprise playoff 2012 team.
Brian Roberts went down with a hamstring injury in the third game of the season, and the oft-injured gritty second baseman cannot be counted on in the future. The offense would have been far more productive with a healthy Roberts, but that dream has died.

The starting rotation remains a work in progress with only Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, and Miguel Gonzalez evidently capable of getting through six innings. Current fourth and fifth starters Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman are woefully inconsistent. Lefty Zack Britton is in the minors trying to work his way back. Slightly built bulldog Steve Johnson is on a rehab assignment and he should be able to help soon.

And most ominously, heralded 20 year old Dylan Bundy is on the shelf with arm issues.
They are saying he needs to strengthen his arm. Well, this is a workout fanatic who I always worried about doing too much in that regard. I am fearful that there are serious issues with someone who was considered the top pitching prospect in all of baseball.

How true former Oriole manager Paul Richards was when he said, "You can never have too much pitching." So danger signs ahead in Baltimore though obviously plenty of time to right the ship.

One last screed: WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OFFICIAL SCORING? It seems that home scorers do not want to charge any errors these days. I was at the Sunday night rubber match of the Yankee-Oriole series last week. Gifted O's third baseman Manny Machado made three bad plays, two definitely errors and none were charged.

Last night in Baltimore Adam Jones did not get an error for misplaying a short hop in the outfield that cost at least one base, probably more.

Watching the MLB Extra Innings package on TV provides more examples of questionable official scoring. I know the decisions are not always easy and there are rules to follow but I do not like the trend I am seeing.

Speaking of seeing will catch "42" for a second time next week. Am glad it is getting attention and Harrison Ford does get inside Branch Rickey quite well.

That's all for now - always remember: Take it easy but take it!
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