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“Champions Are Made When No One Is Watching” and Other Observations From The Mid-July Baseball Scene

I saw a T-shirt with the above saying while watching workouts prior to a Hudson Valley Renegades game earlier this month. The wearer of the shirt, Tampa Bay Rays minor league catching instructor Paul Hoover, didn’t know the origin of the saying but it is a beauty - A testament to the hard work and long hours needed to make a champion in any sport.

Meanwhile on the MLB front, parity is the rule though I would argue parity=mediocrity. The number of regular players batting under .200 is astonishing.
Mario Mendoza, who actually was a career .215 hitter, is beginning to look like Roberto Clemente.

Dumbest play I saw on TV – Ervin Santana of the Twins, back from his PED suspension for the surprising Minnesotans, kept throwing to first base to keep a runner close with two out in the 8th inning of a game in which he led 5-0.

You have a solid lead and you have one of the greatest closers for the 9th inning Glen Perkins in the bullpen. And you are worried about a man on first stealing second on you?

Baseball fortunes can change in a twinkling. Perkins blew his first save of the year at Oakland on Saturday night July 18 and Sunday the A’s routed former Oakland lefty Tom Milone in a 14-1 romp.

Supposed pre-season contenders Oakland and Seattle are mired in the lower regions
of the AL West. The so-far-elusive winning streak could bring each near .500 and a shot perhaps at a second wild-card berth.

The build-up has begun for the trade deadline on July 31st. The MLB TV network will have a week of programming leading up to that date. I fear the pressure to improve teams will mount exponentially with the air coverage.

My Orioles finally won a series after losing four in a row and going 3-11. It destroyed the edge their 18-5 run in June had given them. Their mid-week series at Yankee Stadium starting Tuesday night July 21 will give them a better idea of where they will stand once the dog days of August begin.

The Yankees will not be easy to catch but a four-game lead is not an overwhelming obstacle. If the Oriole starters pitch well and the hitters rediscover how to hit with runners in scoring position. If not, then failure to hit with RISP will mean RIP 2015 season.

The Birds still have 8 pending free agents on the roster. They include big ones like Chris Davis, who has proven very agile and effective in right field, catcher Matt Wieters (slowly recovering from Tommy John surgery), starters Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris (recently demoted to the bullpen), All-Star setup man Darren O’Day, and at times useful relievers Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz.

Of course, fans cannot control any of these decisions. For now I’m trying to enjoy the possibility of "playing meaningful games in September." The youthful powerful brilliant play on both sides of the ball of youngsters Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop has been a joy to watch. Also the so-far-almost-flawless effectiveness of closer Zach Britton.

That’s all for now – this is Teny Ymota (The Earl of NY Your Man On The Aisle) reminding you always – “Take it easy but take it.”

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