When Will the AL East Sorting Begin?
Starting to wonder if the American League East has hit a bit of parity amongst the division. I know we sample from this buffet every year at this time as all 5 members of the division sit at or near the top of the table. No matter if their respective records illustrates a first taste of divisional morsels like the Red Sox devouring the Tampa Bay Rays during their recent road trip, or the New York Yankees falling prey to the Rays in a season opening series. Every season at this juncture we wonder if our team is that good, or if they are still shaking off the Winter rust.
You want to think it is just that sampling point in the season where teams come together as they begin their yearly journey to either the penthouse or the basement, but something tells me this season this division might be a closer race, have some interesting plot twists and maybe even an unexpected divisional leader heading into May. Sure all 5 teams in this deemed “hardest division in baseball” have met their own shares of adversity already this early in the season, but will someone separate themselves from the pack soon, or will this group maintain their equality for a few more weeks before either their respective balloon bursts, or they rise to the top.
I want to thrust out my chest and paraphrase American Idol’s Randy Jackson That “The Rays are in it to win it!”, or just “gotta have it!” I truly feel we have the right stuff to post up in the top tier of this division, but we are only a tad over 10% completed with the season. Looking at the standing and seeing Boston 4 games back as the rest of the division sit comfy at 10-7 is a bit perplexing considering each of us have only sampled a bit of our divisional team’s offering so far in 2012, possibly we will know more by mid-May on who truly wants to hoist the 2012 AL East banner next Opening Day.
The Toronto Blue Jays have seen their own version of the Rays young guns come through on the hill so far in 2012. Posting up impressive wins and stats early on with the young talent they have either home-grown or acquired in trade. The Jays offense has shown power and prowess, but has not shown their true muscle yet. It seems like a yearly tale that the Jays sit a top the AL East early before they begin to string together losing streaks that take them down further in the standings. I somehow think the Jays are for real, and might sit near the top until the end of May…if not longer.
Baltimore is beginning to mold its own home-grown hurlers like those ripe and juicy offerings from Earl Weaver’s tomato patch, but will they ripen too fast and fade in the Summer heat, or maintain a bit of consistency and strike some fear in the usual top tier threesome of the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox. Even as the Rays reconfigure their offense’s timing and their pitching staff mellows out, this division is not a 1 or 2 trick pony anymore. Teams will have to work for the free pass via the AL East title now, and the extra Wild Card berths do not have a pre-stamped AL East invite.
That could play big into the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees plans as in September when the division does their yearly last gasp in-fighting, the loser of the seasonal series could find themselves seeking help, or possibly be eliminated by one of their own divisional rivals. There has been a rumor the extra Wild Card slot was devised so a Boston or New York doesn’t miss the Fall party, but I have a feeling in 2012, it will all come down to the last few weeks.
Sure I’m rambling on a bit, but I do that at times to fuel the furnace or cool the jets. I truly think the Rays have the tools and the machinery in-house right now to contend and go far this Fall, but only 17 games out of the shoot, I’ll let the teams in the Northern parts of the country spout that logic. The AL East divisional winner will not boast over 100 wins, they might actually be closer to 90 than the century mark. But these 5 teams will decide more than just who can thrust their hands into the air, but first we got to find out who is for real, and who is just riding luck’s coat tails until they fall from grace. Got an odd feeling it might not be the obvious choices this season.