Football is back, pennant races are heating up and the Cleveland Indians have worked themselves back into the thick of the AL Central division race this week, and it’s no surprise that those are the headlines that are leading More Than A Fan as August heats up.
Joining me on the NFL bandwagon this week were Deb and Stephanie. I gave the Baltimore Ravens props in this week’s Tailgate Confidential, Stephanie outlined Chad Ochocinco’s latest scheme in House Hunters: Ochocinco Edition and Deb outlined the Chicago Bears plan to rework a pretty bad offensive line.
Sticking with baseball, Lisa wrote about a million things (seriously, she’s making me look bad), most notably outlining the American League and National League pennant races and a recap of Carlos Zambrano’s latest meltdown.
Ryan also wrote baseball this week, and it’s a piece that I’d love for everyone to read, Thome’s 600th Should Be Celebrated, because I know so many people disagree. For the record, I’ve gotten over the Thome/Cleveland issues and am rooting for good guy to make good history.
Just when you thought it was safe to start bashing the Cleveland Indians, they climb out of a funk and start fighting again. I heaped praise early in the season, started up the criticism machine during June/July, and now I have to admit that something happened to get this team to start fighting and playing with pride again. In the last week, the Tribe won a series two games to one against the division leading Detroit Tigers and beat division rival Minnesota Twins twice before a rainout Sunday. There were a few less than ideal moments, but in five games this week the Indians only gave up 12 runs. That will win you baseball games down the stretch.
An indicator of how well our pitching staff has fared this week is that in the last 7 days, 7 pitchers who have logged at least an inning have an ERA of 0.00, most notably starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Chris Perez closed off the week with two straight saves and even Fausto Carmona pitched well in a losing effort against Tiger’s ace Justin Verlander.
The Indians offense didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard all week, but you don’t need to put up huge numbers to win in the AL Central. The Indians are the ONLY team in the division with a positive run differential at this point in the season, and it’s only +2. That’s three teams in the division with 60 or more wins after 120 games and all together they’re at a -24 differential. Pitching will win the AL Central, and the Indians have it.
The Cincinnati Reds offer a stark contrast in the competition department. They have scored 70 more runs than Cleveland and have a run differential of +43 yet are 11 games out of first place in the NL Central and have almost no chance at making a run at the red hot Milwaukee Brewers. Cincinnati split a series with the Colorado Rockies and took one from the San Diego Padres to go 4-3 this week, but need to play .700 ball and hope for a collapse from the Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals if they hope to contend. Stranger things have happened, but not to a city that hosts the Bengals.
The NFL is back in full swing, and the Cleveland Browns are once again drawing a thin line for their fans. You know the line, the one that everyone crosses when it comes to predicting the Browns success. After a 27-17 win over the Green Bay Packers and a very impressive outing by QB Colt McCoy, some fans are jumping over that line already. It’s a preseason game that was dominated by reserves and rookies, I know, but it sure is nice to see guys playing well and being smart. I’ll save my BROWNS GOING TO THE SUPERBOWL column for week one.
I feel bad about it, but Cincinnati just isn’t getting any love from me this week. The Bengals starters left the game down 14-0 after the first quarter against the Detroit Lions and thier lack of depth was apparent, being outscored 20-3 during the rest of the game.
The 2011 PGA Championship was won in comeback fashion by Keegan Bradley, or choked away by Jason Dufner. You didn’t watch? Most folks didn’t, even on a day when ballgames and NASCAR races were getting rained out. Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner are both very good golfers with good, positive stories, but they’re not stars. (Yet?) This was the PGA Championship, a Major, where was Lefty, Rory, Ricky, Sergio, Bubba or Tiger? Golf needs those guys, whether it admits it or not.
What golf needs is conversation I’d love to have with the MTAF readers, but tomorrow. Right now I need to sleep off this weekend so I can spend tomorrow pretending that I’m happy it’s Monday.