DAILY DIRT: The best second-half races will be in the Central divisions … and what about those cobwebs?

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Daily Dirt for Thursday, July 21, 2022

Among other things today, we rubber stamp the greatness of Shohei Ohtani … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 343 of The Daily Dirt.

1. We’ll conclude our accent on MLB this week — in honor of the All-Star Game — with 10 comments about not only the midseason classic but what we see unfolding in the second half of the regular season.

  • 1. The two best races between now and the end of September will be found in the Central divisions. In the National League, Milwaukee and St. Louis should go back and forth over the the next 2 1/2 months. The same holds true in the American League where Minnesota, Cleveland and Chicago could very well go down to the last day of the regular season before that crown is determined.
  • 2. Four clubs can start printing playoff tickets: New York (AL East), Houston (AL West), New York (NL East) and Los Angeles (NL West). Those baseball aficionados reading this and wondering why I have given the NL East title to New York, despite just a 2 1/2-game lead over Atlanta, may want to consider that the Mets will soon have Jacob DeGrom back in the rotation to pair with Max Scherzer. Scherzer just returned to full-time duty himself two weeks ago. As good as the Braves are, I still think the Mets may win that division by 10-plus games.
  • 3. It was quite interesting to hear the in-game banter between announcers Joe Davis and John Smoltz with AL pitcher Alek Manoah. If memory serves, that’s the first time  announcers have conversed with a pitcher during the course of a game. The more the inning developed, the more at ease Manoah seemed. 
  • 4. Speaking of Manoah, the Blue Jays ace has obviously not missed many meals. my kind of guy.
  • 5. Was the best defensive play in the All-Star Game that first-inning, behind-the-back flip from second baseman Andres Gimenez of Cleveland to shortstop Tim Anderson of Chicago? 
  • 6. Although the home run derby had a handful of interesting moments, I still can’t see the overall fascination with it. For the most part, it’s … well … uhhh…. boring.
  • 7. The biggest first-half surprise? It has to be the Baltimore Orioles, who are not a one-year fluke. There is more talent coming, which means the AL East will enter 2023 with five teams likely to finish above .500.
  • 8. The worst team in all of MLB? Right now, it’s a three-way scramble between the Royals, Nationals and Athletics. But if the Nationals actually trade Juan Soto during the next couple of weeks they will get the nod. 
  • 9. This is to further underline a recent point I made regarding the amazing Shohei Ohtani. Assuming he plays (at least) another decade or so and continues as an MVP-caliber hitter and Cy Young-esque style of pitcher, will he be regarded as the greatest player in MLB history? You shouldn’t even have to think twice about that. The answer is a definitive yes. 
  • 10. Start planning ahead for next March. The World Baseball Classic returns. Yes!!

2. There are few, if any, world leaders who make you scratch your head these days the way Russia’s Vladimir Putin does.

Did you see earlier this week that Putin and other Russian leaders claimed the reason Russian forced were having so much trouble in Ukraine is because of “experimental mutant troops (fighting for Ukraine) created in experimental labs.”

Writer Allison Quinn reported:

“Nearly five months into its senseless war against Ukraine, Russia has concocted a wild new explanation for why the Kremlin’s plans for a quick takeover fell apart so spectacularly— because Ukrainian troops were turned into superhuman killing machines during ‘secret experiments’ in American-run biolabs, of course.

Like super-soliders? Captain Ukraine?

“Never mind the myriad reports of Russian troops refusing to fight by the thousands, sabotaging their own shoddy equipment and even deliberately wounding themselves to abandon the war, Russian lawmakers claim the real setback for Moscow was ‘drugged up’ Ukrainian soldiers.”

3. This week’s most disgusting meal:

Fried tarantula, anyone? This fried arthropod dish, which Cambodian cooks serve with a side of lime dip and an ample dusting of black pepper, is considered a delicacy. Not everyone eats the stomach section, which may contain cobwebs. According to some, the taste is similar to fried crab. I would ask, why not just eat fried crab?

Steve Thought O’ The Day — My favorite part of item No. 3 was “may contain cobwebs.”

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. He also contains cobwebs.

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