The Red Sox tumble down the rankings while the Tigers make a climb.
Sunday was just about the busiest August Sunday in baseball’s recent memory.
First, with Alex Rodriguez scheduling a press conference with Yankee brass at 11:00, there was talk about retirement and the confused legacy of one of the finest infielders to ever make the league. He announced his impending retirement during that press conference. Later in the same event, both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman were asked some uncomfortable questions about the man of the hour.
During the early afternoon, talk quickly shifted to Ichiro, getting a Sunday start in Colorado just one hit shy of 3,000. For the first time in years, there was a live cut-in during every at-bat. Even if Suzuki doesn’t hit for much power, it felt like 1998 for a fleeting moment, with the sports world grinding to a halt every time this one player came to the plate.
Ichiro got #3,000 on a stand-up triple. With a breeze it would have been a home run. If Ichiro could have turned the clock backward a few years he would have had an inside-the-park job. It wasn’t a seeing-eye single or one of his patented slap hits, it was a convincing hit, as though anyone still needed convincing.
While that was going on, the Seattle Mariners were retiring Ken Griffey Junior’s 24. The Mariners have been able to reach second place in the West again, but with Griffey being honored it was Mike Trout who went after a deep fly, reached over the wall, and brought it back. Maybe it was the visiting team, but what a way to honor the great center fielder.
Moments later, in preparation for the rubber match in Los Angeles between the Dodgers and the Red Sox, David Ortiz visited the announcer’s booth and showed why everyone should be thankful Boston was scheduled to travel to Chavez Ravine this year.
Vin Scully was a treat to listen to this weekend, as he has been for about sixty years of Dodger baseball. He emceed the ceremony Los Angeles had for Ortiz on Friday, quickly becoming the star for anyone associated with the visiting team. Talk about farewell tours; people like Vin Scully so much he gets to have one without ever leaving California!
Here’s how I see the league right now:
30: Minnesota Twins (last week: 30)
29: Atlanta Braves (last week: 27)
28: Cincinnati Reds (last week: 29)
27: Tampa Bay Rays (last week: 28)
26: Arizona Diamondbacks (last week: 26)
25: Oakland Athletics (last week: 23)
24: Philadelphia Phillies (last week: 24)
23: Los Angeles Angels (last week: 25)
22: San Diego Padres (last week: 21)
21: Milwaukee Brewers (last week: 22)
20: Chicago White Sox (last week: 16)
19: Kansas City Royals (last week: 18)
18: Colorado Rockies (last week: 17) – The Rockies are not going to the playoffs, but given how fans felt about their team coming into the season, perhaps nobody has been more of a pleasant surprise to their own fans this year.
17: Pittsburgh Pirates (last week: 19)
16: New York Yankees (last week: 20) – Everything Yankee fans say about the New York Yankees was on display yesterday morning. Like Alex Rodriguez or no, who wouldn’t want an employer to defend them on their own retirement announcement like that?
15: Houston Astros (last week: 12)
14: Seattle Mariners (last week: 15)
13: St. Louis Cardinals (last week: 13)
12: New York Mets (last week: 10)
11: Boston Red Sox (last week: 7) – Boston has fallen out of a playoff spot for the time being, and another poor start from David Price is sure to have the demanding Boston fans stewing over his 2016 season.
10: Miami Marlins (last week: 11) – Don Mattingly deserves a ton of credit for how he has handled Ichiro this season. A lot of managers would cave in to fan pressure and start him regularly. Mattingly did not do this, and the Marlins are still in a playoff spot at the moment.
9: Detroit Tigers (last week: 14) – With Justin Verlander finding his old form, the Tigers might be the most dangerous AL team at the moment.
8: Toronto Blue Jays (last week: 9)
7: Los Angeles Dodgers (last week: 8) – Even while Clayton Kershaw looks to be out for maybe the rest of the season with back issues, the Dodgers have been surging, now just one game back in the NL West.
6: San Francisco Giants (last week: 5)
5: Baltimore Orioles (last week: 6) – There have been a number of impressive American League managers this year, but if the Orioles hold on in the AL East there should be no question that Buck Showalter is the manager of the year.
4: Cleveland Indians (last week: 3)
3: Texas Rangers (last week: 4)
2: Washington Nationals (last week: 2)
1: Chicago Cubs (last week: 1) – Since acquiring Aroldis Chapman the Cubs have seemed even more unstoppable than they were early in the season.