Robert Benchley once said "there is probably no more obnoxious class of citizen, taken end for end, than the returning vacationist." He was probably right about that, and for that reason, I will spare you the blow by blow of my little getaway. Suffice it to say that we rented a nice place in northern Michigan, there was bright sun, a cool breeze, crystal clear water, and azure skies, all of which worked to restore energy reserves which were nearing rock bottom. I'm fresh now, but I feel a little ignorant at the moment because I didn't think about baseball for more than five minutes all week. Those five minutes occurred when I tuned in to FSN Detroit to catch some of the Tigers game on Tuesday night, only to see that they were playing the Indians, a team I see almost every night at home and which, at this point of the season, I'm pretty sick of. I clicked the ballgame off and watched the sunset over the bay instead. It was the right decision.
I'm back home now, but I'm still sort of wishing I was on vacation. What's more, as I write these words, college football and an Obama convention speech are dominating the dial, underscoring just how quickly the summer -- and thus the baseball season -- is slipping away. Morning found us calmly unaware. Noon burned gold into our hair. At night we swam at laughin' sea. When summer's gone, where will we be?
Rays 3, Blue Jays 2: At the height of their power mid to late 90s, the Braves would always manage to get into a win-two-of-three groove during the dog days that always spelled death for their divisional competitors. Montreal in 1996, Florida in 1997, and New York in 1999 all, at times, seemed to get hot. To become frisky. To spur talk that Atlanta's stranglehold on the division was in jeopardy. But then everyone looked up and noticed that Atlanta was just calmly winning two of every three, and there's not a hell of a lot you can do about that. Tampa Bay is in that kind of groove right now, and no matter what happens in Boston or New York on a day-to-day basis, it doesn't really matter, because no one is catching the Rays. Of course, as all Braves fans -- and Marlins fans -- can tell you, winning the division with such workmanlike efficiency can be overrated come October. But when you're the Rays, you'll take it for now and figure out those details later.
Cubs 6, Phillies 4: A winning-six-out-of-six groove is pretty tough to beat too.
Yankees 3, Red Sox 2: Neither of these tarnished titans leaves this series in good shape. New York because they lost two of three. Boston because they may have lost Josh Beckett, who is off to see Dr. Andrews. Joba Chamberlain and Tom Glavine were recently spared the good doctor's typical sentence. Will Beckett be so lucky?
Astros 3, Reds 2: Aaron Harang is the anti-PAP poster child. In his last two starts he has thrown 115 and 106 pitches, and despite last night's loss, has only given up three runs in those 13 innings. In his previous two starts, he threw only 87 and 78 pitches and gave up 16 runs in seven and a third. Clearly, Dusty just needs to let him stretch out a bit more.
Nats 11, Dodgers 2: The cycle for Cristian Guzman, as the Dodgers allow themselves to get swept by the Nats. That's the kind of thing that will get you disqualified from being spoken of as a contender in these parts, and unless and until Los Angeles can string together, oh, six wins in a row, I am going to treat them like any other disappointing pretender, which is exactly what they'd be in any other division. The only reason they breathe right now is because Arizona is mailing it in with comparable aplomb these days, rendering this weekend's series between these two, um, playoff contenders, unexpectedly relevant.
A's 3, Twins 2: A winning streak! It's two, but hey, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Now, if the A's had anywhere worth going, they'd really be on to something.
Angels 7, Rangers 5: Another sign of fall: this is the first game story in which I've seen the words "magic number" used in an unironic way this season.
Braves 4, Marlins 2: If beat writers insist on talking about the Yankees' playoff possibilities with a straight face, I suppose we have to admit that the Marlins still technically have a pulse. Assuming they don't surge and benefit from a Philly-New York collapse, they can blame their misfortunes this year on not taking care of business against a Braves team the Phillies have owned and against whom the Mets have thus far broke basically even.