Luke Graham.

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Luke Graham.

Luke Graham: Baseball's best

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Luke Graham

Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Luke here.

— As we hit the midway point of the Major League Baseball season, several things have become apparent.

The local ball club isn't half bad. The managerial change of Clint Hurdle to Jim Tracy has done wonders. What hasn't totally been seen and doesn't get enough credit is the work pitching coach Bob Apodaca and hitting coach Don Baylor have done.

Apodaca has been criticized from everywhere. But his work with Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge De La Rosa and Jason Marquis has been nothing short of amazing. Although many of the team averages still aren't eye-popping, Baylor has proven his ability to work with all the young hitters in the lineup.

But what are the Rockies chances? Who are the first half Most Valuable Players and Cy Young Award winners? And of course, who wins it all?

First to the Rockies. I think they have the best team built for a long run at the wild card. The team will be battling the second-place team from the NL East (Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia and Florida), the second-place team from the National League Central (St. Louis or Milwaukee) plus San Francisco from its own division.

First thing, the Rockies are better put together than any of those teams for a deep run. The one problem is within their division. Dropping recent series to the Dodgers and Diamondbacks can't happen again. But here's saying the Rockies win the wild card and look pretty good in the playoffs with a top three rotation of Jimenez, Marquis and Aaron Cook. Plus, the bats are bound to wake up.

American League MVP - Minnesota's Joe Mauer. The best pure hitter in the game. Mauer has a chance to flirt with a .400 average, while showing legitimate power for the first time in his career. There isn't even a close second.

NL MVP - St. Louis' Albert Pujols. The best baseball player in the league. No contest. Pujols is going to make a run at the Triple Crown. He's third in average (.332), first in home runs (31) and first in RBIs (83). There's not a scarier hitter in the National League.

AL Cy Young - Toronto's Roy Halladay. All he does is produce quality starts and wins. Look at his past 10 starts. Only once did he not go six innings and that was when he left because of injury. He's on the trade block now and could make an instant favorite out of anybody. It would take a haul to get him, but wouldn't it be nice to see him back in his home state of Colorado again?

NL Cy Young - San Francisco's Tim Lincecum. Funky delivery and best starter in the National League. Near the top of the game in every pitching category. He's one of the main reasons the Giants still are in the playoff hunt.

2009 World Series Champion - Unfortunately, it's the Red Sox or the Yankees. I just don't buy that the Dodgers have enough starting pitching. If either of the baseball bad guys get Halladay, they're the favorite. If not - and on a hunch - I'll go with Steinbrenner's crew to beat the Dodgers in six.

Comments

jnow17 4 years, 9 months ago

Was at the Dodgers/Rockies 13 inning game at Dodger Stadium last week. For both teams (and in that series) it all came down to pitching. Dodgers are VERY strong. Having seen them 6 times this year, playing exceptional baseball, I think they're gonna take it all.

That said, I'm rooting for the Rockies. It's hard not to with the team I grew up with, and they've made such an awesome comeback.

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TWill 4 years, 9 months ago

Baseball is lucky to still be a mainstream sport in this country. Its slow pace, stats-driven tradition, long games & season, non-english speaking star players and the black eye from the steriod scandal might be too much to overcome.

Besides, there are great sports which could replace it as a means to pass the mid-summer void in sports. Ever watched a lacrosse game played at the collegiate or professional level? It has everything baseball (and hockey for that matter) is lacking in order to be embraced by the American sports fan (fast pace, physical contact, high scoring, etc.).

Its just my two cents, but I believe the "American past time" is well beyond its prime and in the midst of unrecoverable demise.

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jk 4 years, 9 months ago

Twill, please let me know when you see millions of fans across the world attending a lacrosse game on a daily basis and then we will start to discuss how it is taking the sports scene over. That being said it is a fun sport, and has not been corrupted by the million dollar crybabies. Hopefully it will stay that way as its popularity grows. GO NL !!!

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playa46 4 years, 9 months ago

-Hey, lets swing at a ball, run for a few seconds and take steriods to get in shape!

Well, that sure sounds like America's favorite past time.

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jk 4 years, 9 months ago

playa must not have had any game last night lol.

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TWill 4 years, 9 months ago

I didn't say that lacrosse is taking over the sports scene. But I am saying that baseball is a dying sport in mainstream American culture. And it just so happens that lacrosse is going in the other direction and has a lot of the elements to it that the American sports fan seems to crave. Particularly during these mid-summer dog days that have virtually no sports excitement at all.

I am speaking for our own country only. Baseball is a fun sport for kids to play and isn't going anywhere on the world stage. It clearly has a devote following in certain parts of the world even as it struggles in the U.S. (very much like soccer).

I just find it interesting at how American sports culture has changed from once having baseball on its highest pedestal to where it is now. Clearly, television coverage/ scheduling and our fast paced society contribute (look at the NFL), but MLB had better make some significant adjustments if it wants to hang on to its already dwindling popularity. Maybe it starts with a more dynamic personality than Bud Selig to be its spokesman?

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