Greetings from Geneva, where it isn't the middle of the night and everything is stunningly neutral. And gorgeous, I might add. For those who don't know, in my 19th year of teaching I decided for the first time to take more than my customary "long weekend to spring training" and to take 2 weeks off for my mom's 80th birthday.
We are traveling to Amsterdam (where the A's went 4-0), Geneva (where apparently Luke Gregerson is not allowed to throw sliders), and then beginning tomorrow we are driving from Geneva to Venice and back, with stops near Milan and Verona going, and near Brescia returning.
The best part figures to be my mom's actual birthday in Geneva on the 24th, when unbeknownst to her my older brother is flying in and will show up at the house where we are staying. If you happen to run into us in Quarona, Italy tomorrow night, please don't say anything to her about my brother coming. Thanks.
Injuries are a remarkably huge part of the game these days, to where division races almost seem to be wars of attrition alone. The Texas Rangers, highly competitive on paper, now have a better rotation on the disabled list than they can put on the mound. Go to the hospital for a 3-game series and you might face Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, and Martin Perez, but in Arlington this coming week you might face Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez, and the remnants of Colby Lewis. Or if you're lucky you'll face Robbie Ross, who seems to be free-falling faster than Tom Petty can get the words out. Texas is 20-21 without a better game plan, for the near future, than "Darvish and hope for a LOT of rain".
Meanwhile the Angels have been pretty competitive, 3 games over .500 and just 3 games back of the A's. Looking at the pre-season rosters I decided the Angels might be better than they were in 2012-13 but that I did not consider them to be a real threat for the division title. Why? Because the Angels' 25-man roster is pretty good but there is little to no depth, meaning that when the inevitable injuries hit they are in trouble. Contrast that to the A's, who lost #1 SP Jarrod Parker and #4 SP A.J. Griffin and still boast the best ERA in the American League.
So far those injuries haven't really hit the Angels. Jered Weaver is still standing, Garrett Richards looks great, C.J. Wilson is solid, and the back of the rotation (Tyler Skaggs, Hector Santiago) has been like most backs of rotations: Fine for 4th/5th starting pitchers, just not what you would want to slot anywhere higher.
At some point, you would figure that the Angels will have to slot Skaggs or Santiago into the middle of the rotation, maybe play for a month without a key cog such as Howie Kendrick or Albert Pujols, or heaven forbid the fishy guy. But so far, that hasn't happened. Well, they lost Josh Hamilton but ... yeah, I'm talking about good players, not just highly paid ones.
If the Angels lose a key starting pitcher, and a key position player, for any length of time, I think they're in a heap of trouble. But if they have a pretty magical year for health are they, or the perennially-but-possibly-now-really-up-and-coming Mariners more of a threat to the A's than the Profarless, Sotoless, Hollandless, Harrisonless, Scheppersless Rangers? Last I saw Adrian Beltre, he had Nate Freiman's range, and this is one of the better defensive 3Bmen in the history of the game. The Rangers are under .500, looking like an under-.500 team, started the season with a rash of injuries and their health has only gotten worse. I know they will be getting some guys back along the way, but...wow, maybe just not their year.
Is it time to worry about someone else? I need to figure this out, because as you well know fans influence the outcomes of games greatly by worrying about the right division rival. Also, the thing about Gelato being fattening is just a myth, right?