We're about halfway through this baseball season, and I have to say that I am satisfied with the way things are going. First of all, the mathematics really help out a lot. When you play one hundred and sixty-two games, it's nice to take a break around eighty just to get a sense of where things might go. The real magic is that, historically, no team is counted out at this point. Magical trades or mythological winning streaks make watching baseball into the Fall an easy sell.
Well, for some more than others. As a long-suffering fan of the Chicago Cubs, even the team from the north side could stitch together a lineup that might lead them out of the cellar and into the penthouse. You probably wouldn't get much action on a bet against the Oakland A's making it to the playoffs this year. The All-Star Break is a little like Wednesday on the old Mickey Mouse Club: Anything Can Happen.
Still, there are those who have already given up on the Boys of Summer. It could be that having a world champion basketball team in their city has made baseball less of a draw for the folks down in Miami. That's why the Marlins have gone to all kinds of extremes to get fans off the couch and into their very fancy new ballpark. They've tried offering Groupon deals, and selling them like hot dogs: buy one, get one free. A recent promotion offered ticket buyers an even sweeter deal: you could buy tickets just like you were the friends or family of pitcher Gio Gonzalez. A very special offer indeed, since Gio doesn't play for the Marlins. He plays for the visiting Washington Nationals. Sure, Gio grew up in southern Florida, but he has played his major league baseball in less tropical climes. Would you believe Oakland?
And so it goes. Out here in Oakland, we do what we can with what we've got. The Athletics play in a concrete bunker more suited for football, but barely that. The payroll is one of the lowest in pro sports, but not surprisingly sits just above that of the Miami Marlins. Fans in Oakland are still getting a pretty good deal on a dollars-per-win basis. Down in Miami, there are still dreams of streaks and players to be named later. In Oakland, it's only a matter of time before the teams with deep pockets show up and start to pilfer the quirky lineup that has taken us this far.
For now, we're just going to sit back and let the rest of the season unfold. Pass me some Crackerjacks.