Eight close races. Two relevant New York teams. One huge trade behind us, and perhaps a few more to come.
One big-time player ready to return.
One titan of the game gone, his defending world champions armed with new motivation to win it all again.
With both the All-Star break and the LeBronathon behind us, and with football nowhere close, it's time to enjoy baseball's second half. Here's a primer:
Reasons to feel good about the Mets:
Reasons to worry about the Mets:
Reasons to feel good about the Yankees:
1. Even without Cliff Lee, they seem to have baseball's best starting rotation. 2. Mark Teixeira seems to be awakening from his long nap. 3. They'll likely trade for reinforcements to their bench and/or bullpen.
Reasons to worry about the Yankees:
1. NL East. You know the Phillies aren't done. 2. AL Central. Tigers, White Sox and Twins all will stick around. 3. AL wild card. Which club survives Red Sox vs. Rays? 4. NL West. Can the shockingly successful Padres hold off the Dodgers and Rockies?
Best trade chatter:
Top people to watch:
1. George Steinbrenner. The rest of the Yankees' season will be viewed through the prism of the departed Boss. 2. Cliff Lee. The Rangers' AL West 41/2-game lead stands as the largest in the game, so before Lee comes to the Bronx for 2011, can he make some history in Texas? 3. Chase Utley: How soon can the Phillies' injured MVP return?
Nah, let's take a break from those. From the look of things so far, the reality of the second half might just surpass anything we can envision, anyway.