The AL West brings back painful memories of Twins road trips during the 1990's. The time zone could work against these teams. More recently, I think of Dick Bremer perpetually reminding Twins fans how many times they play Seattle this month. With only four teams, it's easy to forget they're even playing.
I'm still recovering from their dismissal of manager Don Wakamatsu. As I've said, anybody who gets into a fight with a weak-hitting and overpaid middle infielder is fine by me. At least they replaced him with manager Eric Wedge. He has also done something Gardy hasn't. I am certainly curious about the Mariners, but there isn't enough for me to root for them.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California
Lately, the Angels have combined everything that's wrong with the family-friendly Twins with all of my complaints about the Yankees. I suppose that's basically the Mets, but it's not comical. I don't know quite what to think of Angels skipper Mike Scioscia. He seems similar to Gardy, but I feel considerably different when he summons a reliever with a 2-run lead in the 8th than when Gardy does the same. I'd say that's because Tolbert, Punto, and Casilla are due up for the Twins, but somehow Scioscia's scrubs are actually somewhat threatening. Following the Angels, then, would mainly be an academic exercise. How similar or different are they from the Twins?
A's general manager Billy Beane has been lauded- mainly by himself- for his Moneyball strategy to win games. As I understand, he picks an offensive statistic from a hat, acquires or develops players who are best at this, and has Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito in the cheap years of their contracts. The current roster has a handful of quality cheap- I mean young- pitchers and a futile- I mean high on-base-percentage- lineup. Do they still play in the Al Davis Coliseum? I think I may have to resort to the time zone argument if I want to rule them out.
Manager Ron Washington still wears his uniform without the wuss-out windbreaker. That alone might be enough for me. Nolan Ryan insists on building the team around quality pitching. It seems to be working. They've left themselves a target for this year. First, they need to remind us that although Cliff Lee was a huge part of reaching the World Series, he didn't do it alone. Second, they need to actually win the World Series. I have heard positive reports about the ladies in the Dallas metroplex and my favorite television show, King of the Hill, is set somewhere near Dallas. They play their games in the best mix of time zones of any team which would allow me the chance to watch an entire game and make my bedtime or retire to the sofa at 9:00pm to watch baseball to end my day.
The players in their lineup don't excite me too much, though. I also might feel a little bit too much like a fair-weather fan for jumping to a team that already won the AL pennant. At any rate, I think they are the front-runner after my first iteration through the teams.