The passing of the Summer Solstice means we're now through the artisanal bread and into the pretentious cured meat & stinky cheese section of the baseball season. Who's still around to give hope to moribund franchises? Which flame outs sucked the life from the hungry fan bases looking for something to cling to? The clock on the season is about to strike midnight: who are the pumpkins and who are the princesses?
- PRINCESS: Ubaldo Jimenez. Granted he isn't a princess of the Bob Gibson order1, but Yoo-baldo is a long-time stud finally come into his own. The walks are gone, the fastball dips and dives at a breakneck pace. He'll give up some home runs and he can't strand everyone forever, but he's a real threat to steal Timmy's trophy.
- PUMPKIN: Dusty's Red Legs. And a damn shame it will be. The Reds have some excellent pieces, both for the present and the future. Unfortunately, giving significant plate appearances to both Miguel Cairo and Jonny Gomes while hoping Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo keep all their joints in order is not a recipe for sustained success. Carrying the offense can only further wear down the back of heroic leader Scott Roleln. Poor fella's back looks more and more like the spine of the most dog-eared copy of The Jungle in circulation.
- PRINCESS: Alex Rios. So wait: you're telling me a two-time all star who catches everything with a track record of power and speed might be worth a damn? This princess is sure to outlast both his wacky manager and wily GM, so long as they keep him from swimming in the Chicago river.
- PUMPKIN: The Mariners turnaround. It isn't that the Mariners are dreadful, it's that the Mariners were supposed to be good. The new black of well-run franchises, the Mariners seemed to mis-manage any chance they had of competing in the A.L. West. The offense so poor yet the great juggling pimp of the offseason sits on his hands. Cursory moves come too late to overcome mismanaged bullpens, ineffective starters and meddling pitching coaches. Now the only drama in the Mariners summer is: can Jack Z reverse-fleece some contending sheep with Cliff Lee?
- PRINCESS: Listicles.
- PUMPKIN: Hackneyed Food Metaphors.
- PRINCESS: The San Diego Padres Pitch and Catch Attack While the Mariners pitching and defense approach isn't quite enough to overcome a pathetic offense; the Padres offer exceptional pitching and world-beating defense remedies the "Adrian Gonzalez and 11 guys named Who?" effect.
- PUMPKIN: The Toronto Blue Jays worsening offense. Wacking dingers is all fine and good, but a wise man once said solo home runs will not break your back and the 2010 Blue Jays are determined to prove it true, seemingly by design. The Jays will keep Larzen busy until September, but their seat at the kids table is assured for at least one more year.
1 - Bob Gibson just beaned Pumpkin Baby because I called him a princess. Tough but fair Bob, tough but fair.