Fourth of July and baseball. It really doesn't get much better than this.
And in fantasy, this holiday is significant in more ways than one.
Taking a break from the sporting world, Independence Day is truly a significant mark in the history of our country.
Think for a second where we'd be, had it not been for our foresight of our forefathers. Freedom is not cheap and we live in the greatest country there is.
OK, back off my soap box, and onto your fantasy team, which may be struggling mightily in the first half, the 4th of July is very significant.
It's time to take real inventory of where your team is, what categories are lacking, and take action. Whether it's dropping the dead weight, punting categories or trading away excess, the halfway point is your last real chance to make worthwhile change.
Time is running out.
Power surge: In case you've been off-line the past few days, two players have lit the world on fire in one game: the Cubs' Derek Lee and the Indians' Shin Soo-Choo. Both players had a 2-HR, 7-RBI game in the past 48 hours and if somehow you happened to own both, you probably saw a surge in the standings.
Lee was especially disappointing, with just 6 HR and 23 RBI in the first two months of the season. But in the past month, he's racked up 8 HR and 24 RBI and hit over .300, sparking memories of the Triple-Crown-threatening 2005 season. If you gave up on him too early, as I did, shame on you. And if you own him, you might wanna sell high, if you can. Can't imagine him keeping up this pace.
Choo now has 12 HR and 53 RBI. Add in 13 SB and a .301 average and the Indians new cleanup hitter is ranked 20th in the Yahoo! game and is one of the best first-half steals not named Mark Reynolds.
And while we're talking about power surges, The Machine, aka Albert Pujols hit another one last night, this one a grand slam, giving him 31 HR and 82 RBI over the first half, begging one fundamental question:
Why are teams pitching to him?
The Twins said they play the game right and their fans deserve to see them challenge Pujols and not give him a free pass. I say bologna. An intentional walk, when used right, an be the biggest weapon in all of baseball. If managers are afraid to use it, then they deserved to be beaten by arguably the best hitter in the game (and as a Cubs fan, that pains me to say).
Barry Bonds was never pitched to this much in his prime. In 2004, he walked 232 times, most of them intentional. Pujols has just 64 free passes this year at exactly the midway point (81 games).
With no other hitter worth a salt right now in St. Louis, I would walk Pujols every single time, unless the bases were loaded. Make Ryan Ludwick or Chris Duncan beat you. And even then, I'd think about it.
Last year, down two runs, Joe Madden walked the Rangers' Josh Hamilton with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. And guess what, the Rays retired the next batter and won by a run.
Teams will start to wise up sooner or later and if they don't, pencil the Cardinals in the playoffs.