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Astros crash to earth

Updated: 2013-03-31 07:41
By Tym Glaser ( China Daily)

Astros crash to earth

Houston, we have a problem!

Major League Baseball fired the National League's Houston Astros into the stratosphere on the good rocket Realignment and that sad-sack franchise came crashing back to earth and into arguably the most ornery division in the competition - the AL West.

(Hope you enjoyed your flight, make sure you fly MLB again.)

Life was no picnic for the Texas team in the NL Central as it racked up a grand total of 55 wins in 162 games last year - the league low, but it looks like the ants have already raided the Houston hamper before this season even begins.

Awaiting the Astros are the World Series finalists of 2010 and 2011 and fellow Lone Star state team, the Texas Rangers, the uber beefed up Angels of Los Angeles, or Anaheim, or some place on the Left Coast, who boast the game's best one-two-three punch in Albert Pujols, former Rangers' slugger Josh Hamilton and wunderkind Mike Trout, and last season's surprise divisional chart toppers and everybody's favorite Moneyball team, the Oakland A's.

Oh, there's also the Seattle Mariners, but even a 17-game sweep of them may not help the Astros reach that lofty 2012 plateau of 55 Ws.

If the Angels or Rangers don't make the World Series, their seasons will be regarded as busts, if the Astros soar to 60 wins, whooeee, they'll be popping champagne corks.

Out in the East, there will be cannibalization the likes of which we have not seen since Hannibal Lecter washed his victims down with a fine glass of Chianti.

All those teams could finish 81-81. The perennial powerhouse NY Yankees are aging quicker than a staked vampire, Boston is reinventing itself, Baltimore is expected to regress from its shockingly good/lucky 2012 season (and no-one likes playing under manager Buck Showalter two years in a row), Tampa Bay will try to ride its way to the top with pitching again and little else and big-spending Toronto has hitched its wagon to a knuckle ball ace in R.A. Dickey; yeah, let's see how that all works out, eh?

The only legitimate threat to the best of the West seems to be the Detroit Tigers under the stewardship of Methuselah, oops, Jim Leyland Methuselah is younger.

The defending AL champs have the best pitcher in the land (Justin Verlander), a Triple Crown winner (Miguel Cabrera) and a solid cast to support them.

And they play in an alarmingly weak division.

Sorry, White Sox, Cleveland, Kansas City and Minnesota but it could be worse, you could be Houston.

Tym Glaser is a senior sports copy editor who hopes the Red Sox can crack the .500 barrier this season. He can be contacted at tymglaser@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 03/31/2013 page8)

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