Assessing baseball situation

Baseball.

Of all the major sports, it’s the one that plays the most games, often with its teams playing for several weeks at a time without taking a day off.

A hot team can reel off a 10-game win streak and a cold team can lose just as many in a row.

I recently spent my nine-day vacation taking in the action of all 30 teams (hey, it’s my vacation, I’m allowed to pursue my passion).

Here are my observations on the teams of high local interest:

  • Cincinnati Reds: This is a massively talented team that has all the necessary tools to win the World Series.

Solid starting pitching. A lights-out, gifted closer. Plenty of power. Up-the-middle defense.

Yet, it seems to lack the one commodity that championship teams must possess -intensity.

This team lacks fire. It often plays down to the level of the competition. It seems to reflect the laid-back attitude of manager Dusty Baker.

In doing so, it may waste a great opportunity to take Cincinnati back to the glory days.

Perhaps the fast start by the St. Louis Cardinals will wake up the Reds and make them realize if they don’t live up to their massive potential, they once again won’t be playing come October.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates: Solid starting pitching backed by a deep, incredible bullpen has made this team exceed all expectations.

The Pirates are one power hitter away from being a contender. This is still -maybe I’m just too much of an Earl Weaver disciple -the era of the three-run homer, and the Pirates don’t hit enough of that necessary commodity.

Manager Clint Hurdle seems to push all the right buttons and is squeezing as many wins out of this group as is possible, but even that may not be enough unless Pittsburgh gets a power surge.

But it does appear the Pirates will more than they lose, and that’s a good sign.

  • Cleveland Indians: No team had me more excited during the preseason.

I figured with the addition of manager Terry Francona and our own Nick Swisher, there would be a new spirit in Cleveland, and sure enough, there was. But injuries have taken their toll of late, especially the losses of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and closer Chris Perez.

Cleveland is the only team in this division that can threaten the heavily favored Detroit Tigers. There’s simply no way the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals or Minnesota Twins can make a run.

When both Swisher and Mark Reynolds were on fire at the same time, the Tribe was nearly unbeatable. Now that both are slumping together, Cleveland is struggling.

With the New York Yankees incurring so many injuries and the Boston Red Sox lineup not as feared as in past years, teams like Cleveland have a chance to reach the playoffs, even if Detroit wins the division.