Ah, that was a lovely week off, wasn't it? All rested up, refreshed, and ready to tackle the dog days? Good, because this is when it matters. This is when temperatures go up, patience goes down, games seem to drag, and the old saying "baseball is a marathon, not a sprint" really seems more true than ever. The first half of the season is done, and we're kicking off the second half tonight to see if the Tigers can start making up any ground in their division.
My idea? Just find a way to sneak back into the AL East. That division looks like exactly the kind of weak Central Division the Tigers have gotten used to beating over the past few years, where the distance between them and the first place team is a .500 record and a .545 record, not a .500 record and a .605 record. It wouldn't be that hard, right? Slap on a fake mustache, some oversized sunglasses, maybe adopt a phony Bar Harbor accent (or better yet, a Canadian accent), and see if anyone notices that there are now six teams in the East Division.
Forget it. Eventually, Cleveland would notice and then they'd want in, too, and the whole cover would be blown because the stupid Indians couldn't keep their stupid mouths shut and not ruin the whole stupid thing. Stupid Indians.
Anyway, speaking of the East ... how about them Blue Jays?
One Way for the Blue Jays to Go for It - Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan
The Jays are in a volatile division and they have an obscene run differential. They just need a shot of good pitching and they could be a force to be reckoned with in their division. Sullivan has an idea of how to get them there (spoiler alert: like most schemes designed to give [X] team a shot at winning this year, this one involves Cueto).
At the turn: Five teams that will play big roles in second half - Fox Sports, Jon Morosi
The Reds made the list, not as contenders, but because -- as mentioned -- they've got Cueto, and also Aroldis Chapman. They could really end up helping to tip the balance for some other team.
What do we really know about this season? - Just a Bit Outside, Matthew Kory
Here's a strange fact uncovered by Kory: the Boston Red Sox project to have "the best projected record in the second half of any team in the American League," and third best in MLB, behind the Nationals and Dodgers. Keep reading, it's going to be a weird second half.
The 10 best first-half surprises of the 2015 MLB season - MLB Daily Dish, Mike Bates
A position-by-position breakdown. It's included here especially because Jose Iglesias made the list.
Baseball players and their muppet twins: an exploration - Vice Sports, David Roth
This might be the most fantastic thing in the history of things that compare muppets to baseball players. And yes, Willie McGee looks exactly like Pepe the Prawn, so thank you, Internet, I will never be able to disassociate those two entities in my mind again.
Prospectus Hit-List - Baseball Prospectus, Matthew Kory and Matt Sussman
Jokes, jokes, and more jokes, all tailored to your specific team of choice. For Detroit, from last Monday: "No team has ever made the playoffs on the difficulty setting 'Marc Krauss is your first baseman,' at least so far." For the Giants: "Madison Bumgarner having a higher OPS than Angel Pagan is not an argument against the DH; it's an argument that Madison Bumgarner should convert to center field."
Cueto to Royals, Tigers out of playoffs and more bold AL predictions - Sports Illustrated, Jay Jaffe
Not only does he predict that the Tigers won't make the playoffs, he predicts that Dave Dombrowski will take his trade sorcery elsewhere.
The highs and lows (and highs and highs) of the new Home Run Derby format - SB Nation MLB, Grant Brisbee
I'm bound and determined to make sure you read at least one Grant Brisbee article per week. My only disagreement with him is that he says "During the semifinal round, you're kind of tired of dingers," and to that I can only say, "That's why you write for a National League team, Mr. Brisbunt." Otherwise, a great post, and good for your weekly dosage of high-quality baseball writing.