Here are some sights, sounds and observations now that two months of the 2016 baseball season are officially in the (score)books…
The Chicago Cubs are the indisputable best story in baseball, but let’s not go too far too soon.
The Cubs are 35-15, playing precisely .700 baseball, and on pace for 113 wins. That would make them one of the greatest regular season teams of all-time. But the Cubs do have holes, in the bullpen and their offense, that could make them vulnerable if and when they get to the playoffs.
The bullpen questions are obvious and exist for most everyone, and president Theo Epstein undoubtedly will focus on them as the trading deadline nears.
But the offense? The Cubs rank first in the National League in on-base percentage but just seventh in batting average, That means a team that throws strikes — like the Mets, Giants, Dodgers or Nationals — could easily upend them in the postseason.
Daniel Murphy, Ian Desmond and Yoenis Cespedes have at least one thing in common.
They were signed very late in the free agent process and are among the very best positional signings during the most recent offseason. Meanwhile, Jason Heyward is batting .220 with a .603 OPS for the Cubs.
I’m all for holding grudges, because they are good for baseball and generate fan interest. But what is it exactly with teams harboring ill will from last October?
First, the Texas Rangers felt the need to exact revenge on Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays, who are rapidly becoming the most hated team in baseball. Then Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets felt compelled to throw behind Chase Utley last weekend.
Deep down, baseball should be happy about this kind of stuff because, as we all know, familiarity breeds contempt. And given the pace-of-play and absence-of-action issues that face the game, the sport should embrace some good old-fashioned hate. But has it really reached the point where players aren’t allowed to play with emotion or physically intimidate the opposition in the playoffs?
Wussball. Let’s play two.
From Hoyt Wilhelm, Phil Niekro and Wilbur Wood to Charlie Hough, Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, the knuckleball finds a way to live on.
This brings us to Steven Wright, the 31-year-old Red Sox knuckleballer who ranks sixth in the AL in ERA, eighth in innings, and an even more impressive sixth in WHIP.
So here’s the question: if you’re the Red Sox, who desperately need a No. 2 starter to emerge, would you be comfortable pitching Wright in Game 2 of the playoffs? Or does the knuckleball simply scare the heck out of you?
With Luis Severino heading back to the minor leagues, I was just wondering: when was the last time the Yankees actually drafted/signed and developed a pitcher who truly gave them something?
Masahiro Tanaka doesn’t count.
The answer: unless you count Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain — and I don’t — you have to go back to Andy Pettitte.
And that’s just pathetic.
If the Texas Rangers get the real Yu Darvish back, it’s tough to envision a team that can match the 1-2 punch of Cole Hamels and Darvish in the playoffs.
Certainly, if Jose Quintana keeps it up, the White Sox can come close with Chris Sale and Quintana. Cleveland has Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar. And the Mariners have Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker.
But when you get right down to it, Hamels are Darvish could be a huge X-factor for the Rangers.
Now that we’re back in an even year, the Giants should be in the World Series conversation, right?
Since May 11, the Giants are 16-3 with a .238 team ERA. Since May 6, covering 24 games, their team ERA is 2.34.
A scary question for Red Sox fans: if you can only sign two from the group of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, who do you keep?
For what it’s worth, Bogaerts and Bradley are both represented by Scott Boras.
Tony Massarotti is an avid Boston sports fan and has covered sports in Boston for more than 15 years for both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe. He now serves as a co-host on afternoon drive on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. He was a two-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year as voted by his peers and has written four books, including “Big Papi,” the New York Times-bestselling memoirs of David Ortiz. You can follow Tony @tonymassarotti.