Turning focus to baseball

A loyal reader reminded me the other day I hadn’t done a baseball column since the beginning of the Major League season.

Today seems like the perfect day to end that streak, for there is lots of baseball news, at several different levels of the game.

Start with the high schools.

It’s great to see Little Kanawha Conference schools making up half the Class A field for this week’s state tournament.

It’s been a highly competitive year in the state’s toughest small school league.

St. Marys has been consistently outstanding the entire season. The Blue Devils take a 29-2 mark into their Thursday evening state semifinal game at Appalachian Power Park against 19-11 Man. Before that one can take place, Gilmer County (25-10) will meet 26-6 Notre Dame in the opener at 4:30 p.m.

It would be great to see the Blue Devils and Titans meet one another for the state title.

Gilmer County is the last LKC team to win the Class A championship, in 2001. (LKC member Braxton County won Class AA in 2010).

On to the college ranks, where West Virginia University’s baseball program has grown by leaps and bounds since Randy Mazey took over.

The Mountaineers were one of the first four teams that didn’t make the ongoing NCAA Tournament. In this case, the old Chicago Cubs cry applies: Wait Til Next Year.

WVU is indeed on the verge of becoming highly relevant in the college baseball world.

Finally, there’s the majors. We’re all waiting on Parkersburg High School graduate Nick Swisher to return to the Cleveland Indians lineup. Swisher has been rehabbing his knees, including doing some pool activities. The Tribe went into Monday night three games under .500. It’s hard to make a case for any team other than Detroit winning the AL Central or making the playoffs.

The best team in baseball? The Oakland A’s not only are 35-22 but they have outscored their opponents by 115 runs. The second best team in run differential also resides in the Bay Area as the San Francisco Giants are plus 59. So instead of a Subway Series between the Yankees and Mets, perhaps it’s time for a Golden Gate fall classic. But remember, it isn’t the best team in June that matters. It’s the best team in October. There’s lot of baseball to be played.

I can’t figure out the Reds. The one thing I was convinced would happen under rookie manager Bryan Price is that this team would be more intense and play harder than it did under laid-back Dusty Baker. But that hasn’t happened. It looks like the same ole Reds. Lots of talent, but not living up to the potential.

As for the Pittsburgh Pirates, lots of the necessary ingredients are there, but this team needs a long-ball threat that has become so vital in modern-day baseball.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com