MLB Notebook 6.13.11: Standings Surprises, League Realignment, 2011 Draft & NCAA College World Series

Every Monday morning (besides last week), I sit down and go through my notes, which try and remind me what happened in baseball the previous week. I use these notes, along with looking through a bunch of bad YouTube clips, to piece together a MLB Notebook for SB Nation New York. Each week, the story has seemed to have the same theme: Have you seen the shift in the MLB standings?

This week is no different. Three weeks ago, the Cleveland Indians had a seven-game lead in the AL Central. Currently, the Indians (34-29), who have lost nine of their last 10 games, are tied with the Detroit Tigers (35-30) at the top of their division standings.

Do I regret saying, "I don't know if there's a team consistent enough in the AL Central that can catch the Indians"? A bit. However, I did also say that the AL Central is much like the NL West, which is the most unpredictable division every year.

I still think the Indians are good enough to hang on, but they need figure things out before the Tigers begin to run away.

After a three-game, weekend sweep of NL Central rivals the St. Louis Cardinals, the Milwaukee Brewers are in sole possession of first place in their division. Even though, the lead is only a half-game it's still an accomplishment for a team that was five games back on May 17.

One of the keys to the Brewers (38-28) success has been slugger Prince Fielder, who has 19 home runs (ranked fourth in the majors), 58 RBI (second) and a .308 batting average. Pitcher Shaun Marcum leads the team in ERA (2.68) and innings pitched (90.2), while Zack Greinke put together back-to-back solid starts to begin the month of June.

Meanwhile, in the NL East the Atlanta Braves (38-28) have won six straight, including a sweep against the Florida Marlins, and are now just two games behind the Philadelphia Phillies (40-26).

Sophomore pitcher Tommy Hanson, who has a team-best 89 strike outs this season, fanned 14 batters Sunday night in a 4-1 victory over the Houston Astros. Pair Hanson with Jair Jurrjens (1.82 ERA with eight wins) and the Braves might have a nice, young 1-2 punch that could give the Phillies some trouble.

The NL West features the San Francisco Giants (37-29) holding off the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks (36-30), who are just a game back in the standings.

Here are the top two stories of this week ...

MLB Realignment: On Saturday, news broke that MLB is looking into realignment.

According to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, the league would get rid of the division format, place 15 teams in both the NL and AL.

"...That change would allow all 15 teams in each league to vie for five playoff spots within each league."

"The report also cites a source that claims the players' association is open to the consideration, but the plan has not yet been presented to the owners. In order for realignment to occur, 75 percent of the owners would need to approve it."

ESPN's Buster Olney wrote this Sunday:

"Sources say the talks are serious, and while one executive believes the odds of change are less than 50-50, another says this is the type of discussion that can gather momentum and become a reality."

About a year ago, I tackled this issue on my old blog. Now, my suggestion had no limits and was purely out of fun. However, it does show that I am in favor of realignment in baseball. I think it's needed. We will just all need to wait to see if this is all just hearsay or whether it gains momentum.

2011 MLB Draft: Last Monday, the MLB held its first-year player draft and UCLA righted-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole went first overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The first four selection were all pitchers, just one of them was a high schooler, Dylan Bundy, who went to the Baltimore Orioles at No. 4.

According to scouts of MLB.com, the Arizona Diamondbacks had the best draft because of their No. 3 (Trevor Bauer) and No. 7 (Archie Bradley) overall selections. The D-backs also snagged two more top-50 players. AL East squads, the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, were ranked two and three, respectively. The San Diego Padres were ranked No. 4, while the Boston Red Sox filled out the final top-five slot.

Weekly Nugget No. 1: Last Monday, I worked as a beverage cart driver at my local public golf course, which was holding an annual restaurant association tournament. Now, I don't know where our local AA meetings happen, but I sure know where all the local alcoholics met last Monday. Basically, whatever happens at AA meetings, the exact opposite happened at the golf course last week.

Weekly Nugget No. 2: Probably the best baseball story of the week as little to do with MLB. On Sunday night, the University of California baseball program, which nine months ago was set for execution, earned a trip to the 2011 NCAA College World Series by sweeping Dallas Baptist in a best-of-three Super Regional series.

"The story of perseverance is as astounding as it is unbelievable," wrote SB Nation's Cal blog, California Golden Blogs, Monday morning.

What's even more impressive is that Cal, which said it'd bring back baseball for the 2012 season two months ago, lost its first game of the regional tournament and then turned around to win six straight to earn its first trip to Omaha since 1992. Currently, the Golden Bears are one of six teams to advance to the CWS, the others are: North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Florida, Texas and South Carolina. On Monday, Florida St. will play Texas A&M; and Virginia faces UC Irvine for a chance to fill the last two spots.

Weekly Nugget No. 3: Wednesday night, my fiance and I are leaving for a wedding in St. Charles, IL. Thursday afternoon is the rehearsal dinner, Friday morning is the ceremony and we head back to NY sometime Saturday. Now, a few months ago my fiance and I were making plans about traveling to Illinois, and realized that the New York Yankees will be playing at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs during the weekend. From what I've heard, St. Charles isn't that far from Chicago. Anybody want to donate $400 so she and I can witness this event? Trust me, we'll really enjoy the early wedding present!

Onto the weekly video clips...

Weekly Video Clip No. 1: Here are a handful of spectacular plays from this week:

Weekly Video Clip No. 2: Wiffleball Play Of The Week goes to... This guy!

Have your own thoughts on the MLB Season? E-mail: JaredSmith16@gmail.com; or Tweet: Jared_E_Smith. Here are other previous MLB Notebooks: 4.21.11; 4.25.11; 5.2.11, 5.9.11, 5.16.11; 5.23.11, 5.30.11.

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