Intergalactic visitors, depending on their reference point, might view our old globe upside down. Upon closer inspection maybe they would see that the most viable country just now is in what we dismissively call the Southern Hemisphere. Brazil has no debt, plenty of oil, sustainable growth and — most promising of all — no New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, much less the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners.
Up here in the really important hemisphere, we have none of the above except the Yankees and Red Sox. This, at least, is the inference drawn after observing the obsession national media have with the New York and Boston baseball teams. Fawning over the latter, scribes for various news media are missing some pretty interesting rivalries, especially the one that, as of April 20, had the Angels and M's knotted at 3-3 for the season. The M's (10-10) had taken their week-earlier series 2-1; the Angels (12-8) had reciprocated, winning April 18 and 19 but losing April 20 even while bringing to the plate a parade of ninth-inning threats before succumbing 4-2.
The apparent titans of the American League West next meet in Seattle the first part of June. The genuine Armageddon, though, may very well occur in September, when the pair trade four-game home stands. The last match-up will be in Seattle Sept. 22 to 25, assuming the rivals don't wind up with a post-season playoff game to decide (à la 1995) which 99-63 team wins the division.
(We hear what you're saying: "By then we'll only have our sports minds focused on how the 2008-'09 Sonics will do." Yes. And with the proper premium-cable deal you'll be able to arrange following the Sonics, who then will be known as the "Soon-ics" and will be warming up to familiar background music written by Rogers and Hammerstein.)
But the Mariners by then could be playoff bound. One reason is an apparent resilience. The team has endured well-reported early-season injuries; fans have grimaced, witnessing inconsistent work by many of the position players. Yet, anybody in the M's organization no doubt would welcome the incontrovertible facts: It's a team (with a bye Monday, April 21, before hosting Baltimore for three) that had its nominal top starter and its all-star closer placed on the disabled list, a club getting spotty offensive performance from its top-line players and playing 12 of its first 20 on the road (the other eight mostly in the frozen confines of "global-warming-era" Safeco Field). Still, it's well-positioned at 10-10. Three at home with the Orioles and three more here with Oakland could — some would say "should" — leave the team a winner going on the road the end of April.
"Should": The folly of making predictions is well known to sports observers. Disparage Richie Sexson in print and that night he parks a pair of dingers, nearly poking a third to win the game. Observe Sunday during the fifth inning of the Angels finale that Ichiro's batting average has slipped (typical for him during April) and the next pitch he triples in a run. Some of us fretted about sending Miguel Batista to the mound against the able Angels. Then we watched him give up no runs in seven and two-thirds innings, fanning eight.
All right, so we're wrong sometimes. Hey, Brazilians think they're on top of the world. It could be worse. We could be like so many of the other media observers: spending all our time being wrong about the Yankees and Red Sox.