The stories you'd be reading if the first half didn't exist

Haters gonna hate - Thearon W. Henderson

It's worth repeating: April is the worst month for reading or writing about baseball. Every very article about a player or team's hot or slow start is poppycock. Steven Goldman wrote about Yuniesky Betancourt's fast start this season, concluding that, fine, okay, he can hit for a little power, and that's what he's doing well right now, but he's probably terrible, unless, dunno, maybe he's okay now?

And that's the only thing you can expect writers to do in April. There are signs, data points, and trends, but nothing you'd bet a Kit-Kat on.

Yuniesky Betancourt. Come on. What is wrong with us? You are horrible, April.

With all that in mind, it's time to take our yearly look at what the stupid stories would be around baseball if the first half didn't exist. What teams would be up? What players would be down? Here's last year's, in case you're interested. Turns out that the A's really were that good! Huh.

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Sample headline if the first half didn't exist

The calm, measured patience of Yasiel Puig

Sample text:

Everyone thought he would be a wild bull, a hacker with more tools than good sense, and that he wouldn't see a breaking ball worth taking.

Everyone was wrong.

The early returns on Yasiel Puig? He's good. But he's far more patient than we had a right to expect. He's hitting .300/.400/.500 for the year -- an elegant, symmetrical, and impressive line. But look at the OBP. Look at the 16 walks in 130 plate appearances. Look at the age, 22.

This guy has all the tools. But his patience suggests he can be something even more.

Should the Dodgers be concerned that he acts like a 22-year-old? Not yet. Maybe in a few months when a bunch of goofy-ass sportswriters are looking for something to nitpick. But not now. Now's all about the patience. And Puig has it.

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Sample headline:

Dan Haren making Nationals look smart

Sample text:

The fastball isn't there. Haren's 89 m.p.h. is 10th slowest among qualified starters, just behind Joe Saunders and Kevin Correia. But the results are there. Haren is sporting a 2.31 ERA and a nifty 36/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 39 innings.

He's back.

But the Nationals are a little slow to get out of the gate, with a 23-27 record to start the season. They'll be back, though. There's no way a team this good, this loaded can be kept down. And when they're at full strength, the three-time All-Star and one-time perennial Cy Young candidate will keep doing his thing. Nothing could possiblie go wrong for the Nationals if Haren keeps pitching like this.

Wait, nothing could possi*bly* go wrong. That's the first thing that's gone wrong for the Nationals this year. Other than the losing. Which will stop soon because there's no way we were all that wrong about the Nationals. And Dan Haren's good now.

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Sample headline:

Are the Phillies worse than the Astros?

Sample text:

You're not going to believe it. But the Michael Young and Delmon Young deals aren't working out. Young has been awful at the plate, and he's fielding like the ball is covered in spiders. And Young isn't hitting or fielding well, either. Who would've thunk it?

Me.

This guy.

Because of stats. I told you this was going to happen! I told you! Look at me. I told you. And I was right. So damned right.

Oh, god, I'm so self-satisfied right now.

And the Phillies are 8-22, partially because they acquired bad baseball players on purpose.

Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes. They made decisions I didn't agree with, and now they're failing because of it.

I need a cigarette.

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Sample headline:

Rangers do it again with brilliant Elvis Andrus extension

Sample text:

What do you do when you have a 24-year-old shortstop hitting and fielding well and a 21-year-old shortstop who is the best prospect in the sport?

Keep them both for a long, long time, and figure the rest out later.

This isn't a McCovey/Cepeda situation, where one of the two players is hurting the team when he plays a different position. The Rangers can figure out what to do with Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus, even if it means Profar at second. Or center.

It doesn't matter. Because when Andrus is hitting like he is this season -- .308/.385/.395, with six doubles, a triple, and a homer in 119 at-bats -- he's one of the very best players in baseball. And that's a guy you keep around for $100 million.

He'll be 33 when the deal ends, right as he starts to slide. What a deal for the Rangers. They can figure out Profar later.

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Sample headline:

Bartolo Colon clean, dirty

Sample text:

They say PEDs don't work like Popeye and a can of spinach.

Yeah. Unless you're the same shape as Bluto to start.

Then it helps.

Problem is, Bartolo Colon lost his can of spinach.

Rather, it was taken from him by Bud Selig, who yis what he yis. And that's an enforcer, even if something of a Johnny-come-lately to the role.

And without his can of spinach, Colon is just a regular sailor. And it's not his forearms that are big.

It's his ego.

He had to know that once he stopped with the juice, his reclaimed talent would wash down the drain.

He took the A's money anyway.

What a guy.

And he's up to a 4.23 ERA after getting shellacked in his last two starts. He lasted just over six innings, giving up 14 hits, four walks, and 10 runs.

Not sure why the A's were messing around with him anyway.

At least he was valuable to the scientific community.

Because he's proof that steroids work.

It's too bad his pitches don't.

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Sample headline:

So the Royals are pretty good, but they're going to screw this up, and it turns out that Wil Myers is awesome

Sample text:

Dammit, Royals.

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