Posted April 16, 2012 04:26 pm - Updated April 16, 2012 05:50 pm

Start of the season a sign of things to come

What a great first two weeks it's been.

Not only do the Dodgers have the best record entering the week, but the Nationals, Cardinals, Rangers and Tigers all lead their respective divisions. Not to mention the AL East is as wacky as ever with the Orioles, Blue Jays, Yankees, Rays and Red Sox are all within 1.5 games of each other.

The Braves, after losing their first four, have won five in a row while its offense and pitching seem to be getting on track. Through its first seven games, the starting pitcher didn't last past five innings. Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy fixed that on the weekend, pitching into the seventh and eighth inning, giving the bullpen a much needed break.

Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have been the sparkplugs for the Dodgers, which not only found a new owner but find themselves atop the NL West. The team has 50 RBI while the duo has accounted for 31 of those RBI. If Ethier stays healthy this season, this tandem very well could carry the Dodgers to the playoffs.

While pitching is at a premium in the National League, you can't over look the starts so far by Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers. If he continues to take some of the pressure off Clayton Kershaw in the rotation, time will tell how good they will be.



American League

1. Rangers: Sport the league's best record despite Yu Darvish's so-so start.

2.  Tigers: It's hard to believe the Red Sox have scored more runs than Detroit's lineup.

3. Blue Jays: A lot of people were abuzz about them coming out of spring training.

4. Mariners: The lack of offense will eventually catch up to them.

5. Orioles: Adam Jones has hit safely in all nine games.

National League

1. Dodgers: Kemp and Ethier have the potential to hit .300/30/100.

2. Cardinals: The defending champs haven't missed a beat with new skipper Mike Matheny

3. Nationals: Are off to one of their best starts in franchise history.

4. Diamondbacks: They are going to need Daniel Hudson to be better if they're going to repeat as division champs.

5. Mets: I'm stunned but don't expect them to keep up their hot start.


FINAL THOUGHT: As you've heard by now, the Braves announced they are going to retire John Smoltz's No. 29. The team also said he will be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame at Turner Field. The honors will take place June 8, before a series against the Blue Jays.

He is the only pitcher in MLB history to record 200 wins and 150 saves and was part of arguably the greatest rotation in history with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who also have had their numbers retired within the past few years. The trio were the main pieces of a rotation that won helped the franchise win 14 consecutive division titles. He also was a clutch pitcher in the postseason, finishing with a 15-4 record, a 2.67 ERA and four saves in 41 appearances.

Smoltzie was always a class act on the field and such a fierce competitor that you knew something special would happen every time it was his turn to start. Growing up and watching that rotation will be memories that I will treasure, but the image of Smoltz catching catcher Greg Olson in his arms after clinching the NL West during their magical worst to first run in 1991 will always resonate with this Braves fan.