We're at the 40 game mark, so it's time for another installment of Who's Hot, Who's Not.
Who's Hot: Las Vegas Gamblers
Record: Las Vegas is an AL best 14-6 in their last 20.
How: Pitching. They're giving up 3.6 runs per game. The offense has been there all season, but the pitching has taken this team to another level.
Key Series: The 3 game sweep at home against the defending AL East Champion Louisville squad. They gave up 8 runs in 3 games to a very good Louisville offense.
Upcoming: Three tough series with the best the AL South has to offer: the last 3 in a 4 game set at Monterrey, 3 at Iowa City, and then the Sultans return the favor with 3 at Vegas.
Milwaukee continues to distance itself from the rest of the AL North, going 13-8 in their last 21.
When we last checked in, Charlotte was in last place at 9-11. They went 12-8 in the last 20 to not only improve to 21-19, they're now tied for 1st in the AL East.
Colorado Springs has put itself solidly in second place in the west by going 13-8 after a 9-10 start.
Who's Not: Huntington Beachcombers
Record: In first place for the first edition of this column, the Beachcombers now occupy the cellar after a 6-14 record in the last 20.
How: Close games. They've played 8 one-run games in their last 20 and they are 2-6 in those games.
Key series: 3 game sweep at the hands of St. Louis. The Silly Nannies have the worst record in the AL and beat Huntington 3 in a row, the last 2 by (you guessed it) one run.
Upcoming: The last 3 out of 4 in Iowa City, followed by 3 at home against Milwaukee, and then at a hot Colorado Springs team for 3 constitute the next 9 games. Not an easy schedule by any means.
Also Not Hot:
St. Louis took 3 from Huntington and played Monterrey to nearly a standstill (3-4 over a 7 game set), but still only went 8-13 in the last 21 games.
Toledo and Syracuse both went 8-12 in the last 20. Milwaukee has a 9 game lead already.
New York had to win their last 3 to go 9-12 over the last 21. Otherwise it would have been worse.
Who's Hot: Fargo and Chicago
Records: They've lost the fewest games in this part of the schedule, Chicago going 14-6 and Fargo going 15-6.
How: Any surprise? Chicago leads the NL in runs scored, Fargo leads the NL in fewest runs allowed. As we expected.
Key Series: For Chicago, none, really. What they did was they were solid against the good teams they played (2-1 against Houston, 4-3 against Trenton), and beat up on the lesser teams (3 game sweeps against Austin and Atlanta). Fargo gave up 7 runs total in a 4 game sweep at Houston as their key series.
Upcoming: Chicago has 13 of their next 20 against Salem and Arizona, so it doesn't get much easier. Fargo's got series with Trenton, Norfolk, and Arizona in the next 20; they also have 7 with Austin (they'll need to really beat up on Austin to make up ground on Chicago, but Austin's playing fairly well righy now) and Salt Lake City on the schedule.
Toronto is 14-7 while trying to keep pace in the crazy NL North. Last time I put an entire division in here (NL West)- why not do it again? Even last season's doormat, Philadelphia, managed a 10-10 record over 20 games, so I hereby put the NL North division in its entirety in the hot column.
Norfolk has closed the gap on Trenton in the East by going 12-8.
Austin has made more trades in the last few days than the average professional stockbroker and still managed to go 12-8.
Scottsdale is also 12-8 and is still in first place, much to the chagrin of fans in Oregon and Arizona.
Who's Not: Washington D.C. Blue Coats
Record: Yes, I know they weren't expected to contend. Yes, I know they're rebuilding. (Note: Atlanta fans may want to stop reading now) Yes, I know they're not even in last place in their division. But they did go 4-17 in their last 21, solidifying this spot for them.
How: Pitching. They're yielding a shade under 6.5 runs a game over this 21 game stretch. Their offense has been decent, but just can't keep up.
Key series: 2 series in a row, actually. They played the likes of Arizona, Toronto, and Fargo in this stretch, and they just can't keep up with the big boys of the NL. But the last 7 were against Philadelphia and Austin, a last place team and a 3rd place team, respectively. They only won 1 of the 7, losing 3 of 4 to Philadelphia (actually pitching decently in that series and just not scoring enough runs), and getting swept by Austin (giving up 7 runs a game in that series).
Upcoming: 13 of the next 20 are against Salt Lake City and New Orleans, both of whom are in last place in their divisions. Whether or not this team is respectable this season may depend on those 13 games.
Also Not Hot:
Atlanta was better than in the first 19 (they'd almost have to be), but still only went 7-14. They're currently 10-30.
Salt Lake City went 8-13 to establish themselves in last place out West.
San Juan went 9-12 to lose the lead in the South.
New Orleans went 8-12 to take the basement in the aforementioned South.