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Wednesday, July 12

   by Larry Ness - 07/12/2006

The NL led Tuesday's All Star Game 2-1 with two outs in the 9th and Trevor Hoffman, who is closing in on the all-time saves lead, on the mound. What followed then, has become typical for the NL this last decade. Konerko singled and Glaus followed with a ground-rule double. The Rangers' Michael Young then hit a bases clearing triple on an 0-2 count, giving the AL another All Star win, 3-2.

The NL has not won an All Star Game since 1996, making the AL's 9-0-1 stretch since 1997, the second-longest unbeaten streak in the classic since the NL won 11 straight games from 1972 to 1982. The NL has also lost seven of the last 10 World Series, including losing four-game sweeps in each of the last two years (the White Sox over the Astros last year and the Red Sox over the Cardinals in 2005).

Considering that the AL dominated the NL during interleague play this year (154-98) and that Tuesday's win gives the AL home field advantage in the World Series for the fifth straight year, it's likely the AL will make it eight World Series wins in 11 seasons come this October.

Five teams have 50 or more wins at the break and four are in the AL. There can be little argument that MLB's best two teams of the season's first half were the Tigers (59-29) and the White Sox (57-31). The Red Sox weren't far behind at 53-33 with the 53-36 Mets (lone NL team) and the Yankees (50-36) rounding out the 50-win club.

Using another barometer (money won or lost at $100/game), only the Yankees drop out of the top-five. Detroit easily leads the way as the first half's biggest "moneymaker," coming in at plus-$2,727. The White Sox are next at plus-$1,589, followed by the Red Sox (plus-$1,343). The Mets will open the second half at plus-$916 and the 47-39 Twins (another AL Central team), replace the Yankees in the fifth spot at plus-$819.

The Yankees, despite their 50-36 mark, are moneyline losers at minus-$249. The only other teams in MLB to have a winning record yet be losing money, are the St Louis Cardinals and the Oakland A's. The Cardinals sit at 48-39 but minus-$393 versus the moneyline. The A's finished the first half at 45-43 but are minus-$181.

Conversely, three teams will open the season's second half with losing records but showing slight profits. The Arizona Diamondbacks (43-45), despite their recent problems, are plus-$243 versus the moneyline. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are just 39-50 on the year but have shown a profit of plus-$61. The 38-48 Florida Marlins may be 10 games under .500 but a $100 bet on every Marlin game would leave one at plus-$1.00 at the break.

While the Mets are the only NL team in the top-five in either winning percentage or "money won," NL teams dominate the bottom of the standings in both categories. Three teams are playing under.400 at the break, with the Pirates 'leading' the way at 30-60 (.333). The Royals are at 31-56 (.356) and the Cubs at 34-54 (.386). The Nationals own MLB's fourth-worst record at 38-52 (.422) with the Devil Rays claiming the fifth spot at 39-50 (.438).

However, as pointed out earlier, the Devil Rays are at plus-$61 against the moneyline. Likewise, the Royals are doing much better against the moneyline than they are in the standings. Despite being 25 games under .500, they are just minus-$179 against the moneyline. The same can't be said for a number of NL teams.

While the Pirates trail the Royals by just 2 1/2 games in the standings, they sit at a pathetic minus-$2,522 against the moneyline. That's the worst figure in MLB and $2,343 behind the Royals. Five of the bottom six teams against the moneyline are NL teams, with the Cleveland Indians being the lone AL interloper. Right behind the Pirates are the Cubs (minus-$1,830), the Braves (minus-$1,723), the Phillies (minus-$1,531), the Indians (minus-$1,510) and the Astros (minus-$1,223).

While the AL Central owns the top-two money-making teams as well as three of the top five, the six-team NL Central has just one team making money for its backers and that's the Reds. Cincinnati is 45-44 on the year and plus-$102 against the moneyline. Joining the Cardinals as moneyline losers at the break in the division are the Brewers (minus-$312), the Astros, the Cubs and the Pirates.

The NL Central is the lone division in MLB which features all of its teams making money. The Padres lead the division at 48-40 and with a profit of $477. The Rockies are at plus-$471, the D'backs at plus-$243, the Giants at plus-$109 and the Dodgers at plus-$19.

Thursday's notes will delve into even more mid-season stats plus look at some "play on" teams and "play against" teams for the second half. Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.

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