It was my sophomore year in high school. We were playing in the sectional finals. I was on first base and the player at the plate kept fouling off pitch after pitch, but it wasn't one of those "what an incredible battle with two strikes" situations. He was swinging at everything, mostly pitches not even close to being strikes. You could almost see steam coming out of my coach's ears in the third-base coaching box. Then a foul ball went directly at him. 

Coach leans down and scoops up the ball. He looks directly at home plate and screams, "he's trying to walk you!" He fires a dart angrily back to the pitcher and before crying out, "LET HIM!" 

The "let him" part was emphatic, but it was almost like he was pleading with the batter. Just begging him to accept the walk. The pitcher would eventually settle down and stifle us, winning the sectional title. 

That story will always be somewhere in my mind for several reasons. First off, it's absolutely hilarious to me to picture my coach's look, which was a combination of anger and helplessness. I fully admit it's probably a "had to be there" story, though. One other reason it's always fresh in my mind is I feel like I can apply it to other situations. 

And that's what I'm gonna do with the eight teams in the Central divisions that weren't in the World Series last October. 

The Cubs came home last Thursday from a West Coast trip that resulted in six straight losses. They were 25-27. If they were in the NL West, they'd have been seven games back. In the NL East? Eight games back. Alas, the Cubs are in the Central and the Brewers only held a three-game lead over them. 

Hey Brewers, Cardinals, Reds and/or Pirates, the overly-talented defending champs were trying to let you create separation in the division before they got hot. LET THEM!

It might be too late now. The Cubs have won five in a row and have first place back. 

Over in the AL, the Indians are only 29-27. They haven't been more than four games above .500 the entire season, nor have they played their best baseball for an extended stretch. Still, they are tied in wins with the Twins and trail by just one game in the standings (by virtue of two more losses). 

Hey Twins, Tigers, White Sox and/or Royals, the defending AL champs are trying to let someone take control of the division and create separation. LET THEM!

Instead, the hunch is the missed opportunities of the first two months and change surrounding the two defending Central champs will come back to bite their competition. You simply can't allow a bad first two months go so relatively unpunished and expect to unseat the champs. 

Like a pitcher going through a wild spat who eventually gets himself right, the Cubs and Indians are just too talented to allow to hang around when they aren't playing well. 

As always, feel free to tell me how much you love me either via email ( or Twitter (@MattSnyderCBS). 

Biggest Movers
8 Mariners
7 Cardinals
1 Astros They are one game ahead of the 2016 Cubs' pace right now. The last time we saw this type of a start it was the 2001 Mariners, who won 116 games. Keep on enjoying it, Houston! -- 72-41
2 Nationals Here's how easily a reliever's numbers can explode. Koda Glover has a 1.96 ERA if we ignore just one outing (his Sunday effort in Oakland). Overall, his ERA is actually 4.34. He had one bad outing. That doesn't mean the Nats have a closer problem. Hell, they won that game Sunday anyway. 3 37-76
3 Dodgers The Tuesday loss to the Nationals meant the Dodgers had lost a series to a non-Giants team for the first time since April 21-23. 1 77-33
4 Yankees Still hanging, but the Yankees have lost five of eight. There are still plenty of reasons to be concerned with the rotation and a few offensive players can't possibly keep up what they did for the first two months. I foresee a fall here in the next few weeks. -- 71-41
5 Rockies You know what's a very fun series? The Rockies going to Wrigley for a four-gamer starting Thursday. The Cubs look like their 2016 selves at home right now and the Rockies are 21-10 on the road. 2 50-64
6 Red Sox No, I don't believe Big Papi is coming back. Yes, I do believe the Red Sox will win the AL East. -- 55-58
7 Diamondbacks Losing three of four to the Marlins? We are so in a fight right now, D-Backs. I kind of want to do the Game of Thrones "shame ... shame ... shame ... " thing. Of course, not really much place to drop them right now. -- 51-60
8 Cubs Now this team looks familiar. Not all the way (Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell still aren't right offensively and the starting pitching still isn't what it can be), but mostly. Maybe the road trip was just a really bad experience that snowballed? They've won 12 of their last 14 at home. 7 46-65
9 Twins Tuesday night's drubbing on the road notwithstanding, it's remarkable the difference in splits this year. The Twins are 12-18 at home and 17-7 on the road. Perhaps the Tuesday result was the beginning of a correction. -- 57-53
10 Orioles It's modest, but four wins in their last six games is a good sign for the Orioles, who desperately needed to get things turned around. Sometimes just leaving a miserable May in the rearview is all it takes. 6 58-53
11 Brewers Chase Anderson's last three starts: 21.2 IP, 0.69 WHIP, 22 K against 4 BB and zero earned runs. 1 60-50
12 Guardians So many players are underachieving, but the season is a marathon and, as mentioned, no one in their division seems to want to do anything about it. 4 59-52
13 Blue Jays In the past week, the Jays have climbed to within .500 (where they haven't been all season) three times and lost each ensuing game. Still, after an 18-10 May they matter again. 2 60-50
14 Mariners I'm perked up like when a dog's ears are pointing directly to the sky in attention. The Mariners have won eight of nine against quality competition (Red Sox, Rockies, Rays, Twins) while Felix Hernandez and Mitch Haniger just started their rehab assignments. 8 61-52
15 Rays I miscast them as a top-10 team last week. That's on me. I needed to remember the Rays' identity this season. For those following along, you know it. They only hover around .500. It's *STILL* true: They haven't been more than three games above or below .500 all season. 5 58-52
16 Angels Their schedule through June 29 -- when they'll be without the best player in the world -- includes the Astros, Yankees (six times), Red Sox and Dodgers. Methinks we're about to see a bad month. 1 49-63
17 Tigers Catcher and son of the current GM Alex Avila became unexpectedly awesome in 2011 and even ended up starting the All-Star Game. From 2012-16, he hit .222/.337/.362, but he's great again this year. Better, even, at .324/.438/.648. If we're being honest, I'm most excited to see his MVP-caliber 2023 season. 3 43-70
18 Reds What happened on Tuesday night was one of the many beautiful things about baseball. Scooter Gennett legitimately had one of the greatest single game performances in the history of the sport. Scooter Gennett! How many also-ran players are scoring 70 in an NBA game or going for 250 yards on the ground in the NFL? -- 44-67
19 Rangers Oh, how I missed you, Adrian Beltre. (The Rangers went 1-4 since last rankings, but giving Beltre love is far more important than focusing on any negative). 5 49-62
20 Cardinals They've lost 15 of 20 and it's starting to become a legitimate thought that maybe the good stretch was the fluke, not the 3-9 start. 7 61-50
21 Pirates Former sixth-round pick Adam Frazier has never really been mentioned as a big-time prospect. What he has done every step of the way is hit over .300. His career minor-league average is .301. So far in the majors (104 games) it's .301. 2 45-67
22 Athletics Sean Manaea's last three starts: 20 IP, 0.80 WHIP, 1.35 ERA, 24 K, 3-0 record. 4 41-71
23 Royals Mike Moustakas is an intriguing option for a contender needing third base (or even DH) help as we move closer to the trade deadline. He's clubbed 15 homers already in what may well be his career year on offense. 2 47-66
24 White Sox Only three players in MLB history have qualified for the batting title while hitting below .200 and slugging over .400 (Mark Reynolds in 2010, Carlos Pena in 2010 and Chris Davis in 2014). Todd Frazier is there right now. 5 56-56
25 Marlins I was too mean (likely due to wanting a Game of Thrones reference) in the D-Backs comment, because the Marlins had actually won seven of eight before visiting the Cubs in Wrigley. 2 50-61
26 Braves Anyone noticing the monster offensive season Matt Kemp is putting together? 2 66-46
27 Mets Last week I asked if things were starting to turn around for the Mets. They have emphatically answered in the negative, now with losses in five of their last six games. 6 73-39
28 Phillies That's a four-game winning streak. Good job, guys. 2 62-49
29 Giants Since last year's All-Star break, the Giants are 54-78. 1 54-57
30 Padres For a brief, shining stretch, the Padres won five games in a row against the Nationals, Cubs and Rockies. They've been pretty well dismantled in the three games since, but still! Yeah, "but still," it's hard to justify ranking any other team here, with the run differential, personnel and Phillies' four-game winning streak. 1 63-51