It's amazing how quickly time zooms in baseball as the All-Star game took place this week in Yankee Stadium.

Some of the best and brightest stars participated in the summer classic, but at the halfway point of the season there have been many ups, downs, surprises and a couple of "You got to be kidding" thrown into the mix.

For those who read earlier, I predicted that the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks would represent in the World Series.

At this point I am not looking so good.

Sure the Tigers have started to find their resurgence, but I don't think it's going to be enough to get them to the top of that mountain.

As for the Diamondbacks, something doesn't feel right when you are near the top of your division, yet also below .500.

Since this is the halfway point of the season, let's take a nostalgic trip to see what were some of the key moments and players of the first half of baseball season.

We'll start with superstars Evan Longoria, Giovanni Soto, Josh Hamilton. Who?

Yes it is great to see some players in the Major League have a breakthrough year and these three players are no exception.

First we look at Longoria. No this is not the hottie from "Desperate Housewives". That's Eva and she is much easier on the eyes. Evan is a third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays that is having an outstanding rookie season.

His average is around .280 and he has a good chance of hitting over 30 home runs and 100 RBIs by the end of the year.

Longoria has also helped in making the Rays the biggest surprise of the season. More on that later.

The guy is a treat to watch and has become an ESPN darling. And why not since he is on one of the hottest teams in the Major Leagues?

Did that really come out right?

Anyway, on to Soto. The catcher started a total of 30 games in his first three seasons with the Chicago Cubs. Apparently somebody had their Wheaties because this man is feeling it. The 25-year old from Puerto Rico has numbers similar to Longoria.

Hitting around .290 with also a chance to hit 30 homers and 100 RBIs before the season is over, Soto has become a marquee player for the loveable losers, which have been anything but that.

Finally, there is outfielder Josh Hamilton from the Texas Rangers. Can you say American League MVP?

At least, in my opinion, he is in the first half.

This man is having the season that Alex Rodriguez should be having. Rodriguez has a slightly better average than Hamilton, but Hamilton has more homers and nearly twice as many RBIs. He is already near 100 at the halfway point, which is absolutely amazing.

Although the Rangers aren't having the same type of season that the Rays and Cubs are having thanks to their breakthrough stars, Hamilton could pull his weight in the second half and may put Texas on the map in a contested AL West Division.

On to another player who has probably had the best moment in baseball this year. At 24, Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester overcame triumph and tribulation.

Drafted right out of high school, Lester had a lot of promise and had rapidly been moving up the ranks.

It looked as if he would be on the Red Sox in no time.

Two years ago, his life was in jeopardy when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Luckily, it was curable, but the scare had to have been intense.

Lester continued on with life and on May 19 of this year, he threw his first no-hitter.

The emotional celebration was inspirational and to see it leaving Boston manager Terry Francona in tears showed how much this team cared for this man. Now if they can get over the hump and take care of the Rays.

If you were to tell me that two of the best teams halfway in the season were Tampa Bay and the Chicago Cubs, I would have slapped you and your mother. But, I'm not a violent person so I'll stay reserved.

If anything in baseball has been impressive this season, it has to be these two teams.

There are nothing like Cub fans who bring out a boat load of optimism thinking that this could be the year they do it. This is when they make and win the World Series

I'm thinking, "Oh how cute, they still think they have a shot."

As an Astros fan, I've become a pessimist and have been accustomed to having a bad season, so the Cubs should have that same reaction.

I could not have been more wrong. This team is outstanding. They have great pitching with Carlos Zambrano, newly acquired Rich Harden from Oakland and one of the best closers in the league with Kerry Wood. Add some offense from Soto, Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano (when healthy), Derrek Lee (also when healthy) and the rest, the Cubs are for real. But are they real enough to win it all?

Can the same be said for the Rays?

They got rid of the Devilů literally.

After dropping that from its team name, Heaven must have shone upon them.

They don't have the best pitching. They don't have a standout slugger, yet they win games.

The Rays have had some issues against the Yankees and Boston, which could prove troublesome in the second half. Not to mention, they are coming off a rough week with a seven-game losing streak. Unless Tampa Bay resurges and finds its niche, it could be curtains for them.

Changing my game, I'm going from Detroit versus Arizona in the series to the Cubs against the Chicago White Sox.

My pick for the title is the Cubs. Yes, those Cubs. Get your snow gear out, it will probably snow again in South Texas if they win.

Juan Carlos Reyes is a sports reporter for the Record Star. Readers may contact him at 361-387-4511 or via email at