Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

We are officially in September, and now it’s much easier to tell who’s for real in baseball and who’s going home at the end of the month. There are still a few races, although things are not as close in the wild card as Major League Baseball would have us believe. Of course, MLB will do everything it can to keep fans interested as more and more teams drop out of the running and the season winds down to its conclusion.

The fact is that in the American League, it’s a three-horse race for the wild card between New York, Seattle, and Detroit. With the Yanks 7 games back of Boston for the division, Seattle 6.5 back of Anaheim, and Detroit 6 back of Cleveland, I would be pretty surprised if any of these current second-place teams made the playoffs with a division title. The Blue Jays are 5.5 games behind the Yankees for the wild card, and the Twins are 7 games back, but I don’t see that either of these teams can compete to get into the postseason. Minnesota just never really caught fire this year, but I’d bet they will be back in the running in 2008.

The two AL teams in the playoff mix that caught me off guard the most are the Indians and the Mariners. Who could have guessed that the Tribe was a first-place team at the start of this season, especially considering the way the Tigers played last year? I would have thought Detroit was a lock to win the AL Central in 2007. And even though Seattle has played unevenly at times, they are only 6.5 games behind the Angels, who have had a really fine season—I think that’s an accomplishment in itself.

The National League has a few more teams than the AL that are fighting for spots in the playoffs. Milwaukee is only 1.5 games behind the Cubs for first place in the Central, and St. Louis is just a half-game behind the Brewers. While the Cubs have had a great second half, I have to hand it to Tony “Have Another Beer” LaRussa, who has brought the Cards all the way back from the cellar to contend for the division in the last few weeks of the campaign. Meanwhile, the NL West has been a three-way seesaw for most of the year. It looks as if the Dodgers are dropping behind, now 4 games off the pace, while San Diego has overtaken Arizona, and the Padres now have a 1-game lead in the standings. The Rockies were giving it a good shot all year, but they are now 5 behind, and they seem to be running out of steam. In the East, the Mets, whose lead was just 2 games a few days ago, now have a 5-game advantage over Philadelphia, and Atlanta has fallen behind by 7.5. The Amazin’s received a boost yesterday in their win over the Reds with the return of Pedro Martinez. Pedro went 5 innings, gave up 2 earned runs, and earned his 3000th career strikeout. If Pedro has no residual soreness, he could be the piece the Mets have lacked all year that could turn them into a true contender for a championship ring.

The NL wild-card chase is more complex than that of the AL because a bunch of the teams in the running are also in contention for a division title. The Diamondbacks lead the race, but they could also win the West. L.A. and Philadelphia are just 3 behind the D-backs, then Colorado is 4 back, and the Braves are 5.5 back. The Brewers and Cardinals are 6 and 6.5 games behind respectively, but either of these teams has a much better shot at a division title than the wild-card slot. The wild card basically boils down to whoever comes in second out west, the Phillies, or the Dodgers.

Surprises in the Senior Circuit include Arizona and Chicago. I’m actually glad for the Cubs and hope they win the division this year—if the Mets get knocked out, I would root for the Cubbies all the way! The Rockies also were a surprise, staying alive for as long as they did, but ultimately, the postseason will escape the God Squad yet again.

SEASONINGS: I just had to cheer at the University of Michigan’s ignominious defeat at the hands of juggernaut Appalachian State. Don’t laugh! The Mountaineers have won 15 in a row—the longest current streak in the country—including two Division I-AA championships—and they weren’t about to lie down in Ann Arbor for anyone. But someone should let the Wolverines know that you have to do more than just show up on game day! Michigan coach Lloyd Carr should be mortified at having his team so unprepared for what should be known as one of the greatest upsets in all college football history. No wonder his contract was tweaked to possibly permit him to leave after the season! Now Carr should consider packing his bags immediately and heading overseas for a while to let himself—and angry fans—try to forget this fiasco!

By the way, this will be my last post for a little while. Poor me—I’m going to Hawaii for a week. While I will miss all the action from the first football Sunday of the NFL season, I’ll be rarin’ to write all about it when I return! In the meantime, sports fans, keep those comments coming! Your feedback is what makes all this writing worthwhile! And a double thanks to Ed for keeping the site rolling while I’m gone!

1 comment:

Outsider said...

All signs point to Pedro's presence in the clubhouse being as important to the team as his performance on the mound. At least that's how it has seemed since his arrival in Atlanta. Only time will tell if the Pedro effect has a lasting impact on the team's psyche, but sending him out there to throw 5-6 innings every fifth day instead of Brian Lawrence should be a vast improvement. Pedro can compete with a mid- to high-80s fastball. He'll find other ways of making hitters look silly.

Have a great time in Hawaii, cuz. By the way, my Isles blog has been up and running for a while now (thus the cryptic user ID), but I've been waiting to launch it officially because it's getting an official plug from the team. I hope you and Ed will stop by when you get a chance!