Welcome to the final installment of this irregular season-long column. Before we begin, a few quick words:
Bumble. Applecracks. Nitwop. Kerplunk.
(I’m funny, I swear.)
This past weekend, your four intrepid editors/columnists/ne’er-do-wells met at the George Street Pub to discuss the future of the Addison Recorder, specifically about ways we can make it better, bring you fresh content that you want to read on a regular basis, and to make things all shiny and pretty. After much deliberation (interrupted by God apparently forgetting that he hates the Cleveland Browns for one day), we settled on a new course for the website. This will be broken down a little more over the next month as we try out our new system of doing things, but I’ll make it brief here by saying that we’re going to play to our specific strengths from now on, writing about our varying areas of expertise. This doesn’t mean that we won’t have the odd things to say about other topics, but this should hopefully lend itself towards our providing sharp-edged, specific content in far more regular bursts than we’ve been doing so far. (i.e., certain sabbaticals that we’ve seen over the summer *waves* shouldn’t happen now that we don’t each feel that we have to write about EVERYTHING under the sun)
How does this pertain to you in terms of baseball? Well, you’re looking at the resident baseball (and theatre) columnist! I’m even registering with the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America! (Because I want you to take me seriously, and nothing says that a man should be taken seriously like self-purchased internet titles…but hey! Jonah Keri’s a member!)
Speaking of baseball…
This past week has seen most of the races clear up, with one-and-a-half to be decided after this weekend’s three game set. We’ve seen some eliminations, some retirements (more on that in a column next week), and some completely irrelevant games that have no bearing on this column whatsoever.
Without further ado, a list of all of the teams who we know will be playing in October with pre-determined slots.
AL East – Boston Red Sox
AL Central – Detroit Tigers
AL West – Oakland Athletics
NL East – Atlanta Braves
NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers
Again, these races were fairly boring, and consequently there’s little to be said about them.
There’s a little bit more, however to say about…
THE NL Central/Wildcard ClusterF*$& of a Division Race
1. St. Louis Cardinals – 94 – 65, clinched postseason spot
2. Pittsburgh Pirates – 91 – 68, 3 games back, clinched postseason spot
3. Cincinnati Reds – 90 – 69, 4 games back, clinched a wild-card berth
To explain, because there are only three games left, there is no way short of outright murder that the Reds can win the division. The only way the Pirates can win is if they sweep the Reds this weekend at Cincinnati and St. Louis somehow falls off a cliff against the Cubs at home. (Odds I’d compare to bears suddenly sprouting wings, developing sophisticated intelligence, and going on a high-rise murder spree.) Pittsburgh is fighting for the right to play its first home playoff game since the Bush administration (that’s Herbert Walker, not whatever the fuck W. stands for in the latter-day Bush), while Cincinnati is essentially playing for pride. After charging strong to come all the way back to 2 games back of first, the Reds folded against the New York Mets over the last few days, revealing offensive deficiencies that most Reds fans have been aware of all season long. (More on that next week in our Postseason Preview) If I had to place a bet, I’d bank on the Reds and Pirates holding serve; should the Reds take two out of three and finish tied, the advantage goes to the better season-record holder between the two teams (which is Pittsburgh, I believe). Either way, the winner of the Wild Card Play In Game goes on to face the Cardinals, because watching these teams murder each other all season long wasn’t enough – NOW THERE MUST BE A DIVISION SERIES, GOD DAMN IT.
Meanwhile, the biggest race of the weekend…
The AL Wild Card Bonanza Extravaganza Breaking Bad-Esque Walking Heartbreak Waiting To Happen
1. Tampa Bay Rays, 90 – 69, +1 games, @ Toronto
2. Cleveland Indians, 89 – 70, @ Minnesota
3. Texas Rangers, 88 – 71, 1 game back, home vs. LA Angels
By looking at the standings, we can imagine several scenarios where two fan bases are crushed and a third continues to be decidedly irrelevant (I’m looking at you, city of Tampa by the Bay. YOU DON’T DESERVE WHAT YOU’RE GETTING.)
Both Tampa Bay and Cleveland are riding 7-game winning streaks, with the Indians’ streak coming off of the likes of the Astros, the White Sox, and the Twins. The Tribe especially are riding a surge of goodwill, and even occasional managerial f*%&-ups aren’t enough to hold them back. And yes, we’re looking at you, Chris Perez. (Whenever it is brought up that God hates Cleveland after their inevitable “Hey, we did great just making the playoffs, we’re happy to be here, now let’s roll over and die for the Tigers/A’s/Whoever, and Thanks for All the Fish” Moment in the playoffs to come, I would like everyone to remember this cream-puff of a schedule, if only to observe how cleverly the Tribe were set up to break hearts once again. On the other hand, if they fold against the Twins, we can just chalk it up to a plain and simple “God Hates Cleveland” Moment.)
The Rays get to go against Toronto, who are busily planning for next year, while the Rangers have it the worst, facing an Angels team that might be making a fevered push to reach .500, and also have Mike Trout (the best hitter in baseball for the foreseeable future). By looking at this, it’s possible to see the Indians and/or Rays taking 2 out of 3 games each (if not outright sweeps), while Texas may only muster enough offense to win 1 out of 3. If this scenario should happen, then the Rays and Indians are in. The elimination number is 3, so that means the Indians have to win twice and need Texas to lose once in the next two days in order for their fans to be able to release the breaths they’ve collectively been holding all month long.
It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if this came down to the final day of the season, though there is a chance that it could be wrapped up by tomorrow night. While it’s not as thrilling as Game 162 from two years back, it’s still a damn exciting weekend to be a baseball fan.
(Provided you don’t live in Kansas City, Baltimore, the Bronx, Queens, Anaheim, Toronto, Seattle, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago (North and South Side), Houston, Washington D.C., Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco (hey, didn’t you just win the World Series? THEN SUCK IT UP), Milwaukee, Philly, or Denver. Miami is excluded on the fact that I have no expectations any more that anyone gives two flying f*%&’s about anything baseball related there.)
Welcome to October.