The MLB regular season has only one week to go and there are lots of things about the playoffs leading to the World Series that remain undecided. Five of the six division winners are mathematically decided; the Red Sox lead in the AL East is such that they will lose that title only if they lose all of their remaining games and the Blue Jays win all of their remaining games. Could happen – – but I would not bet on it. The situation in the AL Central is not locked in but the Tigers are in even more dire straits than the Blue Jays. The Tigers need to win their last 7 games AND have the Indians lose their last 7 games to forge a tie there. Could happen – – but I would not bet on it.
The Wild Card slots are a totally different story.
In the National League going into last night’s games, the Pirates and the Marlins were still mathematically in contention. I acknowledge that here for completeness but both teams are hanging onto playoff hopes in pure desperation.
The Mets, Giants and Cardinals remain the three most likely teams to produce the two wild card teams in the National League. I said back before the season began that the schedule maker had been nice to the Mets giving them the Marlins and Phillies as the two final series of the year. The Mets can finish off the Marlins and should be able to deal with the Phillies. I like the Mets chances to get into the playoffs
The Giants have stunk it up since the All-Star break playing .375 baseball since then. Nonetheless, they are on the brink of getting into the playoffs which is what they will need to do if they want to continue their “even-year World Series Champion” string. The Giants are at home for the rest of the year hosting the Rockies and then the Dodgers.
The Cardinals finish with 7 games at home. In any normal year, I would just pencil the Cards into a wild card position because they are normally a good team at home. Not this year… They entered last night’s games with a home record of 33-41. Only Atlanta and Arizona have worse home records in the NL. The Cards have 4 games with the Reds (not a good team) and then 3 with the Pirates who ought to be out of the running by that time.
The National League should be interesting going to the wire…
If the National League has the potential to be “interesting” then the American League shapes up to be “potentially outrageous”. The Blue Jays, Orioles, Tigers, Astros and Mariners are within shouting distance of one another. The Astros and Mariners can settle their differences mano a mano with a 3-game series in Houston. If either team executes a sweep here, they will stay alive and kill of the other team. If they split, they will likely doom both sides.
The team with an interesting schedule wrinkle is the Orioles. They finish the season with all 6 remaining games on the road against the Blue Jays and the Yankees. Here is the rub:
The Orioles are 50-31 at home and only 35-40 on the road. That is the worst road record of all the “contenders”
The Orioles are only 36-34 against the AL East.
As of today, the Orioles would claim the second wild card slot but if they play poorly on the road against AL East opponents, they could get caught by one of the teams currently on the outs.
Of course, what I would prefer to have happen would be a 3-way tie in the NL and then a 4-way tie in the AL just so we can all see some extra baseball games. Could happen – – but I would not bet on it.
The Atlanta Braves have been “hot” – sort of – since the call-ups at the beginning of September. The Braves are 13-9 in September and they are 7-3 in their last 10 games. Why bring that up? Well, the race at the bottom to see who gets the #1 overall pick in the draft looked like it would go to the Braves 3 weeks ago. Now they have ceded that position to the Twins who have had one of the more miserable seasons in 2016. The Twins have already lost 100 games – with 6 more to play – and no other team in MLB can possibly lose 100 games for the season. However, now the Braves are in danger of dropping even lower in the draft pecking order. Here are the standings in the race for the bottom as of last night:
Tampa Bay 65-90
San Diego 66-90
Here in Curmudgeon Central, we always enjoy watching the bottom of the standings almost as much as we enjoy watching playoff races as they come down to the wire.
Finally, since I have been on the subject of teams suffering some baseball futility this year, consider this comment from Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald about a game between the Twins and the Astros earlier this year:
“The Twins-Astros game in Minneapolis was rained out on Umbrella Night. The Twins’ new Director of Irony called it ‘The greatest night in sports history.’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………