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The State of the Races

Sep 19, 2011, 8:25 AM EDT

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz reacts after flying out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston

The division races are secondary right now. Let’s go with the wild cards first:

AL Wild Card: Unless you’ve been living under a rock or (worse) watched football all weekend, you know that Boston leads Tampa Bay by a mere two games now after dropping three of four to the Rays.  What you can be somewhat more reasonably excused for not knowing, at least if you’re on the east coast, is that the Angels are only four games back of the Sox themselves.  And then you look at the schedule and you see that, with their margin shrinking, the Red Sox will trot out Kyle Weiland, John Lackey and an arguably healthy Erik Bedard in the next three games and you wonder if this thing isn’t going to be all tied up soon.

NL Wild Card: Atlanta leads St. Louis by 3.5 and — surprise, surprise — the Giants by four.  Big surges by both St. Louis and San Francisco here, along with awfulness by the Braves.  Obviously I have my rooting interest and that won’t flag on a personal level, but let’s be objective about this, shall we?  As things currently stand, wouldn’t the Braves be the worst team to make the playoffs if they hold on? From the perspective of “do you actually want to watch them play baseball games in the playoffs,” wouldn’t you prefer the Giants or the Cardinals?

As for the divisions:

AL East: The Yankees 4.5 lead seems pretty darn safe. Boston’s struggles also mask the fact that the Yankees are playing some pretty uninspired ball themselves.

AL Central: Congratulations on the clinch, Detroit. Now let’s all join forces to fight the “Verlander for the MVP” wave that I feel is building this morning. Or, if we can’t fight it, let us at least remind its backers that Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila and the rest of the Tigers team isn’t chopped liver.

AL West: Rangers by 4.5, which means it’s almost over.

NL East: Congratulations on the Phillies clinching. Everyone was so worried about that.

NL Central: Brewers by 6.5. All done but the paperwork.

NL West: Dbacks by 5.  Kudos to them for not crumbling as the Giants surged. It would be the wackiest thing ever if two NL West teams made the postseason dance, wouldn’t it?

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 19, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    I called the Rays comeback over a month ago. They controlled their own destiny then, and they control their own destiny now. 7 games back in the loss column with 7 to play against the Yankees. Who says they can’t win the division? Yeah, I know…it’s 99.9% against that happening…hmm..where did I hear that 99% thing thrown around recently? Oh yeah…when they were 8 back in the WC a couple weeks ago.

    The Rays are in the driver’s seat…wouldn’t it be great if they sweep the Yankees all 7 games and win the division? It would be for us Yankee-haters, but I do believe they would have to station the National Guard around all bridges in the Bronx if something like that were to happen…kinda like how they had them stationed around the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman after Vick went down with a concussion last night.

    • screename529 - Sep 19, 2011 at 9:19 AM

      The problem for the Rays and the division is that they’d probably need Boston to beat the Yankees, in which case Boston still would have a good chance staying ahead of them.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 19, 2011 at 9:24 AM

        Eh, I was just messing with the Yankees fans…as you can see by all the thumbs down, it worked just fine :D I don’t honestly think the Yankees can lose 7 of 7 to the Rays…but I did call the Rays a month ago and was shot down with chants of “Check the % man…Rad Sox are 99% to make the playoffs” Then it was “They are still 95%” Now, who knows what it is and who cares. The Sox are toast. Even if they squeak out the WC, they have no shot against the Verlanders.

  2. proudlycanadian - Sep 19, 2011 at 8:43 AM

    The Angels have to play their next 4 games in Toronto. Vernon is back and the Angels are in trouble.

    • cur68 - Sep 19, 2011 at 11:09 AM

      Ahhh, but PC, BUT Vernon Wells is the most confounding contrary SOB you could ever hope to meet. A nice enough fella, and I wish him well but he always does the unexpected. If he’s on a streak and you need him to be merely mediocre, he promptly tanks. If he’s in the toilet, taking a dump on his lifetime stats, and you feel all smug about it and say something about how useless he’ll be, he gets all hot and scorches his hemorrhoids with the kind of play that saw him rewarded with that fat contract of his. You wait; he’ll be the difference maker tonight and some people round here will be buying mustard for their nice felt hat.

  3. Old Gator - Sep 19, 2011 at 8:43 AM

    Justin Verlander won his 24th game last night. He could win 26 for the season. So, let’s be fair: if we’re going to disqualify him from the Cy Young award for winning so many games, let’s give him the MVP for his terrible OPS.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 19, 2011 at 8:49 AM

      OG, after seeing the crowd at the Dolphins game yesterday I wondered whether there was a Stephen King’s “The Stand” type of flu going around in South Beach? Are there ANY sports fans left down there, besides yourself?

      • Old Gator - Sep 19, 2011 at 10:56 AM

        Chris – if you watched the Dolphins play yesterday, then you know why Joeprodolsharklife Stadium was half empty.

        Yes, there are plenty of sports fans down here. Most of them show up after fall foliage/Jewish high holidays and go back north just after Easter/Passover. They just root for the teams who play where they came from.

  4. umrguy42 - Sep 19, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    I dunno, Craig – the ’06 Cardinals seemed like a bad team entering the playoffs, but they caught fire and brought home their 10th World Series win. So, there’s hope. (Although I’m still rooting for the Cards to pass your Braves for that wild card spot ;p)

  5. Kevin S. - Sep 19, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    The Braves still have a better pitching staff than the Cardinals, and they still have a better offense than the Giants. Playing poorly right now, but I still think they’re just as talented as Milwaukee and better than Arizona. Braves for the WC, please.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 19, 2011 at 9:26 AM

      I agree with Kevin that the Braves are still the better all-around team than the Giants, Cardinals, or D-Backs. And with their pitching, if Hanson gets healthy for the NLDS, they will give the Brewers a good series too, provided the Brewers can stay ahead of the D-Backs for the 2nd best record in the NL.

      • spudchukar - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:32 PM

        Keep dissin’ the teams that you cannot beat Fior. Look for the “Phightens” to be “resting” key players in the final series in Atlanta. “Resting”, being synonymous for “we do not want to face either Lincecum and Cain or Carpenter and Garcia.”

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:23 PM

        Potatoman…Timmay and Cain…yes…Carpenter and who? I don’t think so. I’ll take the Cardinals over the Giants every day. Same with the Brewers and D-Backs. Only teams I fear are healthy Braves and Giants. That’s all. That’s the list.

      • spudchukar - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:46 PM

        Who? Garcia, as in Jaime. You know the dude your “Pheeble Pheels” have hit .189 against with an ERA of 0.60 in two starts in 2011. I would try and forget it too if I were a Pheelie Phan.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:46 PM

        Oh yeah, they guy with the 3.60 ERA who has never thrown a postseason inning in his career. **shudders**

      • spudchukar - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        Yup, same number of post-season innings as Cain did entering last year’s playoffs.

  6. dirtyharry1971 - Sep 19, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    lets not forget craig picked boston to win the AL east

  7. bigboi30 - Sep 20, 2011 at 4:30 AM

    In the end it will matter little who is in and who is out. In baseball and football, Detroit has arrived. World Series: Detroit Tigers vs. Philly with Detroit winning in 6. Verlander or Cabrera as WS MVP. Probly Cabrera since Verlander will alreadly own the Season MVP award.

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