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The State of the Races

Sep 22, 2011, 8:25 AM EST

Rage Face

I think the photo just about sums it up.  Anyway, because I want there to be a record of all of this after my death (which should occur sometime on Monday or Tuesday at this rate), here’s where we stand:

AL Wild Card: Boston is like that kindly uncle holding out a dollar bill for little Jimmy to take. Except little Jimmy won’t take it for some reason, so the uncle gives it to Bobby instead.  The Rays are Jimmy and the Angels are Bobby.  Both are two and a half games back.  Tune in to HBT Daily later today as Tiffany mocks me about all of this. Because she’s about the only person I know who picked the Angels to go to the playoffs.

NL Wild Card: Boston’s collapse has gotten way more press because they’re Boston, but they friggin’ gained ground on their nearest pursuer yesterday. The Braves, in contrast, are going into their collapse with full gusto.  But let’s be clear about something: we do the Cardinals a great disservice when we make this all about the Braves’ collapse. Yes, that’s real and I’m not trying to minimize it at all, but let’s not forget that the Cardinals have won 12 of 14, including a sweep of the Braves not too long ago. A collapse can’t happen in a vacuum. Someone has to capitalize, and the Cardinals are doing just that. San Francisco is still lurking at 3.5 back.

As for the rest:

AL East: Signed, sealed and delivered to the Yankees.
AL Central: The Tigers are busy setting up their playoff roation.
AL West: The Rangers’ magic number is three. But even if they clinch, they have meaningful games against the Angels next week.
NL East: Philly has nothing left to accomplish in the regular season, but arresting that five-game skid would be nice.
NL Central: Brewers’ magic number is three.
NL West: Diamondbacks’ magic number is two.

  1. southofheaven81 - Sep 22, 2011 at 8:38 AM

    I love how, all year long, baseball “purists” bitch about the wild card, but thanks to it fans in Boston, Atlanta, St. Louis, Tampa and Los Angeles are completely riveted by baseball right now, rather than going through the motions.

    • southofheaven81 - Sep 22, 2011 at 8:39 AM

      Oh and San Francisco. Guess you can’t count them out yet either.

    • kopy - Sep 22, 2011 at 8:49 AM

      We should just make every team a wild card, have a 162 game round robin first round, and then re-seed for the second round after eliminating the lowest 22 teams.

  2. umrguy42 - Sep 22, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Craig, there’s only one proper response to the picture: “U MAD?” ;p Maybe Aaron or Drew could do the next one of these to save your health (such as it is)?

    • sneschalmers - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:22 AM

  3. Francisco (FC) - Sep 22, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    Arizona is the prime example of TCB. The Giants went on an 8 game winning streak, but Arizona kept playing good baseball, while their lead shrank a bit, they had nothing to worry about. If the Braves had kept playing good baseball we’d be talking about St. Louis and San Francisco as “Nice try guys but you should have been playing like this all year ya’know?”

  4. Francisco (FC) - Sep 22, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Look at this way Craig, there’s no way Atlanta can lose today :)

    • bravesman1983 - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:42 AM

      It’s the only thing that’s keeping me sane today. At least until around 4 p.m. (Central time) when the last pitch is thrown in another Mets loss in St. Louis.

      • jimbo1949 - Sep 22, 2011 at 4:06 PM

        405pm ET and still no start, rain delay

  5. sdelmonte - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    Am I just a little mean in wanting to see one of these collapses come to fruition just so I can say, “see, it’s not just the Mets, it can happen to anyone?”

    At which point, someone will remind it happened twice to the Mets. And I will go back into hiding.

  6. Panda Claus - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    I was hearing this morning the ’64 Phillies had the biggest collapse of all time (8.5 games over the last few weeks). But Boston was 9 up on TB for the wildcard at the beginning of September.

    Phillies’ fans should join this free-for-all and wish for this potential record-setting Boston collapse.

    • Francisco (FC) - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:09 AM

      Which is only possible thanks to the Wild Card. How many teams collapsed falling from 2nd to 3rd in the final weeks of September, but nobody cared because the division leader had it wrapped up?

  7. jarathen - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    I think all fans of famous collapse squads are hoping the Braves and Red Sox miss out. I know this Angels fan isn’t sold on the playoffs yet, but I’m hoping there’s another team to join the ’95 Angels in the Hall of Fail.

  8. natstowngreg - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    Ah, glad to see you were able to get out of bed. At least, I’m assuming you didn’t write this from bed.

    Interesting self-portrait. Some psychology grad student could get a nice paper out of it.

    Oh yeah, wild cards. The Red Sox may be saved by (1) the Rays’ inability to capitalize, and (2) the Angels starting their charge from too far back, and perhaps running out of time. Though the 2007 Rockies showed us that you can do it, if you win almost every day. Doesn’t seem like the Red Sox are capable of doing much to save themselves.

    Not wishing to further your agony — at least until the Braves arrive at Nationals Park — discussion of the NL race can wait a bit.

  9. phukyouk - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    Where is BEANTOWNSPORTS247?

    I will be reposting this link for the next week everywhere i can

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/12/08/big-time-red-sox-crawford-reach-seven-year-142m-deal/comment-page-1/#comments

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:29 AM

      If I were you, I’d hesitate to repost something where you said:

      seems like my last comment was deleted so ill just say this.
      300 Mil for 1st base and outfield and a crappy rotation
      400 Mil for first base one of the best pitchers in the game and a 500 Pitcher AND a RING.

      yea they took a HUGE green day album on the Yanks. I bet Gonzoles does not hit 300 or 30 HR’s with the sox.

      • phukyouk - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:32 AM

        yes i saw that part… and much like our fearless leader above i Stand by my faults. i was wrong about the 300 but not about the 3o HR’s and certainly not about Agon and Crawford making a huge difference.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:06 AM

        That’s fine. And I doubt that commentor will come back, haven’t seen him/her around in ages. Plus most people don’t want to revisit some idiotic stuff they said in a past life.

        In the meanwhile, we can laugh at things like:
        ESPN Predictions – http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/preview/2011/news/story?page=11expertpicks

        and my personal fav:

        http://www.nesn.com/2011/01/2011-red-sox-will-challenge-1927-yankees-for-title-of-greatest-team-in-major-league-history.html

      • Kevin S. - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:27 AM

        Yeah, the Eric Ortiz column is the absolute best.

      • bigharold - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:35 AM

        NESN suggesting the 2011 RS to rival the 1927 Yankees, .. what a joke. The should change their URL to http://www.delusional.com

      • phukyouk - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:44 AM

        Those ESPN picks are priceless… I love it.

      • phukyouk - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:07 AM

        “Eric Ortiz is the senior editor of new media for NESN. He previously worked as an MLB editor at ESPN.com. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in English. Follow Eric on Twitter.”

        HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:14 AM

        My personal favorite: http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/8172/why-the-phillies-wont-make-the-playoffs

        SABR-nerds everywhere must have barfed at such a blatant misapplication of WAR.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:37 AM

        You can always point to the 1% of “experts” who didn’t think the Phillies or Yankees would make the playoffs but the fact remains that both the Yankees and the Phillies have done nothing more than 99% of people with half a brain thought they would do before the season started…make the playoffs. Wild Card…Division…it’s all meaningless. Making the playoffs is the #1 thing and both teams have done what they thought we would do. The problem with 99% of the experts is that they OVERRATED the Red Sox and did not take into account the propensity for choking that they possess. Even with new blood…Crawford and A-Gonz…they still have a knack for wilting when the pressure comes. 5-15 in September? That is simply pathetic.

  10. yankeesgameday - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Be very scared of the tigers.

    • phukyouk - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:00 AM

      nope… just verlander and hes only one guy

      • jarathen - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:21 AM

        Don’t sleep on Scherzer and Fister. They’re good enough to tango with all but one potential AL playoff rotation.

      • phukyouk - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:38 AM

        Fister? i dont eve know her…

        but seriously i know that their pitching is better than the Yanks but their hitting is not. I would obviously much rather face the Rangers first round and tigers second but we shall see

      • Kevin S. - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:12 AM

        It is? Contrary to popular opinion, CC is just as good as Verlander, unless you think Verlander magically did something this year that makes him awesome at suppressing hits on balls in play while CC did something that makes him suck in that department. Fister and Nova are about equals, and Garcia/Colon have been better than Scherzer/Porcello. The Yanks have a much better bullpen. Why do people insist on ignoring the fact that the Yankees are third in the AL in ERA, second in FIP and first in K/9? They’ve pitched pretty damn well this year.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:44 AM

        I don’t get to watch every single Yankees game, so I may just be seeing things…but has CC put on some serious weight throughout this season? I remember they said he lost weight before the season…and I thought he looked slimmer opening week. However, the last two games I have seen him against the Rays and out in LA, he looks like his gut is way bigger than it was earlier in the year.

      • phukyouk - Sep 22, 2011 at 12:10 PM

        Sorry Kevin but if you are suggesting that 2011 CC is = to 2011 Verlander you are wrong. Verlander is clearly the better pitcher and he will prove it by getting the unanimous vote for the Cy Young.
        Fister and Nova i would take Nova
        Garcia/Colon Vs Scherzer/Porcello the tigers win on that one
        and lets be honest but ANY postseason rotation that MAY include AJ is on the losing end…

        THAT being said i would still take the 2011 Yanks over the TIgers due to the fact that the Yanks would kill in the Offense field.

      • Kevin S. - Sep 22, 2011 at 3:41 PM

        The Cy Young vote is hardly evidence of anything, especially since voters like stats that give starting pitchers full credit for run prevention and team success, when they’re clearly only a piece of the puzzle. I tend to believe FIP is more descriptive than people give it credit for, but most will agree it has better predictive value – and CC and Verlander are essentially tied in FIP. As Keith Law put it in his chat today:

        “OK, so think about it this way. We know pitchers don’t have a lot of control over BABIP. They may have some, but outside a certain range it’s probably not sustainable. Verlander’s career BABIP coming into this year was around .290-.300 and his single-season low was .279. This year he’s at .235, and it’s not like his stuff is magically better. What’s your bet – that he’s suddenly defying everything we think we know about pitchers and balls in play, or that, say, more than half of that 60-point drop in BABIP is due to factors beyond his control?”

        Considering BABIP is basically the difference between the two this year, it’s pretty likely that they’re evenly matched going forward.

  11. shinjodun - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    For what its worth, not only did the Cardinals sweep Atl; but since 8/30, they are 19-5, and went 5-1 against Milwaukee and went 3-1 against Philly during that time.

    The Cardinals are not only hot at the right time, but they are 11-2 over the last month against top level NL teams.

  12. foreverchipper10 - Sep 22, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    I have already come to grips with the Braves collapse. And Sweet Jeebus the Internets blockers are off at work and I can post again1!!!!111 :)

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