Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This is the way it otta’ be

Now this is Baseball. Second week in September, the start of the fall season, and divisional races that come down to the last series of a marathon 162 game season, oh yea, to top it off how about two rivalries to decide it all. Although the Sox are not the other team in the mix in AL East they have a chance to make a huge difference if they can take one or two games from the boomers in their final 3-game set at the end of the season. Cross country you have a similar situation where it’s not LA/SF but the next best thing as No Cal meets So Cal in a three game head-to-head series that will decide the division winner and could decide the wild card as well. This is exactly what they had in mind when the put the wild card in what feels like years ago. It would be a shame for the Rays or Yankees to be watching from home when they possess the second best record in baseball. The presence of the wild card in the NL gives four other teams (2 series) added significance when the games would be meaningless. While all of this chaos continues the Phillies, Rangers, and Twins have already punched their tickets and look for the Reds to do so tonight, so hopefully they won’t cool off by the time the second season begins. Despite seedings or how you finish in the regular season, if you just have 3 starters that bring their stuff to a 7-game series you’ve got a good chance of moving on, and that’s what makes clubs like the Giants, Phillies, and Yankees so dangerous. The Giants could be the last team to get into the playoffs but they’re the last team you’d want to see this time of year. So we think the Rays will come out of the East and do the equivalent of cutting down the nets this week (in front of 835 screaming fans) dropping the Yankees to the WC and sending them on the road. Forcing NY to take a game on the road makes a serious difference to the team tied for the best home record in MLB. However don’t be so quick to crown the winner of the East the spoils of the AL just yet as the Twins are right there, getting no respect, but are only a game back for best record. In the NL the difference maker will be that the Giants are at home and will be the deciding factor as they take the series and the division from SD. Unfortunately for the loser of this series the Braves have a favorable matchup with the Marlins and will be occupying the wild card so this 3-game series will be for all the marbles, but then again that’s what we wanted to see. Now if only the BCS could be taking notes. Who do you think will advance from the 1st round?
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Final summations being made in last week of the season, now let the deliberation begin

Regardless of what time it is in New York it feels more like high noon as the Rays and Yankees have begun their four-game showdown to decide the AL East. Although it’s not an elimination bout as the loser will hold the AL wild card spot, however it could mean home field throughout now that the Twins have clinched and may rest some starters. What it will also do is send a late message to the loser that when the games mean something they have ownership. The big question coming in, and we’ve commented on it here, has been the Yankee pitching since losing Andy Pettitte which hasn’t faltered as much as one would have thought. In fact, it’s the Rays who can’t seem to find the starter that can make fill in the gap in a seven game series. If we’re talking about building a mental edge if the Yankees feel like once they get into the Tampa Bay pen then they have a decided advantage then look them to extend the pitch count and grind these games out. Going into the series the Rays have the slight 8-7 lead but if either team wins this series they’ll also get the season series, home field, possibly best record, and most important the mental edge.
As if the NL picture could be any more unclear it’s pointless to comment on who is in the lead either the NL West or the Wildcard because it changes from hour to hour, and that is what is making this the best season for those involved as any in the past decade. We’ve gone on record picking the Giants and are sticking to it, but we think it will be a winner take all in the NL West unlike the AL where the bride’s maid gets the final playoff spot in the NL, we still think “COLDLanta” (5-5 their last 10 pu two losses to Philly have a lot to do with that) will finish the last week of the season strong as they get the Nats and Marlins to finish up. The Padres on the other hand still have a 3 game set with Reds which almost will certainly take one, maybe two of those games opening the window for the Giants to extend the lead. The GMen have their equivalent to the AL East showdown as they travel to Colorado for a three game set over the final weekend, but look like they will avoid Jimenez during the set. Lastly, the Rockies look like they may have waited too late to make their run and are beginning to cool down. 6-4 their last ten, it will take an unbelieveable home stand to finish the season for them to punch their ticket. The 3-game set with the Giants and then LA comes to mountains for 4 games who always seems to play them tough. At the end of the day three games back with a week to play is too much to ask of them despite their late season heroics in recent years.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Head-to-Head matchups help clear up the picture

There may only be one page left on the schedule but there is plenty of baseball left to be played and much to be decided. Because of the way the teams are intertwined almost every series has significance and that’s what the addition of the wild card was supposed to do. You gotta’ love the NL situation with all of its scenarios but mainly how they’ve saved their best for last. The Rockies, in typical late season fashion, have won 8 of their last 10 but the crushing one run loss to the Priest by hitting into a double header I think will be the end of their playoff run. The Giants also dropped a heart breaker to the their hated rivals from the City of Angels(and had a 1-hitter!), and now find themselves 1.5 out, unfortunately I can’t see them making the post season either as they would have to rely on other clubs taking care of their business for them with no games remaining with either SD or Philly. From there you can just play the percentages, where they’ll need a team playing .569 ball to drop two consecutive series while they win two. I have it at just over 24% so I expect both teams from NoCal to be home just after school starts. The Braves just can’t seem to get it done against bad teams and will lead to their demise as Philly will take the East (please see the previous math) barring a sweep by Atlanta beginning on the 20th. While the Phillies are finally healthy enough to make yet another run and the brass ring. The AL has long since been decided with only a few loose ends with regards to seeding as the Yankees and Rays continue to switch places, but that division won’t be decided until the end of the Rays/Yanks total seven game September. An even more interesting divisional race was just decided as the Twins have slammed the door of opportunity on the White Sox as the ‘South Siders’ needed to get a sweep in their head-to-head to even have a shot at winning the division with the game 1 loss they’re 7 games back, got a fat (no PH) contract w/Manny and lots of questions going into next season. Although the WC picture may be cloudy, one thing is clear, regardless of who gets that final spot on the train, there will be no guarantees of advancement up the ladder and expect some upsets en route to the Fall Classic. Who do you think will emerge as the Wild Card in the NL and AL?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Phillies and Giants positioned to move on to the next round

The Phillies are peaking at the right time and have taken over the lead in the NL East for the first time since late May by winning 7 out of 10 coupled with a stretch of 5-5 by the Braves who appear to be running out of steam down the stretch. The true test will come late in the month as the two will get together for a three-game set starting on September 20, which Philly has the advantage of hosting. Other than that the schedule is quite advantageous for the Phils who only have to deal with teams under .500 the rest of the way home. On the flipside the Braves couldn’t seem to take advantage of their schedule dropping two straight to the Pirates who seem to playing their AAA club (perhaps they should stick with them) but they still have enough to take the first two from Atlanta with a third to come. After that it’s a three game set with the Cards who despite being all but eliminated from contention are not who you want to see on the schedule when you’re trying to make up ground in September. In the NL West the Padres look like a team that is limping to the finish line on one leg with cast and a piano on their back. Taking the first two from LA in an inter-state rivalry game was a surprise but the moment of truth comes this week as the GMen come to town for a three-game set that could and should, decide the division. Lots of baseball, and changes are sure to come, and it’s only fitting for such a crazy season. You do you think will be able to hang on and win the WC and the divisions?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Are the thoroughbreds fading down the stretch?

If you read our previous blogs you’ve noticed that most of the focus had shifted to the Wild Card races, and we’re not the only ones, but over the course of ten days the frame of the playoff snapshot has widened dramatically and there are a lot more features involved now. The NL West that we had all but given to the Padres, who must have been reading too many blogs like ours, as after going on one last vacation before the Summer ended (losing 8 in a row) are now a dog fight with the Giants who now find themselves only 3 games back. Moreover the schedule defiantly favors San Francisco who has only 46 games left with teams over .500 and those four are with the floundering Padres, and 2 with the fourth place Dodgers. Meanwhile the Padres have the Cards and Reds for three games each in addition to the four game set with the Giants. I knew it, just when we got on the wagon and even apologized San Diego would revert back to their old ways. Well, if they choke this lead away, it will be one they will remember for another quarter century. Joining the Padres in the land of watercolors, are the Atlanta Braves who picked a bad time to go 5-5 as the Phillies are up to their old tricks of coming on strong at the tape and now have closed to within one game of the Braves and host them for 3 games later in September. Atlanta may have been caught looking ahead to that series and have not really taken care of business against the soft stretch with the Mets and Marlins, but can still even up the roadie as nothing helps get you healthy like a trip to Pittsburgh. Despite the slide the Braves do have a couple of things going their way as they have 16 games remaining with the cellar dwellers (Pirates, Nats, Mets, Marlins) and secondly, if they do find a way to lose the East, the second place finisher will still have plenty of breathing room to hold on to the wild card. On the flip side of the coin, is the Evil Empire who, much like the Phillies always seem to peak around time the season is about to change. After trading blows with the Rays for most of the year a seven game win streak has afforded them a little breathing room however small at a game and a half. These two have consistently been the best two clubs in baseball for the entire season as they battle for best record down to the final month of the season. We will not even begin to speculate where this is going to end up and the two teams still have seven huge games left with each other before seasons’ end. As a fan of the game I just hope they don’t burn out before they get a chance to meet and decide the ALCS.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

You know what your’re getting with Many so buyer beware

Last year the Dodgers were floating on the cusp of the division lead and the last Wild Card spot when they required Manny Ramirez, and then you know the story. An unprecedented offensive barrage by a new acqasition not seen in recent memory, that just fell short of a National League title. Then of course, once the ether wears off and Mannywood shuts down for the winter and things cool off faster than the weather, and then Manny gets bored and needs a change of scenery. Then perhaps an injury, an ejection, the need to ‘rest’ during a hot afternoon game and then the writing is on the wall. So now fast forward to 2010 where the Chicago White Sox find themselves four games out and in need of one more stick to perhaps push them over the top. “Who ya gonna call”? yep, and he probably will be just what the doctor ordered in the short run. He will provide that added punch in the middle of the lineup or as a DH, he will make the hitter in front of him much more productive, he will be a great clubhouse guy and keep the other guys loose, he will get clutch hits, and most of all put plenty of ‘cheeks in the seats’. Will it be enough to overcome a 4 game deficit with less than 50 games to go? That remains to be seen. However what you can count on is after the season regardless of if the Sox take the decision or not they will get a wild card of their own. It’s the quintessential ‘Enterprise rent a player’ that has defined recent MLB era (along with roids) but it does make for great theater, and even in retrospect the Dodgers would probably still sign up for that program and the Sox should too. Manny doesn’t promise the world, and certainly doesn’t deliver it, he’s a short term fix, a tourniquet for teams in need, but when the bleeding stops he will leave you in a lurch and wound will not be healed. But all of that is in the fine print at the bottom of the page so buyer beware. Will Manny take the White Sox to the division crown? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

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