Thursday, September 22, 2011

What a Wild Ride!

Some of the best music ever made has been titled with the word, “wild” in it. Of course there’s “Wild Thing” by The Troggs in 1966. How about “Born to Be Wild”, of course a Steppenwolf staple from 1967. The 70’s brought us “Wild World” by Cat Stevens and who can forget Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” from 1988. The best sports adaptation in relation to the word, without a doubt has become baseball’s wild card race! In both the National and American League’s, six teams all find their playoff fate resting over the final week of the season. Now what could be wilder than that?

For the Atlanta Braves the wild ride is about over unfortunately. The Braves have been on a downward spiral for the last 20 games, losing 13 of those. They owned a 10 and a half game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card standings back on August 25th. That advantage has now dwindled to just one and a half, with six games to play. Atlanta now must finish the season with three games at Washington, then host baseball’s best team the Phillies for the final weekend of the season, not good. The Cardinals have been able to tomo-hawk chop the Braves lead because they have flat out caught fire! Tony LaRussa’s bunch has won a remarkable, 19 of 25 games since August the 25th. They also have the easiest schedule remaining with just one left today at Busch Stadium against the sub-.500 Mets and then they host the Cubs for three before finishing the season at lowly Houston on the final weekend. The Red Birds will most-likely be signing a post-season fight song at the end of the week! Their biggest competition for the spot might be moving up on their shoulder in the defending World Champion Giants. All of a sudden, they’ve won nine of ten and find themselves just three and a half back of the Braves, two behind the Cards. San Francisco has the best pitching out of the three contenders but must still play one game versus the Dodgers today and then three at National League West eventual champion Arizona. Should the Giants still be hanging around over the final weekend, they get three at home against the banged up Colorado Rockies and that will end up a sweep. The champs won’t go down without a fight but this race is the Cardinals to fly away with!

On the American side it’s boo-hoo time in Bean town! Not only are the Red Sox hanging on for their dear life but face it, they don’t deserve a playoff position after the September they’ve recorded in the books. The Sox have dropped 16 of the last 21 games! Talk about a free-fall. Not that long ago, they actually were the East leader over the Yankees and now just two and a half games separate Boston from both Tampa Bay and The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. To make matters worse the Red Sox now have to deal with The Bombers in the Bronx for three and then head to Baltimore for the final weekend of the season. Six games left but who can they turn to? Even ace Josh Beckett got beat yesterday as he succumb to the pressure, blowing a late lead at Fenway Park. Boston held a nine-game lead back on September 3rd over Tampa Bay. While they try to tune out all the talk of choking in their locker room by the media, The Angels certainly aren’t on their side. The Los Angeles Angels of course is to whom I’m referring. The Orange County crew has captured 12 of their last 19 games because that potent line-up is starting help out Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Erving Santana on the hill. The Halos have the best combination of starting pitching and run production out of the three teams in the race. They end their series with the Jays today in Toronto before finishing the year at the Big A with three against Oakland and three against a Texas team who will already have clinched the division. You have to love the Angels remaining schedule as an advantage to them catching and passing Boston and Tampa. Speaking of the Rays, what a run they’ve made but you don’t get to make playoff travel plans for a nice effort. After thumping Boston all around in six head to head games the past week and a half, they’ve now dropped three straight and still have to play the Yankees four more times. Momentum does not seem to be on their side and neither is their ability to score runs with New York or the Angels. If they were playing Boston for another set in the final week, you’d have to like their chances but they’re not. So what a wild fall it could be for the Sox and a wild rally for the Angels. We can only hope, if baseball’s post-season is anything like its wild-card finishes, then the wild ride has just begun!
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