The Rays, Red Sox, Angels, and Cubs have all clinched playoff spots, everything else will be decided this weekend. The Red Sox look like they will be the Wild Card team in the 2008 playoffs. With the Rays magic number at 1 a win or a Sox lose will clinch the American League East. Although I'll tune in to the game tonight it won't mean a heck of a lot, so I thought we'd take some time to check out some of the other playoff races around baseball this weekend.
The American League Central remains very close; the White Sox have a .5 game lead against the surprising Twins. The two teams play each other again tonight in Minnesota as the Twins go for the sweep and first place. In the off season when the Twins lost Tori Hunter to free agency and traded Johan Santana I don't think anyone thought they would be competitive in the AL Central, but here we are going into the final weekend. The Twins play the Royals this weekend and the White Sox play the Indians. Whoever wins tonight's match up will be in the driver’s seat, but this division is really up for grabs. Expect all hands to be on deck with starters coming out of the bullpen and pitching on short rest. Personally, I'm routing for the Twins, I like the underdog I guess.
American League playoff match-ups look like they'll shake out like this:
Red Sox vs Angels
Rays vs Twins/White Sox
Over in the National League the playoff picture is about as clear as the sky in Beijing, granted they cleaned things up for the Olympics, but you get the analogy.
In the NL East the fighting Phillies are up a game and a half over the Mets. I'm routing for the Phillies for two reasons; one I enjoy seeing the sports fans of New York experiencing pain, probably related to the Superbowl, but I'm still not talking about that. Secondly, if the Phillies win the east it will hopefully be with the help of Ryan Howard's big bat, huge fantasy implications for this guy. The Phillies have the night off and play the Nationals this weekend. The Mets will continue to torture their fans tonight as they play the Cubs at home, and then host the Marlins this weekend. If anyone caught the Mets meltdown last night it was tremendous. The score was tied in the bottom of the ninth and the Mets had a runner on third with no outs, needless to say there he stayed and the Cubs went on to win in extra innings. ESPN had one shot of a fan yelling at Mets relief pitcher Luis Ayala after walking off the mound in the 10th after giving up 3 runs. I couldn't tell if he was upset at Ayala and the Mets bullpen(surely they are so terrible we have to call it something else) or he was just reacting to the fact that the Knicks season was right around the corner. I don't really have anything against the Mets, it's just fun to watch them implode in September. If they blow it this weekend expect the fans to get an early start on tearing down Shea Stadium.
The Cubbies have clinched the NL Central and best record, all that remains to be decided is who they will play in October and if they will have to make up a game with the Astros on Monday in Houston.
The Red Sox west coast farm team, the Dodgers, look like they have the NL west wrapped up as the Diamondbacks, affectionately called the Snakes, are fading away. A Dodgers win tonight or a Snakes loss and the Dodgers win the west. If the Diamondbacks come back and win it, I'll say John McCain wins the election this November, if the Dodgers triumph it's Obama all the way! Gooo Dodgers!
The NL Wild Card is where all the action will be this weekend. The Mets and Brewers are tied and the Astros are hanging on 3.5 games out. The Brew Crew play Pittsburgh tonight and have 3 with the Cubs this weekend who have absolutely owned them this year. CC Sabathia has started the last 17 games for the Brewers, ok no he hasn’t but his last 2 starts have been on 3 days rest and he'll probably do so again on Sunday. Although each start has been impressive, I'll be surprised if his arm doesn't fall off during warm ups on Sunday. The Brewers have to go for it all with Sabathia and Sheets heading to free agency after the season.
Again, nothing personal Met fans, but I'm pulling for the Brew Crew. It would be nice for their fans to see some October baseball for the first time since...the internet doesn't go back that far. Word out of Chicago is the Cubs would like to play the Mets in the first round because of their weak bullpen (candy strippers?). Don't expect the Cubs to run their starters out there for 9 innings against the Brewers to accomplish this, and besides, beggars can't be choosers.
So if the Phillies win the east, the Dodgers win west, and the Brewers get the Wild Card we are looking at:
Dodgers vs Cubs
Brewers vs Phillies.
If the Mets when the Wild Card.
Mets vs Cubs
Dodgers vs Phillies.
If the Mets win the East, the Dodgers win the west, and the Brewers win the Wild Card.
Dodgers vs Cubs
Brewers vs Mets
And if the Phillies win the Wild Card
Phillies vs Cubs
Mets vs Dodgers.
There are a few scenarios I didn't cover, and if you're still reading you are probably thankful. The Astros and Diamondbacks could get in the playoffs, but then again the Mets bullpen could figure it out this weekend, and for comedy sake I really hope this does not happen.
Whatever happens this weekend it should be an extremely entertaining weekend for baseball fans. No matter who you are routing for this weekend enjoy the games and we'll see you in the playoffs.