For those of you who gave up on following baseball once the Astros fell out of contention (roughly around April 2nd), here's a brief update on how the playoffs, set to begin next week, are stacking up.
The AL playoff teams are set, and for those of you hoping Roger Clemens's signing with the Yankees would go bad for both parties, you'll be disappointed. The AL teams are Boston, New York, Cleveland, and Anaheim (yes, I know it's actually Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but I just don't want to type that -- like, I, err, uh, just did). But who plays who is yet to be decided. The BoSox have a three-game lead on the Yankees with four games left, so it's conceivable that the Yankees, who were left for dead in May, can still win the AL East. And Cleveland has 94-64 record while Anaheim is 92-67. The Wild Card plays the team with the best record, unless that team is in its own division. Then it would play the team with the second best record.
So, if the AL playoffs started today, Boston would play Anaheim and New York would play Cleveland. However, it's still possible that Anaheim can catch the Indians and get that second best record, in which it would host the Wild Card team, which is probably to be the Yankees.
Does any of that make sense?
Then just wait while I try to explain the National League, where not a single team has clinched a playoff spot.
The current division leaders are the Mets, by one game, the Cubs, by two games, and the D-Backs, by one game. The Mets are doing their best to miss the playoffs entirely and have suddenly developed an inability to defeat the Washington Nationals. The Phillies, despite having just one starter go more than seven innings just once in two weeks, are only one game back of the Mets, and the Braves are technically still hanging around, just four games back.
In the NL Central, the Cubs are up two games on the Brewers, the team that led the Central for most of the season. The second place team in the Central will not qualify for the Wild Card, so the only way in is to win the division. The Cubs have one game left in Florida, then close the season with three games in Cincinnati. The Brewers finish the season in Milwaukee with four games against the Padres. The Cubs should win this because they've got the easier schedule -- the Brewers may be at home, but the Padres are also fighting for a playoff spot -- but we're talking about the Cubs, so it's still possible that they will blow it.
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In the NL West, the D-Backs are up by one game on the Padres and by two games on the resurgent Rockies who have won ten straight games. And this gets real interesting because, while the Padres are battling the Brewers, the Rockies and D-Backs will be playing each other three times in Denver.
As for the Wild Card? Hah. Good luck figuring that out. Right now, the Padres lead the Rockies and Phillies by one game, with the Braves still hanging around at four games back. It's entirely possible that, come Monday, the NL playoff teams will be the Phillies, the Brewers, Rockies and D-Backs. Or the Braves, Cubs, Padres, and D-Backs.
Who knows? And just remember, it's become pretty commonplace for a Wild Card team to reach the World Series, i.e., Tigers, Astros, Marlins, Angels, Red Sox.
I just thought you might want a little update. You're now welcome to return to football season. – John Royal