Ignominy and the MLB Cellar Dweller

As August dwindles and the last month of the MLB season promises an exciting race to the pennant or wild card birth for the playoffs, another race is underway. This is the effort by several teams to avoid the ignominy of finishing last, or in the cellar, as it is called. For some, this motivation is as strong as the passion to win the pennant.

In the AL Central, the suddenly resurgent White Sox, eight wins in the last ten recently, are now pressing the Twins and are three games behind them. The White Sox have been miserable this year, but they have been playing better. However, the schedule maker has them playing against contenders the rest of the way.  Where they play Houston this week, and Houston is trying to avoid setting a record for futility, they then play Boston, New York, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Minnesota and finish against Kansas City. The three with Minnesota will be critical. The edge Chicago may have is that these teams will be tense and the Sox may be able to pick them off. That, after all, is the role of the spoiler, that team with no chance of winning a pennant, that can have an impact by beating those who do.   

The Twins have a slight schedule advantage by playing Toronto three times, but play contenders most of the time. The last eleven are with Oakland, Detroit and Cleveland, all of these teams need to win at the end. 

In the NL Central, Milwaukee and the Cubs are two games apart, with the Cubs in the cellar. Both teams play contenders, but the Cubs get the Marlins for three and the Brewers finish with the Mets. The critical games are the seven they play against each other. To not finish behind the Cubs should be sufficient incentive motivation to keep the Brewers motivated.

The most interesting race to avoid ignominy is in the NL West, Colorado, 61-71, San Diego, 59-71, and San Francisco, 58-72 are within in two games of each other with San Francisco last.   

San Francisco will play the other members of this trio twelve times in the remaining thirty-two, San Diego plays Colorado and SF nine times, but gets the floundering Phillies three times, and Colorado plays SF and SD nine times, but finish against Boston and the Dodgers. This is a race to watch on a daily basis.

Now that you see the match ups, remember that this is late season baseball and top teams are often “playing with their hands around their throats,”  Hands on Throat Reference and those trying to avoid the ignominy of the cellar can determine the actual pennant and live vicariously during the Winter knowing they were not the worst and helped determine who was the best.  

National League Predictions for 2013

The 2013 season will find the Washington Nationals dominating the National League simply because it is the best team.

National League East. Here is where the Nationals win. The team has dominant pitching with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. I like teams with dominant players and this one has gold gloves, Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman, at the corners, as well.  Zimmerman was the best player here for years until the Harper’s showed up. It is nice to have high draft choices, but this team has made perfect choices with theirs. They will not draft in the top twenty five for the rest of the decade! 

The Braves will come in second unless the Phillies have outstanding years from pitchers Halladay, Lee, and Hamels. The offense is where the improvement must appear and I don’t think Ben Revere is the answer. I watcher this player closely and he has some flash in running speed that has a defensive benefit as well as the obvious offensive benefit, but the Charlie Manual will get tired of his lack of power and tendency to just slap the ball around will feel despair watching National League runners advance on his poor arm. So, I pick the Braves for second and this is due to Braves culture. They will play well and find players. By the way, team culture is a very important factor in team success.

The Mets and Marlins will clog up the bottom. See comment on culture above.

The National League Central will play without  Houston this year, a burden on the Cubs, of course.  This division has the Cardinals and Reds and I can’t pick one over the other with any certainty. This is a culture thing again and the Reds and Cards both excel at baseball culture. This can be seen at the lowest levels as their minor leaguers act like big leaguers from the first day.  I will pick the Cardinals because I like Bill DeWitt, and the Reds have Joey Votto and some uncertainty after that. I also think the Cardinals will find young players to fill in.

The remaining teams are the similar Pirates and Brewers and then the Cubs, Talk about cultural issues.

The National League has culture issues as well. The Dodgers and Giants have been  battling  each other for 100 years. The Dodgers have spent enormously this year but that is no reason to grant them a cake walk with the Giants. I like the Dodgers as I like Ned Colleti and know he will make wise decisions, but I have learned to like Brian Sabean as well. So indecision arises .again and the Arizona pitchers, all kids, can take over the division. Therefore, I go with LA, SF less than five games in back and Colorado two or three behind SF.

The Padres will try to win 80 times and Colorado is a KPKP team,(see earlier post for explanation.

How about that for fearless prognosticating in a game where anything can happen. I may review this in June, just to see how I’ve done.

As to the culture thing, the Washington Nationals have changed its culture and that is due to its owner, Ted Lerner. I got to know him when his team was terrible and his comments indicated to me that he was a perfect owner. He is proving that in spades and deserves his success.