MLB Races With A Week To Go.

Last year I wrote article nearly every day on the complicated MLB pennant race. This year, it is very siimple. In the American League, only the Central DIvision is undecided as Detroit leads KC by a single game. The Royals are playing Cleveland in Cleveland today and finish at Chicago. The Tigers host Chicago and then the Twins over the final weekend. That gives the Tigers at least a one game advantage and they will probably win the division, leaving the Royals as one of the two wildcard teams.

The other AL wild card will be the A’s who lead Seattle by 2. Seattle ends with the Angels, not the place to be if you are trying to sweep a series. Look for a playoff between Oakland and Kansas CIty for the fourth playoff spot. Of interest here, is that Oakland with 86-70 wins has a one game home field advantage over KC. 85-71 that may be determined by a coin lip in a week. Hang on.

In the National League, it is all over. St. Louis, Baltimore, and the LA Dodgers won divisions and Pittsburgh and San Francisco will play the wild card game. Pittsburgh has a 1/2 game home field advantage there, so another coin toss may occur. 

This season will end without the great drama I like to see, but that drama will likely come in the playoffs.  There are great teams playing and the chance of a Washington World Series is a lot to consider for me. Having just watched the Angels recently, I am leaning toward them as well. I would go to a game just to see Mike Trout play centerfield. There is also the possibilty of Baltimore-Washington, a LA-LA, or a KC-St.L World Series matchups.  Could be interesting, don’t you think?

For now, it is just a matter of waiting, unless, of course, something unexpected happens, and that happens often in the wonderful world of Major League Baseball. 

Final Four, MLB Money Counts

The Tigers with the fifth highest payroll beat the A’s with the twenty-sixth last night as Justin Verlander dominated the A’s and won a 3-0 game that was never close. Verlander took a no hitter into the seventh inning, giving up two singles in eight innings pitched. Closer Benoit gave up another hit in the ninth. A’s rookie pitcher, Sonny Gray, pitched well and only made a single mistake that allowed Miguel Cabrera to hit a two run homerun in the fourth.  The A’s had been pitching Cabrera on the outside corner, but Sonny Gray tried to get one buy inside and Cabrera hit it out.

What this means is that the final four in the race to the World Series are all high salary,  large market teams. The Dodgers at number two, $216,302,909, the Red Sox number four at $158,967,286, the Tigers at number five at $149,046,844, and the St. Louis Cardinals at number eleven at $116,702,085.  When the playoffs began, I was hoping small markets in Oakland, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati (a wild card contender) would prevail. It was not to be.

In the day of wooden war ships where ships fired broadsides at each other with their cannon, the weight of the broadside, computed as number of guns times weight of each cannon ball, was often the determing factor. So, too, in MLB today, the weight of the broadside, measured by the dollars paid to players, is the determing factor. 

We are off the the League Championship Series and the World Series. In the morning paper, I noted a decline in interest in these games. It is nearly the middle of October, afterall.

MLB Playoffs: Three Games to Go

Last night the Indians escaped in Target Field and beat the Twins 6-5 as the Twins scored 4 in the ninth. This allowed them to keep their one game lead over Texas that beat the Angels with a walk off Homerun. The other games showed the tenacity with which Fall Baseball is played as the Padres beat the Diamond Backs 3-2 in 11 innings, the Orioles beat Toronto 3-2, KC beat the White Sox 3-2, and SF beat the Dodgers 3-2.  Six one run games out of the ten played! This is typical of Fall Baseball as teams, all of them, strive to have the best record possible.

The big series this weekend is in CIncinnati where the Pirates and Reds play for homefield advantage in their one game wild card playoff on Tuesday. This will be interesting. Of course, these teams will have to use their best pitchers this weekend and then on Tuesday while their opponents for the Division series will be resting theirs and setting up pitching rotations to be best prepared for the playoff series. Whether this makes a difference or not will be known in a week. This is the best part of the season and I only hope for extra-innings in the one game playoffs and a fifth games in the Division series then seventh games in the League Championship Series and World Series, that is scheduled to start October 23.

The Playoff Schedule is posted Here.

MLB Playoffs: Fall Baseball is War, Part Two

On September 3, I wrote that “Fall Baseball is War” here. With that in mind, September 18 was the Battle of the Bulge. The stituation going into that night’s games found Detroit, Atlanta, La Dodgers, Boston and Oakland comfortably in first place in their divisions, and St. Louis two games ahead of Pittsburgh. but Pittsburgh, and Cincinatti 2.5 game back, along with St. Louis will make up the Division winner and NL Wild Card races, so there is little drama in the National League, unless, of course, Washington wins them all going forward.

The war is in the American League Wild Card race where Tampa Bay and Texas now lead, but Cleveland is  .5 games back and Baltimore, New York and Kansas City are within  2.5. Anything can happen and the teams that are hot will prevail.

The fact that Fall Baseball is War is shown by the scores last night. The Angels beat Oakland 4-3 in ten innings, Baltimore beat Boston 5-3 in twelve innings, Tampa Bay beat Texas 4-3 in twelve innings, Cincinnati beat Houston 6-5 in thirteen innings, and Miami beat Philadelphia  4-3 in ten innings. The five extra inning games were joined with the Yankees 4-3 (four in the eighth for the Yankees) win over Toronto, San Diego beat Pittsburgh 3-2, scoring two in the ninth, St. Louis beat Colorado 4-3, and the New York Mets beat San Francisco 5-4  scoring four in the bottom of the ninth. So the five extra inning games were matched by four one run games. 

These bitterly contested games came after 152 had been played and only the AL Wild to be decided. What is most indicative of the furious nature of Fall Baseball is that Houston, with only 51 wins and 101 losses, battled Cincinnati in a thirteen inning game, and Miami with 56 wins and 96 losses went ten to beat the Phillies. The intense comprtitiveness of a MLB season never lets up. Baseball players never quit. Every at-bat, every pitch thrown in reflected in their careet records and is used to deterine salaries for the coming year or multi-years. Even the last batter, on the last pitch thrown to a Houston player, will be trying with all his skill to make a hit, and the pitcher making that pitch will be trying to get an out. This is the very nature of a Major League Season, the long season, where the differences between teams at this point may appear to be great, but really comes down to the ability to win the Fifth Games, of which there are thirty-two each year. (SEE: Fifth Game Theory). These are the games, won or lost, that determine winners, even down to the last game.