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. 

Fall Baseball War on Labor Day, 2014

There is something disquieting about Labor Day.  It is the end of Summer, leaves turn color and die, the frost will finish off what’s left, even the daylight diminishes, and sun will be setting later until it is the shortest day and it is Winter.  Baseball is born in the spring when all teams have hope, flourishes in the Summer as teams figure out how good or bad they are,  then it is Fall and we race against the sun to see who wins it all before the game hibernates for the Winter. At this point, the teams know how good they are and how bad. The good ones now focus on the last 28 games and the ultimate, short course, pennant race. It is a no holds barred, free for all to see who will prevail.

Today we know who is really good, just good, could be good and bad. The really good are Kansas City and Detroit, Baltimore, Angels and A’s in the AL and Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh,  Washington, LA Dodgers and SF in the National.
The good team is Cleveland that just misses. The “could (will) be good” teams are Miami and Seattle, maybe next year, especially for Miami. The rest of them have serious work to do and only a few show any inclination to do it wisely. (By wisely, I mean.doing smart stuff,  not just stuff to appease the fans mid-winter like signing a bad pitcher, now 5-10, 5.96, to a multiyear contract that simply shows why they are bad.)
Kansas CIty leads Detroit by 1/2 game in the AL Central, with Cleveland 3 behind. In the AL East, Baltimore leads by 9. In the AL west, the Angels just crushed the A’s four straigth to lead by 5. The only drama is in the Central.

In the National League, Milwaukee and St. Louis are tied and Pittsburgh is two behind. Definte drama here. Washington leads Atlanta by six so its really over.  and LA.  leads SF by 2 1/2. But LA is going to win there.

The only drama is the race for the second wild-card. (DId I really say that?) In the AL, Seattle has a chance and Atlanta and Pittsburgh have a chance in the NL.We’ll see.

What does the lack of drama mean? It means that the playoffs will supply the drama the season fails to provide. More on that in a few weeks, but I’m betting on a Baltimore-Washington World Series. Both of these teams can hit, field, throw, hit with power and pitch!  See you in Baltimore in October. 

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.