Friday, September 24, 2004

The big baseball weekend

(more baseball...hey! with no hockey and the Chiefs stinking up the joint...I have to focus on something - have I mentioned my lack of desire to do real work this afternoon?)

After this weekend, most of the baseball races should be all but decided (if they aren't already). Boston has a fairly firm grip on the AL Wildcard spot, which should mean a matchup with Minnesota (already clinched AL Central) in the ALDS and could concievable clinch that spot this weekend, but...with three against the Skanks this weekend, this is their last shot at the division. Probably a lost cause but it actually might not matter all that much. At this point, I'd focus on the rotation. The Yanquis are in, of course, and are probably headed towards a showdown with whomever survives out West.

The AL West race, somehow, remains too close to call. I thought Oakland would have wrapped things up by now but Texas and Anaheim have managed to stay close. With three on the road at the Angels this weekend, the A's have a chance to either knock Anaheim out of the race completely and get their rotation aligned for the Skanks...or else go into the final week of the season needing victories and facing a possible playoff after the season. And how in the world did Texas climb back into that race? This thing was all but wrapped up for Oakland after Boston rampaged through the division last month, and now its only a two game advantage. I still like Oakland to come out of it (and I think they're an excellent shot for knocking off the Skanks, assuming they can get over that first round hump).

In the NL, things are likewise interesting out West. The Cards wrapped up their division long ago and are waiting to see who they'll play in the first round. I don't love that, btw - I think it killed Seattle's momentum in 2001 (well...that and 9/11). Atlanta can wrap things up in the East tonight. The Giants have been on fire and LA has only been mediocre, allowing San Francisco to get back into that division race. Plus, the wildcard situation is a mess because Houston refuses to die quietly. It would more or less be a two team race at this point if Houston would die off. The Cubs have an oh-so-delicate lead, but I'm not certain they have enough left in the tank. Houston has made a valiant effort to get back in the chase after a dreadful start, but I that hole was just too deep to climb out of. With the Cubs pitching, I think they'll probably hold on to the wildcard. SF might be better off focusing on the Dodgers. With six games left v. LA...that's anyone's division to win/lose.

At this point...based on momentum...I think the AL races remain unchanged at this point next weekend. Boston should clinch the wildcard either this weekend or early next week, and Oakland will probably head into next weekend needing a win or two to clinch out West. Which sets up the A's and the Skanks (go A's!) and the Sox and Twins (go Sox!). No way Atlanta loses the East in the NL, and I've already said I think the Cubs pitching gets them the wildcard. And at this point, I like the Giants in the West. Which basically sets up an exact rematch of last year's playoffs - the same eight teams.



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