As I sit at my keyboard pounding this article on Sunday the 19th, there remain about fifteen games on all the teams’ schedules. Here is a look at how the race is fairing and a guess as to how they will turn out.
East: The New York Yankees took two of three in a big series against the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox came into this series as probably the hottest team in the Major Leagues, but didn’t pitch well enough to take the series from the Yankees. The Yankees cannot rest on their laurels though because they will be facing the Red Sox once again very soon. The Bronx Bombers need to wrap up this division title as soon as possible to ready themselves for the postseason. For the Red Sox to win, they need a Yankee collapse, the sooner the better for the team from Beantown.
Central: The Minnesota Twins, led by the arms of Johan Santana and Joe Nathan have all but taken this division from the Chicago White Sox once again, as the magic number is only 2. It would take a miracle in favor of the ChiSox and a total collapse of the Twins for the Southsiders in Chicago to get the division title.
West: With thirteen games remaining for both teams, the A’s and Angels are separated by only three games in the standings. This is not an impossible comeback, but for the Angels to overtake the A’s at this point in the season would not be likely. For this to happen the A’s Big Three would have to pitch horribly and for the A’s to lose whatever offense they currently have.
Wild Card: The American League Wild Card race seemed pretty exciting for a while, but the Red Sox have taken off and the Angels haven’t switched into a higher gear at all. The BoSox are 5.5 games in front with a magic number of 9 over the Angels, and 7 on the Rangers. All other teams have been eliminated from this race. The Angels would need to have a miracle happen to their starting rotation for a comeback over the Red Sox. The Rangers, a very good comeback for this year, did well, but for them to think they can win the Wild Card is absolute lunacy.
East: The NL East Division Leader stands 8.5 games above the second place team. Quite strangely the team in the lead is the Atlanta Braves (predicted by me to win the division: http://www.athomeplate.com/nleast04dp.shtml) and the second place team is the Philadelphia, predicted by many to win the division, pennant, and perhaps the World Series. There is no excitement remaining in this division, except seeing if Les Expos can over take the Mets for fourth in the division, which I would love to see, as I also did predict that in my pre-season article.
Central: Wow. That’s the only word that correctly describes the Cardinals season. In a year where the Cubs or Astros should’ve won the division, it was the Cardinals. The race is over and the only excitement is seeing who is better in the division, Cincinnati or Pittsburgh.
West: The Los Angeles Dodgers were largely criticized for their LoDuca trade, but they actually lost the biggest piece in the deal in Penny due to a biceps injury are they still are in the lead. GM Paul Depodesta deserves a gold star for his work, even though the Giants are only 2.5 games behind. For the Giants to win, it would take some great pitching from their entire rotation, including better outings from Jason Schmidt.
Wild Card: The San Francisco Giants are leading the Wild Card race, but the Cubbies are only half a game behind. The Astros, at the time of writing this, are to play the Milwaukee Brewers so they will vary a half game depending on the outcome. Should they win, the Astros will be only a game behind the Giants in the race and if they should lose they will be two games behind. The San Diego Padres currently reside four games back, but should not be taken seriously for the remainder of the race, and the same should be said for the Marlins and Phillies. For the Cubs to win, their aces need to pitch like the aces they are supposed to be. For the Astros to win, they need the back part of their rotation to pitch greatly over the remainder of the season.
So who are the elite eight? New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, Oakland A’s, and Boston Red Sox in the Junior Circuit and in the Senior Circuit the Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Cubs, by my guess.
But who really knows? It ain’t over until it’s over.