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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

[Sports] Baseball down to the wire

I got Bats, getchya Bats here. You want one love? here it comes, that'll be $15 bucks.

“Its getting down to the wire now, not many games to go” I told Hadyn excitedly. “Really he said, and how many games are left in the season?”

“why just forty odd” I replied, not really listening to myself. Hadyn began chorltling to himself and wandered muttering “….the end is pretty close? Pah!”

I hadn’t really thought about it. Major League Baseball kicked off on the 5th of April (roughly) and has been chugging along at better than a half a dozen games per day ever since (save for the all star weekend and some other breaks). That’s about 150 days, and each team has played about 120 games at this point. Probably close to 1500 games have been played. That’s quite the regular season, and if you think that a lot of those 30 teams have sold out a lot of the 60 odd home games etc, lots of money too etc.

Okay but anyway, back to the interesting bit. Things are getting very sticky as teams’ battle for division titles and the league wildcards. Baseball probably has the fewest post-season places available of any sport. After crunching a few numbers (not my strong point) Baseball appears to be the most difficult sport to actually qualify for post-season play when compared to other major sports formats.

NRL (Rugby league)









NPC (First Division)






Super 12






So things are pretty hot at the top when it comes to qualifying for the MLB play-offs and probably why teams don’t get terribly upset when they go 10-15 years without making them. Especially when your name is Toronto or Texas.


AL East

Everything everybody hoped and some of what I predicted. Baltimore have fallen by the wayside and now serve the purpose of messing up the top teams chances. They have recently been trying to stop the progress of the Oakland Athletics with no success. The current leaders of the division, holding a slender 1.5 game lead over the Yankees (73-56), are the Boston Redsox (74-54). Now Boston have lead this division for most of the year since knocking off the Orioles (61-68) in late June. They had high hopes of racing away and cruising comfortably into the play-offs to defend their crown. They have played well and put together several long winning streaks but try as they might they have not been able to throw off the annoying Yankees. The upcoming series between the two in New York may yet decide the final placings. Tampa (55-76) have been pissing everyone off lately with wins over the Redsox and the Yankees. They have the beginnings of something down there, and Manager Lou Pinella, while a colourful and controversial character, has the ability to pull the franchise into something resembling competitive, having lead Seattle to a record setting 117 win season in 2001 (I think). The Jays (65-65) are hanging in there but lack the steel to match the big two. The really entertaining thing is that the team that finishes 2nd in this division is in real danger of not qualifying, something that hasn’t happened for a few years. The other teams in the American league are pushing them very very close. Predicted Finish: Yanks, Sox, Jays, Orioles, Rays.

AL Central

They continue to defy me but the Chicago White Sox (79-48) just refuse to go quietly into the night, have kept winning and remain entrenched atop the AL Central. Pitchers Mark Bherle, Jon Garland, and former Yankee Jose “El Duque” Contreras have been throwing up a storm and they continue to win games. However, surprising (at least to me) the Cleveland Indians (73-58) are scrambling up the slope behind them and now sit just 8 games back. The Sox still look a little fragile and seem to struggle when facing other division leaders which could see them caught in a dramatic final week.

My pick, the Minnesota Twins (68-62) are struggling a little. Pitching hero Johan Santana does his best but too often the batting lets him down. Detroit (62-66) and Kansas City (42-86) now have the job of spoilers which they are doing very well, stealing wins from Boston and New York respectively. Predicted Finish: Chicago, Indians, Twins, Tigers, Royals

Al West

I am going out on a limb here and picking the AL wildcard will come from the AL West.

“…but this division usually has one very late starter who can sneak up and steal a wild card from some in the east before anyone realises what’s happened.” Was what I said back in late June and unbelievably it may in-fact come true! Currently there is a massive fight for the lead in the AL West between Oakland (73-56) and Anahiem (73-57). And these guys are scrapping hard. Oakland stole there most recent series and the lead after Anahiem had been leading the division for a month. The Rangers (61-68) have all but collapsed and died. This could be due to pitching problems, but they have been getting lot of shit these days over Alfonso Soriano, who was going then he wasn’t then he was again, now finally he isn’t. Though who knows what could happen tomorrow. Seattle (55-74) have the same job as Detroit and Kansas City, again they seem to be doing pretty well after pinching two in row from the White Sox over the last few days and may yet nick third place from the tiring Rangers. Predicted Finish: Oakland, Anahiem, Seattle, Texas.

American League Wildcard

Like I, said this will come right down to the wire. One of the top two teams in the AL East will miss out, Im pretty sure of that. Oakland just keep getting better. You might recall I said this A’s fans would like to think it will be them [winning the wild card] but with the formerly formidable pitching rotation now in tatters (Mark Mulder is pitching up a storm in St Louis, Tim Hudson getting some wins in Atlanta), this appears unlikely. Oh how wrong was I. I stand corrected and I apologise to all those Oakland fans out there. At the moment there is a four and half way tussle for the Wildcard. The Angels, Yankees, Oakland, Cleveland and half of Minnesota will bash each other up right till the end. If the Yanks catch Boston then they too will be in the mix. Cleveland just seem to be peaking at the right time but the Angels have strong hitting and will take it down to the wire. Predicted Finish: Angels, Indians, Boston, Minnesota.


NL East

There must be something in the water along the US eastern sea-board cos the teams in the east are giving us the best fight possible. Only 7 games separate first place from last. 2nd place has changed hands about 10 times in the past 2 weeks, with Florida (70-61), The Phillies (70-61), Washington (67-63) and the New York Mets (68-62) all trying to chase down Atlanta (74-56). The difference so far has been the bat of match winner Braves Slugger Andruw Jones who has a major league leading 42 home runs. The Braves continue to look strong and barring some freakish occurrence (Katrina? Is that you at the door?) will secure something like their 13th straight NLE division title. The race for 2nd place and probably the wildcard will be the most intense in MLB. Id like to see the marlins make it cos I like them, but if the Nationals made it in their debut season that would also be pretty cool. Pedro Martinez has been enjoying a real renaissance in New York and would also deserve a trip back to the play-offs. Screw Philly. Predicted finish: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Florida, Mets, Washington.

NL Central

The best team in baseball, the St Louis Cardinals (83-48) continue to crush all comers. They have a 14.5 game lead over Houston (68-62) who in turn hold a 5 game lead over division surprise team Milwaukee Brewers (64-67). The Brewers are 1.5 games ahead of Chicago (62-68) and the Reds of Cincinnati (62-68). I’d picked the Cubbies early season on the strength of some very solid pitching and that they’d finally gotten rid of waste-of-space Sammy Sosa. Unfortunately injuries and poor form have all meant the loyal Cubs fans will have to wait yet another year to see their team get to the World Series. It’s closer than it was 5 years ago though. The Pirates of Pittsburg (54-77), another favourite of mine, struggled early on but over the last month have one of the best records in the league. They have spent the season blooding new young pitchers and next year that should pay off. Keep an ear out for the name Zach Duke. No one will catch the Cardinals and they will go back to the World Series. Predicted finish: Cardinals, Houston, Reds, Brewers, Cubs, Pirates.

NL West

This division disgusts me. If there wasn’t a rule saying the division winner qualifies for the play-offs there would be no representation from the NL West. Currently not on team is about the .500 winning percentage mark. Every single team in the NL East has a better record than any of the teams in the West. The pitiful Padres (64-65) lead the division from the Lousy LA Dodgers (60-72) and the Awful Arizona Diamondbacks (59-71). Shitty San Francisco (57-72) and Crappy Colorado (52-79) make up the horrible numbers. This division needs Barry Bonds and Eric Gagne. No superstars makes for a very very dull division. Predicted Finish: San Diego, Arizona, LA, Giants, Rockies.


This will go to someone in the East. Only the Astros can challenge from outside and they might be just a little too far back to catch the front runners. My pick is Philadelphia. They are peaking at just the right time and a known as very strong finshers.

Predicted Finish: Phillies, Marlins, Mets, Astros.

Righto, see you in the Play-offs


1 comment:

Hadyn said...

"...about 150 days, and each team has played about 120 games at this point. Probably close to 1500 games have been played. That’s quite the regular season, and if you think that a lot of those 30 teams have sold out a lot of the 60 odd home games etc, lots of money too etc."

And yet it still doesn't make as much money as the NFL. Which only has16 games per team.