Hey baseball fans, it’s game 162 today, and we are looking at two open division races and a battle for home field advantage. We could have a one game playoff between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. Today’s matchup between the Texas Rangers and the Oakland A’s decides the AL West. All of that before we get into the new one game wildcard round. What a thrilling way to end the season! With the new rules for the baseball postseason, we have five teams qualify in each league, instead of the traditional four. The three division winners will sit back and watch the one game playoff between the top two wildcard teams. Once that game concludes, we’ll be down to four teams in each league, and the playoffs will continue as they have in the past.
The NL is all set, but the playoff matchups can change based on what happens today. However, the AL is still up in the air. Here’s a breakdown of the playoff races so far:
Postseason gear is now available for all the playoff qualifiers, but if you are a fan of one of the teams still battling for their division crown, I suggest waiting to see what plays out today. I’m sure you’ll want division champs gear if your team wins. Either way, keep up with the postseason here at FansEdge and sport some new gear to root your team on to the World Series. Good luck!
What a wild and crazy night it was. Heading into the final day of the 2011 MLB season, four teams were tied for the final two playoff spots. The National League Wild Card race came down to a contentious battle between the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals, while the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays slugged it out for the coveted American League Wild Card spot. Within a span of two hours, two teams were knocked out of the MLB playoff race and two were getting ready for October baseball.
Amazingly enough, the Atlanta Braves began September with a firm 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card standings against the St. Louis Cardinals however, injuries and poor starting pitcher performance proved to be their downfall. Their comfy lead all but disappeared and they were tied for the Wild Card spot with the Cardinals heading into the final game of the season. St. Louis played their last game earlier in the day and dropped a final notch in the W column with a victory over the Houston Astros. From there all the Cards could do was wait to see if the Braves could top the Phillies and force a one game playoff but as midnight approached on the East Coast, the Braves couldn’t hold their ground and fell to the Philadelphia Phillies, thus ensuring a final playoff spot for the Cardinals.
Like the Braves, the Boston Red Sox sat atop a nice lead in the American League East. At the beginning of September, the Bo Sox looked down at both the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, and even held a comfortable 9 game lead over the third place Rays. Boston’s comfortable lead dwindled and they soon found themselves tied for the final playoff spot at the last regular game of the season. Unfortunately, the Red Sox came up short against the Baltimore Orioles. Meanwhile, down 7-0, the Rays staged an epic comeback against the New York Yankees to win thus securing the Rays the final playoff spot.
In terms of tension and fun, you could not have asked for a better day of baseball and an exhilarating end-of-season run. With four teams tied for two playoff spots heading into the final day of the season, September 28 will go down as an epic day in sports history.
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Ah—the Dog Days of Summer . . . while this is usually the time when parents and children count the days until it’s school’s back in session—we baseball fans do some counting of our own—how many games up, back or out are our favorite teams from playing October baseball.
From opening day and beyond, this baseball season has seen many division rivals compete head to head for 1st and now that it’s coming down to the home stretch, expect these teams to show off with electrifying performances that will inevitably go down to the wire.
The National League Central division has experienced close and competitive races all season. While the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals are battling it out for division domination, it looks like the Pittsburgh Pirates have felt the bite of summer. Though they were previously on a tear, the Buccos have succumbed to summer’s sultry heat dropping their last 10 games in the L column and it looks like they are going to miss the playoffs for a record 19th straight year.
In American League news, it’s business as usual as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox battle it out to see who gets the division crown and who gets the wild card spot. The AL West has the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vying for a division title against the defending American League champs–the Texas Rangers. Although the Cleveland Indians are battling the Detroit Tigers for AL Central bragging rights, don’t count out the Minnesota Twins just yet—they are usually good for a late season surge in this mediocre division.
Last week Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers played 34 minutes and recorded 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 0 assists. He managed two steals and two personal fouls and without those you may not have even know he was there.
Michael Wilbon made a brief argument on PTI that Fisher is a guy who does the “other things” to help his team win. I’m sure he was moving the ball, screening, playing some defense, and being a leader and a nice guy, but in 34 minutes you think he would pass it to a guy who would make a shot or he would accidentally run into a rebound. Fisher was just hiding in plain sight, not contributing anything noticeable.
*Comedy Central airs the last new Chapelle’s Show on July 23rd. Borat opens the first weekend of November at the top of the box office. The confluence of these two events that happened just 3+ months apart created a venn diagram overlap in pop culture relevance where it became virtually impossible to escape people quoting Chapelle/Borat, especially if you were in college at the time. Chapelle was on safari and done with the show, but new episodes aired with many re-runs of the old ones and three and a half months was not long enough for some people to beat those jokes to death. And then Borat happens. So the quote wheel keeps spinning for the frequent repeaters out there.
*Terrell Owens leads the NFL in touchdown receptions and has 1,180 yards receiving.
*Michael Vick throws for 2,474 yards and runs for 1,039 yards and combines for 22 TD’s.
*Larry Johnson is second in the league in rushing and rushing TD’s, with 1,789 yards and 17 TD’s. He also added 410 receiving yards and 2 receiving TD’s.
Now those three fantasy football studs are hiding in plain sight. Vick is out of jail and on the bench. TO is in Buffalo not doing a whole lot and Larry Johnson has been cut by the Chiefs for vomiting his thoughts on Twitter.
Many professional athletes and celebrities and people not famous have not yet evolved the filter between the brain and the fingertips. And it is not their fault. Evolution takes time and social networking is relatively new. The brain to mouth filter was not even fully evolved in many and now they are under stress to develop a second filter on the fly to protect themselves from their thoughts escaping through their fingertips to Twitter and the world. Maybe we should cut all these athletes who type stupid stuff a break because evolving that kind of ability will take generations.
Ups, Downs, and Laterals
Of course sports are cyclical and players begin to decline once they’ve reached a certain age, but TO, Vick, and Johnson seem to still have enough ability to offer a team something productive. Instead they are just being hidden in plain sight by their own specific circumstances.
While individual players find a way to hide in plain sight, it is very difficult for teams to hide team weaknesses. And at the half-way point of the NFL season, with the playoff picture forming, those weaknesses are apparent to everyone.
The Panthers were marching, nearing FG range, down three with less than three minutes to go in the 4th quarter when Jake Delhomme fumbled and New Orleans recovered. Three and out for the Saints, followed by a DeAngelo Williams fumble returned for a TD by New Orleans on Carolina’s ensuing possession put the Saints up 10 with 2:00 to go and there’s your ball game.
The Vikings sat the week out on a bye and still gained ground in the division with the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers losing. No word yet on any team boating excursions during the week off. Had there been some sort of team building exercise, I’m sure Twitter would have been a flutter. Maybe Brad Childress would have been in a drag. You never know.
The Saints have played three close games in a row which they won by one-possession scores. The Colts have played two close games in a row, winning the two by a combined seven points. The Vikings are a missed FG and a Brett Favre to Greg Lewis 32-yard TD with 0:00 on the clock away from being 5-3. There is no NFL team this season that is going to march over every opponent they play. Even the teams with the best records have won fugly a time or two and escaped with a win.
The New England Patriots not winning the AFC East would not be a Mets-type collapse, but probably more of a Minnesota Twins sneaking up on the Detroit Tigers sort of let down. It might be possible for them to get caught all season long, but nobody will believe it can happen. Tom Brady is connecting with Randy Moss like it is 2007 and they have a linebacker who is in his forties in Junior Seau.
“You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.”
Tony Romo has 9 TD’s and only 1 interception during his team’s four game winning streak. Miles Austin continues to be a big play guy, catching only one pass but for a 49 yard TD.
Philip Rivers took the Chargers down the field and threw a TD pass to Vincent Jackson with 0:21 on the clock to give San Diego a one point win. Eli Manning was 25-33 for 215 yards and 2 TD’s, but the Giants were flagged for over 100 yards in penalties which will stop any team from gaining momentum in any direction.
The bye week for the Giants this week is sorely needed. DeMarcus Ware is salivating at the opportunity to play the Green Bay Packers and their O-Line this week. And the Eagles have to fly all way across the country to San Diego, which, for the sake of the entire city of Philly, I hope goes better than their trip to Oakland did.
The New York Jets come off their bye for a Week 10 match up with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who beat the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The Jets and Jags are both 4-4 with neither team having a realistic shot at winning their division, so this game is huge for both teams in the scope of Wild Card spots. Maurice Jones-Drew leads the NFL with 11 rushing TD’s.
Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals went to Soldier Field and inspired the crowd to boo loudly the home team Chicago Bears. Tommie Harris went ahead with a punch to the face of a Cardinal O-lineman to get ejected four plays into the game. We like your enthusiasm there Tommy, we just need you to direct it in a more positive way. Warner and Jay Cutler both had big statistical games, but the Bears could not overcome 89 yards of penalties and or their inability to convert on third down.
The Packers were probably hurt most by their Week 9 performance, losing to first time starter rookie Josh Freeman and the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Aaron Rodgers was bludgeoned again and the defense did not do much in the way of stopping a bad offense. Two weeks ago Minnesota, at 6-1, was coming into Lambeau Field to play a 4-2 Packers team. A Packer win gives both teams two losses and sets up the Pack up to tie the division at Tampa Bay with Minnesota on a bye. Instead, the cheese falls to 4-4 in an ugly way. Three of their four wins are against one-win teams: Lions, Browns, Rams.
Speaking of the Lions, Browns, and Rams… the Browns and Rams were spared by being on a bye, but the Lions suffered another loss. So did the Washington Redskins.
The Tennessee Titans won their second game in a row and handed the San Francisco 49ers their fourth loss in a row. Vince Young is 2-0 as a starter and Chris Johnson leads the NFL in rushing yards.
The Niners have lost their last three games by one possession scores. Next week Mike Singletary squares off against his old team, the Chicago Bears, in what will be a critical game for each team’s drive for the post-season.
To Week 10:
Thursday night games begin with the Bears and 49ers.
The Bengals and Steelers play to break the tie for the AFC North lead.
The Patriots go to Indy for an always fun game to watch.
And either the Chiefs or the Raiders will win because they play each other.
Here’s another post from newly minted writer Brent. His sports knowledge is vastly impressive and to be frank, a little worrisome. Below you’ll find a reference to Bo Jackson, someone named Charlie something and a Techmo Super Bowl video among other items. It’s quite the creation. We’ll try to get both new guys set up with accounts this week and cut out this bloviating middleman…
My fellow copywriter Ariel is giving you a taste of what you’ll see in the playoffs this fall, but there is a lot you won’t see again until Spring Training.
I love Spring Training. I love that it gives every team a brand new start so they can suck and fall well short of expectations (New York Mets, Chicago Cubs), be awesome (Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees), or just experience more fledgling mediocrity (Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays). But for me, it doesn’t get much better than post-season baseball. I’m a Minnesota Twins fan and while the Twins haven’t had much success in October in the last decade, they have at least been in the playoffs in four of the last seven seasons, including a Game 163 in 2008 that they lost to the Chicago White Sox. John Danks shut the Twins out in that game but could not deliver the same result in his regular season finale this year against the Detroit Tigers when he walked three in the first inning, including one with the bases loaded. Now the Twins and Tigers will square off in Game 163. 2009 is the third season in a row to require a 163rd game. Two years ago the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 9-8 in 13 innings.
But there are guys who had phenomenal seasons who won’t see stadium lights after October 4th. Zack Greinke led the majors in ERA at 2.16, led the AL in WHIP at 1.07 and finished 3rd in strikeouts in all of baseball. And he won 16 games on a team that won 65 all season.
Albert Pujols got all the press this year in the NL, but what about Prince Fielder’s monster season? Prince set a Brewer record for RBI’s at 141, he hit 46 home runs, behind only 47 by Albert Pujols, and he hit .299 with an on-base percentage of .412.
Roy Halladay’s reputation speaks for itself and because Toronto couldn’t get a deadline deal worked out (other than sending Alex Rios to the Chicago White Sox), he too will miss the playoffs, just as he has in every season of his career. The Toronto Blue Jays haven’t seen the post-season since they won back-to-back World Series Championships in 1992 and 1993. Remember Joe Carter jumping around first base? That team also had Minnesota natives Paul Molitor, Jack Morris, and former Minnesota Golden Gopher basketball stand out Dave Winfield (yes, basketball, he was also drafted by the Minnesota Vikings without ever having played a down of football in his life) on the roster.
Fernandez went from the Pads to the Mets in 1992 in a deal involving former outfielder/running back D.J. Dozier and then the Mets traded Fernandez back to the Blue Jays in June of 1993. The Padres received McGriff, Dozier, and Wally Whitehurst in exchange for a World Series… (more or less, I’m blowing it out of proportion. But I can’t help but be reminded of when the Vikings traded for now MMA fighter Herschel Walker and gave the Cowboys a dynasty. I think Hershal Walker also tried out to be an Olympic bobsledder at some point, too. He dabbles.).
Our old friend Charlie Leibrandt from a few paragraphs ago played with a couple of two-sport athletes. He was a teammate of Bo Jackson on the Royals, who of course was an Oakland Raider and legendary Tecmo Super Bowl player.
Besides getting ready to vacation in warm climates, what else do these guys have in common with Greinke, Fielder, and Halladay? In the next few years, they’ll each probably receive ginormous contract offers from teams you will see in the playoffs this year: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and The Los Angeles, California Angels of Aneheim, USA. Or other big market teams, like the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago White Sox.
Small market teams find it difficult to hold on to their best young talent, even through the players’ arbitration years, after all, Ryan Howard was awarded $10 million in arbitration after striking out 199 times. I wonder what Mark Reynolds of the Arizona Diamondbacks will get after striking out over 400 times over the last two seasons?
There are pitfalls to rooting for both small market and big market teams, however. Small market teams, like my Twins, have to wave good-bye to guys like Johan Santana and Torii Hunter because they cannot afford to keep them. The Tampa Bay Rays will find out the same thing when they try to hold on to Carl Crawford and others. The Florida Marlins know this reality well and will face it again when it comes time to pay Josh Johnson, Dan Uggla, and Ramirez.
Big market teams throw money at players like they are Pacman Jones making it rain. But that comes with great risk sometimes, too. San Francisco gave Barry Zito $126 million over seven years and they got a #3 starter at best. The Cubs are locked in to Alfonso Soriano for more than any club would like to be. Mike Hampton signed a monster deal once upon a time and then spent much of that time on the DL. The same can be said about Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, Jason Schmidt and others.
Things you should know that have happened sort of under-the-radar and may be of help to you in future fantasy drafts or baseball nerd conversations:
Jair Jurrjens had a 2.61 ERA for the Braves this year, good for 6th best in baseball.
The New York Mets hit 95 homers as a team, last in the league and 149 behind the league leading New York Yankess. The Mets could combine home run totals with seven other teams and still have fewer than the Yankees did. Handfuls of players could combine their home run totals to have the greater than sign in their favor when compared with the Mets.
Fielder, Braun, and Mike Cameron > 2009 Mets.
Mauer, Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer > 2009 Mets.
The second baseman of the AL East* > 2009 Mets.
Pujols, Fielder, and Carlos Zambrano > 2009 Mets.