Just a week remains in the Major League Baseball regular season and there are issues yet unsolved. Only one division title is still up for grabs, but the American League Wild Card race has six teams still vying for two spots.
One of the races that came to an end this week was the Dodgers capturing the National League West title. It’s one of the more dramatic in-season turnarounds in recent memory. Despite a terrible start to the season, Los Angeles ran away with the division and clinched on the Arizona Diamondbacks’ home turf.
Side note – the faux outrage from random voices this week about the Dodgers celebrating their win in the Diamondbacks’ pool was ridiculous. Even Arizona Senator John McCain got in the mix, tweeting (and yes, it makes it more ridiculous to say that he was “tweeting”) to his more than 1.8 million followers “No-class act by a bunch of overpaid, immature, arrogant, spoiled brats!”
Yeah, because they came in and beat those blue-collar, regular-folk Diamondbacks with their measly $90 million payroll. Look, I get it. It’s a sports no-no to celebrate on an opponents’ logo or disrespect their city or mascot in some way. But if your park has a pool in right-center field, it’s not some hallowed ground. It’s just a pool.
You have fans doing jackknives 20 feet from your right fielder. Get off your high horse, send the cleaning bill to L.A. and don’t let them beat you next season.
Back on June 9, I wrote a column telling Dodger fans not to panic and that their 27-35 team was still very much in the mix. What I didn’t expect was the Dodgers to go 61-31 since, including a stretch in which they went 43-10 (.811 win percentage)! That dramatic a shift is pretty unprecedented. Yet here are the Dodgers, having clinched a playoff berth with over a week to spare and looking every bit the part of a World Series favorite.
They have maybe the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw. While a dominant starter is important to steady your regular season, the postseason is where they earn their dough. Trotting Kershaw out there each playoff series puts the Dodgers in a favorable position. Throw in the emergence of Yasiel Puig, the reemergence of Hanley Ramirez and the steady leadership of Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier and the Dodgers shouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than a National League pennant.
The stout National League Central will get three teams in the postseason, but the Cardinals, Reds and Pirates are all still trying to win the division and avoid the Wild Card sudden death game, where anything can happen. (Just ask the Braves…)
The American League is in a more dramatic situation because we still don’t know who will be participating. The Red Sox, Tigers and Athletics have their divisions all but wrapped up, but the Rays, Indians, Rangers, Royals, Yankees and Orioles are still all hoping to play themselves into a Wild Card berth this week. When all is said and done, I expect the Rays and Indians to hold onto their narrow leads and face off in the AL Wild Card one-game showdown.
We’ll do a full MLB postseason preview next week, so enjoy the remains of September and get set for some new Mr. Octobers to emerge.
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