Not sure about you folks, but we’ve been waking up to some cold weather here. I even had to fire up my car’s heat the other day when we dipped into the 30’s before I had to go off to teach. While the cold weather brings up ideas of the holidays and fall’s simple pleasures, it also signals the end of the baseball season. With a week and a half of the regular season left, the game is not going quietly.
The playoffs look to showcase some familiar faces as well as some pleasant surprises. The Baltimore Orioles lasted much longer than last season’s second half run and Buck Showalter has a perennial poor sister of the AL East chomping at the Yankees’ heels. Still, AL powerhouses like New York and Texas still have a firm grip on playoff spots. Large payrolls haven’t paid off for teams like Detroit and Anaheim. While both teams are still alive in the wild card hunt, every passing day brings them a little closer to home.
Still, if the season ended today, fans would be treated to a one game playoff between the Oakland Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles. While both teams have been great stories this year, I would have to throw my support behind the O’s if both teams can hold their wild card spots. The Angels and Rays are 2 and 3 games back respectively. The Angels have 6 games left against Seattle, but 3 against the Rangers. The A’s have 6 games left against the Rangers. The O’s and Rays finish off the season with a three game series which could very well be a three game playoff for the final wild card spot. The winner of the wild card round gets the honor of taking on Texas in the first round.
Most folks didn't give the White Sox much credit, as seen in these projections.
Here in Detroit, the Tigers finish with two series against KC and a three game set with the Twins. Chicago has a tougher road with a four game home stand against Tampa. Still, the Tigers have struggled mightily against the Twins and Royals this year. Both teams could very well be tied tomorrow when this is published, but the stretch will prove tough in a division that neither team seems to be able to hold. Whoever comes out of the Central will be squaring off against the Yankees in the first round. SO I think most of us can agree that we’ll be cheering for either Central team.
Things in the national league have sorted themselves out lately. As Bandit pointed out, the Reds have clinched their division over the weekend. St. Louis is still in the lead for a wild card spot, but is currently 9.5 games behind the Reds. As much as I wanted to see the Pirates get to the playoffs, it will be something to see if they can even finish over .500 this season. The Washington Nationals have had their team grow into a division winner, with only Atlanta in their rear view. The NL West, which I imagined may have been the craziest race to watch, has been seceded to the San Francisco Giants. With Tim Lincecum struggling this season (10-14 with an ERA just south of 5), the rest of this team’s young rotation has stepped up. Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong, and Madison Bumgarner have put together wins in the teens with Barry Zito winning 13 games and maybe showing a little of his old form. If Lincecum can recover for the playoffs, this is a very dangerous team.
Both Atlanta and St. Louis hold 3.5 game leads in the wild card. These traditional powerhouses should make for a very exciting one game playoff and the winner will be the first to face the Nationals, who will be without Stephen Strasburg. The Giants’ stacked rotation will meet the Reds. The Reds haven’t faced the Giants since the first half of the season and hold a slight 4-3 edge over the Giants this season. The Reds have scored 35 runs on the Giants this year and tagged 9 runs on Matt Cain early this season.
Michael Strahan, the odd choice to co-host with Kelly Ripa, has made an accusation that the current NFL replacement refs were employed by the Lingerie Football league. He also joked that the crew was fired for not making the right calls. You know those guys won’t call holding in that league.
A lot of folks in Detroit were up in arms with the officiating during this week’s loss to the Tennessee Titans. Most of the no calls or flat out bad calls I saw, however, screwed the Titans over. In a game that neither team seemed to want, the Lions finally handed the game ball to the Titans on a botched attempt at drawing the D-Line offsides. Apparently, no one told center Dominic Raiola that he wasn’t supposed to snap the ball. That game was a huge comedy of errors and, while, it was entertaining, it gives me a lot of worries about the Lions.
Speaking of overhyped games, last weekend’s Michigan-Notre Dame game will be one of the last of the series. Notre Dame has announced in that juggling its schedule to include more ACC games, they have had to drop the Wolverines as an opponent. To purists, this puts a halt to one of the great rivalries of the college game. I think, however, if the games are going to look like what I had to watch Saturday that Notre Dame is doing itself a favor. Again, neither team seemed to want that game.
Well, that’s it for me this week. I have my first observation where I’ll actually be giving a lesson this week. My cooperating teacher and I have come up with a nice plan about letter writing and, as we’re reading Night, we’ll have the kids write letters home from the concentration camps. Good luck to all the proud poppas (and moms) this Friday. As always, thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts. I leave you with your word of the week.
Skymall solution, noun
An absurdly single-purposed tool or solution which solves a problem you don't actually have. Like many products in the popular in-flight catalog, Skymall.
I thanked my cousin for the gift of a Hot Dog Toaster, but thought I'd never need to cook enough hot dogs to justify owning such a Skymall solution.