For those of us born and raised in Philadelphia (particularly those of us who root, root, root for the home team), it may seem as though the baseball season never even started. But, believe me, it did. It started, and now it’s nearly over. That’s right. It’s almost post-season time again. And though it breaks my red-and-white-pinstriped heart, the Phillies were eliminated from contention with weeks left to play.
They weren’t alone. Over a dozen other teams were eliminated as early as, if not earlier than, the Phillies. As of September 22nd, 15 teams have been entirely eliminated from post-season contention. Four teams have won their divisions, with only the American League and National League Central Divisions left to decide.
The Braves and the Dodgers have safely clinched their divisions in the National League East and West, respectively, while the National League Central remains close. The Cardinals have clinched a playoff berth, but the division could still go to the Reds or the Pirates. The two teams are tied at 89-67, though the Pirates have won 7 of their last 10, while the Reds have only won 4. At this point, it looks like the non-division winners in the NL Central will be playing in the “pigtail” wildcard game.
The American League features three underdogs in the lead: the Red Sox, the Tigers, and the Athletics, with only the Tigers left to clinch a playoff berth. The Indians are only 2 games behind the Tigers and are currently looking to be the second wildcard team if they don’t pass the Tigers and win their division. In the AL East, the Rays only have a .5 game lead for the top wildcard spot, so the Rangers still have a chance, as they’re only 1.5 games behind the A’s.
The Red Sox have not appeared in the World Series since 2007 and the A’s, not since 1990. The Tigers made an appearance last year after sweeping the Yankees in the American League Division Series after Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera ended their seasons early because of injuries.
Most Phillies fans remember 2011 when the Cardinals beat us and went on to be World Series Champs. However, the Reds last appeared in the World Series with the A’s in 1990 (the Reds won) and the Pirates have not made a World Series appearance in thirty-four years.
Obviously nothing has been decided yet, and we all know a team can have the best record in baseball and still lose in the first round of the post-season. Some of the competition is closer than others, with the NL Central being the closest in the MLB.
The post-season always comes down to who gets “hot” at the right moment, but as of right now, it’s going to be an interesting October.