MLB Power Groupings: Detroit Has the Carrot, but They Can't Stop Running
We've reached the point in the season where baseball has become secondary for a lot of people, especially the fans of those teams that are no longer playing for much.
It's nice for the people of St. Louis to have a baseball team to rely on in the Cardinals as the Rams start what is sure to be another down season.
I legitimately feel bad for my Cleveland Indians brethren, as they go from one disaster to what is looking like another one. I cannot share their pain as my football team plays for the neighboring state, and for that I'm not well-liked.
But to those of you who think hope is lost and are ready to not watch baseball, if you are going to depart, at least rejoin us in the second week of October.
Nothing is more intense than postseason baseball. I've experienced it with my team, and there is nothing more nerve-wracking than watching your team, pitch by pitch, play for the greatest honor in the game.
But I still get those anxious feelings watching other teams play for that honor, and it's still exhilarating to watch as a fan of the game.
My plea to you as football starts is this: You don't have to stick around, but at least come back in a few weeks and share a great experience that comes around as often as Christmas and every other holiday.
Welcome to the Disaster Zone
Tampa Bay, Toronto, Cleveland, Oakland, Seattle, Washington, New York Mets, Cincinnati, Chicago Cubs, Houston, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Arizona.
I just realized how depressing this section is to write. I never do it first, because then I'm in a negative mindset the rest of the article. Sometimes I'll do it after I do a few groups, but this time is the first time I saved it for last.
Maybe my subconscious is telling me to just throw everyone off to the side and forget about it, just write more about the good teams, or just don't write any more period—you already write too much.
Or just take up this group's spot with how much you are thinking about taking up this group's spot, rather than expressing yourself about some of the teams clearly.
By now, I've thoroughly confused you, but that was the point.
You are no longer thinking about how bad Oakland or Pittsburgh is. I know the frustration with Cleveland has been passed over, but that might be the college football talking to me.
I guess that's all we have now as fans of teams that have nothing left to play for, football, and Kanye West making a fool of himself. For the first time all year, I didn't watch two Cleveland games in a row. It was not by choice; however, I was rather indifferent about having to miss two games.
However, I do feel out of the loop, so let's make an effort to get into that loop before I fall off and land on my head.
We need to highlight the most awful of this past week and look no further than Tampa Bay, losers of 11 straight games. What everyone really wants to know when you get down to it is what happened.
I know Carlos Pena broke some fingers and they traded Scott Kazmir, but is there a team that fell harder and faster this season than Tampa Bay other than the Nationals at the outset of 2009?
That was a rather cheap one for Washington, especially after I promised myself I'd lay off.
Really though, Tampa Bay was in contention a few weeks ago. It may have not been serious, but they went from having a shot to completely falling off the map. However, I will say this about their management and their commitment to the plan: It's heady and very refreshing.
They know they'll be in the race next year and the year after that, so they aren't about to give that up for a run that might just end up failing. If it happens, it happens, but they aren't going to force it. My hat is off to Tampa for sticking to its plan.
Let's Have Some Fun
Baltimore, Kansas City, San Diego.
In an effort to get some recognition to spoiler teams and some sanity to their fans, I've created this group.
San Diego remains from last week after another decent week of baseball.
But the job that Baltimore and Kansas City did last week is the reason this group is around.
First off, let's start with Baltimore and their series win against the Yankees. This was just the second series lost since the start of August for New York. They've been playing unbelievable ball since the start of that month, and no team other than Texas was able to take two games from the Yankees in a three-game series.
They aren't really impacting the playoff race much with this win, but it says a lot for them to win two out of three from a hot team.
Kansas City did something a little more possible but a lot more impactful with their sweep of Detroit. The problem was directly with the teams chasing Detroit, and of course, that has to be addressed.
Not Out, but Let's Be Real, AL Central
Chicago White Sox, Minnesota.
I was getting ready to end it this week. I really was.
But apparently that wasn't meant to be in 2009, at least not this late in the season.
First of all, as I noted with Kansas City, Detroit got swept last week. They also lost two out of three to Toronto. You'd think that would be enough to get any team back into the race.
Wrong. We're dealing with the AL Central here, remember?
Minnesota dropped two each to Oakland and Toronto, while Chicago had a little better week and had a chance to gain amazing ground. But like Minnesota, they failed to do much at all. If you only win two or three more games than the leader does, you aren't going to make a big dent.
I'm not ready to pack it in, but like the title of the group says, let's be real here. The frustration of not being able to muster up something when the team you are chasing falters has to be boiling over in Minnesota and Chicago.
In It to Win It
Texas, Atlanta, Florida, San Francisco.
I'm just going to be straight up here with Atlanta and Florida.
They aren't dead, not by a long shot.
It's time to end contender or pretender junk and get to the fact that it's mid-September and Florida and Atlanta are still there. Atlanta is only a game ahead of Chicago, who I have technically out of the race.
Look, they are a dead team walking with the schedule they have left. Atlanta is not with the likes of the Mets, six games, and the Nationals, seven games. Don't sleep on these two going into the stretch. Colorado might be streaking their way into October, but Florida and Atlanta are not out of this by any means.
Then we've got Texas just trying to survive and keep pace with the suddenly not so disastrous Red Sox. Again, a team you can't count out, but unlike Atlanta and Florida, I've got less confidence in any sort of comeback.
San Francisco is on the downs while Colorado is on the ups. It's the reason that Colorado has built the lead they have and San Francisco is ever so close to falling behind even Florida. This week is crucial for the Giants as they've got their final stab at Colorado and two of their big guns in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain going.
It's never been bigger for San Francisco to put on a run of good ball.
Here We Are, Where We Should Be
Boston, New York Yankees, Detroit, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Colorado, Los Angeles Dodgers.
What did I say last week about the carrot?
In case you forgot, I said Detroit finally got the carrot they were chasing after. The fact that I hadn't put them in this group reserved for playoff contenders was sort of the thing separating them in my mind from wandering around with the rest of the AL Central and winning it.
Well, I gave them the carrot, and they went ahead and went against my wishes.
They quit, metaphorically speaking.
With a sweep at the hands of suddenly hot Kansas City and two losses to Toronto, with one game being salvaged on Sunday, it just was not a good week for the Tigers.
I haven't mentioned Boston lately, which is probably a good thing. It means everyone's calmed down about the Red Sox, and they are back on track like we expect them to be: a businesslike week for them with two wins against Baltimore in two games and a sweep of Tampa Bay.
I've mentioned in the past the heat Colorado had started to put on Los Angeles, and it is only getting hotter. Colorado seems to just keep putting together these strings of wins that have inched them ever so closer.
Los Angeles isn't playing badly by any stretch, at least not in the last week. However, their hot first half of the regular season hasn't translated into the second half quite like you'd hope. Well, you'd hope for it, but that doesn't mean it is realistic.
The Dodgers are playing more up to average good-team standards. That isn't a bad thing, but the incredibly hot play of Colorado has put them in a situation no one thought they'd be in.
I guess what I'm saying is perhaps there was an overreaction to the gap that has been closed between Colorado and Los Angeles. But make no mistake about it, that shouldn't stop the Dodgers from turning things up here in the final few weeks.
*All statistics, standings, and opinions were based off their states going into action on Sept. 14.
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