The end of the MLB regular season is coming to a close with most teams down to 8 games to play after tonight. In the case of the Mariners who’s season ended months ago about the only thing left to watch is the Felix Hernandez bid for the Cy-Young award and whether they will lose 100 games this year. As I am writing this the Mariners are down 4-0 in the 4th inning after Doug Fister got hammered for all 4 runs in the first inning by the Tampa Bay Rays who could move to a game and a half lead in the AL East if they hold-on as the Yankees lost today 7-3 to the Red Sox.
Even though the Mariners are terrible there are some great races going on still around the Majors and there does not appear to be any clear favorite to go all the way in either League. The Texas Rangers clinched the AL West division today with a 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics to allow the Rangers to advance to the postseason for the first time since 1999. My hat is off to the A’s for hanging in there so long with their low payroll and yet they managed to keep the Rangers honest till today. The Rangers have a great club but sorely miss their slugger Josh Hamilton and don’t look like they will advance to far in the postseason without him.
The Minnesota Twins have already clinched the AL Central even without Justin Mourneau who has been out since July as the result of a concussion. GM Bill Smith of the Twins announced today that Morneau is making progress in his recovery, but like Hamilton the big question is if there will be enough time to get ready to play when and if they come back. It would make things a lot more interesting if both clubs had their Star players in time for the playoffs, otherwise it looks like the Rays or Yankees will be representing the AL in the Fall classic.
The National League is a bit more competitive especially in the wild NL West where the San Diego Padres edged the Reds 4-3 again today and have to qualify as the ultimate underdogs going into the postseason, if they can manage to keep winning. I have to confess in case you haven’t guessed by now that I have a soft spot for aging veterans trying for one last shot at a World Series ring. In the case of the Padres there is Matt Stairs who made a great catch last night and at age 40 still can produce, also Miguel Tejada who came over from the Orioles has been hot recently and adds a lot of passion to the Padres. Then of course we have David Eckstein the poster-boy for underdogs, being dismissed as to small and too old, yet still manages to bring-it when it counts.
The NL East looks like it will go to the red-hot Phillies who have won 11 in a row and have a trio of ex-Mariner veterans in Sweeney, Moyer and Ibanez to supplement a powerful lineup that looks ready to return to the Series. Of course the Braves who won today, under the guidance of Bobbie Cox in his last season are still alive in the wild-card race along with the Giants,Padres and the Rockies who are playing a must-win game with the Giants tonight.
The Cardinals like the Red Sox are both 6.5 games out of first, but look to hand-over the NL Central title to the Reds this year. The Reds are another team that no one figured would be going to the postseason but Dusty Baker and his boys are the real deal, though I can’t see them getting by the Phillies unless they play over their heads.
So even though the Mariners have failed once again to represent our region in October, there is still a lot of great baseball coming our way this fall for the true fans of the game. I am still up in the air for my bandwagon team but am moving towards the Padres in the NL, and the Yankees in the AL, subject to change depending on my eccentric whims! http://jeffsmariners.com