Mood Music - Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf
Well, we've come right down to it, the final day of games on the regular season schedule, and the standings still need a little ironing out before we head into playoff baseball. On the home front, the good guy New York Yankees are tied with the bad guy Tampa Bay Rays (I think I got my Four Letter Network cliches backwards) for first place in the AL East with identical records of 95-66. The winner of the division will host the Texas Rangers in the first round of the playoffs, with the second place team going on the road to face the Minnesota Twins.
While I don't really care who the Yankees play in the first round (I think both teams are tough, but beatable), winning the division and having home field advantage throughout the playoffs would have been a very nice bonus. It has been clear for a very long time, however, that Joe Girardi and the Yankees as an organization (because I doubt Joe decided this on his own) were going to make rest their number one priority.
Had the Yankees won the second game of last nights extra inning marathon of baseball, they would have controlled their own destiny and could ride the golden arm of Dustin Moseley to a division crown. Unfortunately, after burning through all of the good relievers in the first game of the double header, important October innings with playoff implications were pitched by Sergio Mitre, Royce Ring, and Ivan Nova.
Now, as the Rays own the tiebreaker over the Yankees, they will need a victory today as well as a Rays loss to the Kansas City Royals. In the National League, things are even more hazy, with the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, and Atlanta Braves battling for two playoff spots.
By winning another game against the Giants, along with two straight losses by the Braves, the Padres have gotten right back into the thick of the action. With three games left in the season and facing a three game deficit in the division and a two game deficit in the Wild Card, the Padres sneaking into the post season would be a pretty incredible achievement (not to mention a tremendous collapse by the Giants).
The finale of the Padres/Giants series will be Mat Latos against Jonathan Sanchez and Cole Hamels against Tim Hudson in the Phillies/Braves series. There are a couple of different ways that this could shake out, as far as playoff match ups are concerned:
If the Braves win the Wild Card, they will face the winner of the NL West. If they do not win the Wild Card, the Phillies will play the winner of the Wild Card (Padres or Giants) with the NL West Winner (Padres or Giants) facing the Cincinatti Reds. This time tomorrow we'll know exactly how the playoffs are going to stack up, and we can all take a moment to make predictions that will turn out horribly wrong.
Enjoy your last day of regular season baseball!