The Yankees will play their final game of the season today, after missing the postseason for the third time in four years. It would have been fun to see the team sell at the deadline and still make it into the playoffs, but it wasn’t meant to be. However, there is still plenty of baseball to watch over the next few weeks. Who will you root for in the playoffs since the Yankees didn’t make it?
The Rangers ran away with the AL West fairly early in the season and were actually working with a ten-game lead at one point. They will finish the season with the best record in the AL, regardless of today’s outcome. Because of this, they’ll get to face the winner of the AL Wild Card game, and they will also get home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Rangers will have a chance to finally bring home a World Series title. Although I admit that I rather enjoyed watching them lose in 2010 and 2011, they have Carlos Beltran now and that guy deserves a ring.
At the start of the season, no one team in the AL East had a clear advantage over the others. In fact, many of the teams stayed bunched together for most of the season. At the end of April, the Orioles were in first place in the division. At the end of July, Boston was 1.5 games back and in third place. The Yankees were only in the mix briefly, but throughout the season it looked like any one of the Orioles, Red Sox, or Blue Jays could take it. I have to imagine that the greatest retirement gift David Ortiz could receive would be another ring. I’ll be rooting for anyone but the Red Sox to win it all.
The Indians set a franchise record this season after they won an incredible 14 games in a row. They haven’t won a World Series since 1948, and they have Andrew Miller on their team. When in doubt, always root for Miller (except maybe when it comes to beer selection?). Personally, I think I will be cheering for either the Rangers or Indians to go all the way just for Miller and Beltran.
Wild Card teams
There are still some games of importance to be played. Going into today, the Blue Jays and Orioles are tied for the two wild card spots with 88 wins apiece. The Tigers have 86 wins, and still may have to makeup a game against the Indians on Monday if it ends up having postseason implications. Last night’s loss eliminated the Mariners from contention. However, if the Tigers win today and the Orioles and Blue Jays lose, there is a possibility that there will be a three-way tie between these teams. For entertainment’s sake (and maybe so that MLB is forced to reconsider the wild card format in the future) we should all be rooting for that.
Last year the Cubs finished the season with the third-best record in all of baseball, and still had to play a wild card game to advance in the playoffs. This year they will finish as the only team to surpass the 100-win mark. The Cubs have a chance to end a World Series drought that has lasted over 100 years, and Kris Bryant is certainly likable enough to root for. Aroldis Chapman on the other hand...
The Nationals were left on the outside looking in during the playoffs last year due to an incredibly competitive NL Central. This year they’ve flip-flopped positions with the Mets. If the Nationals go all the way, it would be their first time even playing in a World Series. The team seems to have much better chemistry since they dumped Jonathan Papelbon in August (though he would still get a ring if they won).
The Dodgers have become a postseason staple over the last few years, though they have been hard pressed to make it out of the Division Series. Interestingly enough, it was the Giants who led the division for much of season before falling off in August. It is easy to win games when Clayton Kershaw is going out every five days, but the Dodgers managed to keep winning despite the fact that Kershaw had to be put on the 60-day DL with a back problem. There was some fear about shutting him down for the season, but he is back now and appears to be in good shape. Maybe this will finally be his year.
Wild Card teams
Congratulations to the Mets for being the only team to have a wild card spot secured going into today. That means that they will host either the Giants or the Cardinals later in the week. Heading into today, the Giants are in the wild card spot, but the Cardinals are just one game back, so those two teams could find themselves playing a tiebreaker as well.
Who are you rooting for in the playoffs, and what would you like to see happen today as far as the wild card spots go?