With less than two weeks to play, there are only four teams left in the American League with post season aspirations, five if you count the Boston Red Sox but they need a long win streak and help from a several other teams in order to make it. Barring a colossal collapse, the Twins and the Rangers are in. The AL East is a bit wilder with the Yankees and Rays fighting for the division and the loser settling for the Wild Card(unless the fore mentioned miracle with Boston happens).
It makes me nervous just looking at the standings in the National League right now. There is still no sure bet but the closest thing to a lock is in the NL Central with the Reds. The Cardinals are still within striking distance but need to play flawless baseball this week to stay alive. The NL East is still up for grabs as my Braves are fightin' the Phils down to the wire but they have their work cut out for them if they want to give Bobby Cox one more division title before he retires.
Last but not least is the wildest of all...the NL West. Either the Padres, Giants, or Rockies could be in first come Wednesday and all three teams could be flip flopping for first place until the last day of the season. Also, there is no guarantee the odd team out will win the wild card if the Braves continue to win. Speaking of which, the Braves lost Monday night and the only real spark of life they showed was the body block Atlanta left fielder Matt Diaz threw at a fan wearing a full red body suit that ran onto the field during the 7th inning.
Then there are the spoilers! The teams that have nothing to lose because their season is technically over and their only remaining contribution is to ruin the party for the teams ahead of them trying to make the playoffs. These are teams that lurk in the shadows and start playing amazing baseball once their opponent has something to lose. Here are some spoilers to keep an eye on in the week to come...
The Chicago Cubs can really put a cramp in the plans of the San Francisco Giants over the next few days and then the Cubbies can dash any reaming playoff hopes of the St.Louis Cardinals heading into the weekend.
The hapless Nats will try continue their dominance over the far superior Braves after Atlanta has finished their duel with Philadelphia, while the Mets step in against Philly and try to knock the defending NL champs down a notch or two.
The Padres should have their hands full with the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks will do their best to stop the surging Rockies.
The Baltimore Orioles are a thorn in the side of the Boston Red Sox right now and will try their best to keep the Sox out of the race. On a lesser note, the Orioles will also have the chance to thwart the Toronto Blue Jays from achieving a .500 or better season during their weekend set.
After the Oakland Athletics are done with the White Sox, they are going to make things as difficult as possible for the AL West leading Rangers, but the Rangers will have to contend with the always tough Angels first.
Remember the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry? Well, it will be alive and well come Friday when the Sox will more than likely try to beat the Yanks as a spoiler instead of a division playoff rival.
Pay attention because it is wild out there and things are starting to happen fast. We will be into the 7th month of baseball before you know it!
Low and inside,