Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Take me out to the ballgame

OK, it's Labor Day, which can mean only one thing: September pennant races. So, here are the twenty important baseball stories (IMO) going into the final weeks of the season.

1. The Yankees dynasty is starting to crumble. There are cracks in the foundation. Pitching problems. Kevin Brown threw a tantrum and broke his hand, he's out for the rest of the season. Relievers are amassing too many innings and may not have anything left in the tank in October. Clemens is gone. David Wells is too. Sorry, but the Moose can't carry that rotation to victory by himself.

2. Also, the Yankees are assholes. Asking for a forfeit when Hurricane Frances came through Florida, preventing the Devil Rays from coming up for the first of a scheduled doubleheader. Surprisingly, Bud Selig made a correct decision, not giving the Yanks a win by forfeit, saying that the pennant race should be decided by what happens on the field. Even more surprising, Satanbrenner and Torre weren't the ones bitching about it.

3. Hooray for Boston! On August 15th, they were 10.5 back of New York. After today, that lead has been cut back to 2.5. I really hope they win the division. And I really, really, REALLY hope the Yankess don't make it to the playoffs.

4. One last remark on the AL East, there's a good chance the finishing order will be different for the first time since 1998. In each of the last six seasons, it's finished New York, Boston, Toronto, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay.

5. The Twins had a close call for the AL Central race. On August 14th, the Indians were only one game back. Now, they're 10 back and in 3rd. Chicago is in 2nd and 7.5 back.

6. Speaking of Chicago, injuries killed them. Not having Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez crippled their offense. And I was worried about Freddie Garcia. Heh.

7. The Indians are good. If they can pick up a pitcher or two in the offseason, and hit the same way next year as they're doing this year... The Indians of the mid-to-late 90's will be back. And will challenge the Twins for the Central.

8. Can Johan Santana will the AL Cy Young award? I think so. 16 Wins (3rd in AL), 2.95 ERA (2nd), and 224 K's (1st). He'll have to win the remainer of his starts or finish with 20 wins to be considered the top candidate.

9. I can live with not having Joe Mauer for the rest of the season if that means his knee problems won't end his career before it starts. We gave up a damn good catcher in A.J. Pierzynski. I don't want to lose another one. Especially a local kid. Who the Twins are depending on being the catcher for the next 10-15 years.

10. Hot race out West. Not as close as it once was. But I want to see Oakland, Anaheim, and Texas go into the last weekend of the season with a chance that any one of them could win the division.

11. I'm more interested in Ichiro's quest for the single-season hits record than Bonds' quest for 73 HR's in 2001. Ichiro needs 31 hits in 25 games to tie George Sisler's record of 257. Side note: I resented Ichiro in his first season, because Seattle's offense was so hot. He set the table for guys like Bret Boone and Edgar Martinez to drive him in. Give up a hit to Ichiro to lead off the game, and Seattle would be up by 3 after the first inning. Seattle beat Minnesota 8 of 9 times in 2001 because of that.

12. The Braves just won't die. They're well on their way to an insane 13th consecutive division title. And it's been this way for the last 3 seasons. Everyone picked Philly or Florida to win the division, but Atlanta just keeps finding ways to win.

13. Let's all hope that the Expos find a new home for 2005. I like D.C. as a choice. New natural rivalry with Baltimore, and opens a Philly-Toronto rivalry ('93 World Series). Doesn't mess with divisional alignments. Also helps if MLB wants 15 teams in both the AL and NL, instead of this 14/16 crap.

14. The Cardinals are running away with the NL Central. Who knew? The Cubs and Astros were the favorites. Sick. I think they're the team to beat this year.

15. Bonds is hurting the Giants. This whole "won't play a day game after a night game" crap is costing them in the standings. And that is the big reason why he SHOULD NOT be the NL MVP. Give it to someone more deserving. And less of a total asshole. I hate him.

16. The Marlins and Astros have gotten back into the NL Wild Card race. Good for them. They need some good luck after all the crap they went through this season.

17. Unfortunately, Hurricane Frances could ruin the playoff hopes for either the Cubs or the Marlins, or maybe both. They really don't have time to make up the games. And if they need to play a doubleheader one day after the season ends to determine the Wild Card team, they might not make it out of the first round.

18. Only three teams mathematically out of the race. Seattle, Arizona, and Kansas City. One more loss, and Toronto is gone. They're starting to drop like flies.

19. OK, here's how I want the playoffs to finish. Divisional Series: Twins beat the Yankees. Oakland defeats Boston. St. Louis over Los Angeles. Cubs take out the Braves. League Championship Series: Twins and Cubs. Minnesota wins the World Series.

20. Here's how it probably will finish. Divisional Series: Twins beat the Yankees. Boston over Oakland. Braves defeat the Cubs. St. Louis over Los Angeles. League Championship Series: Boston and St. Louis win. St. Louis are the 2004 World Series Champions.

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