Colorado is helping make things a little interesting down the stretch. With another loss to the Padres last night, they are just 3.5 games ahead of the Braves and 4 games in front of the Giants. Atlanta has a fighter's chance, with 7 of their last 10 games against Washington, but the Braves would still have to put together a run of 8-2 or 9-1 unless Colorado completely collapsed. With just a week and a half to go, 3.5 games are a lot to give up, but with the Rockies playing St. Louis, Milwaukee, and LA to finish the season, things could get tight by this time next week.
As easy as it is to write about Milton Bradley's undoing, The Commish took the positive road. Taking a short break from baseball, the latest Foul Territory deals with childhood innocence, imagination, and a little game called Chicken Combo. It's a must read, and you can find it right here.
While I still think the Wild Card is a positive thing, I'm not as "gung ho" on the idea as everyone else. While everyone likes to claim that the races are better and more teams are in it later, I'd argue that the Wild Card makes September LESS important for many of the playoff-bound teams.
For example, if each league still had just 2 divisions each, the AL wouldn't have much of a race left, although it doesn't even WITH the Wild Card. In my alternate reality, Boston's only hope for the postseason would be catching New York for the division while LA (Anaheim) holds off Texas. Detroit and Minnesota would be long gone as they should be. While the Red Sox sit 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees, it would make any remaining regular season games left between the two a LOT more exciting knowing a playoff berth is at stake.
In the National League, Colorado would be forced to catch the Dodgers (that's why you can't afford a 2-month slump in baseball), but St. Louis and Philadelphia would be involved in a heated pennant race. Sure, they may end up meeting in October anyway, but the "old" way, these September games would feel like playoff games, and suddenly teams like the Nationals and Cubs would be involved in games with true playoff implications, even if it's for the other team.
I don't hate the Wild Card, but every once in a while, I yearn for the days of a true pennant race where the winner was just one series away from the Fall Classic.
Congrats to Ichiro Suzuki for compiling 200+ hits for the NINTH straight season, setting a new MLB record. OBP is important, but a hit is always better than a walk, and getting 200 of them year in and year in is a tribute to Ichiro's skill, work ethic, and longevity.
The Chicago Cubs tied a major league record last night against Pittsburgh and Zach Duke by starting the game with EIGHT consecutive hits. The record could have been broken, but pitcher Ryan Dempster was instructed to sacrifice bunt (which he successfully did) when he was at bat. What's the point of a sacrifice when your team is up 6-0 with no outs in the 1st inning? It's early enough that it's not "piling on," and when a pitcher is struggling like that, I would make him throw as many pitches as possible to get out of the inning. I certainly wouldn't give up any outs when he hasn't recorded ANY after eight hitters! Hey, if a major league records happens to accompany the blowout, then all the better.
If you haven't heard of PECOTA or the postseason odds presented by Baseball Prospectus, they are worth a daily look, especially around this time of year. For a little more tongue-in-cheek view of postseason possibilities, check out the latest Hot Corner!