Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Last year's final day of the regular
season was probably the best end to a season in Major League Baseball history.
This year has a chance to be even better.
Well, in the American League there are still two divisions that are yet to be
decided. Playoff positioning is still up for grabs in the National League. And
of course, there is that little Triple Crown thing that Detroit third baseman
Miguel Cabrera is chasing.
Where to begin?
Well, let's start in the AL West, where the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics
find themselves tied with one game to play. There will be no scoreboard
watching here as the division will be decided on the field with the two
closing the season against one another at the Coliseum Wednesday afternoon.
As crazy as it is that Oakland is even in the postseason, it's even more
ridiculous that it can actually win a division considering it was 13 games
back of the Rangers and five games under .500 after a loss to Texas on June
But, the gritty A's have gone an MLB-best 56-26 since and now find themselves
on the doorstep of becoming the fifth team in to win a division after trailing
by as many as 13 games thanks to wins in each of the first two contests of
their series with the Rangers.
"We're playing the hottest team in baseball," Texas manager Ron Washington
said. "All we have to do is play one game the way we're supposed to play, and
everything else will take care of itself."
In the AL East, it's a bit less dramatic. The New York Yankees hold a one-game
edge on the Baltimore Orioles. It's simple for them. Win and not only do they
win the division, but they will hold homefield advantage throughout the AL side
of the playoffs.
But, if the Yanks lose to Boston and Baltimore beats Tampa Bay, there will
be a one-game playoff to decide the division at Camden Yards with the loser
heading to the do-or-die wild card contest.
"If you win, you win the division -- that's the bottom line," Yankees manager
Joe Girardi said. "We have a chance to have the best record, and that's the
bottom line. That's a good feeling that you can control that."
As tight as the AL East has been the final month, it seems appropriate that
the division be decided by a one-game playoff. Still, though, as tight as it's
been, the Yankees haven't relinquished the top spot completely since June 11.
Over in the National League, all that's left to be decided is who is going to
be the top seed. The Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds share identical
97-64 records, but the Nationals can clinch home-field advantage throughout the
playoffs with a win Wednesday or a loss by the Reds. Washington owns the
tiebreaker with the Reds.
Washington ends its campaign against Philadelphia, while Cincinnati closes the
regular season versus St. Louis.
It's actually a bigger deal then you might think because San Francisco might
be the best team from top-to-bottom in the league. Whomever comes out of that
as the top seed will avoid the Giants in the Division Series and will play the
winner between Atlanta and St. Louis.
Then there's Cabrera, who is trying to become the first Triple Crown winner in
baseball since Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox in 1967.
Cabrera, whose Tigers are the AL Central champions and will host a Division
Series matchup beginning Saturday, heads into the final day of action hitting
.331 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI. Texas' Josh Hamilton trails him by one home
run and plays earlier in the day on Wednesday, meaning Cabrera could sit out
the final contest.
"He (Tigers manager Jim Leyland) writes the lineup. I do what he wants,"
Cabrera said about possibly sitting out the team's season finale on Wednesday.
"He's the boss, so whatever he wants to do is what I'm going to do."
Well, the A's seem to have some sort of magic working for them. They are having
fun. The Rangers are not. Oakland will top Texas and visit Detroit on
Saturday, while the Rangers head to Baltimore for a one-game playoff on
Baltimore? Yeah, that's right the Orioles will be in the wild card because
although they will likely win their game on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay
Rays, the Yankees will take care of their own business at home against Daisuke
Matsuzaka and the Red Sox, securing the AL East and the Junior Circuit's top
Somehow, someway the Nats and Reds will still be tied at the end of action on
Wednesday, giving Washington homefield throughout the postseason and setting
up an absolute doozy of a matchup between San Francisco and Cincinnati.
As far as Cabrera goes ... history will be made.
Either way, though, this much is certain. If these past few days are a
precursor to what we are about to see over the next few weeks, dig in, it's
going to be a wild ride.
The Sports Network