September is shaping up in a very unique manner for baseball and trust me… it isn’t pretty nor is it good for the game!
Since the expanded playoffs were first executed in 1995, we have seen some truly tense pennant races. In 1995, 1998, 1999, 2007, 2008 and 2009, a one game playoff was needed to decide with the Division or the Wild Card.
Down to the last weekend chases have been the norm and last year we were one game away from a three way tie.
Going back each complete year since before the Wild Card…
The Braves and the Giants had their epic chase in 1993.
The Blue Jays and Brewers went down to the last weekend in 1992.
The Braves and Dodgers fought until the last weekend in 1991.
The Red Sox won the Division on the last day of the 1990 season with Tom Brunansky’s sliding catch.
The Blue Jays finally held off the upstart Orioles on the last weekend of the 1989 season.
The Red Sox staggered into the 1988 playoffs by one game over the Tigers.
The Tigers and Blue Jays squared off in the memorable end of the 1987 season 1-0 clincher for Detroit.
In other words, for the past 25 years, we have been assured that at least ONE pennant race will be a nail biter.
With the Diamondbacks win tonight over Tim Lincecum (who knew that Ian Kennedy would get to 18 wins?) and the Tigers furious come from behind win over the White Sox, it is clear that it won’t take much to have the current leaders make the post season.
Let’s take each currently leader and see what their record would be if they just went .500 the rest of the way. (For teams with an odd number of games left, I’ll put them at one game UNDER .500 for the remainder of the season.
The Phillies… if they go 13-14 the rest of the way, they will finish at 101-61.
The Braves… if they go 12-12 the rest of the way, they will finish at 93-69.
The Brewers… if they go 11-11 the rest of the way, they will finish at 94-68.
The Diamondbacks… if they go 11-12 the rest of the way, they will finish at 90-72.
The Yankees… if they go 12-13 the rest of the way, they will finish at 96-66.
The Red Sox… if they go 12-12 the rest of the way, they will finish at 96-66.
The Tigers… if they go 11-12 the rest of the way, they will finish at 88-74.
The Rangers… if they go 11-11 the rest of the way, they will finish at 90-72.
In order for the Cardinals to catch the Braves, they would have to go 19-4.
In order for the Cardinals to catch the Brewers, they would have to go 20-3.
In order for the Giants to catch the Diamondbacks, they would have to go 17-6.
In order for the Rays to catch the Red Sox or Yankees, they would have to go 21-3.
In order for the Indians to catch the Tigers, they would have to go 16-7.
In order for the Angels to catch the Rangers, they would have to go 15-8.
Which of those teams strike you as being capable of such a winning streak? And all of these are under the assumption that the leaders will be .500.
There is a real danger, especially with the AL and NL Wild Cards all but secure, that September will be totally dead for baseball.
No pennant races. No buzz around the league. No spoilers. No reason to go to the park.
And with football starting up, interest in baseball could be staggeringly low in October. I hope not. But unless a leader falls on their face, the playoff teams might all be wrapped up with 2 1/2 weeks to go.
The bright spot?
The last time there was no real pennant race down the stretch?
And that was one of the great POST seasons of all time.
Let’s hope if October 2011 is as great as October 1986 that people are watching.