So I was actually up and watching the game live when Carlos Guillen hit a game winning three run homer the other night to lift the Tigers over the Yanks at Comerica last night. I was in a room with two others and all I could do was look down at the clock on my cell phone in amazement because it was 3:30 in the morning or actually 3:29 to be exact.
For me, it sort of served as the beginning point of the stretch run here in the Major Leagues. This year has been so unique in that so many different teams in both the AL and the NL can legitimately still claim to be in the running for a playoff spot. Because of this, there are going to be some very disappointed teams come September 30 since the races are so close. So without further adieu, here are my predictions for how it will all shake out at the end of the year.
AL EAST: Boston Red Sox
If you haven't checked the standings in a week, you wouldn't know that the Sox lead over the Yanks has ballooned back up to 7.5 games. And now that Big Papi is playing more like himself, there's nothing that will prevent a division title for them.
AL Central: Cleveland Indians
The Tigers just picked up a crucial series win over the Yankees this past weekend, and as of today trail the Tribe by 2.5 games...but I just don't see them catching Cleveland for some reason. Detroit's starting pitching has gone in the shitter as of late with Bonderman reverting back to his 20-loss form from a few seasons back. Not to mention Justin Verlander hasn't been the same since he tossed that no-hitter and Kenny Rogers is on the shelf. Also the Tribe and Tigers only have one more series remaining against each other and it is in Cleveland. The White Sox, Royals, and Twins will have huge say in the outcome of this race since most games in September are within one's division.
Welcome to the postseason, Grady.
AL West: Los Angeles Angels
The Halos are 2 games up on the Mariners right now, and I think we all know there is no match talent wise in this division. The Angles are a great team, and I just can't envision the Mariners kepping up the torrid pace they've sustained the past couple months (all under the radar too). And seriously, how can anyone ever root against Vlad?
AL Wild Card: New York Yankees
It's really not the playoffs if the Bombers aren't involved and the way they've played since June has been incredible. They still sit two games back of the Mariners, but like I said... just don't believe in this Mariners team. Anybody who relies on Jose Guillen and Jose Vidro as pillars of their lineup should not be a playoff team. Maybe this will come back to bite me in the ass, but I'm going with the East Coast bias on this one.
NL East: New York Mets
Hey remember when I said the Braves were set to just steamroll through the National League after they picked up Mark Texiera? Well Texeira hhas held up his end of the bargain with all the homers, but did you know the Braves still sit 7 games back of Mets. And the Mets have already gone through their rough patch this season, so a total collapse is highly unlikely.
I'm not sure I want the Mets to make it if they dress like this.
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
I'm doing this more because I just don't want to see the Cards make the playoffs this year. They were a terrible team last year and made it and they are a terrible team this season and as of today they sit just two games back of the Cubbies. BUT...when it comes down the stretch and you get closer to October these types of close races usually come down to pitching. And no AL Central team (Brewers included) has as good a 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation as Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly.
NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks
I really don't get how this DBacks team is good. They have some great young talent, but none of them are really performing all that well besides Chris Young and Justin Upton. I mean I saw them play the Mets in June and Orlando Hudson (O Dawg) was their No. 3 hitter. But not only have they led the NL West for awhile now, but they are 3 games up on the Padres, and 6 games up on the next closest wild card competitor. Who would have thought it a couple months ago...NL West Champion DBacks. Some things just boggle my mind.
NL Wild Card: San Diego Padres
They sit 3 games up on the Phils right now and I can't see them relinquishing that. They have the pitching to make a deep run in the playoffs as well. The Phils do have a shot now that Cole Hamels isn't as hurt as once expected and Chase Utley back from injury (hehe John Lannan).
The posts will probably be a little sporadic just because of the nature of the beast that is welcome week. I'll see what I can do though. I'm going to Cedar Point tomorrow so I'll leave you with a shot of the Millenium Force, which is a money in the bank roller coaster.