A dramatic September for MLB
It's getting down to the wire for playoff spots in baseball. There's a lot of drama going down in a lot of organizations, and we break down the best of the theatrics.
THE PHILLIES AND THE BRAVES DUKING IT OUT FOR THE NL EAST
Right now, the Phillies are three games behind the Braves. The two teams play each other a total of six times between Sept. 1 and Oct. 1. That's a pennant race. Even if the two teams didn't play each other, that's still an unfortunate losing/fortunate winning streak away for one team or the other. Favoring the Phillies? They play 16 of their remaining 29 games at home. Favoring the Braves? They've taken 7 of the 12 games against the Phillies this season. Loser LIKELY gets the wild card.
THE AGING, INJURED YANKEES LIMPING INTO THE POST SEASON
Derek Jeter hasn't had a great statistical season. Neither has A-Rod, in addition to his pesky legs landing him on the DL. At 38, Andy Pettitte's groin has been causing him pain over the last couple of months. This certainly isn't the seemingly invincible Bronx Bomber squad we saw plow through September and October last year. Will the Yanks be crippled by injuries this fall? The whole reason the Yankees breezed through the post-season last year was the pitching of Pettitte and CC Sabathia. In order for the Yanks to raise the 28th banner, guys are gonna have to get healthy.
WELCOME TO THE MAJORS, AROLDIS CHAPMAN
While we had Strasmas earlier this year with the beginning of the young Stephen Strasburg era in Washington, another hyped up fireball thrower was in the minors making major free agent market money. Aroldis Chapman, a Cuban pitcher signed by the Reds in the offseason, hit 103 on the radar gun in his first appearance this season against the Milwaukee Brewers. Chapman has retired all six batters he's faced in his first two appearances, striking out three of them. Can't hurt the playoff-bound Reds to have this kind of weapon in their bullpen.
WHO WILL MANAGE THE CUBBIES NEXT YEAR?
Sweet Lou Piniella has bid managing adieu, and whenever a big market ballclub needs a new manager, it's big news. Especially when the contract of another manager of another huge market's team expires at the end of this year. And this other manager played for the Cubs and loves Chicago. Who is it? Yup. Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Girardi dodged questions about wanting to manage in Chicago, stating his responsibility is with the Yankes. But honestly, he grew up in Peoria and has a lot of family in the Chicago area. Also allegedly up for the Cubs gig is former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge.
THE BALLAD OF OMAR AND JERRY
The Mets have had another subpar season. Though there were several bright spots such as Johan Santana's season and the emerging of such youths as Josh Thole, Ike Davis and Jon Niese, the Mets' monstrous payroll is likely to deliver nothing more than a .500 record. Omar and Jerry have been on notice since last season, and it would appear that Jerry will likely be unemployed at season's end, and Omar's responsibilities will be redistributed. Barring some sort of miracle by the Mets, it just seems like a matter of time before these changes are made.
THE NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD CARD RACE
As of right now, the Philadelphia Phillies are leading the charge for the NL Wild Card. However, also in contention are four teams that could feasibly make a run if someone has a really good, or really bad, weekend series. Nipping at the heels of the Phills are the white-hot Rockies, the Dodgers, the Giants and the floundering Cardinals. This one could go down to the very end, and may even end up compassing season series numbers and other such craziness when races are tied.
THE RAYS AND THE YANKEES BATTLE FOR THE AL EAST TITLE
The battle taking place between the one proverbial American League East powerhouse in the Yankees vs. those scrappy Rays may come down to the very end of September. Unfortunately (or not) the Red Sox are done for the year. As of today, the two teams are in a dead heat. Winner gets the title. Loser gets the wild card. Will the streaky Rays go on another hot tear? Will the mostly consistent but aging and occasionally injured Yankees prevail? There are six games between these two teams in September, so it's anybody's guess.
PUJOLS VS. VOTTO FOR NL TRIPLE CROWN
The last major leaguer to win the triple crown (lead the league in average, home runs and RBIs) was Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 for Boston. The last time it happened in the National League? Joe Medwick of St. Louis in 1937. The Cardinals' Albert Pujols and Cincinnati's Joey Votto each have a chance this year. Through Aug. 30, Votto was hitting .325, with 32 HR and 94 RBIs. Pujols was hitting .318 and led the NL with 35 HR and 95 RBIs. | Follow the race.
MANNY AND OZZIE
Manny Ramirez joins the Chicago White Sox for the final month of the season after a waiver claim from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ozzie Guillen is the manager of the Chicago White Sox, not exactly the calm and steady Joe Torre in L.A. This should be an interesting pairing. Of course, Ramirez could help the White Sox make a push for the playoffs.