Good Evening
Good Evening

Saturday reading: The Mets' brass, A.J. Burnett and Buck Showalter

Your updated playoff seeds:

AL: Yankees (1) vs. Texas (3), Minnesota (2) vs. Tampa Bay (4)

NL: Philadelphia (1) vs. Cincinnati (3), San Francisco (2) vs. Atlanta (4)

Thoughts: Well. I think we all knew that, once Tampa Bay jumped ahead of the Yankees in the AL East on Sept. 24, the Rays would eventually hand back that lead by losing to Kansas City, repeatedly.

So with the Yankees half a game up, one game up in the loss column, here's where we stand:

The Yankees fully control their own playoff destiny. If they sweep the Red Sox, they will win the AL East and clinch the top seed in the playoffs, ensuring homefield advantage for the first two rounds.

Both the Yankees' and Rays' magic number to clinch the division is three. Any combination of three Yankees wins and Tampa Bay losses will make the Yankees the AL East champions, and any combination of three Rays wins and Yankees losses will give Tampa Bay the AL East title.

With the Yankees playing a doubleheader today, the division could be settled with a Yankees sweep and Tampa Bay loss (clinching it for the Yankees) or a Red Sox sweep and a Tampa Bay victory (clinching it for the Rays). If any other combination of events occurs, then we'll take this race into tomorrow, the final day of the season.

Meanwhile, the NL could've fully wrapped up last night, had Atlanta and San Francisco won. Neither did, however, as the Padres gained ground on two fronts.

Want to see a three-way tie? Root for the Padres to win the next two over the Giants, and for the Braves to split their remaining two games with the Phillies. They'd all finish at 91-71. Then the Padres would host the Giants on Monday, by virtue of San Diego's season series victory over San Francisco (currently 11-5).

The winner of that game would make the playoffs as the NL West champion, and the loser would play the Braves Tuesday to determine the NL wild card. The Braves won the season series over both the Padres (4-2) and Giants (4-3), so they'd get to host that game.

--Here's my column from the Fenway Park rainout. It covers stuff we went over in the blog last night.

--As for the Mets, Jerry Manuel expressed his displeasure that he hasn't been notified yet by team ownership/management about his fate. It's yet another embarrassment for the franchise. Here's a night when there could have been some excitement with young catcher Josh Thole hitting a walk-off homer, and that gets reduced to a one-line note because of this firings story - which everyone knew was happening, anyway.

It's clear that the Mets' biggest need in a GM (who will then choose the manager) is not so much roster decisions - as we've noted, the Mets actually had a better '09-'10 winter than '08-'09, and their farm system clearly improved - as someone who can bring a sense of order to all things.

--If you read the linked Yankees story above, you'll see that A.J. Burnett describes his 2010 season as "rubbish." Yup, that pretty much nails it. At least Burnett is self-aware. That doesn't mean he can fix it, but it's a start.

This now turns into a huge day for the Yankees not only because of the standings, but because of important starts for both Burnett (in Game 2) and Andy Pettitte (Game 1).

--Amazing stat here about the Orioles and Buck Showalter: When Showalter took over the O's on Aug. 2, Baltimore had a pathetic 32 wins. In less than two months, the Orioles have won 33 games. That is historic, as you can see in the linked story.

It speaks very highly of Showalter. It also reflects the return of some injured players. It also speaks very poorly of Showalter's predecessor, Dave Trembley.

--Have a great day.

New York Sports