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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MLB: Etch-a-Sketch, not Etched in Stone

It appeared that the participants in the 2011 MLB playoffs were all but determined. But oh! What a difference a week (and some injuries) can make!


The Boston Red Sox appeared to have the New York Yankees against the ropes with a slim, but consistent lead in the division and the Yankees having taken a series (2 of 3), last week, from the Red Sox for the first time all season. However, the Yankees, winners of 8 of their last 9, have overtaken the Red Sox in the American League East.

Making matters worse for the BoSox, ace starting pitcher Josh Beckett sprained his ankle and was forced to leave during the 4th inning of yesterday’s game with the Toronto Blue Jays. He is listed as “Day to Day” but there has been little commentary on the extent of the injury. Fellow starting pitcher Clay Buchholz remains on the disabled list with a back injury.

The Red Sox’s potential dream season is now in jeopardy. The Tampa Bay Rays, left for dead after the All-Star break, never stopped fighting and still have the fourth best record in the American league, which will send four teams to the playoffs. The Rays, on paper, appear to be an extreme long shot to close the seven game gap (as of Tuesday morning) between themselves and the Red Sox for the American League Wild Card spot. However, the Red Sox are, for the moment, without two of their top five starting pitchers for an undetermined period of time.

After having played 140 games, the Red Sox have 22 games remaining, all of them against America League East division opponents and only 7 of those games against a team with a winning fewer than 70 wins. The Red Sox have seven games schedule against the Rays and three games at the Yankees. There are no guarantees, considering Boston’s pitching situation, that the Red Sox will still be ahead of the Rays by the end of September.

Never sleep on Rays Manager Joe Maddon! He was willing to get thrown out of a playoff game (above) to make his point. Do you think he's going to let his team quit because they're a paltry seven games back with just over 20 games to go in the season? 1


The Los Angeles Angels simply will not go away. They started the season off sluggishly. They learned that All-Star Kendrys Morales would not play at all in 2011, as the result of a freak ankle injury during a postgame celebration, following a walkoff grand slam in 2010. Big whoop…no problem.

The Angels have not led the A.L. West since Opening Day. Yet they have been able to remain within three games of the division leading Texas Rangers for much of the past month. The three game series between these two teams in the final week of the regular season, in Anaheim, could decide the winner of this division. It does not matter how short a reign the Angels have on the division if they lead after the 162nd game.

Former Angels All-Star Kendrys Morales (above), just moments away from crossing home plate on a walkoff grand slam and breaking his leg in the subsequent celebration in May 2010. Morales has not played since. 2

The San Francisco Giants, before the All-Star break, appeared destined to defend their 2010 World Series championship. While they never ran away with their division, they held a comfortable cushion over the Colorado Rockies with the Arizona Diamondbacks hovering around .500 and Southern California’s boys of summer, the financially troubled Los Angeles Dodgers and the talent-bankrupt San Diego Padres, out of the 2011 division race almost as soon as it started.

As of Tuesday morning, the Giants are 7 games back of the blazing hot Diamonbacks. Online sports simulator places the Giants’ chances of reaching the playoffs at less than 2%. Meanwhile, the deadly Snakes have won 12 out of their last 13 games while the Giants continue to struggle to hit the baseball with any authority whatsoever. Arizona’s 3 games series victory (2 games to 1) over the Giants over the Labor Day weekend may have slammed the door on any realistic chance the Giants had of catching the D-Backs and defending their title in October.

So will "2011 World Champions"...for someone else. 3

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1) Image from the Associated Press via
2) Image from
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