posted on August 12, 2005 16:24
This is it, folks... Intercity play is over until the World Series, and it's down to the last three weeks, where teams will enter their second go-round with their division rivals, and while in a few cases it's clear who's in and who's out of the hunt for The Cup, let's go team-by-team (starting with Eagan) and review their chances of getting into the playoffs. It's gonna be a wild three weeks folks, and with six games left for each club, it's anyone's race, so strap yourselves in!!
Eagan NL Division
Expos (22-7, .759, 1st place)
The X has more then lived up to expectations, and in some cases, surpassed them. While J-Ski has eclipsed his stellar 2004 season both on the hill and at the plate and has to be a frontrunner for MVP, the rest of the team has been spot-on as well, especially X-newcomer and Eagan All-Star Andy Campbell. The X carries a 6-game edge over the second place Cards, meaning the X would have to lose every game from here on out and the Cards would have to run the table. I'm telling you right now, that's not happening. Notch 'em up as division champs, and either a 1 or 2 seed, depending on how the X and the Eagan AL winner finishes it out.
Playoff note: Have clinched playoff berth, and at least a tie of Eagan NL division title. "Ace" Campbell is moving to Omaha, and will not be present for the X's playoff run. This could hurt if the X find themselves short on offense, and could be interesting to watch.
Mets (14-15, .483, 2rd place, 8 games back)
After having been swept by the Brewers (who are also trying to fight for a Wild Bard berth out in Hopkins), the Mets are in serious trouble. Mathematically out of the division race, their games are all must-win at this point, especially their games against the Cards (Week 14, Thursday 8/18), who they need to hurdle in the standings in order to have a shot. A split in this series could kill either team's chances of a playoff spot. Like I said, it's all must-win at this point.
Playoff note: Elimination magic number is 5 (Indians wins or Mets losses) After a very slow start, the Mets have played very solid ball and are capable of pulling off the table-running they'll need to do to stay alive.
Cardinals (13-14, .481, 2nd place, 6 games back)
These guys have an important three weeks ahead, and must virtually run the table to have a shot at sniffing the wild card spots, as the Tigers and Indians currently rank ahead of them for these coveted spots. The Cards have been around the .500 mark since about a month into the season. From here on out, every game is a playoff game for this club, who have been decent and occasionally brilliant on the mound, and usually less-than-stellar at the plate.
Playoff note: Elimination magic number is 5 (Indians wins or Cards' losses) The Cards' main competition for the Wild Card (Tigers and Tribe) have to face each other and the Royals in the final 3 weeks, which could serve to benefit the Cards.
Cubs (0-23, .000, 4th place, 19 games back)
These poor bastards just can't get anything to go right, but to their credit, they show up every week and play hard, and often play pretty well. Everyone knows it's more a lack of luck than lack of talent that has these guys with a goose egg in the win column. Playoffs have been a lost cause since early on, but these guys can and might play a role in determining who gets a playoff spots.
Playoff note: Eliminated. It'd be wise for the Cards (Week 15, Thursday 8/25) and Mets (Week 16, Monday 8/29) NOT to look past these guys. Winning that first game while taking a team out of contention will be plenty of motivation for the Cubs to play well in the last three weeks.
Eagan AL Division
Royals (19-6, .760, 1st place)
The Royals clearly are in the driver's seat in the division but by no means is this thing locked up. Week 13 made it interesting, as the Tigers made up 2 games on the Kings by sweeping the Orioles on the road, and the Royals got swept by the Red Sox at home, cutting the lead from five games to three for the Royals. Considering they've got 2 left against the Tigers (Week 15, Monday 8/22), it's anyone's race. Also not to be ignored are the Indians, who are 5 games back in the division but very much in control of their destiny for a Wild Card spot. These games (Week 14, Thursday 8/18) could go far in determining how the division stacks up by the end of the year.
Playoff note: Have clinched playoff berth. Royals' magic number to clinch division title is 4 (Royals' wins or Tigers' losses) Also, unfinished game with A's could haunt (It's an official game, they're down 1-0 in the top of the 5th, and if it's not finished, will result in a Royals' loss)
Tigers (16-9, .640, 2nd place, 3 games back)
Among the middle of the pack around the All-Star break with an 8-8 record, these guys have quietly gone 8-1 in their last nine (only loss was 1-0 to the A's in Week 11) and are stirring up much fear among HRL contenders, passing the Indians in the Eagan AL and climbing to within 3 games of the 1st place Royals. The biggest games left for these guys are against the Royals (Week 15, Monday 8/22), and will determine if they've got a shot at the division or will have to settle for a Wild Card. A playoff berth is virtually a lock for the Tigs, who are 4 games up on the Wild Card bubble teams with 6 games to go. With Doc's pitching, especially lately (he's got 2 no-hitters and 8 shutouts on the year), NOBODY wants to face this team in a 3-game series.
Playoff note: Magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 2. (Tigers wins or Mets/Cards losses)
Indians (15-12, .556, 3rd place, 5 games back)
These guys find themselves in a precarious position, and need to pick up the pace in order to secure a playoff spot. Often in the middle of controversy (the great pitch speed debate unfortunately centered around this great group of guys), this team is one of the most talented out there, and rarely get blown out. While the division title is just about out of reach (one more Royals win or Indians loss freezes the Tribe out of the division title race), they are very much in control of their own destiny in the Wild Card hunt. They've got huge games against the Royals (Week 14, Thursday 8/18) and Tigers (Week 16, Thursday 9/1) that could help or harm their chances. Factor this as well: The Mets and Cards are both just 2 games behind the Tribe in the Wild Card hunt, so these last three weeks are HUGE for this team. With Eck gone for the season, so goes a big part of their pitchign staff, but these guys are resilient and have shown they can win even with CJ not melting the radar gun, and Molgs has proven to be a very effective arm.
Playoff note: Magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 5. (Indians wins or Mets/Cards losses)
The Senators started very slowly but have become more competitive and have improved dramatically as the season has progressed, and thus will have a say in who's going to the playoffs. The Sens have arguably the harshest final three week stint of any club in the HRL (along with the Dodgers) having to face the Tigers, (Week 14, Monday 8/15), Indians (Week 15, Monday 8/22) and the Royals (Week 16, Thursday 9/1) to close it out. You can bet they'll relish the role of spoiler and could ultimately be a wrecking ball for one of these clubs.
Playoff note: Eliminated.