Baseball’s October dramatics went into overdrive in game 162 last year, but this season they just couldn’t wait that long. Last night in game 161 around the league, the A’s dramatically pulled to a tie in the American League West, while the Orioles continue to refuse to ease off their shove on the Yankees for the AL East crown.
Meanwhile in Detroit, Miguel Cabrera pulled completely apart from the pack to be the sole presumptive owner of the first Triple Crown in 45 years, with a game to play that means nothing for his club. Will he fight the final round or no?
Over in the National League, “all” that’s going down is a tie for the best record in the league with a game to go, as well as a final Wild Card spot that wasn’t decided on the east or central time zones until technically the same day the rest of baseball’s regular season business is handed.
Since the last MLB Momentum Meter, a few teams fell off the map. Rest in relief, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels and finally, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Your contributions to the drama of the year are appreciated but have run their course. All the playoff teams are set, but business is far from finished.
Due to one slight change in the schedule, say what you will, but Major League baseball has become home to the most exciting regular season close in all of sports two years in a row. I smell a trend forming, and here are the squads at the forefront of the encore leading into yet another several huge do-or-die days of our national pastime.
- Oakland A’s: How did this happen? Not just a week ago, the A’s were scraping to stay in the Wild Card mix. Now not only are they playoff locks, they are nine innings away from stealing the American League West from the Rangers in what would be the greatest divisional heist in at least a decade. Great baseball on deck in Oakland.
- Atlanta Braves: The Braves are lining up their horses and getting ready for a home playoff game on Friday with a pitcher in Kris Medlen that hasn’t lost in 22 starts. There needs to be a word stronger and faster than just momentum to describe that.
- Washington Nationals: The Nationals are in good shape, but could lock up home field in the NL with another W over the Phillies today. Even when in, it’s down to the wire this year.
- San Francisco Giants: The Giants are the only safe division champs in the NL with nothing left to play for, but a strong series against the previously scratching and crawling Dodgers has them playoff ready.
- Detroit Tigers: Similar to the Giants, they’re just in prep mode and are in great shape. But will their arms hold up this year?
- Baltimore Orioles: The ultimate underdogs are still putting the pressure on the Yankees, and while they sit a game behind headed into the last day of the year, they’re basically on Mario with the flashing star mode right now. The team nobody wants to play.
- New York Yankees: The Yankees really, really need to win tonight because no team wants to play a play-in Wild Card game less than them.
- Cincinnati Reds: The Reds are playing a tough series in St. Louis against a Cardinals team playing for its playoff life. They’re still winning and a Nats loss with a Reds win in a game on Wednesday that means nothing for the Cardinals now gives them home-field advantage. Play til the end.
- St. Louis Cardinals: Another’s loss is the Cards gain, and now they’ll take to the road to attempt to defend their world title, series style, with either Adam Wainwright or Kyle Lohse leading the charge.
- Texas Rangers: The world has to feel like it’s collapsing around the Rangers right now. The A’s are bearing down on them for the division, and either the ultra-spoiler Orioles or a team full of guys fighting for their jobs in the Yankees wait. Ehhhh … stay tuned.
Readers, is your team poised to make a playoff run? Or have those playoff hopes faded to the abyss? Let us know your thoughts, and keep up with our baseball commentary throughout the 2012 MLB playoffs.
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