BLUE JAYS AND CARDINALS ARE THE TEAMS TO BEAT

The Major League Baseball regular season ends two weeks from today on October 4, with a full slate of games. All the games on that date start at 3:00, Eastern Time, so that all of them will be ending their season at approximately the same time, theoretically. My guess is that the geniuses who run MLB’s Promotion Department were hoping for the pennant races to go down to the wire and provide some drama on the last day.

If they were hoping to duplicate the finish of 2011 when the Red Sox and Braves were edged out by the Rays and the Cardinals for the Wild Card on the last day, they bet on the wrong horse. Most of the races are already all but over.

If the season ended today, the Toronto Blue Jays, who lead the Yankees by 3 games, would win the East. The Kansas City Royals, who lead the second place Twins by 11 games would win the Central and the Texas Rangers, who lead the Houston Astros by 2 ½ games would be the Western Division winners.

What happened to last year’s Division Winners in the American League? Last year’s Eastern Division Winner, the Baltimore Orioles, are in third place, 12 games behind the Jays and just 1 1/2 games ahead of the last place Red Sox. Last year’s Central Division Winner, the Detroit Tigers, are in last place, 17 1/2 Games behind the Royals. Last year’s Western Division Winner, the Oakland Athletics, are also in last place, 16 ½ games behind the Texas Rangers and have already been mathematically eliminated from the race.

The Yankees appear to have a lock on the first Wild Card, leading their closest challenger, the Astros, by four games. The Astros lead the Los Angeles Angels by 1 ½ games and the Minnesota Twins by 2 ½ games for the second Wild Card. All three of the teams chasing the Yankees and looking for the second Wild Card, have not been doing well recently so anything can happen there.

This seems to be the only place having the potential for drama in either league. The National League playoff teams have just about been decided. Three of the playoff teams will come from the Central Division as the St. Louis Cardinals are ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates by four games and the Chicago Cubs by five and all three of these teams have better records than the other two division leaders. The New York Mets lead the Washington Nationals by 6 ½ in the Central and the Los Angeles Dodgers have an 8 ½ game lead on the Giants in the West.

If the season ended today, the American League Wild Card Playoff game would pit the Yankees against the Astros with the winner playing the Royals, the team with the best record. The other Division Playoff would be between the Rangers and the Blue Jays.

The National League Wild Card Game would be between the Pirates and the Cubs, with the winner playing the Dodgers and the other Division Playoff would be between the Mets and the Cardinals.

As I always caution, anything can happen in baseball but the matchups above look like a pretty good bet at this time. At this point, my money is on the Blue Jays and the Cardinals to meet in the World Series but, with two weeks to go, who knows.

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