All year long, it seemed as though the MLB playoff race was only going to be exciting in half of the league. The American League seemed all figured out, and the National League looked wide open. Part of that is still true. The AL East and AL Central seem close to decided, and there’s really only going to be one team left on the outside looking in. On the other side, the National League is still relatively crazy, with every division up for grabs and the wildcard featuring a plethora of competitors. That being said, if you’re an East Coaster like me I hope you’re willing to stay up late to see the best action this September, because the races out west are the ones to watch.
In the American League, it’s absolutely incredible that we’ve even reached that point. As recently as a few weeks ago, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the Astros were gong to run away with the AL West. Sure, the Mariners had been around all year at the A’s were already red-hot at that point, but Houston was Houston. Those other teams were just trying for the wildcard. Well, not so fast. On Saturday, the A’s managed to follow up Friday’s wild win with a more conventional victory, and just like they had forced a tie atop the division. Furthermore, Seattle kept pace with a wild walkoff balk victory to stay within 3.5 games of the divsion. The Astros, who are about to get healthier, are still the favorites here, but expect this race to go down to the wire.
Meanwhile, the Astros are not the only 2017 World Series participant who may not win the division as everyone expected. Whereas Houston has spent all year in first place and for the first time are even sharing the lead, the Dodgers have been sharing that division all year. The NL West is going to be a fascinating race to watch all year, with three teams within two games. The Dodgers, after being on the losing end of that aforementioned walkoff balk, are shockingly in third. The Rockies, meanwhile, are somewhat quietly 7-3 in their last ten and have pulled to within a half-game of the division leading Diamondbacks. There are going to be a lot of fun races to watch in baseball over the next six weeks or so, but the best of the best are going to come out west.
- The world lost one of its greats in Aretha Franklin earlier in the week, and the league honored her all over the country.
- Look, we’ve already mentioned the walkoff balk a few times but we really think you should watch it happen.
- The Mets and Phillies play tonight in the relatively new annual game in Williamsport. It’s a town that has always had strong connection to baseball.
- Dusty Baker doesn’t have a job while his old team, the Nationals, have been the most disappointing in baseball. The manager sat down with Ken Rosenthal to touch on a number of subjects.
- Pretty much everything has gone right for the Red Sox this year, but Chris Sale has been dealing with some shoulder issues and he’s back on the disabled list for the second time this month.
- We all know Trevor Bauer is a....different dude. But, I mean, come on MLB Network.
- Aaron Judge hasn’t healed as hoped and remains out of the Yankees lineup. It sounds silly but....would they be better off with a batless Judge than they would with Shane Robinson?
- We are getting closer and closer to September, which means we are getting closer and closer to the waiver trade deadline. Here’s who could still be on the move.
- The year hasn’t exactly gone as planned for the Dodgers, but the good news is Manny Machado is starting to play up to expectations.
- Alcides Escobar is still playing for the Royals despite not really helping in any tangible way. It leads to some questions about the franchise.
- Baseball’s justice system was back in the spotlight this week after Jose Ureña hit Ronald Acuña with a pitch. Everyone has opinions on how to fix it, but Nick Punto wants to see some fights.
- Chances are, if you are of a certain age, you have a strong connection with the Backyard Baseball video game. Here’s how it got to be such a mammoth.