As September rolls on, so does the countdown to the end of the Major League Baseball regular season. This is a critical time for teams to “rev up their engines” and hopefully push their way into the postseason. Some teams are vying for the right to play in October, while others are trying to ruin that opportunity for their rival. While the reigning World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, are all but eliminated from playoff contention, the Kansas City Royals––who have the longest active postseason drought at 28 years––are in first place for the American League Central division. As a point of reference, the last time the Royals made the postseason, Ronald Reagan was beginning his second term as president. Baseball is full of surprises, however.
In the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles are the only team with a comfortable lead. The Royals and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are both in danger of having their leads taken away from them in the next few weeks. Over in the National League, the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers all have leads that could be gone come October.
With the recent addition of a two-team Wild Card system, there are even more teams with an opportunity to play in October. The Oakland Athletics, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners are the top teams in contention in the AL with the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays just behind them.
The San Francisco Giants, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates are all within a few games of the NL Wild Card spots. Even the Miami Marlins are still alive, just a few games behind that group.
With time running out on this race to the postseason, each team has to perform at their best and pray to the baseball gods for all injuries to heal. Success at this time of the year in baseball is largely determined by hot streaks and cold streaks. If a team gets hot at the right time, they can ride it all the way to the World Series.
Yankees fans think it’s only right to make it to the postseason for Derek Jeter’s final season (it’s Derek Jeter––he is a demigod, right?). They could at least win the Series for him and make it a record 28 titles.
On the opposite end of the universe, Royals fans are sick and tired of 28 years of cussing at the television and seeing Kauffman Stadium look like a Minor League park after the All-Star break.
With its high level of uncertainty, baseball is hard to predict. If someone said they could, they’re indeed wrong (unless someone says that the Houston Astros are not going to be a first place team). The Orioles, Tigers and Angels, however, could win their respective divisions and the Mariners and the Yankees could take the AL Wild Card spots. As for the NL, the Nationals, Cardinals and Giants are poised to take their divisions with the Dodgers and the Braves sliding in via the Wild Card.
Even though it is more painful to admit than it is for Alex Rodriguez to love a human being other than himself, the Orioles could win it all this year. Now all there is to do is wait and let things play out as fans strap in for the unpredictable ride of October baseball.