Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Detroit Tigers. Playoffs or bust?

With about two dozen games left in the regular season, the Detroit Tigers find themselves in a precarious position. Though most thought they would easily run away with the American League central division -- it hasn't worked out that way. Currently, they're a game and a half behind the somewhat surprising KC Royals, with the Cleveland Indians only 3 games back.

Let's take a bigger view of the American League. In the east, the Baltimore Orioles are on cruise control for the division title. It's not impossible, but blowing a 9 game lead with 20-some to go is highly unlikely.

In the west, the LA Angels have finally opened up some breathing room between themselves and the Oakland As. Barring a collapse of their own, also unlikely, the Halos are all but a lock to finish on top.

But the wild card scenario is where things get really interesting -- and dicey. Remember, only 2 teams will qualify as wild cards. Then the team with the better record hosts the other for a one game knockout. Pretty much a coin flip. In major league baseball, anybody can beat anybody else on any given day, at home or on the road.

There's potentially up to 6 teams that could wind up as wild cards. The Tigers or the Royals depending on which wins their division. The Seattle Mariners currently lurk only a game or two behind both. Once thought to be a lock for at least a playoff spot -- if the Oakland As continue their current slide for much longer, they could be in danger of missing the postseason. As mentioned above, the Tribe, and even the Yankees are also still very much in the running.

Not to belabor the obvious, but it all depends on what happens in the next three weeks or so. If any of these teams get "hot" and go, say, 18-6, they're likely in. Conversely, a team that experiences a slump and goes, say, 9-15, will likely find themselves sitting home in October. It could happen -- either way -- to any of the teams.

How this will all turn out is anybody's guess, and yours truly definitely looks forward to watching it. Except on Sundays. And Monday nights. And Thursday nights too. Baseball may be the "national pastime", but the gorilla in the room with the initials NFL is back and set to kick off another season.

Like so many others this time of year, yours truly will watch baseball only if it doesn't conflict with an NFL game. Actually, it's kind of silly when one thinks about it. The NFL season is just starting, and it's crunch time in MLB. Nevertheless, it is what it is, and has been for a long time. Come September, and on until the Super Bowl in February, the NFL rules the roost in American professional sports. The ratings and revenues don't lie. NASCAR, even with their "chase", is a distant second.

If MLB wanted to be smart about it, they'd only schedule games on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Doubleheaders if need be to get the regular season in before it turns cold in northern cities. Good grief, all the teams have expanded their rosters from 25 to 40 players with the September "call-ups". Everybody's in the same boat, and it's not like they don't have enough bodies to accommodate such an altered schedule.

But back to the baseball playoffs. Will the Tigers make it? Yea. They've got more assets than liabilities. Once there, will they get bounced quickly or maybe go far -- perhaps even reaching the World Series?

Helliphino. Nobody does. Come playoff time, every team is good or they wouldn't be there.

Thing is, MLB isn't crazy enough to bump heads with the NFL on Monday night, even with their World Series. They should stay away from Sundays too. Thursdays are a maybe.....

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