The final weekend of major league baseball's regular season for 2009.
I can almost hear some of you saying, "I thought it would never end!" Others, "Who cares about baseball, anyway? It's football season!" My son-in-law is among the group who 'only' pay attention to baseball when it comes time for the World Series - or so he says, but earlier this season he groused at me because he thought I didn't mention his Red Sox prominently enough in one of my posts.
Games 161 and 162 will be played later today and tomorrow throughout the country. Most of the races have already been decided, some even weeks ago, but there are two that have everyone in the sports world all excited again - almost like it was a brand new season.
Take a gander at the standings in the American League Central and the National League West. What do you see? In each division, there is only a one game difference between 1st and 2nd place with two games left to play. Is that incredible or what? That many games played, only a one game difference.
Let's take a look at the National League West first, because that's the simpler one to discuss. The Colorado Rockies, who have been playing good and steady ball for quite some time, have stayed within hailing distance of the Los Angeles Dodgers pretty much all year. This past week, however, has brought them within striking distance.
How did that happen? Well, for one team to gain that many games on another, two things have to happen. First, the 1st place team has to lose a few games and second, the 2nd place team has to win a few. Duh! Too simple, huh? The Dodgers have now lost 5 games in a row, whereas the Rockies have won 5 in a row.
The two are duking it out face to face out there in Los Angeles. You might have noticed that both of these teams have a "y" in front of their names. That's because both will be going to the playoffs - one as the divisional champion, and the other as the National League's wild card team.
This division has no chance of ending in a tie. There will be a champion crowned this weekend. Contrast that with the American League Central, where there is also only a one game separation between two teams - the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins. However, they are not playing against each other. So, theoretically, by the time Sunday evening rolls around and the final out has been recorded in the last inning, the two teams could be tied with equal won and loss records.
A one-game playoff would have to be held, and here's where it gets really interesting. It seems that this playoff game would be held in the Twins' ballpark, and on Monday the Vikings have a football game scheduled in that venue, so any playoff between the Tigers and Twins would have to wait until Tuesday. Rrvit! I'm sure football aficionados just love that fact!!
On kind of a sad note, only one of these two teams will advance to the post season playoffs - the Red Sox clinched their wild card spot in the American League within the past couple of weeks - so you know that every Tigers and Twins player will be giving it 'their all' these next two games.
That's pretty much 'it' for me, I think, for baseball this year. We'll see what 2010 brings.