The Tenth Inning – Week 26

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The season is over for 21 teams in Major League Baseball, and a 22nd team will be sent home in a matter of hours. Last week I included a number of final thoughts about teams that were clearly finished, and the playoff preview is currently in the works. With not a whole lot left to say on the issue, I leave you with one final thought – a build-on, if you will, of a column just a month ago.

The final week of the regular season was, for the most part, fairly lackluster. The AL Wild Card was long since decided, as were the AL East and West champions. On the senior circuit, the four playoff teams were decided by Tuesday, leaving only a last-ditch effort from the Rockies to catch the Dodgers and playoff positioning up in the air. Step back and think, however, how much more interesting the season would have been if just one more Wild Card team came from each league.

AL: The final series between Seattle and Texas would have garnered significant interest. So, too, would the Yankees visit to Tampa, as the Bronx Bombers could have been responsible for ending Tampa’s hopes of repeating as AL Champs. That would have given three other markets additional interest in baseball, which considering the state of the Cowboys, Seahawks, and especially Buccaneers, would have been a welcome reprieve for those city’s sports fans. Who knows how those teams would have handled things had one more spot been available, and it would have left nine teams (including the White Sox) with interest in the last two weeks instead of five.

NL: It’s even better here. No one watched the Braves-Nationals series after Atlanta was eliminated Tuesday night. Likewise with the Giants and Padres. The Phillies would have likely had some more motivation on the final weekend had they been playing a Marlins team seeking to once again win the World Series as a Wild Card in their standard 6-year increments. And we can’t forget about the North Siders, who might not have completely given up hope despite long odds and rallied to get the Cubs back into the postseason. Plus, had everything remained the same, we would have had one-game playoff to decide who makes the one-game playoff, with the Giants and Marlins playing one game for the right to play the Rockies to see who wins the Wild Card. Talk about drama? That’s all the drama baseball would have needed.

But we have our brackets and we’re only waiting on one team. So it’s time to flip the page to the postseason and let the real fun begin. I’ll have a first round preview just as soon as the Tigers and Twins figure out who wants to play the Yankees, and we’ll see you right back here in March for another full season of “The Tenth Inning.”

Trivia Question
Last week’s answer: The last NL playoff to determine a division winner was 1980, when the Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-1, in Dodger Stadium to win the NL West. The Astros subsequently lost the NLCS to the eventual champion Philadelphia Phillies.

2009 Playoff “Dead List”
May 25 – Washington Nationals
June 1 – Colorado Rockies
June 8 – Baltimore Orioles
June 15 – Arizona Diamondbacks
June 22 – Kansas City Royals
June 29 – Cleveland Indians
July 6 – Oakland Athletics
July 15 – San Diego Padres
July 27 – Pittsburgh Pirates
August 3 – Cincinnati Reds
August 10 – Toronto Blue Jays
August 17 – New York Mets
August 24 – Milwaukee Brewers
August 31 – Houston Astros
September 7 – Chicago White Sox
September 14 – Tampa Bay Rays
September 21 – Seattle Mariners AND Chicago Cubs
September 28 – Florida Marlins, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, AND Minnesota Twins

Stupid Rockies.

Thanks for checking out my column, “The Tenth Inning,” all year long for the Ultimate Capper. See you in Spring Training.

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