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The Northerner

Baseball Playoff Race Heats Up

Chris VandeWater

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Football is in full swing. Many people have embraced it with open arms. For diehard baseball fans, the season is just getting interesting. Though our beloved Cincinnati Reds look to be finishing below .500 yet again, there’s plenty of excitement left with division races and the wild card.

Looking at the National League, it appears that the divisions have been locked up barring any collapse by Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Diego. These teams have played solid baseball after the All-Star break and do not appear to be letting up anytime soon.

The NL wild card race is a battle royal among five teams. Winning the fight for the last playoff spot at week’s end is the Houston Astros. Houston won the wild card last year and may have what it takes to do it again. They have an superb pitching staff anchored by Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Roy Oswalt, and a favorable remaining schedule with 15 games against teams below .500.

The Florida Marlins have a chance, coming in half a game behind Houston. The Marlins also have an excellent pitching staff with Dontrelle Willis, Josh Beckett, and A.J. Burnett. The Marlins have great leadership and playoff experience with manager Jack McKeon. Florida’s remaining schedule is much tougher than Houston’s, 17 games remaining against teams above .500.

Philadelphia, Washington, and Milwaukee also have a chance at the wild card spot in the NL. Philadelphia doesn’t have the pitching that Florida and Houston have and they have a tough remaining schedule awaiting them.

The Philadelphia Phillies come to Cincinnati for a three game series with the Reds toward the end of September. That is the closest the Reds will get to post season action this year.

The Washington Nationals, formerly the Montreal Expos, are four games out of the wild card. Many feel this team is overachieving, which may be the case. But they are only four games out of the wild card, so they must be taken seriously.

The Milwaukee Brewers has lots of youthful talent and might be a team to be reckoned with for years to come. They are five-and-a-half games out of the wild card and slowly fading out. Switching to the American League, not all the divisions have been secured. In the AL East division, the Red Sox and Yankees continue to battle. The Red Sox have a slim three game lead over the Yankees. In the Central division, the White Sox are currently leading, but have been on a free fall after the All Star break.

The surprising Cleveland Indians are just six games back of Chicago after going 27-10 since July 31st. The Indians also lead the wild card race in the AL by a game over the Yankees and two games over the Oakland Athletics.

The AL West division is just as exciting as the other two. The Los Angeles Angels lead the Oakland A’s by two games with just a few weeks left.

The American League wild card race is just as exciting as the National League race. The wild card race really varies in the AL depending on who wins the divisions. The Oakland A’s have the toughest schedule remaining of the teams in contention with the Angels having the easiest remaining schedule. There are still four games remaining between the A’s and Angels.

Football may be off and running, but baseball season is far from over for many teams. There is plenty of exciting baseball action left in this season. What remains to be seen is which teams will make the playoffs and take baseball’s top prize, the World Series Championship.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Baseball Playoff Race Heats Up