Pennant Race Evaluations

Way too long since I’ve paid attention to baseball with any regularity outside of looking at the scores on the wire. Stupid day job.

Manny Ramirez hit two monster bombs last night at a park that’s incredibly difficult to hit them at. I actively dislike the Dodgers, but admit that the post-season isn’t the post-season if Manny Ramirez isn’t involved. It feels incomplete without him. The Dodgers, for their efforts, are playing better baseball than Arizona as of late, and with 17 games or so to go, it looks like they might hold them off — because the Diamondbacks are playing something awful, at a clip that neither Brandon Webb nor Dan Haren can bail them out of right now (and Webb has had some starts where his breaking ball just has flatttened out.)

The Angels finally do what everyone has expected for the last two months — clinch the AL West. Now, the problem is that the last time they clinched early, they gave up a little down the stretch and ceded home feild advantage in the Division Series.  Mike Scioscia has to keep the team playing hard to earn home field throughout the entire playoffs (since the AL won the All-Star Game.)

I’m not willing to jump on the Carlos Delgado for MVP bandwagon; Albert Pujols keeping the Cards in any sort of playoff contention in a season where the Cardinals were expected to lose 90 games is much more impressive.  However, I am willing to go so far as to say that if manager Jerry Manuel leads the Mets to hold on to the NL East title (current lead is 3.5 games over the Phillies), he should have the “interim” dropped from his title.  Calling the Mets’ bullpen a patchwork affair is being kind; there are so many grades of gasoline taking up space in there that I’m surprised the practice mounds don’t burst out in flames every night. David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran are doing what they need to do, but Delgado’s resurgence is a welcome development, because it may keep Omar Minaya from any thought of getting into the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes when the real need for the team in the off-season is reliable relief pitching.

Lou Piniella appears to be getting bent out of shape regularly about the Cubs’ play (and they did happen to win last night.) They’re not going to collapse; Milwaukee has issues at the wrong times to do anything outside of the Wild Card, which is theirs barring a complete fuck-up on the part of Ned Yost (entirely possible.)

Unfortunately, my stated dream isn’t coming true this year: after Carlos Quentin’s season-ending injury, it looks like a sure thing that the Wild Card team will now come out of the AL East, meaning Boston will be back in it somehow.  At least Tampa Bay seems like they have a spot right now, and haven’t suffered the swwom that everyone was predicting they’d have. Hey, for the Rays, even a Wild Card spot is a major accomplishment.


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