By Joe Yamulla || Sports Editor
It’s the end of September, so naturally most buzz in the sports world is focused on the start of the NFL season. However, despite the cooling fall air, the most dramatic part of the Major League Baseball season is just about to heat up. There is a little more than a week left of the regular season, and the magic numbers for many teams to clinch playoff berths are dwindling. Plenty of fans still have a lot to cheer about, and even more are taking this time to look back and reflect upon why and how their team came up short this season.
The teams that we already know will be playing in the postseason are the Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Chicago Cubs. Toronto has not been to the playoffs since 1993. That’s a tough stretch for die-hard Jay fans, yet many stayed devoted to their team through the longest playoff drought in the history of professional sports in North America. The Rogers Centre has been packed night in and night out as the big-time moves to bring in star players like Josh Donaldson and David Price have definitely translated into on-field success. Toronto currently has the wild card spot, and could clinch the division as early as next week when they play the Baltimore Orioles.
The Mets have had a similar stretch as the Blue Jays over the past few decades. Their playoff success has been minimal, and they have not won a world series since 1986. But now, the bright lights of New York are shining on Citi Field and not Yankee Stadium. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard make up one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Also, their new high powered offense with mid season acquisition Yoenis Céspedes make the Mets a true presence in the National League. They will be a tough team to beat in a five or seven game series.
Then there is the National League Central, which is certainly the best division in baseball. The division is sending three teams (Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs) out of the total five National League spots. The Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubbies, in that order, also flirt the three best records in the National League. It seems unlikely that either team will catch the Cardinals to win the division, so it looks like it will be a wild-card matchup between Pittsburgh and Chicago. This likely game is highly anticipated by all baseball fans, and has fans of the Cubs and Pirates getting nervous. However, it will absolutely be exciting to see how NL Central looks at the conclusion of the regular season next week.
Finally, we have the “what if” teams. The Washington Nationals went into this season with high hopes, as they were one of the favorites to go deep in the playoffs and win a World Series. The Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, and the Detroit Tigers also boasted impressive rosters and odds in February and March, but now seem to be preparing family vacations this October.
Postseason baseball is just about underway. Baseball is an interesting game where preseason predictions are not always accurate. Instead, sometimes all a team needs is a little momentum and magic. The momentum is still building after hundreds of games this summer, and the magic has just begun.
Sophomore Joe Yamulla is the Sports Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.