Several Teams Battle in Baseball's Final Week
September 22, 2014

If the Los Angeles Dodgers win half of their games in the final week of the baseball season, they will win the National League West. If they were to win two of their next three going into tonight, they could clinch the title against their closest pursuer and hated rival—the San Francisco Giants.

With my deadline approaching, let's just say that the Dodgers could have played better. They fell 5-2 in 13 innings tonight, so now that means they need to win tomorrow and Wednesday to send the Giants out of LA with only the hopes of hosting a wild card game.

The Pittsburgh Pirates won tonight. Both the Buckos and the Jints are 85-71. If the two finish with the same record, they'll play the wild card game in Pittsburgh. That's almost the only thing left to be decided in the National League, with the Dodgers and Cardinals about to wrap up their divisions.

The American League is much more interesting with the Royals a game behind the Tigers in the Central, the Royals a game behind the A's for the first wild card, and the Mariners two games behind the Royals for the second wild card. Even the Cleveland Indians are still alive—4½ out in the Central, and 3½ back in the Wild Card. It's going to be a wacky week.

Baseball bits: Astros September call-up Max Stassi apparently is Nick Tropeano's personal catcher. The Yuba City native and Gold Sox alum has made three big-league starts this year—all with Tropeano on the hill. Stassi doubled in three at-bats tonight...The Lancaster JetHawks (my home town minor league team and Astros affiliate) won the California League Championship. It's the second for the franchise since Lancaster got the team in 1996. The other title was in 2012... Speaking of the minor leagues, after every even-numbered year, there are some affiliation changes, and this year there are some doozies. The Sacramento River Cats of the Pacific Coast League dumped the Oakland A's and went with the Giants, whose triple-A headquarters had been in Fresno. The Dodgers are moving their triple-A affiliation from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City after Mandalay Entertainment (some of the Dodger ownership group) bought the club. The Dodgers are also moving their double-A affiliation from Chattanooga to Tulsa, so when you think Oklahome, think Dodgers...Giants catcher Andrew Susac is from Sacramento, but I can find no record of him playing against the Gold Sox. Susac went to Jesuit High School and then Oregon State, and was a second-round draft choice by the Giants in 2011. Draft picks that high usually play summer ball in places like the Cape Cod League or Alaska, so I guess that's why.

Goodell/NFL update: National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted at a news conference Friday that he “got it wrong” when it came to the Ray Rice matter, but did not say what he would do to get it right, and said he never considered quitting. Also, the National Football League, always on the cutting edge of social consciousness, re-instated drug cheats Wes Welker and others. Peyton Manning's leading receiver was suspended four games for amphetamine use, but under a new agreement with the player's association, amphetamines are now considered substance abuse instead of performance-enhancing drugs, which carry a lighter punishment. Yeah, that sends the right message. In the middle of maybe the league's biggest public relations nightmare, let's make penalties lighter!

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