Random Thoughts About the Baseball Season
August 22, 2011

With no baseball on TV locally, and most of the sports-viewing public watching the meaningless preseason version of Monday Night Football, I thought I'd take a long look at the Major League Baseball standings. I haven't really done that in awhile...

Dodgers: How about that, the Dodgers are in last place. They are only a half-game behind San Diego for fourth and two games out of third, but right now, they are cellar-dwellers. McCourt's divorce and bankruptcy are factors, but it's also because the Dodgers aren't winning that is leading to Dodger Stadium averaging over 28,000 empty seats per game. Please, Vin Scully, don't retire, you're all Dodger fans have left!

Angels: Mike Scioscia's crew was just about left for dead after losing the first three games in a four-game series to Texas this week. But after Mark Trombo's walkoff home run to win the fourth game, and a three-game sweep over Baltimore, the Halos are just four games out. Maybe if Vernon Wells could bat better than .198 down the stretch, the Angels could contend.

NL West: Does anyone really want to win this division? Anyone? After a 3-7 homestand, the San Francisco Giants just completed a 4-6 road trip, and needed an extra-inning win in Houston on Sunday to do it. Arizona has lost 5 straight, but they are also on a long trip to eastern powerhouses Philadelphia and Atlanta. They are in Washington this week before they go home. 365 days ago, people were talking about what a lousy division this is. It's had to imagine that it has gotten worse.

Yanks and Sox: I hate to say it, but this is the best reason to agree with Bud Selig about expanding the playoffs. The two teams are separated by only a half-game for the AL East lead, but it doesn't matter, because both will end up in the post-season anyway. If one team had to play an extra round (which currently would be against third-place Tampa Bay which is the best argument against expanded playoffs), this would be a dogfight.

American League: New York and Boston are pretty much locked in to make the playoffs, but there is still some drama remaining in the other two divisions. Detroit just swept Cleveland to take a 4-game lead in the Central with Ozzie Guillen's White Sox now 5 games out. Still plenty of time for things to remain interesting.

National League: The Giants and D-Backs are the only remaining story in the N.L. Milwaukee has a commanding 8-game lead over St. Louis in the Central (Do you think Tony LaRussa will leave?), the Phillies have a 6-game lead in the East, and Atlanta is 8 games up on the Giants for the Wild Card.

Elimination sensation: By the time anyone reads this, the Houston Astros may be the first team to be mathematically eliminated from the 2011 post-season. The magic number was 2 going into today (Monday), with Milwaukee playing a doubleheader at Pittsburgh and Houston at Colorado. The 'Stros are on pace to lose 108 games this season, and that's after winning two of three against San Francisco.

No one cares but me: I'm going into the final week of the regular season in my fantasy league, and, among the 14 teams, my team (the Unemployed Yawhoos) can finish anywhere between third and ninth (top six make the playoffs). It's the biggest pennant race that I am into right now.

Photo: from the Los Angeles Times. I love this picture, but to be fair, they did take a shot of the least crowded area of Dodger Stadium. It does illustrate the point, though.

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