MLB Week in Review (August 4-10)

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As the final months of the season begin the MLB is seeing a decision made in the preseason pay off in a big way. The 2011 MLB season ended in spectacular fashion with two teams from each league fighting for their respective wild card. It looked as though the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox would punch their ticket to the postseason as September started. Both teams were sitting comfortably in the wild card spot ahead of any other team as they began to prepare for a postseason run. Then both teams seemed to be planning too much for the postseason as their wild card lead began slipping away. Both teams continued to lose games in the final month while the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals began sneaking up and putting together a run. It wasn’t until the last day of the season that all of these teams would learn their fate in the postseason. As the night went on baseball fans watched four games unfold in one of the most intense moments in baseball history. Games began to close out and the teams learned that Tampa Bay and St. Louis would be moving on into the postseason while Boston and Atlanta would finish two of the biggest collapses in MLB history to get kicked out of the playoffs. As the postseason went on the Cardinals used their momentum to finish the season as the World Series Champions. The MLB was forever changed on that night in 2011 as the management of the league saw an opportunity and capitalized on it in the offseason. For so long the wild card battle had seemed boring with one team generally winning the race by the beginning of September. This meant that September baseball became meaningless as fans got bored with watching teams playing with no real repercussions. This led to a lull only a month before the postseason started and made many casual fans ignore the postseason. 2011 was different though as September baseball became meaningful again and the MLB saw a bigger crowd watching throughout September and into October. The MLB looked at the results of a great postseason race and would change the way the postseason is decided in order to capture the hearts and minds of casual fans once more. In the 2012 offseason MLB commissioner Bud Selig announced that the league would add a second wild card spot in each league. The idea was to take away the clinching of a wild card spot in September and add more opportunity for teams to make the postseason. With an added wild card there would be more teams than ever fighting for a playoff spot and more teams than ever playing meaningful baseball in the last few months. The MLB also made a smart move with these two new playoff teams as they looked to prevent extending an already long season even further. To solve this the MLB created the Wild Card games that would bring the excitement of single elimination to baseball. These games will feature both wild card teams in each league who will play one game against each other to earn their spot in the Divisional series. It will provide the excitement of a playoff game to one night while still allowing the postseason to operate normally. So far the plan has worked as teams continue to be in the running as August begins and more teams have a shot at playing in the postseason. This year has also seen more teams make an effort late in the season as they are not far off despite not playing their best baseball. The rest of the season will be an exciting one as teams move through August with a shot at the postseason and when September approaches more teams will look to make a last month push or prevent a last month collapse. It will be an exciting time for the MLB this year as the last two months of the season will have more drama than most season, although it will still struggle to be as good as 2011’s last day.

The MLB reluctantly celebrated an anniversary this past week as Tuesday August 7th, 2012 marked the 5th anniversary of Barry bonds HR record. There were no celebrations or honours for Barry Bonds though as 5 years ago he hit his 756th HR moving past Hank Aaron for the most home runs in a career. The reason there was no celebrations was the fact that Barry Bonds has now become the face of the steroid era. Bonds ended his career with 766 HR and has remained at the top of the record book but many believe his record should be removed. In 2003 Bonds was implicated as a part of the BALCO scandal and testified in front of the federal grand jury. The accusations stated that he was one of the many players associated with BALCO, a company that had been known to distribute steroids. Bonds denied the accusations claiming he never used steroids but in 2007 he was indicted for lying under oath to the grand jury. This essentially meant that the grand jury had not believed Bonds’ testimony essentially saying he did use steroids throughout his career. The indictment made Bonds the face of the steroid era as he had been outed as a cheater. This indictment also ended his career as the San Francisco Giants decided not to re-sign him for 2008 and no other team would give him a contract. In 2011 Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice for lying under oath to the grand jury about using steroids. The MLB would like to forget that time period and forget the record but until someone else can break it, maybe Josh Hamilton, it will stand as a reminder of a dark time in MLB history that will make another appearance when Bonds comes up for election to the Hall of Fame in November.

 

MLB Standings

 

American League

East:

1. New York Yankees (.589)

2. Baltimore Orioles (.540)

3. Tampa Bay Rays (.536)

4. Boston Red Sox (.491)

5. Toronto Blue Jays (.473)

Central:

1. Chicago White Sox (.550)

2.  Detroit Tigers (.540)

3. Cleveland Indians (.460)

4. Minnesota Twins (.438)

5. Kansas City Royals (.429)

West:

1. Texas Rangers (.586)

2. Oakland Athletics (.536)

3. Los Angeles Angels (.531)

4. Seattle Mariners (.447)

 

National League:

East:

1. Washington Nationals (.619)

2. Atlanta Braves (.580)

3. New York Mets (.478)

4. Philadelphia Phillies (.455)

5. Miami Marlins (.451)

Central:

1. Cincinnati Reds (.593)

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (.563)

3. St. Louis Cardinals (.540)

4. Milwaukee Brewers (.459)

5. Chicago Cubs (.396)

6. Houston Astros (.325)

West:

1. San Francisco Giants (.545)

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (.540)

3. Arizona Diamondbacks (.504)

4. San Diego Padres (.439)

5. Colorado Rockies (.367)

 

Key Scores:

Seattle Mariners 1 – 0 New York Yankees

– The New York Yankees continued to struggle down the stretch as the lowly Seattle Mariners were able to get by the AL East leading Yankees with a great performance by Felix Hernandez who shut out a very potent offence

 

Detroit Tigers 10 – 8 Cleveland Indians (10th)

– Both offences waited until the last moment to wake up as both teams traded low scoring innings until the 10th when Cleveland got three runs but were bested by the Tigers who scored 5 thanks to a walk-off home run by Miguel Cabrera

 

Miami Marlins 4 – 2 New York Mets

– Jose Reyes has been on fire down the stretch despite his team’s poor performance as he extended his hitting streak to 25 games against the Mets to help lead the Marlins to a win against another struggling team

 

Oakland Athletics 9 – 8 Los Angeles Angels

– The Angels looked like they would have the chance to finally make the playoffs with a wild card berth but the Oakland Athletics are here to spoil the party as both teams look to fight it out in the division and the wild card

 

Next Week:

Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees (August 13th; 7:05 pm EDT)

– Two beasts of the American League face off as the defending American League champion Texas Rangers take on the New York Yankees with both teams looking to create more separation in their divisions as they sprint to the postseason

 

Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants (August 15th; 3:45 pm EDT)

– The Nats and Giants are both looking towards the postseason but in different positions as the Nationals look to get a win and help them win their division while the Giants are in a tight race with the Dodgers for their division crown

 

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels (August 16th; 10:05 pm EDT)

– The Rays and Angels are both in tight battles with surprising teams as they try to get past the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics as well as each other for one of the two wild card spots in the American League

 

Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees (August 17th; 7:05 pm EDT)

– The rivalry continues as the Yankees take on the Red Sox in a bitter battle but this year they are not fighting for the postseason as the Red Sox will be looking to put a dent and some doubt in the Yankees postseason berth while sitting outside of the playoffs themselves

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