MLB Week in Review (Sept. 15-21)

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The MLB is beginning their last push to the postseason where teams become mathematically eliminated or begin to clinch their playoff spots. As this begins to happen many teams become irrelevant in the last few weeks of the season as they play teams that are already going to make the playoffs while they have no shot. It is something that many fans are familiar with as baseball becomes meaningless at the end of the year. One of these teams is the Toronto Blue Jays who have not been to the postseason since they won the World Series in 1993. This season has been the same for Toronto as they started with a lot of promise but failed to meet expectations when injuries ravaged their lineup. They entered September essentially out of the running and became irrelevant quickly as they could not put together any wins to even act as a spoiler. Then last week the Blue Jays entered the spotlight but for all the wrong reasons. This week Blue Jays’ shortstop Yunel Escobar came out on the field with a familiar part of equipment. Every game the young Cuban would put on his eye black and write something on them. This week was the same routine except Escobar wrote a phrase that had many people angry. After a photo surfaced on the internet showing a homophobic word in Spanish the Jays were launched into the spotlight. The word was one that many people saw differently as many of the Latin players from around the league claimed that it was a simple misunderstanding. For them the word meant soft but for others looking from outside of that culture saw something very different. This was the biggest issue that Escobar had as he should have known that something could have been misconstrued in what he wrote. As the controversy grew around his actions the Blue Jays took action. They suspended Escobar for three games with all the money lost on the three games donated to charity. Escobar would also go through courses to teach him about acceptance of others. It was a typical sentence for a baseball player who had done something but the fact that it came from the team was a big development. The Blue Jays did not want to sit on the sidelines and allow the MLB to hand out punishment before they said anything on the subject. Instead they took action showing their fans and MLB fans that they knew he did something wrong and he would be punished for it. The three game suspension for some was too lenient on Escobar as many believed he deserved more. The fact is though that Escobar likely meant nothing by the phrase and did not really deserve to be punished for being homophobic. Instead he needed to be punished for being simply stupid enough not to realize what would have happened when he wrote that phrase on his eye black. It was an interesting week for the Blue Jays as they went from being a non story, except in Toronto, to being the focus of the MLB and back to being forgotten. It shed a light on the life of teams in the Blue Jays situation as they are quickly forgotten at this point and will likely only make an impression for all the wrong reasons while other teams begin fighting for the postseason.

As the postseason race continues on the pool of teams gets smaller and smaller and that is what happened this week. The race is now down to only a handful of teams in either league but is still an extremely close race. In the American League the no division race is done as the Texas Rangers continue to fend off late surges from the Los Angeles Angels and the Oakland Athletics. The New York Yankees are in the tightest race as they look to stay one step ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East. In the Central the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers continue to fight it out. Meanwhile in the Wild Card the Orioles and Oakland Athletics look to their divisional races while trying to hold their wild card spots. Meanwhile the Angels, Tampa Bay Rays and Detroit Tigers are all looking to overtake the wild card teams as the only ones left to challenge for the wild card spots. As the American League is wide open the National League is beginning to close quickly. This week the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals were the first teams to clinch a playoff spot as they both officially won their divisions. That closed the doors for a number of teams who will not look to take the wild card instead of the division. There is still one division up for grabs though as Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants continue to fight for the NL West. In the wild card race the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals are the two teams now out of the divisional race but still holding a wild card spot. They are followed closely by the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Philadelphia Phillies for the two spots. With only a few weeks left the races will soon close leaving only a small amount of spots left in both leagues. It will be a great finish to the year once again as a number of teams are still in the hunt with plenty of time to make their push.

 

MLB Standings

American League
Division Leaders:
1. Texas Rangers (.593)
2. New York Yankees (.580)
3. Chicago White Sox (.540)

Wild Card:
4. Baltimore Orioles (.573)
5. Oakland Athletics (.567)

In the Hunt:
6. Los Angeles Angels (3.5)
7. Tampa Bay Rays (4.5)
8. Detroit Tigers (5.5)

Out of the Running:
9. Seattle Mariners (14.5)
10. Kansas City Royals (16.0)
11. Boston Red Sox (18.0)
12. Toronto Blue Jays (18.5)
13. Minnesota Twins (23.0)
14. Cleveland Indians (23.5)

 

National League

Division Leaders:
1. x-Washington Nationals (.607)
2. x-Cincinnati Reds (.603)
3. San Francisco Giants (.583)

Wild Card:
4. Atlanta Braves (.570)
5. St. Louis Cardinals (.530)

In the Hunt:
6. Milwaukee Brewers (1.5)
7. Los Angeles Dodgers (2.0)
8. Philadelphia Phillies (3.0)
9. Arizona Diamondbacks (4.5)
10. Pittsburgh Pirates (5.5)
11. San Diego Padres (8.0)

Out of the Running:
12. New York Mets (12.5)
13. Miami Marlins (14.0)
14. Chicago Cubs (21.0)
15. Colorado Rockies (21.5)
16. Houston Astros (31.0)

x-Clinched Division

 

Key Scores:
Oakland Athletics 5 – 2 Baltimore Orioles
– In a preview of what could be one of the first ever wild card playoffs the Oakland Athletics showed they are not a team to overlook beating the Orioles and pushing them further back in the fight for the AL East

 

Washington Nationals 4 – 1 Los Angeles Dodgers
– The Washington Nationals had not seen the playoffs since moving back to Washington and even longer when they were the Montreal Expos but that 23 year drought finally ended as they beat the Dodger to clinch the NL East division

 

Cincinnati Reds 5 – 3 Chicago Cubs
– The Reds were not the dominant force in the NL Central from the start of the year but a great second half of the season saw them spring to the top of the standings and after beating the Cubs they officially finished off the season as division champions

 

Philadelphia Phillies 6 – 2 Atlanta Braves
– The Phillies struggled all year but lately have set a torrid pace up the standings as they have put themselves in the hunt for the wild card and a win against the Braves, who hold a wild card spot, made their comeback that much more realistic

 

Next Week:
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Washington Nationals (September 22nd; 1:05 pm EDT)
– The Brewers have put themselves in a great spot sitting only 1 ½ games out of the wild card spot and a win against the Nationals can help them get that much closer to a playoff berth although the NL East champions are no pushovers

 

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles (September 24th; 4:05 pm EDT)
– The Blue Jays are not in the hunt and are simply looking to the next season but they can still play spoilers as they take on the O’s who are not only looking for the win to keep the wild card spot but to also challenge the Yankees for the division

 

Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies (September 26th; 7:05 pm EDT)
– The Nationals can now play spoilers as they look to the postseason while the Phillies need a monster run and a little luck to get a postseason spot as they hope to beat the Nats and continue their great comeback

 

Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers (September 28th; 8:05 pm EDT)
– The Angels and Rangers are still in a fight for the division and they will both be looking for the win as the Rangers try to increase their lead while the Angels look to not only challenge for the division but also to challenge for the wild card

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