The Diamondbacks may be out of the NL West, in all but mathematical terms. However, there is still a lot of baseball t be played, with a number of division titles still up for grabs/ There's also the additional Wild Card place in each league, which has the potential to
be a complete clusterbomb as far as scheduling goes... Sorry there, Bud, I meant to write "provide stupendously exciting baseball down the stretch". Since it's an off-day let's take a look at the other divisions, and see which players we used to know and love (or whatever!) are still involved in the chase for the post-season.
Who have you got down the stretch?
It's interesting to see how the pendulum swings on this one. The Dodgers' free-spending ways and willingness to take on every player put through waivers (or thereabouts), has resulted in them becoming the target of significant antipathy among Diamondbacks fans, which up until new ownership took over, would probably have been aimed more at the Giants. Personally, I am still not quite prepared to commit to thinking of the Dodgers as Yankees West - not until they actually show signs of dominating the division in a similar way, and they've only gone 5-7 since the big trade. Until then, I'll still continue my nightcap of bitter Giants' fans tears.
Neither side has any meaningful Diamondbacks playing for them - instead, both have players (Choate and Nady respectively) that fans here were largely happy to see depart. We will get to have a significant say in who wins this one, as we face the two franchises a combined eight times down the stretch, with six of those being against San Francisco. It'd be nice if we could continue strong: to date, the Diamondbacks have dominated the Dodgers by a margin of 10-6 and also have a winning record (7-5) against the Giants. .
The Pirates are the consensus choice here, simply because everyone loves an underdog, and they don't come much bigger than a team who last had a winning season back in 1992. [Tyler Skaggs had just celebrated his very first birthday...] After flattering to deceive last year - leading the division in late July before a 19th inning blown call at Atlanta started a 19-43 slump the rest of the way - they'd need another massive implosion in the final month to avoid finally ending the streak. That, in itself, would be momentous, even if they still find themselves on the outside of the playoffs, looking in. But they've got Chad Qualls, now on his sixth team since July 2010. How can they fail?
The Reds are one of those teams I don't feel strongly about. I'd quite forgotten they'd won the division as recently as 2010 - but given their NLDS performance there, being swept by the Phillies, and getting shutout in two of the three games, that's perhaps not too surprising. It has been more than four years since the last time we traded with them too (the Dunn deal). I'd probably be somewhat inclined to lean towards the Cardinals: I still appreciate the way in which they took the Brewers out of the post-season last year.
Standings:WAS 84-52, ATL 77-60
Playoff odds: WAS 99.9%, ATL 91.3%
Washington: Adam LaRoche, Chad Tracy. Edwin Jackson
Atlanta: Lyle Overbay, Chad Durbin, Miguel Batista (and former D-backs prospect Dan Uggla)
Not much of a battle here, Washington looking set for their first division title since the Senators in 1933, and the Braves looking likely to snag a wild-card spot, unless they repeat last season's meltdown. The latter snagged Overbay and Batista after they were deemed superfluous to requirements by us and the Mets respectively. It's like the Braves are gearing up for their playoff run by re-assembling the 2003 Diamondbacks, though Durbin was with us a year later. What's Carlos Baerga doing these days?
With Washington., the familiar personnel is at least as much off the field as on it. Most obviously, there's GM Mike Rizzo, but they also have Bo Porter as their third-base coach and Rick Schu as hitting co-ordinator. It would be kinda cool to see Chad Tracy make it to the post-season for the first time ever - he paid his dues with the 2004 Diamondbacks team, but was injured, so missed out on the 2007 playoffs. Given there'll be no celebrating of Strasmas in the post-season How you feel about the Nationals may depend on your opinion of Bryce Harper. Let's just leave it at that, shall we?
Standings: TEX 81-55, OAK 76-60, LAA 74-63
Playoff odds: TEX 98.6%, OAK, 67.8%, LAA 27.9%
Athletics: Collin Cowgill, Stephen Drew, Jarrod Parker, Jordan Norberto, Ryan Cook (and former D-backs prospects Chris Carter and Evan Scribner)
Angels: Alberto Callaspo, John Hester, Dan Haren
Six AL teams are within three games of each other, in the chase for the wild-card spots, so at this point, those could realistically go to any two of them. In the West, the Angels just swept the Calfornibacks and have won 12 of their last 15, to spring back into the hunt, 2.5 back of Oakland. But it seems likely most Diamondback fans will be cheering on the team who no provide a home to Arizona's longest tenured player until three weeks ago, former top pitching prospect, and 2007 Opening Day starter, among quite a few others. Add in they're also employing the D-backs winningest manager ever, and it seems likely they're the AL team of choice this October.
The Rangers, on the other hand, are another team we haven't had much dealings with. In fact, there's no team in the majors who've been our trade partners less often - the only case in franchise history was the March 2008 swap of Dustin Nippert for Jose Marte. Maybe that will change this winter, if we target shortstop Elvis Andrus? Not that it's apparently hurt them: they've won the American League pennant the past two seasons, and have the best record in the league to date. But I still can't say I feel much other than stoically neutral about Texas. I prefer the Angels: always seemed to grt on well with their fans, and they're owned by an Arizona native in Arte Moreno.
Last year, White Sox would have felt a lot more like Arizona North, with Carlos Quentin, Edwin Jackson, Brian Bruney, Tony Pena and Arizona's first-round pick in the 2002 draft, Sergio Santos. all part of the South Siders in 2011. Now, they are scattered to the winds and Adam Dunn was the only name we'd recognize on their Opening Day Roster (though Paul Konerko has more than a little local presence, still holding the career home-run and RBI baseball marks at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale..O-Dawg joined him after being canned by the Padres. Bonus points here: White Sox success = we get to drink the bitter tears of Cubs fans.
Man, whatever happened to Daniel Schlereth? He was totally a thing, but then gave up nine runs over five innnings in April, and went on the DL with a shoulder issue. He opted for therapy over surgery, and was last seen pitching a long series of rehab outings in the minors. Didn't seem to get the call when rosters expanded though, so doubt we'll see him in the post-season. So it'll just be our pitcher with eyes of different colors, and Papa Grande. I think that's enough to give the edge to the Tigers, on my personal ballot at least. Your mileage may vary...
Possibly the most interesting race of all, because it would be so cool if the Yankees were to join the woeful Red Sox, and both were to miss out on the post-season. That has not happened since the current "three divisions plus a wild-card" system was introduced in 1995. I suspect most AZ fans will be cheering for the Orioles and Rays, regardless of who they had on their team: Baltimore could run out Pablo Sandoval, Clayton Kershaw, Troy Tulowitzki and Everth Cabrera, be managed by Osama Bin Laden, and personally, I'd still cheer, "Go Orioles!" It goes back to the underdog thing mentioned with the Pirates, plus my hatred of the Yankees.
I still hold fond memories of Reynolds, and he's doing there, what he used to do here: weak batting average (.232), ton of strikeouts (AL top 10, even though he missed most of May), enough power to make his bat worthwhile (116 OPS+), but still can't field, basically negating his offensive value (0.1 bWAR). And now, Saunders joins him down the stretch. The Rays, being our expansion siblings, are also going to have a place in our hearts: we used to feel all superior to them - they didn't have more than 70 wins until 2008 - but the boot is a bit on the other foot now. They are a template for how to succeed when those around you are spending like it didn't matter, so more power to them too.