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15 September 2010

Baseball in September is completely underrated.  It is a great way to pass those five days that don’t have television schedules full of football.  And to make it better, what was looking like a pretty boring baseball season got a lot better this past week.  The only action left is in the National League.  The Central is pretty much over, but there are five teams fighting for three spots in the NL West and East.  Two teams will get in the playoffs because of the division win, and one team will get in as the Wild Card.  This is great because there’s a legitimate race here, complete with teams who will miss the playoffs when all is said and done.    

The NL West is flat out crowded at the top.  After San Diego’s recent collapse (they lost 10 straight not too long ago), the big gap out west was closed.  Now there are three teams within three and a half games of the division lead.  The Padres are clinging to a one and a half-game lead over the Giants and the Rockies are only two games behind that.  The great thing about it is that all three of these teams play each other several times over the last few weeks, including what could be a great matchup during the last weekend of the season between the Giants and Padres.  If the standings stay like this, it is possible that over this final weekend, the two teams could play each other with only one playoff spot to win.  This race is so good that in Tuesday night’s head to head matchup, the Rockies and Padres combined for six runs in the eighth and ninth innings of the 7-6 Padres victory.     

The NL East has the other two teams in the mix, the Braves and Phillies.  These teams are still only two games apart.  It seems like for the past two months they’ve been within a couple games of each other.  In recent years, the Braves have always found a way to screw it up, so you can almost count on them bowing out of the race in the next week or ten days.   

In the American League you can just go ahead and bank on the Rangers, Yankees, Rays, and Twins making the playoffs.  Everyone has known this for a month and the only question is whether the Rays or Yankees will win the Eastern Division.  The other team will win the Wild Card, so it really doesn’t even matter that much since both will go to the playoffs .

 One liner:  "At least there is some suspense in the National League.  The Wild Card has killed any suspense that the American League might have had."

Send comments to: Mike@notasportsguy.com

The Basics

Baseball is  has been labeled "America's Pastime" because during the late 19th and early 20th century it was the most widely played sport in the country. More...

Terminology:

Win (for a pitcher):  A pitcher must complete five innings of pitching and his team must be leading when he exits for him to get a win.  A pitcher with 15 wins in a season is doing well; 20 wins is the recognized plateau of excellence.

ERA:  Earned Run Average.  A statistic which measures how many runs a pitcher averages surrendering to opposing teams based on pitching nine innings.  For instance, a pitcher with an ERA of 2.00 would on average give up 2 runs over the course of 9 innings.  ERA’s are always measured to the hundredths.  An ERA of under 3.00 is considered good.  An ERA under 2.00 is excellent and only a handful of pitchers are able to sustain an ERA under 2.00 for an entire season.

Pinch Hit:  when a player that did not start the game comes in to bat for a player that did start the game. 

Batting Average:   How often a player gets a hit.  Batting average is calculated by dividing the number of hits by total chances to hit.   If a player walks or is hit by a pitch, such actions are not counted as a chance to hit in calculating the batting average.  A .300 batting average (getting a hit 30% of the time) is considered to be above average for a MLB player.

Mendoza Line:  A euphemism for a .200 batting average.  The term came from a reference to Mario Mendoza, a light hitting infielder in the 1970s that usually batted around .200.  A player that is hitting around the Mendoza Line is lucky to still have a job in the Major Leagues.

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