Not a Bandwagon Fan
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Major League Baseball has roughly one month of play remaining left in the regular season, yet a playoff type atmosphere has emerged. Despite the recent injuries that have plagued the Tampa Bay Rays, they have their sites set towards making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. On pace to demolish there the previous high of 70 wins, one would think the Cinderella Rays would appear as the top story on the majority off newsstands. Think again. The battle between the Red Sox and Yankees, along with the Mets and Phillies, has momentarily overshadowed the Herculaneum efforts of the Rays. As last season???s World Series Champions, many are expecting the Red Sox to easily take the American League Wild Card and gain a berth into the playoffs, while the Yankees remain struggling from one series to the next. Joe Girardi and company are praying for a similar collapse of the 2007 Mets to curse the Red Sox this season, but the possibility of Derek Jeter not appearing in score cards come playoff time is appearing more of a reality as each day passes. The Yankees have been inconsistent in both the offense and defensive categories. Failing to score runs for a struggling pitch staff has been the nucleus of problems the Bombers have encountered. Even with Mike Mussina playing the role as the team ace with an unexpected dominating season, the injuries that have plagued Chin Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy have left huge gaps in the rotation. On the flip side, the National League East race should, like last season, remains intense down the stretch. After an epic collapse in 2007, the Mets are looking for redemption as the season takes its turn down the homestretch. Both the Phillies and the Mets have what appears to be a powerful offense, yet the determining factor as to which team makes the playoffs could very well rely on the pitching staffs. The Mets have had a solid starting rotation with a shaky bullpen, especially with the injury to Billy Wagner, and the Phillies have had one of the best bullpens in the game yet they struggle to find a rotation that produces consistently during the big games. The team that is able to use both their starters and relievers effectively could be the one still playing baseball in October. Are the Mets going to collapse for the second year in a row? Could this finally be the year where the Yankees do not make the playoffs? These among others are a few of the questions that only time can answer, though it could be the first time in the last 14 years where a team from New York would not be represented in the fall classic. Fans may ultimately have to focus away from the bright lights of the Big Apple and concentrate towards a small market team from Florida with zero games of playoff experience.

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