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topdawgizalaw*
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  No, knuckleheads, we aint talking about Madden.  MLB Bloggers Domain contributor, and fortune cookie, just kidding on the second part, Cardsox* hammers out what is easily his best blog of all-time with his extenuous blog on who the winnners of the playoff races will be.  While I do not agree with all of them, for instance, the New York Mets will not hold onto their lead of Atlanta, I can testify that this is a great blog, one that took five hours to write.  Anyway, here it is. And sorry, cardsox, they would not let me copy and paste the beginning image onto this blog without it just copying the whole webpage of the original blog, sorry about that.
This is an assessment of the current major league baseball teams in contention for the MLB playoffs this year in order to determine which teams will make the playoffs, and how they will do so. The research I did was extenuous, so if I'm referring to a team that you do not follow, have a little bit of respect for the work. Feel free to find your team on here, though, scrutinize it, and leave a scathing/praising comment below, as that's what I enjoy most about this type of blog. I've also listed the current standings of contending teams in their respective divisions, which I only expect you to look at as a point of reference. And here we go...

National League

East

 We'll kick things off with the New York Mets. This is a high octane lineup, to say the least. Even on a "down year" they lead the surprising Braves and pesky Phillies by over 3 games and are 2nd in the league in wins. Tom Glavine, John Maine and Jorge Sosa headline a get-the-job-done rotation, while Billy Wagner continues to do what he does. This team still has it. [Final standing - 1st place NL East]

 Next, we move on to the Atlanta Braves. This team was clearly the most successful at the trade deadline, acquiring Octavio Dotel and Mark Teixeira. Dotel, combined with Rafel Soriano combines to form a deadly force in front of closer Bob Wickman. Their rotation is a mess, though, and as good as their offense is, they're going to need good pitching as well as good hitting to envelop the Mets before season's end. [Final standing - 2nd place NL East]

 Philadelphia Phillies. This team refuses to die. With the help of hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, Phils have become MLBs most proficient run producing machine. However, like the Braves, their rotation is in shambles; a desperate problem that will be their downfall. [Final standing - 3rd place NL East]

 

Currently...

                      W   L   GB

Mets               67  53   -

Phillies            64  56 3.0

Braves             64  57 3.5

 

Central

 Once again, this "division" has folded into a competition to see who can suck the least for the longest...

 The Milwaukee Brewers are known for their young talent. However, I think they are incredibly overrated. The "great stars" that these guys have don't put up the numbers of great stars, with the exception of Prince Fielder. They're 15-26 since July began and cling to their division lead over the Cubs and Cardinals. On top of that, the Brew Crew, which is ghastly on the road, spends the majority of the rest of the season travelling. [Final standing - 3rd place NL Central]

 The Cubs. They're not great, but they're better than people credited them for. However, now that they've lost Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, they've lost all the momentum that they'd been piling on since June. Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly make a decent 1-2 combo, and with the help of young, clutch sparkplugs Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot the Cubs should have enough steam to beat back the Cards and Brewers. [Final standing - 1st place NL Central]

 The Cardinals. I am utterly and completely shocked by this. The Cardinals are...winning. I realize that the rest of the nation did not write them off, as they ARE the Cardinals, but looking at them as a real fan you can clearly see that this team has no chance. They have a rotation from hell in which Braden Looper, converted setup man, is the #2 starter and Adam Wainwright, converted closer, is the #1. Their offense is weak, with catcher Yadier Molina hitting as high as 5th in the order this season. However, somehow Kip Wells, Braden Looper, Joel Pineiro, Adam Wainwright and the formerly 1-11 Anthony Reyes have combined for 5 consecutive wins involving a clean sweep of the division leading Brewers. My advice, don't believe the hype. They are on a lucky streak, but the pitching and offense can not be this good forever, and they won't pass both the Cubs and the Brewers, despite being the only one of the 3 with a home-dominant schedule now. [Final standing - 2nd place NL Central]

 

Currently...

                      W   L   GB

Brewers           62  59   -

Cubs              61  59  0.5

Cardinals        58  60  2.5

 

West

 We'll start with the sinking ship that is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yikes. A force on paper including great pitching and hitting, if not fielding, this team has lacked significantly in achieving their potential. Currently in a landslide 4-10 August, this once promising team is virtually done in the competitive NL West. [Final standing - 4th place NL West]

 Now to the Colorado Rockies. This team has been on fire since the All Star break and shows no sign of slowing down. Jeff Francis has been an absolute beast on the mound, and is complemented by the offense provided by Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Garret Atkins and Brad Hawpe and the glovework of Holliday and Troy Tulowitzki. Their schedule is light from here on out, with the exception of a plate full of Arizona Diamondbacks, of which they are 6-6 in the season series. This team is rising fast in the NL West, and they're in line to rise even higher in the coming years. [Final standing - 2nd place NL West]

 Next, the division leading Arizona Diamondbacks. What a young, talented team, which is balanced by veterans Eric Byrnes, Orlando Hudson and Tony Clark. They have a Cy Young candidate in Brandon Webb and the league's newest and biggest phenoms in Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin and Chris Young (as well as the wearers of the coolest unis in the MLB). The D-Backs play a large majority of their remaining games at home, where they are primarily dominant. [Final standing - 1st place NL West]

 Finally, the San Diego Padres. This team has one of the most extraordinary pitching staffs I've seen in my lifetime (and yes, better than the Sox'). They have two Cy Young pitchers and an absolutely sick bullpen. Unfortunately, this team is more hopeless at the plate than the All-Star modified class team from the Chicago Down Syndrome Institutional School for the Blind and Deaf. No matter how good your pitching and defense is, you can't win if your players can't cross home plate. I feel dirty for leaving them out, but [Final standing - 3rd place NL West]

 

Currently...

                      W   L   GB

Diamondbacks 69  53   -

Padres            64  55  3.5

Rockies           62  57  5.5

Dodgers          61  59  7.0

 

Wild Card

 The National Leage Wild Card race is expectedly wild, as it is seemingly every year. It's almost a tossup to decide who'll win it. This year, I'm going to go with...the Rockies. Luckily, as I type this I sit safely behind the protection of my computer screen, so the assorted yells and fits of outrage to follow will not affect me. Yes, the Colorado Rockies. They are certainly one of baseball's hottest teams right now, and they're a sweep of Pittsburgh away from taking the Wild Card lead. I have a slight feeling I'll get more scathing comments for this pick than anything else.

 

Currently...

             GB

Padres     -

Braves    0.5

Phillies   1.0

Rockies  2.0

Cubs      3.5

Dodgers  3.5 

 

Contending Teams

Mets Braves Phillies Brewers Cardinals Cubs Padres Diamondbacks Rockies Dodgers

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Now to kick off the American League...

American League

East

 First up, the Boston Red Sox. I think it's widely believed that Boston has the American League's most dominant pitching staff by far. They have a rotation consisting of Cy Young candidate Josh Beckett, ROY candidate Daisuke Matsuzaka, warrior Curt Schilling, life's fourth constant Tim Wakefield, cancer survivor Jon Lester and rookie phenom Clay Bucholz who has been called up for a start. Their bullpen contains Jon Papelbon, Eric Gagne and Relief Man of the Year candidate Hideki Okajima. Don't fall behind against this team, because you'll go through hell trying to crack their pitching. [Final standing - 1st place AL East]

 Had you told me that the New York Yankees would be a mere 5 games behind the Sox at this point 2 months ago, I'd have punched you in the face. As of now, though, I would not be able, as I'm shaking so hard in fear that a punch would be about as strong as a feather to the groin. However, there is good news on the horizon. The Yanks, who have a replenished pitching staff with the additions of rookies Phil Hughs and Joba Chamberlain, are now going through a 15 day stretch of nothing but Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, and LA Angels. That should bruise them around enough to wake 'em up from their dream schedule ride since the All Star break. They are great all around, with power hitting, power pitching, and now power relief with Joba's fastballs wizzing across the plate. Unfortunately, the combination of the equally great Boston Red Sox in front of them and the tough-as-nails schedule ahead will hinder them. [Final standing - 2nd place AL East]

 

Currently...

                      W   L   GB

Red Sox          72  48   -

Yankees          67  54  5.5

 

Central

 Oh, the Cleveland Indians. This team is simply great. They have C.C. Sabathia, a potential Cy Young winner, Fausto Carmona, a potential Cy Young winner, and Grady Sizemore, All Star outfielder with a power bat and a magical glove. However, they lack the depth they need to grind out the rest of the season with the Tigers. [Final standing - 2nd place AL Central]

 And then there's the Detroit Tigers. What a stunning offense they've aquired; They have Magglio Ordonez leading the AL in BA, Gary Sheffield exploding his numbers and the SS/2B combo of Placido Polanco and Carlos Guillen tearing up the league. While the Indians keep comin' at you no matter what the deficit, the Tigers continue to pile ON the deficits with the most dominant offensive power in the division and the AL. This, combined with the starting rotation led by Justin Verlander, is enough to take the division despite bullpen woes. [Final standing - 1st place AL Central]

 Hmm...the Twins...not sure why I mentioned them. However, year after year they remain a possibility until the very last day. This year looks different, though. They've lost offensive power, and Johan Santana is no longer blowing through the American League like it's his b**ch. By next year they'll have likely lost Torii Hunter as well, who's contract price is going wayy up this year, due to his outstanding performance. I'd say the Twins are pretty much counted out at this point. [Final standing - 3rd place AL Central]

 

Currently...

                      W   L   GB

Tigers             67  54   -

Indians           66  54  0.5

Twins              60  60  6.5 

 

West

 Almost done...

 2nd to last, but not near the least, the Los Angeles Angels...of Anaheim. This, in my opinion, is the epitome of "team" even if they don't live up to SI's prediction of being the next '90s New York Yankees. They have Mike Scioscia at the helm, who is personable and friendly to his players. They have speed in players like Reggie Willits and Chone Figgins. They have clutch performers in Orlando Cabrera and Vlad Guerrero. They have power in Vlad. They have pitching in John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Jered Weaver. They have a potential Hall of Fame closer Fransisco Rodriguez, otherwise known as "K-Rod". Need I go on, or have I made my point? This team rocks. [Final standing - 1st place AL West]

 Finally, the Seattle Mariners. This is probably the most glorified underrated team I've ever seen. For the record, when a team is constantly being named massively underrated from the mountaintops 24/7, it's probably not underrated. Every baseball fan knows this team is for real. They are good, and they're not going to die. They've hung with the Angels all year now, and they have a very good chance to make the playoffs. If they do, though, it will be through the Wild Card, because they're not going to beat the Angles. [Final standing - 2nd place AL West]

 

Currently...

                      W   L   GB

Angels            70  49   -

Mariners          66  52  3.5

 

Wild Card

 Once again, like clockwork, the AL Wild Card is much less competetive than the NL. Of course, that doesn't mean it's not worth watching, because although it may not involve as many teams, it contains far more overall talent. This year's race includes the Mariners, the Yanks, the Indians and the Tigers, as well as any other first place teams that fall behind. The 2007 Wild Card winner will be...the Yankees. Oh my god. Hold the gasps. Stay in your seats. I know it's a shock. But it's true. The Wild Card honor never fails to be bestowed upon the hottest team at the end of the year. That means either Yanks or Mariners. Right now the Yanks are hotter. They've had new additions to the team, and are now winning more games than they're playing (wait...). If only, if only, if only, God didn't love the Yankees. Oh well. Maybe next year...

 

Currently...

                   GB

Mariners         -

Yankees       -

Indians         1.0

Tigers           1.0 

 

Contending Teams

Red Sox Yankees Indians Tigers Twins Angels Mariners

 

 

^A little outdated, but I like the picture.  

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