With the Orioles sitting comfortably in first place in the American League East, regular scoreboard watching has become less intense than it was in 2012 and 2013. For the Orioles to not with the division, they would need to fall apart and the Yankees would need to play very good baseball. Both of those things are something we'd see coming as the Yankees got closer to the O's in the division, so there would be ample notice of our impending doom.
In light of that, the next thing to pay attention to, in addition to your personal preferences for who makes the playoffs (Royals, Mariners) and who misses them (Tigers, Yankees), is postseason seeding. If the season ends with the teams in the same position as they are today, the postseason seeding would be as such:
- Angels (80-53)
- Orioles (76-58)
- Royals (74-59)
- Athletics - WC #1 (78-55)
- Tigers or Mariners - WC #2 (72-60)
The Tigers or Mariners would play against the A's in Oakland in the one-game wild card elimination. The winner of that game would travel to Los Angeles to play the Angels in the ALDS, and the Royals would come to Baltimore to play the Orioles. (The A's kind of get screwed in this situation, but that's OK with me.)
Also still in the race are the Yankees and the Indians, but they're both just barely hanging on. The Yankees (69-63) need to outplay both the Tigers and the Mariners to have a chance, or stage a major comeback in the division. It would be a miracle if the Indians leapfrogged three teams, but it could happen. They're also closer to the Royals in the AL Central (5.5 games) than the Yankees are to the Orioles in the AL East (7 games), but they are in third which means they'd have to outplay to teams to get to the top.
So what do we hope to happen over the final weeks of the season? I personally like things how they line up right at the moment, minus the Tigers. Keep the A's in the wild card spot where they have two chances of being eliminated before the Orioles could meet them in the ALCS. I like the match up of the Orioles vs the Royals in the first round, and I love the idea of starting the ALDS at home and having home field advantage. Here are your weekend match ups for each of the teams in contention:
Los Angeles Angels vs Oakland Athletics
The Angels and A's started a four-game series last night with the Angels walking off in extra innings to increase their division lead to two games. They play three more this weekend, so who knows who will be in first place in the AL West come Monday morning.
Who to root for? Angels. Both of these teams are going to the playoffs, but I have to root for the Angels to push the A's further down the standings. I'm not saying the Orioles wouldn't have a tough time in the playoffs against the Angels, because they would. But I don't have a good feeling about the A's at all, so let them face elimination against King Felix.
Kansas City Royals vs Cleveland Indians
The Royals have been in first place since August 11th, and when they got their I didn't expect them to stay. But their hot play combined with the misery of the Tigers has kept them there, and they are clinging to a 1.5 game lead. If the Indians want to have a chance at the postseason, they probably need to sweep both the Royals this weekend and the Tigers next week.
Who to root for? Royals. I have been rooting hard for the Royals for a few years now. They haven't made the playoffs since 1985, for crying out loud! I will continue to root them on to stay ahead of the Tigers. That comes with the caveat that they don't pass the Orioles in the overall seeding. They are currently two games behind and I don't want to cede home field advantage to them in the ALDS.
Detroit Tigers vs
It looks like the Tigers will have a pretty easy weekend against the White Sox. The White Sox are 1-9 over their last ten and seem to cure the ills of every team. But the Tigers have been having trouble of late, and they have to play a doubleheader on Sunday which is never easy to predict. The Tigers are 6-6 against the White Sox this year.
Who to root for? White Sox, of course. That's unless you want the Tigers to pass the Royals for the division. If that's what you and and if you're not a Tigers fan, then frankly, you're a monster. I guess you could want to see the Tigers over the Mariners in the WC position, but that also strikes me as odd.
Seattle Mariners vs
The Mariners haven't been to the playoffs since 2001, the year they had 116 wins. Can you even imagine watching a team that ends up with 116 wins? I don't have strong feelings for the Mariners the way I do the Royals, but I don't dislike them and it would be fun to see Felix Hernandez in the playoffs.
Who to root for? Mariners. It will help them get that second WC instead of the Tigers, and it gives the added bonus of denying wins to the Nationals, who currently have one less than the Orioles. Does that matter? No, but I still kind of care.
New York Yankees vs
The Blue Jays are one game over .500 and basically toast in the division race. Their 5.5 game deficit in the looks bad but not terrible until you account for the fact that there are four teams they'd have to pass. The Yankees are still in the race, but it's looking pretty unlikely.
Who to root for? If you don't know the answer to this question, what are you doing here?
Baltimore Orioles vs
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