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Playoff watch for the final weekend of the regular season

Things are pretty much decided for the start of the postseason, but a few teams are still battling for better position.

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

With just three games left in the regular season, eight of the ten playoff teams have been determined. It's pretty easy to see what will probably happen, but a crazy weekend could shake things up. It's unlikely, but you never know. Remember a few years ago when all the Rangers lost first place to the A's on the very last day of the season?

National League

I honestly don't pay much mind to the NL for most of the season, but with it getting to be playoff time, I guess it's time to start. The five NL playoff teams have been determined, and they are the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Washington Nationals. The Dodgers and Nationals have both clinched their division and home field advantage in the National League Division Series and the Giants have clinched one of the wild card spots. It won't matter in the first round, but the Nationals and Dodgers are still playing to see who will clinch overall home field advantage. The Nats are two games ahead at the moment.

While both the Cardinals and Pirates are going to the playoffs, it remains to be seen which will be the division winner and which will get the wild card. The Pirates sit one game back of the Cardinals with three games to play, so it's likely that they'll hold on. Both teams are playing on the road against bad teams, with the Cardinals at the Diamondbacks and the Pirates at the Reds. If the Cardinals and Pirates end the season tied, they'll play a one-game playoff to determine the division winner.

The Giants, meanwhile, are currently the second wild card, one game back of the Pirates. Their final three games are at home against the San Diego Padres. So they are still playing to try to get to that first spot for a home playoff game.

If the season ends with the teams in the same position that they are now, the Pirates will host the Giants in a the wild-card playoff, with the winner traveling to DC to play the Nationals in the division series. The Dodgers would host the Cardinals.

Now that the Orioles are good again, I don't find myself looking for teams to root for in the playoffs as much as I used to. But I still casually root for the teams who have had the longest playoff and/or World Series droughts.

Last Playoff # of playoffs, last 10 yrs
World Series Win
Nationals 2012 1 N/A
Cardinals 2013 7 2011
Pirates 2013 1 1979
Dodgers 2013 5 1988
Giants 2012 2 2012

The Nationals of course have never won a World Series in their nine years of existence, nor did the Expos before them. It's been a long time for the Dodgers, but they've had a lot of recent playoff success and spend a gajillion dollars on their players, so that doesn't make them seem that desperate. The Pirates, though, if you're not one of the O's fans who still feels miserable thinking back to something that happened when I was eight months old, are a pretty root-able team. I know some people are pulling for a Nationals/Orioles World Series, but not me. No thank you.

American League

Like in the NL, the it's all coming down to the Central and Wild Card Races. The Orioles and Los Angeles Angels have clinched their divisions and home field advantage in the ALDS. The Detroit Tigers have clinched a playoff berth, but haven't yet clinched the division. The Kansas City Royals are two games behind them with three to play, so all the Tigers have to do is take two of three from the Twins over the weekend to secure the division.

The two current wild card teams are the Royals and the Oakland Athletics, with the Royals holding a one-game edge. But neither are locked in yet as the Seattle Mariners are two games behind the A's. The Cleveland Indians are still technically in it, but at three games back with three to go they're all but finished. The Mariners basically are too, unless the A's or Royals completely tank this weekend. They are both playing terrible teams; the Royals finish against the White Sox and the A's finish against the Rangers.

The Orioles are technically still in the hunt for overall home field advantage, but don't hold your breath. For that to happen they'll have to sweep the Blue Jays and the Angels will have to be swept by the Mariners.

If the season ends the same way the standings are now, the Royals will host the A's in the wild-card game, with the winner traveling to Los Angeles to play the Angels. And our Orioles will have start the ALDS at home against the Tigers.

We're all obviously rooting for the Orioles in the AL, but here is your handy dandy chart for them as well:

Last playoff # of playoffs, last 10 yrs World Series Win
Orioles 2012 1 1983
Tigers 2013 4 1984
Royals 1985 0 1985
Athletics 2013 3 1989
Angels 2009 5 2002

It feels like the Tigers and A's have had a lot of recent success, and they have, but they haven't been able to get that World Series win. It's nice to know that unless the Angels win the AL pennant, there will be an AL team in the World Series who have an entire generation of fans who have never seen their team win it all. The same can be said for the Pirates and Dodgers as well. That's pretty cool. Of course now that I've said that it'll probably end up an Angels/Cardinals World Series.