It’s that time of year again. Teams are starting to lock down divisions and celebrate madly in the clubhouses — with dozens of champagne bottles and players donning Oakley protective goggles.
The Texas Rangers clinched the American League West on Friday night. The Chicago Cubs locked up the NL Central last week. The Dodgers, Nationals, and Indians aren’t far behind.
The Boston Red Sox have started to assert themselves in the AL East race, thanks to a nine-game winning streak, making them the hottest team in baseball.
The second hottest? Why, that would be the Atlanta Braves, winners of seven straight.
The Braves are the farthest thing from a playoff team this season, but the final stretch of the season has seen them play their best baseball to date, lending itself to potentially heightened expectations next year, support for Brian Snitker to remain as manager, and hope that the offense is a piece away from being a legitimate force.
But back to the playoff teams this season.
The Yankees, Pirates, and Marlins are right on the brink of being eliminated. It appears the NL Wild Card race is a three-horse race, while five teams still have a real shot at claiming one of the two AL Wild Card berths.
The Mets are a game to the good, even with a completely makeshift roster. The Giants are collapsing, and people are making the case that it could be one of the worst ever (it’s generous to say the Braves’ 2011 collapse is only the 5th-worst).
With that being said, San Fran is still in control of its playoff destiny.
Buckle up. The last few weeks of the season will be fun.