- Posted: 9:04 AM, August 13, 2012
AL: Texas (1) vs. winner of Tampa Bay (WC1) and Baltimore (WC2), Yankees (2) vs. White Sox (3)
NL: Washington (1) vs. winner of Atlanta (WC1) and Pittsburgh (WC2), Cincinnati (2) vs. San Francisco (3)
Notes: We've now had five AL wild-card teams just since we started tracking this on August 1, with the Angels, A's and Tigers also in the mix. The Rays are the fifth to get in the playoff mix during this stretch, and you'd bet heavily on them winding up with a playoff spot. Shoot, it wouldn't be shocking at all if Tampa Bay wound up overtaking the Yankees to win the AL East.
The Yankees and Rangers, meanwhile, continue to trade that AL top seed, with the two clubs opening a four-game series tonight at Yankee Stadium.
The NL, in comparison, has been remarkably boring. Since August 1, the same five teams have held the playoff spots. The Dodgers were tied with the Giants atop the NL West after Friday night's results, only to fall a game behind Saturday and stay there yesterday.
--At last night's Mets game, I wrote about Scott Hairston and my opinion that the Mets should trade him this month, assuming the team that claims him on waivers offers even a low-level prospect. The Mets had more leverage on Hairston back in July, but they also had a better chance of finishing at .500 or better at that time, which is why I advocated keeping him and am now changing my mind.
The Mets need to stop worshipping the false gods of respectability and ballpark buzz. They held onto Jose Reyes at last year's trade deadline in part because they wanted people to keep coming to Citi Feld - and also because they said they wanted to keep the impending free agent Reyes, only to never make him a formal offer. What did that really accomplish, especially when the Rays were dying to pick up Reyes in a trade?
A's general manager Billy Beane, a protege of Mets GM Sady Alderson, has torn down some of his Oakland clubs in recent years because he was guided by this thinking: What good is it to have a team that, if everything goes right, could win 85 games? Better off taking a hit for a year or two and building a team that can win 100 games. Right now, the A's have a young, exciting team that's in the playoff hunt and should be relevant for the next couple of seasons (the A's can't retain players until they resolve their stadium mess, but let's not deal with that right now).
Likewise, let's say the Mets rallied to finish at .500 this season. Given the way their year started and how much has gone wrong this last month, particulary with young players and Johan Santana, would such a finish fire up Mets fans to buy tickets for next year? I don't think so. I think Mets fans, distrustful of their ownership, want to see what kind of money the club spends this winter before diving back in.
--CC Sabathia is on the disabled list for the second time this season, this time with a left elbow condition. It's encouraging for the Yankees that Sabathia insists he'll make his August 24 start at Cleveland, and did heal as quickly as promised earlier this year with his groin. Nevertheless, it has to concern the Yankees that Sabathia, the ultimate workhorse, is suddenly becoming vulnerable.
There's an excellent chance that Sabathia will fail to reach the 200 innings-pitched mark for the first time since 2006. If he recovers and pitches well in the postseason, then the Yankees won't sweat it too much. Yet it's a red flag, given that Sabathia has another four years guaranteed on his contract. It's ironic, too, given that Sabathia has managed to keep relatively slim this season.
--Getting back to the Mets discussion above, of giving up short-term fake goals in the hopes of achieving long-term excellence, I can't think of a club that has done more such short-term sacrificing in recent years than the Astros. Tyler Kepner of the New York Times wrote an excellent story about Houston, here.
--Finally, this week's Pop Quiz answer. Jim Schwartzman of West Hempstead suggested this one: In an episode of "Bewitched," Samantha refuses to help Mickey Mantle hit .600 because she isn't a Yankees fan. What team does Samantha like?
She likes the Mets.
If you have a piece of trivia that ties in baseball to popular culture, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
--Have a great day.