By: Max Wolpoff
It can be forgiven for baseball fans to ignore the month of September, holding up the Green Day creed and waiting for it to end.
Games are longer with the rosters going from 25 to 40, some teams are already out of contention and exist solely to mess it up for the ones in play for the postseason, and not every team has their “David Wright moment” to give a veteran player.
This September gifted us insanity, craziness, chaos, and playoff races into the last day of the season. It now has one more day, with both Game 163s slated for play Monday afternoon.
On any given day this month, the N.L. West was separated by three games or fewer. It ended with the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers both in the playoffs, but in need of one more game to determine who has the privilege of not playing the one-game Wild Card playoff.
The Milwaukee Brewers won seven games in a row, and 19 in the month, to tie the Chicago Cubs for the N.L. Central in the last weekend. Christian Yelich emerged from a crowded field to make a strong closing argument for league MVP, and Javy Baez is one of the strongest overall candidates. It is now a one-off to determine a division champion.
In the American League, there was less palace intrigue. The Red Sox ran away with the division title and the top overall seed, the Yankees made it to 100 wins, the Astros held off a surging Oakland squad who had to settle for a date in the Bronx, and Cleveland has been pretty secure at the top of a mediocre division most of the year.
Not that much fun when the top headline out of Boston baseball is “will Chris Sale be healthy enough for game one?” after a not-so-great start against the league’s worst team to end his regular season.
Want more fun? Charlie Blackmon hit for the cycle in the last game of the season, the first time that had ever happened, to help propel the Rockies to the extra game. Yelich hit 10 home runs in the month, placing him above 308 MLB players’ season totals, to put himself in the MVP conversation.
The Dodgers opened this season as the West’s team to beat, and last year’s N.L champions are now two straight losses away from an early Winter. The Cubs are in year four of their five-year plan (which keeps changing), and they have the same problem.
Los Angeles went out and convinced Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette to trade their lone All-Star, Manny Machado, to them for a wealth of prospects. He will get one playoff game, but Machado’s season could be over in a flash, without a home game. The loser of Cubs/Brewers will have home-field for the Wild Card game, so Dodger Stadium better soak in Game 163 while they can.
The Cubs settled on a few players like Cole Hamels and Brandon Kintzler to shore up arms in the bullpen at the trade deadline, while managing to get Daniel Murphy out of Washington in August. These few years were supposed to be the start of a multi-year dynasty of contenders at least. Will they bow out a round earlier than last year’s exit at L.A’s hands?
For one more day, the baseball world can hold off on discussing just how much money it will take to sign Bryce Harper in the off-season.
Monday may be the first day of October, but baseball is really just extending September by one more day. The National Hockey League and National Basketball Association will have to wait their turn to start getting weird. Baseball has not one, but two Game 163s to play before the playoff picture is set.
If this is a dream, I do not want to wake up when September ends.