View Full Version : Oddly enough, this article gives me hope...

08-29-2006, 10:18 AM
Underwhelming NL wild-card spot has to go to some team
Posted 8/29/2006 12:12 AM ET
We have here the National League wild-card standings, with five weeks to go. Try not to giggle.
Notice the Cincinnati Reds. Their pitchers have given up more home runs than anyone in the league. Their bullpen has the worst earned-run average. They just lost three games in San Francisco by a combined score of 16-2.

Their record, through Sunday, is a model of medium: 35-33 at home, 32-31 on the road, 67-64 overall. They have been outscored for the season 668-645.

Introducing, ladies and gentlemen, your National League wild-card leaders.

This is like watching a race of cement trucks.

Just percentage points behind the Reds are...

The San Diego Padres. Third worst in the league in runs scored. A losing record at home. And just behind the Padres are...

The Philadelphia Phillies. They were discouraged enough about their performance in July to hold a garage sale with their roster. Trailing the Phillies are...

The San Francisco Giants, trying to make do with Barry Bonds hitting .251 and tied for 42nd in the league in home runs. Then come...

The Florida Marlins, with a payroll that couldn't meet the individual salary of five different Yankees, and who depend on rookies for most of the heavy lifting. They're closely followed by...

The Arizona Diamondbacks, who through Sunday had lost eight of their last 10 games. But they're still in front of...

The Houston Astros, with the worst team batting average in the league. Close behind the Astros are...

The Milwaukee Brewers, who are nothing if not consistent. They're next-to-last in the league in hitting, next-to-last in pitching. And then come...

The Atlanta Braves, with 25 blown saves. The Braves are edging out...

The Colorado Rockies, who have finally found pitchers but are 15th in the league in home runs, having hit fewer than even the Pirates.

Welcome to the National League mild card race. A veritable murderer's row of contenders. As of Monday, only 5 games separated this somewhat tattered gang of hopefuls, grouped just above or below .500. But there are many days when none of them have the look of October

It is a situation that must make the American League gag. The Texas Rangers would be in a virtual tie for the National League wild card. In the American League, they are 10 games behind.

This is not the prescribed function of the wild card. It was designed to reward the deserving team that just happened to be in a tough division. The last pre-wild card playoffs were 1993, and uninvited were the 103-59 Giants. The wild card would eliminate such injustice.

And it has. The 2002 Angeles won 102 games, and needed the wild card to get to the World Series they eventually won. But the wild card is supposed to be a high bar. No team in a full season has ever gained it with fewer than 88 victories.

The leading Reds, at this moment, are on a pace to go 83-79.

So down the stretch they come. In the American League, the Twins and White Sox are trying to out-gallop one another. In the National League, it's more like gasping, wheezing, groping. Taking two steps forward and then two back.

The most frustrated should be the Braves. The Mets have destroyed their run of 14 straight division titles, but Atlanta's wild-card chances are being ruined by its own late-game malfunctions. The Braves are a startling 15-28 in one-run decisions.

It is a race of flawed teams, each eager if not particularly deserving, hoping to cover up just enough weaknesses. Someone will win the National League wild card, mostly because someone has to.

Contact Mike Lopresti at mlopresti@gns.gannett.com.

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08-29-2006, 10:21 AM
It aint exactly "clash of the titans" is it? :)

08-29-2006, 10:25 AM
It's not just the Reds who keep drilling holes in the bottom of the NL Wild Card boat. The more holes get drilled, the less of a prize that boat will be in October.

Always Red
08-29-2006, 10:26 AM
LOL- no clash of the Titans, indeed. Interestingly, as the Reds have struggled, I've noticed more of the national media types starting to pick the Reds. I think most figured we would have faded by now, which actually, we have done. It's just that everyone faded as well!

08-29-2006, 02:13 PM
I think it will come down to who has the best last week of the season. The main thing is to stay at the top until then and see what happens the last week. The last week will be a complete crap shoot.