The playoff races have been de-zombified, and Team Entropy was on the prowl, looking for meaningful baseball going into the final game.
Welcome to Team Entropy! Grab a seat on the couch, and here, have a beer. You've been invited to this party because after almost exactly six months and 160 games of regular-season baseball, you've suspended the need to root for a specific team and are working for the greater good, more interested in maximizing the amount of end-of-season chaos the remaining schedule can produce. The amount of season, even, if it comes to a 163rd game—or two.
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While there is a confusing starting rotation picture for the AL playoff contenders, the NL is much clearer.
With the matter of the playoff participants in both leagues largely settled, on Wednesday I examined the unsettled nature of the playoff rotations of the likely AL representatives. As I showed, each has a considerable amount of unfinished business with regards to identifying their front four, with injuries and matchup issues both playing a part, and there's relatively little separation between the four, at least according to a quick and dirty measure I nabbed from Nate Silver's back pages. By comparison, the NL teams have much less uncertainty as to who will be taking the ball, and much more certainty about whom the fairest of them all is, at least when it comes to post-season rotations.
It's that time of year again: The baseball community comes together to question whether this is the last dance for the heralded Yankees closer.
One pitch was all it took to know that the story wasn't going to die. Summoned into Thursday afternoon's game between the Yankees and the Angels with two on, one out, and a four-run lead in the ninth inning, Mariano Rivera caught a bit too much of the inside part of the strike zone with his first offering, a 91 mph cutter. That was the opening that pinch-hitter Russell Branyan needed. Despite having not swung a bat in a game situation since July 23, the slugger smashed Rivera's meatball into the right-center field stands with his signature uppercut for a three-run homer.
A look at the 2011 Angels, their strengths, their weaknesses, and their chances at making the playoffs.
Back in mid-May, when we were all younger and more handsome, if not smarter, I predicted that the Rangers would pull away from the Angels—who led the AL West by a game and a half at the time—once injured sluggers Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz returned to the lineup. The two teams stayed close, but when Texas opened up a five-game lead while reeling off a 12-game winning streak that carried through the All-Star break, the division looked to be in their control. The Halos have refused to go quietly, however, and they remain in contention. They came to the Bronx last night just a game and a half out of first place and took the series opener from the Yankees in dramatic fashion, with Bobby Abreu socking two homers—including a two-run ninth-inning shot off Mariano Rivera.
Jose Bautista's turnaround has continued despite doubts, plus other observations from the Bronx.
Twenty-six players have hit at least 50 home runs in a single season. Only nine of them have done it twice, and only five—Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez—have repeated the feat in consecutive seasons. Jose Bautista is not in that group yet, but with an AL-high nine homers through Toronto's first 28 games, he's on pace to hit 52, two shy of the 54 he posted last year, when he stunned the baseball world. Bautista had never hit more than 16 homers in a season during his six-year major-league career, and had totaled just 59 in 575 games to that point while playing for four teams (Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh) prior to Toronto.
With the Fall Classic now upon us, the staff at Baseball Prospectus shares their most memorable World Series moments.
Every baseball fan has a special World Series memory, whether it's Willie Mays' catch, Bill Mazeroski's home run, Brooks Robinson's defense, Kirk Gibson's limp around the bases, or Derek Jeter becoming the first-ever Mr. November. With the World Series opening tonight at AT&T Park in San Francisco with the Giants facing the Texas Rangers, many of our writers, editors, and interns share their favorite memories of the Fall Classic.
The Yankees look to get back to yet another World Series while the Rangers are in uncharted territory.
From 1996 through 1999, the Joe Torre-led Yankees and the Johnny Oates-piloted Rangers faced off in three American League Division Series, the first three times the latter franchise had ever reached the postseason. The Yankees won nine of those 10 games, holding the Rangers to a lone run apiece in their 1998 and 1999 sweeps. Times have changed, however, and while the Yankee machine has simply kept rolling, racking up four pennants and two world championships while missing the playoffs just once since their last meeting, the Rangers endured a dark decade before reemerging as AL West champions thanks to the shrewd deal making of general manager Jon Daniels and the fruits of their well-stocked farm system.
The Game One showdown between star southpaws, and tonight's matchup features a recently phoaled Phillie.
In yesterday's chat, Bronx Banter's Alex Belth asked me, "Is there any particular pitching matchup that you are looking forward to in the series?" I responded that the matchup I was most looking forward to was between CC Sabathia and Ryan Howard, particularly given the prospect of the big man pitching three times for the Yankees in a seven-game series, and the slugger's less-than-sterling reputation against southpaws. "I think that matchup will tell us something about what's going to happen over the next four to seven games," I wrote.