The Home Stretch
By Kevin Aherne (@KAherne17)
The weather is cooling off, but baseball is heating up!
With less than two weeks remaining in the 2013 MLB season, the storylines and drama aound the league have reached a fever pitch. Zero teams have clinched, each division features a contentious race, and there are currently still 15 teams with realistic playoff aspirations.
While this season has been filled with great storylines; some past, some current, and some are still developping... these are my favorites:
5) Triple Double?
In 2012, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera established himself as an all-time great hitter by becoming the first player to win the Triple Crown since 1967. Miggy has had no hangover in 2013, as he has put up monster numbers again... in fact, his stats are actually better this year. The only thing preventing him from becoming the first back-to-back Triple Crown winner is Baltimore's Chris Davis, and his 50 home runs.
4) Yaseil Puig and the Dodgers
On June 2nd, the LA Dodgers were 23-32, sitting in the NL West's basement, and their manager Don Mattingley was seated firmly on the hot seat. The next day however, it all began to change; 22-yr old Cuban defector, Yaseil Puig made his big league debut on June 3rd, establishing himself as the catalyst for an epic turnaround. As of today, the Dodgers are 86-64 with a 9.5 game lead in the division, and Puig is still smashing the cover off the ball, and has established himself as the most exciting player in baseball.
3) The Little Markets That Could
In year two of the new Wild Card system, we are already seeing the benefits. Rather than teams like Boston, Philadelphia, and New York using their vast resources to hog all of the postseason berths, now more teams are included in the hunt. In 2013, we have seen perennial cellar-dwellers rise to prominence, remaining relevant well into October. Teams with limited "star power," such as Kansas City (79-71 * 2.5 GB) and Clevelend (81-69 * 0.5 GB) are legitimate contenders for a spot in the October schedule.
2) Faith Restored
2012 was a mess for the Boston Red Sox. They were disjointed, malevolent, and downright unwatchable. They made some key offseason moves to help right the ship, but expectations for 2013 were still low. However, things have gone exceptionally well at Fenway thus far. Whether it was the subtractions of Bobby Valentine, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford; or the additions of Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara, Mike Carp, and Stephen Drew, something clicked this season. The Sox currently own the best record in baseball, and have started September with a run of 11-3.
1) Slump: Busted
After stringing together 20 losing seasons in a row, the Pittsburgh Pirates have finally clinched a winning record. Not only will they have more wins than losses, they are in the middle of the most exciting division chase in baseball. As it stands right now, the Pirates are in a 3-way tie atop the NL Central. While it seems that all three teams will make the playoffs, winning the division is the obvious goal, as anything can happen in a 1-game Wild Card series. Regardless of the outcome, the city of Pittsburgh has cause for celebration, and Clint Hurdle should receive strong consideration form Manager of the Year.
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