Bases Loaded: September Notes

The divisional races all but wrapped up and the Wild Card race heating up, so I thought today was a good day to do a little catching up with the baseball world.

Before getting into the on the field topics in Major League Baseball, I would be remiss if I didn’t first acknowledge the heartbreaking tragedy that befell the baseball community on Sunday morning with the news of the death of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez.

Jose was quickly becoming a fan favorite both for the Marlins fan base and the baseball community as a whole.  His love of the game was unmistakable every time he stepped onto the diamond, whether he was pitching that night or not.  Fernandez always had a smile on his face and as his manager, Don Mattingly, said he played the game with the joy of a little kid…like a little leaguer.

There is no doubt that Fernandez embodied everything that was great about the game of baseball and seeing the outpouring of sadness that his untimely death brought to the entire baseball community proved exactly what he meant to the game.

Fernandez’s impact stretch far beyond the world of baseball, too.  As my friend George Diaz and ESPN’s Dan le Batard both pointed out, Jose was far more than just a baseball player to Cubans in this America and he truly embodied the American Dream.

Before I wrap up this little tribute to Jose Fernandez and move into some baseball topics I just have to say that for me, as a semi-Marlins fan and lover of the game of baseball, this news was devastating.  I for one will always remember Fernandez fondly and hope that his story will be one that is told to generation after generation of baseball fans.

RIP Jose Fernandez.  You will be missed.

Wild Card Fever

In a rare turn of events, pennant fever ended early and it’s really just the Wild Card race that still has any kind of drama.

The AL East and NL West seemed like they were going to go down to the wire as recently as a week ago.  Since then the Dodgers have clinched their division and the Red Sox dwindled their magic number is down to 2 with three consecutive in-division series sweeps.  Even though the Red Sox and Indians have yet to clinch their respective divisions, it would take the most epic of collapses at this point for them not to do so.

So that brings us to the Wild Card races.

In the National League it’s probably just a 3 team race between the Mets, Giants and Cardinals at this point. The Marlins and the Pirates are technically still in the race, but at 4.5 games back they have a very steep uphill climb.

The American League will be more fun.

The Blue Jays and Orioles hold the top two spots at the moment, but the Tigers, Mariners and Astros are within striking distance.  The bad news for Toronto and Baltimore is that they still have to play each other three more times down the stretch and the Blue Jays have to finish with a 3-game series against the red-hot Red Sox at Fenway Park.

I’m not sure either wild card race will be set in stone before the final day of the season, but do expect to see both the Mets and the Blue Jays hold on to the top spot in their respective leagues.  The second spot may come down to the team that survives the struggle the best.

In the American League the Orioles, Tigers and Mariners have all gone 5-5 over their last ten games and don’t have an easy stretch ahead. Of these three teams, I’d say the Mariners have the easiest road as they host the A’s in their final series of the regular season.  The Tigers do finish with the Braves, but Atlanta is 7-3 over their last ten and has not been too bad in September.

I’m predicting a Blue Jays and Mariners play-in game in the American League.  In the National League I have to stick with the even year Giants until I’m proven wrong, but would not be surprised to see the Cardinals take on the Mets at Citi Field.

Homer Time

You’ve probably gotten sick of this by now, but my Homer Time segment on the Inside the Mind of Ditti podcast did originated here on the Bases Loaded blog…so get used to it being on these as well.

How sweet it is to be a Boston sports fan right now.  The Patriots are 3-0 without Tom Brady, the Bruins re-signed Brad Marchand and the Red Sox have won 11-straight including series sweeps over the Yankees, Orioles and Rays.

Simply put…it’s wicked awesome!

Beyond the team success I can’t help but to gloat about the fact that the Red Sox could very well bring in some hardware on the individual level too.  Rick Porcello is 22-4 on the season with a 3.11 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP and could very well win the American League Cy Young award.  The MVP could come to Boston as well with Mookie Betts having an unbelievable year and the legend David Ortiz having one of his best seasons (37 HR/.321 AVG/124 RBI) in his final season in the league.

The other award that seems like a given for the Red Sox has to be the Comeback Player of the Year award.  Hanley Ramirez was said to have been a waste of money when the Red Sox signed him and he seemed to show it in 2015 with a sub-par season.  In 2016 Ramirez has been outstanding with 29 home runs, 110 RBI and a solid .291 batting average.

If you remember correctly, during a guest appearance in Orlando last spring, I predicted a Boston Red Sox division win and a World Series match-up with the Washington Nationals.  Both are still in play and the division crown could be just days away.

Go Red Sox!

That’s going to do it for another blog-edition of Bases Loaded.  Make sure to stay tuned for more Inside the Mind of Ditti podcasts as well as some Bases Loaded podcasts and all of my blogs in the not-so-distant future.

-Ditti

Find me on Twitter (@Ditti33), Facebook (/ditti33) and Instagram (dittius33)

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