With only a quarter of the season left, the playoff picture is coming into focus. As of today, the AL playoffs would look like this:
1. Cincinnati Redlegs (#1 Seed and AL North Champ)
2. Durham Tar Heels (#2 Seed and AL East Champ)
3. Jacksonville TIMUCUAN'S (#3 Seed and AL South Champ)
4. Salem Aggies (#4 Seed and AL West Champ)
5. Philadelphia Bacharach Giants (#5 Seed and Wild Card #1)
6. Montreal Garde Imperiale (#6 Seed and Wild Card #2)
Cincinnati has all but locked up the overall #1 seed. Durham leads Jacksonville by 4 games for the #2 seed and Philly by 6.5 games in the East. Jacksonville has an 11 game (insurmountable?) lead in the South. Salem is in the most tenuous position of the AL division leaders as they lead St. Louis by 3.5 and Fresno by 6 in the West. Philly has a commanding 8.5 game lead for the Wild Card #1 spot and would seem a lock for the playoffs.
So really, there are two competitively open - the West Division winner and the Wild Card #2 spot. Accordingly.......
AL West Analysis
1. Salem 65-58
2. St. Louis 61-61
3. Fresno 59-64
4. Vancouver Otters 42-80
The Aggies have finished 3rd of 4th in every one of dubabe's 7 seasons. This year is a new story. Led by Dutch Velarde and Keith Roosevelt on offense and emerging ace Hick Manning, Salem has produced one of the more dramatic turn arounds in 1530 history. They have been in teh Top 10 5 of the 6 weeks and show little sign of wearing down.
2000man had won his division in 11 of his 22 1530 Homer seasons. The Cards are led by Archie Herzner on offense and the quasi-albino Blade Fox on the mound. Future HOF'r Clinton Clifton will need to step up if this team has a chance of catching Salem.
joepatrick is the elder statesman in the West with his 15 seasons and consecutive division titles. The Fire are led by emerging star Trenidad Trajano on offense and ace Juan Vincente on the mound. Ivy Latham is having a tremendous season but is only 8-9 on teh year. This team has the talent to go deep into the playoffs, but can they make up ground to get there?
Salem - 12 games vs. teams w/ winning record, 3 vs. St. Louis, 3 vs. Fresno
St. Louis - 24 games vs. teams w/ winning record, 3 vs. Salem, 3 vs. Fresno
Fresno - 22 games vs. teams w/ winning record, 3 vs. Salem, 3 vs. St. Louis
It is hard to see Salem not winning the division with a lead and a favorable schedule. If Fresno can get out of there funk, they have a real chance at catching them. St. Louis may be there at the end, but they have 11 games remaining vs. Phlly and Durham. Salem should win - and be rewarded with a first round match-up with either Philly or Durham.
Wild Card #2 Analysis
1. Montreal 63-59
2. Oklahoma City 63-60
3. New Orleans 62-60
4. St. Louis 61-61
5. Boston 60-63
nhollan and his perennial powerhouse are seeking their 17th consecutive playoff appearance. They are led by MVP candidate (winner?) Henry Wise on offense and ace Sammy Iglesias. They must get better production out of Bill Reed if they are going to hold off the challengers.
robyoung is attempting to make the playoffs for the first time since season 16. Newcomer Alex Limon leads the offense, while B.C. Vincente leads the pitching staff with his best season yet. Youngster Jesus Bautista must play better
cincy111 is aiming for his first Wild Card in his 9 seasons (he does have 2 division titles). Stump Robinson leads the offense and Fritz Lynch is the ace.
2000man has won his division in 11 of his 22 1530 Homer seasons. The Cards are led by Archie Herzner on offense and the quasi-albino Blade Fox on the mound. Future HOF'r Clinton Clifton will need to step up if this team has a chance of catching Montreal
cincyreds90 is in danger of missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season after makig 18 straight. Yusmeiro Durazo leads a potent offense while journeyman Billy Barry is the best of a mediocre pitching staff.
Montreal - 17 games vs teams w/ winning record, 3 vs. St Louis, 4 vs OKC, 3 vs New Orleans
Oklahoma City - 17 games vs teams w/ winning record, 6 vs. Boston, 4 vs Montreal, 3 vs St. Louis, 3 vs. New Orleans
New Orleans - 23 games vs. teams w/ winning record, 3 vs Montreal, 3 vs OKC, 4 vs St. Louis
St. Louis - 24 games vs. teams w/ winning record, 3 vs Montreal, 3 vs OKC, 4 vs New Orleans
Boston - 19 games vs teams w/ winning record, 6 vs. OKC
It's hard to bet against Montreal. If anyone can catch them, it will either be New Orleans or OKC, with OKC the more likely due to a more favorable remaining schedule. Ultimately, Montreal will win the spot, they are aging and will go all out to keep the streak alive for at least one more year.