Updated as of Sunday, 30 September.The original Happy Trails thread reached its expiration date, so here is the rest of the story. Teams eliminated so far:
For the division races, here are the teams that remain in contention:
- AL East: New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles
- AL Central: Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox
- AL West: Texas Rangers, Oakland A's, Los Angeles Angels
- NL East: Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves
- NL Central: Cincinnati Reds have won (9/22)
- NL West: San Francisco Giants have won (9/22)
For the wild card races, here are the teams remaining. Teams whose names are in italics are locked out of the first wild-card spot.
- AL: Orioles/Yankees, Oakland A's, Los Angeles Angels, Tampa Bay Rays
- NL: Atlanta Braves (won first WC slot 9/26), St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers
Happy trails and enjoy a beer to the Milwaukee Brewers, who were eliminated today by virtue of St. Louis' win over Washington. The Brewers made a huge run starting in mid-August to play their way into contention, after being a sub-.500 team for most of the first half. This leave only the Dodgers chasing the Cardinals, and the Dodgers are now on the bubble: Monday, a St. Louis win and a Los Angeles loss eliminates the Dodgers from the playoffs and locks in the NL wild card, which will be the Cardinals vs. the Braves at Turner Field, unless the Braves pull off a miracle and beat Washington for the NL East title. In order for that to happen, the Nationals have to lose their three remaining games while the Braves win all of theirs, and then the Braves would have to win a one-game playoff. Should all that come to pass, the Braves would be the NL East winners and the wild-card game would be St. Louis at Washington.
In the AL, New York and Baltimore both won their games, which bumps Tampa Bay out of the AL East race and also locks the Rays out of the first wild-card slot. The Rays won their game today so they still are in contention for the second wild-card slot, although they are on the bubble: Monday, an Oakland A's win or a Rays loss eliminates the Rays from the playoffs. In the AL Central, Detroit won and Chicago lost to reduce that magic number to one, so the White Sox are also on the bubble; Monday a Detroit won or a Chicago loss wins the Central for the Tigers, and eliminates the White Sox from the playoffs.
There is a pretty good possibility that all four of the Yankees, Orioles and A's could finish the season with identical records, with a somewhat odd implication for the wild card game. Let's say all three teams finish at 92-70 (and the A's don't win the AL West). What would then happen is that, first, the Yankees and Orioles would play a tiebreaker game to decide the Al East division champion. Because tiebreaker games count as regular-season games, the loser of that game would then finish the regular season with a 92-71 record, vs. the A's 92-70. That means the A's would win the first wild-card slot and would have home field for the wild-card game; the Yankees/Orioles loser would be the visiting team. An even weirder situation could occur if the Angels sweep the Rangers tonight and win all of their remaining games; they would also finish at 92-70. In this case the Yankees/Orioles tiebreaker loser would be completely eliminated! And the wild card game would be the Angels at Oakland, since the A's are 10-9 against the Angels this year.
In the AL West, Texas and Los Angeles are playing a doubleheader today to make up a rainout last night. The Angels won the first game; the second game is in progress as I write. If the Rangers win the second game, the Angels are out of the AL West race, and will also be locked out of the first wild-card slot. Even if the Angels sweep the doubleheader today, on Monday an A's win and an Angels loss would eliminate the Angels from the playoffs.
Don't forget that the regular season schedule ends on Wednesday this year. The wild-card elimination games are scheduled for Friday, with Thursday being reserved for division tiebreaker games if needed.