In this week’s episode of Cheap Seats Chatter, Alex Clark, Ryan “Splash” Potts, and David Gillespie begin by highlighting the historic “Field of Dreams” game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees that took the MLB world by storm last week. There are also several division races that are expected to end in nailbiting fashion when it’s all said and done. First and foremost may be the AL East, which could arguably have three teams coming out of a four-way race to represent the AL side in the playoffs. The NL East has a three-way race of its own between the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies, and it’s likely this could come down to the wire for who emerges with the divisional crown.
But let’s not sleep on the NL West either with three of their own most likely representing the NL side, as the San Francisco Giants, of all teams, still maintain their lead over the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. Then, there’s the AL West, where the Houston Astros may be the leaders, but the margin of difference is very slim over the Oakland Athletics and even the Mariners, who still are within striking distance at eight games back. They delve into all this and more in this week’s installment.
Cheap Seats Chatter: Field of Dreams Lives up to Its Name
Talk about a dream becoming a reality. What a spectacle we witnessed on August 12 near Dyersville, Iowa! Even if it didn’t finish out in such dramatic fashion, which it did, just to see the aesthetic of how the game was set up, with Kevin Costner and the players walking out of the corn stalks in the outfield and the sold-out crowd, was simply mesmerizing. Frankly, it was a bonus the fans got to experience the game they did considering the already incredible experience prior to the game. A lot of big-time moments from big-time players, but it was Tim Anderson’s finish that sealed the deal with a walk-off home run off Yankees’ closer Zack Britton in the bottom of the ninth to win 9-8. If there is a more appropriate cinematic finish to pay homage to Costner’s 1989 cinematic classic, then I don’t know what it is. They highlight the incredible event that took place and that, furthermore, will return next year.
Cheap Seats Chatter: AL East Jam-Packed with Contenders
Amongst the Tampa Bay Rays, the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, and maybe even the New York Yankees, it very much could be a free-for-all as for who comes out on top in the AL East. The Rays may stand atop the division, but the Red Sox are nipping at their heels at just three games back and Chris Sale has just returned to their rotation, not to mention Kyle Schwarber is soon to follow in their lineup. The Yankees, while absolutely decimated with injuries this season, have still held strong, strong enough even to keep themselves relevant at just 5.5 games back. Their schedule won’t be doing them any favors with eight series coming up against division contenders in the coming weeks.
And then there are the Blue Jays, who bolstered their pitching with the acquisition of starter Jose Berrios and closer Brad Hand that could potentially put them over the hump and go the distance. They’ve already got the youthful lineup stacked with some of the MLB’s best, including AL MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but they’re currently fourth in that division at 7.5 games back. They’ll either have to claim the second spot in the division to at least earn a wildcard spot or the third AL East spot if the Oakland Athletics relent from their current standing, who have that other wildcard placeholder in the AL West.
Cheap Seats Chatter: Only One Likely VIP Accepted in the NL East
In all likelihood, the NL East will only have one of its members competing in the NL bracket of the playoffs. Whether its the Braves, the Mets, or the Phillies, only time will tell. The Braves currently have the divisional lead, but only by one game at a record of six games above .500. They’ve certainly reaped some benefits considering the moves general manager Alex Anthopoulos made prior to the trade deadline that have certainly helped ease the pain of losing MVP candidate Ronald Acuna Jr. They also recently returned catcher Travis d’Arnaud to their lineup from a previous thumb injury and Huascar Ynoa will be joining the rotation soon enough, himself.
But will that be enough? The Mets, themselves, have some studs returning too in Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez. Jacob deGrom even could still be coming back in time for the second half of September. To couple the Phillies’ solid rotation with Zack Wheeler, newly acquired Kyle Gibson, and Aaron Nola, their offense is not too shabby either. With Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins, and NL MVP candidate Bryce Harper, who’s on pace to potentially hit .300 with 30 home runs and a .400+ OBP, they could be a thorn in the sides of the former teams listed for their respective division.
Cheap Seats Chatter: Three Potential Pennants from the NL West
Most people expected the Padres and Dodgers to vie for not only a playoff spot coming into 2021, but the Commissioner’s Trophy too. But to say the Giants were one of those teams joining them may have come to shock several people prior to the year. Now, they’re in the driver’s seat of the NL West and have been since May 31, all the while, posting the league’s best record too. In just about every aspect of their game, the Giants have gotten it done, but how long could that last after the blockbuster trade the Dodgers just made that could come into effect sometime soon? After all, the Dodgers are only 4.5 games back after recently acquiring the services of Max Scherzer and Trea Turner among others. They’ll have to soldier on though for the time being until the return of players like Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts, and Julio Urias from the IL.
And the Padres, themselves, have dealt with the brief loss of Fernando Tatis Jr., who likely could earn NL MVP honors when the season concludes. But now, he returns as an outfielder from an ongoing, nagging shoulder injury, with him even launching two home runs in an 8-2 win over the Diamondbacks early Sunday. It’s been 23 years since the Padres have last reeled in the NL pennant, but the chance of that changing this year may be predicated on the health of Tatis Jr, who has experienced multiple trips this year to IL.
Cheap Seats Chatter: The Company That Could Join the Astros
The Astros are right now the frontrunners in the AL West, but it’s a lot closer than many would expect, as the Athletics are within striking distance to steal the division away at just 2.5 games back. Like the Astros, the Athletics also have arguably one of the best pitching rotations in all of baseball. With the dangerous arms of Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, and others, this Athletics team has been relentless in stifling opposing hitting. They may have to turn on the jets though starting Monday with consecutive series against the White Sox, Giants, divisional-rival Mariners, and Yankees all in a row.
Speaking of the Mariners, even despite the move of star closer Kendall Graveman, they’ve remained relevant in the race for a wildcard spot, scratching and clawing late in games to stand at seven games above .500. They may not have the best hitting in all of baseball. They may not have the best pitching either. But you will get this team fighting back no matter what, whether you knock them down or not. They’ve got a lot on their plate with three series each against the Astros and Athletics thrown into their schedule with a Red Sox series to boot. To cue a Dumb and Dumber reference, yes, Lloyd Christmas, I am saying there is a chance.
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