Before hastily leaving the Walkoff Walk offices on Friday, I posed the question: "(Which) team will we no longer be considering for the playoffs after this weekend: Yankees, A's, Braves, Marlins, Rangers, or the Brewers?" Your answers included: "All of them", "Rangers, duh", and of course "Why are you leaving so early?"
Well, the weekend's up and the Yankees, Marlins, and Brewers (Ray Durham!) are still very much alive, but what of the rest?
- Atlanta Braves (46-52, 6.5 GB): The Braves lost two of three to the lowly Washington Nationals, usually a sign of the apocalypse, especially considering that the series took place in Atlanta. The Braves are in fourth place in the tight NL East and are tied for sixth in the Wild Card standings with...wait for it...the Houston Astros. They've still got the best pitching staff in the National League, so I'm not ready to call the season for Bobby Cox.
- Oakland Athletics (51-47, 9 GB): With just two games to play before the All Star break, Oakland sat 4 games behind the division-leading Angels. Coming off a 9-2 victory by new A's pitcher Sean Gallagher, Oakland lost those two games to the Angels, falling six behind. Combine a sweep at the hands of the Yankees with an Angels sweep over the road-weary Red Sox and the A's are now 9 games out. With Joe Blanton and Rich Harden out the door and closer Huston Street and second baseman Mark Ellis supposedly on the trading block, this season could be doneskis. Still, they're just 5 games out in the Wild Card race so I'll give them a temporary reprieve.
- Texas Rangers (51-48, 9.5 GB): Well, they're only a half game behind the A's, but their pitching is the durst. After losing two of three to the Twinkies, the Texas Rangers are DONE. Eat it, Passan!
Other teams who can begin planning trips to Costa Rica for October: Blue Jays, Orioles, Royals, Indians, Mariners, Nationals, Reds, Astros, Pirates, Rockies, Giants, and Padres. Of course, if any of those twelve teams (plus the Rangers) make the playoffs, you can each individually reserve the right to force-feed me my green Yankees hat.