10:38 AM CDT, September 4, 2013
Talking baseball while wondering how many PGA Tour players will sneak into town to look at Conway Farms this week:
1. Where did the playoff race drama go? If anyone knows where we can find a time machine, we could turn this into one of the greatest Septembers ever.
I like the expanded playoff format, which generally brings a lot more teams into the mix. But scoreboard watching is not nearly as in vogue in 2013 as other recent seasons, as there hasn’t been a switch in the 10 teams making up the mix since Aug. 5, when the Rangers passed the Indians for the second wild-card spot.
There’s some hope for at least one real race, with the Rays losing eight of their last 10 to allow the Yankees, Orioles, Indians and Royals to hang within 4 ½ games of a wild-card spot. But imagine how this season could be playing out if teams were still in the old divisional alignment, with two divisions in each league.
NL East: The Pirates and Cardinals, both on pace to win at least 93 games, would be separated by two games.
NL West: The Dodgers and Braves, both on pace to win at least 97 games, would be separated by two games.
AL East: The Red Sox and Tigers, both on pace to win at least 94 games, would be separated by 1 ½ games.
AL West: The Rangers and A’s, both on pace to win at least 93 games, would be separated by one game.
With only division winners going to the playoffs, the sense of urgency from these teams would be off the charts.
Tip of the cap to Len Kasper for pointing this out.
2. No active player has played more games without going to the playoffs than Adam Dunn, and I think that has a lot to do with why he told Fox’s Ken Rosenthal he is thinking about hanging it up after the season, even if that would cost him $15 million. He’s tremendously disappointed and frustrated, and feels abandoned when he looks around the clubhouse and sees Jake Peavy, Matt Thornton and Alex Rios gone. But I’m with Robin Ventura in expecting to see him in Glendale next spring. To walk away would mean never getting a chance to play in October, and I don’t see Dunn surrendering that. He’s too competitive. Ideally Rick Hahn would find a way to trade him but the low batting average and high strikeout totals – along with the $15 million he’s due – largely kill interest in a deal. The time that he would be tradable is the middle of next season, especially if the White Sox are willing to throw in some money. Don’t be surprised if Dunn turns in his best performance for the Sox in the first half of next year, and then gets his chance to come through for a contender. The surprising thing would be if he does walk away. That would be downright shocking.
3. Congrats to the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt for taking online courses to complete his bachelor of science degree in management from the University of Phoenix. Goldschmidt, who leads the NL in homers and RBIs, did his course work in his first two full big-league seasons. “This was always something I wanted to get done,” Goldschmidt said. “There may be other online universities, but University of Phoenix is the way to go, especially for a ballplayer during the baseball season. It’s tough to do it any other way.” No one is prouder of Goldschmidt than former White Sox GM Roland Hemond, who has been a major advocate for online education for players and others in baseball.
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