The Red Sox have been a major disgust this season. Desparate to rid themselves of payroll, the Sox shipped out Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the L.A. Dodgers. This was the biggest and most shocking trade in years. I have been able to witness two blockbuster trades since I moved to Maine and started following baseball. I was here for when the Red Sox shipped Manny Ramirez to Pittsburgh for Jason Bay. I remember wanting to just sit and cry in my room as one of my favorite players had to go. I remember when the Red Sox traded Justin Masterson to the Indians for Victor Martinez. But I can’t ever remember being more shocked, more stunned, than when I found out the deal to send three of our highest paid players to a new team. This deal is brilliant. Josh Beckett has been a clubhouse cancer all season. Carl Crawford has been a train wreck. Too much money for an above-average at best player. This trade freed the Red Sox of a quarter billion dollars. In return, the Red Sox received James Loney and some promising prospects. On to other news in baseball. If the season were to end today, the teams headed to the playoffs are the Yankees, White Sox, Rangers, Orioles and Athletics. Mother of God. Nobody on the planet could have predicted this. The White Sox, Orioles and Athletics have all had stellar seasons. The Orioles are in a pivotal series with the Yankees. They are currently, and I didn’t think I would be seeing this for decades, one game behind. The Orioles have a great story. They’ve been great all year. It is always enjoyable to see the low-market teams do really well.The White Sox have a precarious lead over the Tigers. They really don’t have a lot of wiggle room to risk losing any games. And right now the Tigers are a very hot team. The Rangers are safe for now. They’ve been the best in the West and one of the best in the American League for two years. They are hoping to break their streak and take home the World Series this year after two straight appearances. Last year, they were so close. They came within one strike. Twice. But it wasn’t their time. Which leads us to the Oakland Athletics. the Athletics have one of the best stories all year. Even better than the Orioles. Nobody thought they could do this. But the Athletics are this year’s Goonies team. They never said die. They had an incredible July. They kept fighting through August. And they are now on the verge of their first playoff appearance in several years. They have a really tough scheulde ahead and they lost Brandon McCarthy last night to a fractured skull but here’s hoping they can pull off the ultimate Cinderella story.
In the National League, there is a lot less drama. The teams going to the playoffs, should the season end today, would be the Nationals, Reds, Giants, Cardinals and Braves. The Nationals. My God, what a story they are. The Nationals have been the joke of the National League since they moved to DC from Montreal. Even before that, they were a big joke. But they took their time. They drafted players wisely. They made some smart trades here and there. They spent some money. And now they are going to win their first division in years. Byrce Harper, the 19-year-old, has been a spark for the team all year. I don’t think he’s been the best rookie in the National League. The Nationals are making a controversial decision of shutting down their best pitcher Stephen Strasburgh. This is a good decision. The Nationals still have one of the best staffs in baseball without him. The Reds have been the best team all year. And they keep doing it even without their star first baseman Joey Votto. I didn’t count on the Reds being this good this year. At all. The Giants have been doing a good job in the NL West. Matt Cain threw one of the best perfect games ever back in June and then Melky Caberea got suspended. The Giants were not phased and have still managed to win games. The Dodgers tried to make that big splash but it doesn’t look like it will be enough to conquer the mighty Giants. The two wild card teams are the Cardinals and the Braves. I love these teams. I didn’t think the Cardinals would do as well since they lost the best player on the planet to the LA Angels last offseason. But Adam Wainwright came back and the team has done very well. The Braves are one of my favorite stories for the NL this year. Chipper Jones is on his retirement tour and it is an honor to see a class act continue to do so well. I’d love to see the Braves make a deep run into October. Since anything can happen, I’ll wait until the end of the season to make my playoff predictions. But I think it is safe to say that a lot will come down to pitching. As it does every year.