DODGERS FIRST TO CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the National League West Champions and the first team to clinch a MLB division after just 146 games have been played of the 162 game season. Loyal Dodgers fans will well remember that LA had to play a tie-breaker game 163 last season to even get into the playoffs before ending up in the World Series against the Red Sox.
The Major League Baseball Playoffs are the gilded royalty of sports in America to many fans. Only the best of the best stands a chance to even get invited to play in the post season and determine the divisional champions. Then only the top teams from the American League and the National League get to participate in what many consider to be the greatest annual event in sports, the Major League Baseball World Series.
The National and American Leagues are each divided, more or less geographically into three divisions, East, Central and West. The winners of each of these divisional races, based on the team’s overall record, get to go to the post season and compete for the League Pennant, which in itself in a coveted honor to win and hold.
There are also two wild card teams selected from each league based on their highest win-loss percentage at the end of the regular season. Those 4 teams play 2 one game, winner-take-all, contests on October 1st and 2nd to determine which club will face the team with their leagues’ top win-loss percentage.
Then begins the real race for each leagues’ pennant. The final four teams will battle it out in two best-of-five game series’ to determine who wins the league pennant and goes on to the World Series. The second and third highest win percentage teams will play each other while the winner of the wild card game will take on the top team in the league. These divisional games will take place between October 4th and October 10th.
On or before October 20th the winners of the National and American League pennants will be determined and the 2019 World Series agenda will be set to begin on October 22 in the home park of the pennant winning team with the best regular season record.
The Dodgers were 18.5 games in front of second place Arizona in the National League West with a .644 win percentage when they clinched. Elsewhere in the NL East, the Atlanta Braves boast the second highest win percentage in the NL at .616 with a comfortable 9.5 game lead over the Washington Nationals. The St. Louis Cardinals hold a tenuous 4 game lead over the Chicago Cubs with the Milwaukee Braves close behind. At this point the Nationals are looking like the best bet for the #1 wild card selection with the #2 pick up for grabs.
Over in the American League the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees at are neck and neck at .651 for the best record and in control of the East and West divisions while the AL central will be between the Twins of Minnesota and the Cleveland Indians. The American League wild card contest looks to be between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland A’s.
This was the 7th consecutive National League West title won by the Dodgers. Only the Atlanta Braves with 14 NL East titles won between 1991 and 2005 and the New York Yankees with 9 AL East titles won between 1998 and 2006 have won more consecutive MLB divisional championships than the Dodgers.
Dodgers fans are hoping that ‘the third time around’ holds the charm after making it to the last two MLB World Series only to lose to the Boston Red Sox last year and to the Houston Astros the year before. Doc Roberts’ loaded lineup certainly looks capable of going all the way ‘this third time around’.