Monday, September 04, 2006

Alberta Baseball Confederacy: Week 23

As we enter the final week of regular season play in the Alberta Baseball Confederacy, here are some story-lines we’re following.

Best imitation of the Boston Massacre: On Top
On Canada Day they were up 15 games above .500. As recently as six weeks ago, they led the division. But after a July stumble turned into an August face-plant, On Top sit five games below .500 and are four games away from missing the playoffs.

The worst part? It’s an across-the-board collapse. In the twelve team league On Top put up the third worst batting totals for the month of August, and was last for pitching, recording just 7 wins and a 4.38 ERA. Six members of the team’s 27-man roster are injured.

It’s My Party and I’ll Be Late If I Want To
Even more remarkable than On Top’s August surprise, the Nuke LaLoosh Fan Club ran the table in their four matchups this week, only the second time this year they accomplished the feat. If they can do it again in the season’s final week, and On Top go 0-4, we’ll have a surprise entrant in the playoffs.

Showcase Showdown #1
  • NLFC face: Roughnecks (46-42), St. Pats (34-53), Drizzle (52-36), On Top (41-46)
  • On Top face: Roughnecks (46-42), St. Pats (34-53), Helmet (32-56), NLFC (39-48)
With the final playoff position on the line, what do the matchups look like? The NLFC and On Top will face off against each other in the season’s final week, and share two of their three other opponents.

On Top gets the slight advantage as they face the last-place Willie McGee Helmet in their final game. The Helmet, however, have gone 12-20 over the past eight weeks, so they’re capable of winning. The NLFC will have to hope for a Helmet win, and pray they can knock off the Drizzle who are 23-9 during that two-month stretch.

The sad fact is that no matter who wins, a sub-.500 team will occupy the final playoff position in the NEU Division.

It’s not a bubble, it’s irrational exuberance
Each division has an obvious candidate to complete the Beanesque cycle of summer surge followed by playoff collapse. The Doctrine and Miners have strung together 7 and 6 consecutive winning weeks, with the Miners reeling off four-straight 4-0 sessions.

Their performances have been mirror images over the past month. The Miners led the league in offensive production (50 homeruns and 839 points) and ranked third for pitching (10 wins and 391 points), while the Doctrine led in pitching (18 wins and 469 points) and ranked third for offense (41 homers and 620 points). The point totals over the past month (1,220 to 1,089) give the Miners an edge, but it will be another four weeks before the Championship series, so these squads need to stick to the ‘one game at time’ philosophy.

Hidden beneath their obvious displays are solid August totals from the playoff-bound Vancouver Drizzle (995 points in four weeks) and Royal Rooters of Boston (959 points).

An old-fashioned street-fight
We saved the best for last. For three weeks now the Roughnecks and Italiani have been engaged in hand-to-hand combat for the GWTA’s final playoff position.

After establishing a 7-game lead in Week 21, a disastrous 0-4 outing for the Roughnecks has left them just one game up on their rival. The Italiani are putting on an impressive show, having scored 977 points over the past month – good for fourth-best in the league and 68 points ahead of the Roughnecks. They were helped this week by a one-point win over the Helmet.

Each team has struggled recently from the batting side (scoring for the Roughnecks in August was led by Carl Crawford and Jason Kendall, while the Italiani secured solid performances from Jermaine Dye and Derek Jeter, but were undermined by weak batting from Konerko, Ramirez and Thome). The Italiani’s pitching, led by Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez, has been their edge, beating out challenges from the Roughnecks’ Chris Carpenter/Joe Nathan combo. Which will prevail in the final week?

Showcase Showdown #2
  • Roughnecks face: On Top (41-46), NLFC (39-48, MRSR (36-52), St Pats (34-53).
  • Italiani face: Miners (56-31), Rooters (50-38), MRSR (36-52), Helmet (32-56).
It’s hardly a fair fight. Unlike the final week of the NEU, the final playoff contenders in the GWTA Division will not face each other, and the calibre of their opponents markedly differs. The Italiani face two playoff-bound teams who are a combined 37 games over .500, while the Roughnecks face a collection of sub-.500 opponents. Over the past month, the Italiani’s opponents have outscored the Roughneck’s opponents by an average of 25 points a game. But having made it this far, why lose faith now? It just takes one good week to earn a shot at the Championship.


Post a Comment

<< Home