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MLB storylines for the stretch run

A look outside the AL Central

In this photo illustration, the Major League Baseball (MLB)... Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As die-hard Twins fans, we can be myopic when it comes to Major League Baseball—focusing much energy on our favorite squad and its immediate division competitors. Before that reaches a fever pitch, I wanted to take a moment to look at a few other storylines (one per division) I’m intrigued with. Oh, and because this is still a Twins community after all, I’ll try to relate it back to MN even if in some small way. Since we’re all familiar with the Central, let’s look at the other AL divisions first...

AL West

  • The Seattle Mariners are making a bid for a playoff berth, which would be their first since 2001—the year they tied the 1906 Chicago Cubs for most regular season victories (116). For context, that was Ichiro Suzuki’s rookie season. Twins fan angle: On one hand, we have our own intimate relationship with postseason disappointment and thus should be sympathetic to the Pacific Northwest bunch. On the other hand, they are a direct Wild Card competitor should the Central crown prove unattainable.

AL East

  • Yankee slugger Aaron Judge is currently on pace for 63 big flys. This would top Roger Maris’s 61 in ‘61—a mark many regard as the “real record” due to its non-chemical derivation. Should the Big Adjudicator surpass the Hibbing native, I’d be very interested to see the response from MLB and baseball fans in general. Twins fan angle: Some way, somehow, Judge’s prodigious pokes will either directly hurt our club (in the early-September series in the Bronx) or increase our chances of seeing his club in the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees
Will he top 60?
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Now, on to the Senior Circuit...

NL West

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers have an outside chance of toppling the aforementioned Mariners’ ‘01 win record. As our squad’s 0-4 vs. LAD can attest to, they are a well-oiled machine. Interestingly enough, I don’t hate them in an “Evil Empire West” way. Maybe it’s the bias of a Blue-bleeding brother, maybe it’s my respect for their manager (Dave Roberts), but I’m not to the point where I want to see them toppled just because they are the Big Bad Wolf on the block. Twins fan angle: I still hold out hope every year for a 1965 World Series rematch. LA usually holds up their end of the bargain.

NL Central

  • My favorite NL squad this year is the one that plays in the shadow of the Arch. Goldschmidt & Arenado are the locomotive engine, while Pujols, Wainwright, & Molina continue to defy Father Time. I also just love the seriousness with which St. Louis fans take their baseball (I saw this first-hand at Busch Stadium a few years back). Twins fan angle: Anytime a WI pro sports club—in this case the Brewers—get dethroned from anything, we are happy.
St. Louis Cardinals Archive
The ageless wonders
Photo by St. Louis Cardinals/MLB Photos via Getty Images

NL East

  • The Mets & Braves are locked in a tight division race. Whereas New York (Queens Edition) had a large lead for quite awhile, the defending MLB champs have been Hot-Lanta of late, surging to within just a few games of the Amazins. Much like Yankees/Red Sox, baseball is just better when the Mets and Braves are duking it out. Twins fan angle: Slightly before the ‘01-’06 Twins teams captured our imaginations, we watched—if our parents subscribed to basic cable—a lot of NYM/ATL pennant races on the TBS Superstation.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled Twins programming.