ith the end of the Olympics last weekend, we can now fully focus our attention on the fall sports calendar and what makes it such an exciting time — the return of football and the baseball playoffs.
The NFL is about halfway done with its preseason and there is actually a college football game happening this weekend (albeit in Australia) and most other teams will be starting in a week.
The baseball playoff race is heating up too, so I guess we will start there. With just a little over a month left in the six-month marathon that is the MLB season, there is still plenty to be decided. With the exception of the Chicago Cubs and the National League Central, it seems to me most other divisions are still up in the air. Certainly, Miami will have a tough time catching Washington in the NL East and Texas, barring an epic collapse, seems to have the AL West locked up, but things certainly can change with well over 20 games left to play.
I hate to say it, because I hate the guy running the team, but Chicago seems awfully hard to beat this year. I read they are the Las Vegas favorites to win the series and I think that has to be the case. That said, I expect them to fold before all is said and done. With the exception of 2013, I donâ€™t think Jon Lester is a big game pitcher. John Lackey certainly can be. But heâ€™s older and heâ€™s on the disabled list. This leaves the Cubsâ€™ chances hanging on the talented right arm of Jake Arrieta. He certainly is a good pitcher. But, is he enough to get them over the hump? I guess weâ€™ll see.
I have gotten ahead of myself though, as teams have to get to the playoffs before we can start handicapping the race. The AL East and National League West appear to be the best races coming down the stretch. Boston and Toronto are tied for the AL East lead with Baltimore just one game back.
In the NL West, the Dodgers lead the Giants by two games. With the inclusion of the wild card games, it appears we should have some very meaningful baseball played in September which should make it quite fun to watch.
The NFL preseason may have claimed another victim in Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo, who went down with a back injury during Thursdayâ€™s preseason game with Seattle. Romo said he would be fine after the game, but I suspect time will tell if that is the case. The play was just another reminder how quickly an NFL teamâ€™s fortunes can shift.
The Cowboys are considered a playoff contender right now, but I doubt that would be the case if they had to use rookie Dak Prescott at quarterback for 16 games.
I have touched on it in this space before, but it really seems to me that the NFLâ€™s preseason is too long at four weeks. I would say only two games are really needed, especially when you consider the fact most of the starters donâ€™t even play the majority of the time. As it stands now, the four-week schedule is just a minefield where teams try to avoid having their seasons ruined before they ever even start.