Who is ready for a desperate playoff run for the red hot Halos? Yeah, that's right, I said it. The Angels are the hottest team in baseball and they still have a chance to win a Wild Card spot. Keep hope alive!
OK, no, not really. The Angels are still technically alive, but they aren't making the playoffs. I just think it is fun to pretend as if it is within the realm of possibility. Sorry, but running through playoff scenarios is just too much fun for me to pass up, especially when it prominently involves a Texas Rangers collapse. All the Angels need to do is win the rest of their games and hope that everyone else just completely falls to pieces. No problem, right?
So here is how that scenario would really play out. First, the Rays need to get on a huge roll. They have Baltimore and New York coming up on their schedule, so they could help the Halos out by sweeping those seven games. In that case we will have to "allow" the Rays to win the first Wild Card.
Next, the Rangers need to completely implode. That isn't as hard as it sounds because they are already 80% imploded. They then have the feisty Royals this series and the Angels as their final series. The tough part is the three-gamer against Houston which is where they can win their one and only game.
The real impediment to all of this is the damned Indians. They can only win once more to give the Angels a chance and have the Astros, White Sox and Twins remaining on their schedule. Call me crazy but I don't envision them going 1-9 the rest of the way. Drat, my dreams have been smashed to smithereens on the rocky shores of false hope.
The best part of this entire scenario as I have it mapped out is that it features the Rangers, Indians, Orioles, Yankees, Royals and Angels all finishing with four wins. That's right, a SIX WAY TIE! Project Chaos would be in full effect with what I imagine would be some kind of crazy double elimination style tournament.
OK, enough of that nonsense, the real question is who should we even be rooting for to win the two Wild Card spot? Obviously the Rangers are out. same goes for the Yankees. The Joe Maddon connection with the Rays puts them at the top of the list. So that leaves one spot for the Orioles, Royals and Indians. I suppose that if we are all hyping the Pirates in the NL, we should do the same for the Royals, but that just doesn't feel right. They are an improved team but I don't much care for the way they've gone about it. As for the Indians, I just can't get behind Scott Kazmir and Nick Swisher. Not going to do it. That, as always, leaves me with a default selection. So the Orioles get my vote.
The real takeaway from this silly exercise isn't the Angels making the playoffs. Hell, they will probably get officially eliminated from contention this weekend. What is amazing is that they aren't already eliminated. I don't think anyone ever imagined back at the trade deadline that they would still be mathematically alive with ten games left in the season. I don't think that really mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things when it comes to momentum and confidence for 2014. The only thing it really suggests to me is that this team isn't that bad. They definitely aren't good, but we can take solace that they are not terrible and thus don't have as far to go when it comes to making over the roster so that they can possibly contend in 2014.
Here is another interesting scary/thought. We all know that Arte Moreno is firing someone but that he apparently hadn't made up his mind yet. If that is really the case, might the strong finish to the season influence his decision? Will Arte look at how well they played to close out the year despite having nothing to play for and give that credit to Scioscia for properly motivating the troops? Will he look at how much of the success came from youngsters like Green, De La Rosa, Richards and Calhoun and view that as as sign that maybe somehow Dipoto's plan is working? Or might that actually be a strike against Dipoto since his big name additions have had so little to do with the surge?