Red Division Has Deja Vu, Blue Division Kinda New
Tier A has reached the approximate half-point in the schedule, which means it's time for our half-season division round-up!
We'll start with the source of the last two Tier A Championships, the Red Division.
|Red Division||Team||Record||Division Rank|
|Central||Warriors of Jobu||82-13||1|
As a Pawtucket beat writer, I've become accustomed to the Paw Topes leading this table. Having made it to the playoffs as the #1 seed for two seasons running, it's troubling to see them .5 games back of the Warriors. As we've seen the past two seasons, the same teams are fighting for basically the same playoff spots. The Warriors of Jobu and Topes already have a rivalry -- how much more before all four teams hate each other?
In the Western division, we see the Grasshoppers absolutely dominating the standings with a 13 game lead. What's surprising is that the Zombie Horde have historically been a contender. Halfway through the season, they appear to be floundering heavily. While not technically eliminated, the Horde need to turn their game around soon in order to play beyond 160. Playing toward the Horde's favor is a heavily imbalanced schedule. The Grasshoppers have yet to play most of their games with the Topes, Warriors of Jobu, or Baseball Academy. Infact, the Grasshoppers play the third of three consecutive series against these teams today, in which they are currently 3-7. Comparitively, the Horde have played all of these teams atleast once, and have only a series against the Pawtopes outside of their division to fear.
In the Central division, our hometown Topes had taken the lead in recent weeks but a 3-2 showing against the Volcanoes dropped them just behind Jobu again. The rival Warriors and the Topes have split their 10 games to-date and this division could come down to the tie-breaker just as it did last season. While the Topes and Warriors will likely be slugging it out for the division and wild-card berths, the Volcanoes continue to show steady improvement. At 55-35, the Volcanoes would be competitive in the East and possibly with a better record in either the east or the west considering they get 6 series against the PawTopes and Warriors to look forward to each season. Keep an eye on these guys next season, we could have ourselves a three team race where someone won't make it out alive -- unless they are selected into the World Baseball League.
In the Eastern division, everyone seems to be struggling. The Baseball Academy, typically a stronghold for solid baseball, has struggled in the first half. The weakest division leader by 5+ games at 62-23, they would hardly be considered in the race in the West or the Central. Luckly for them, their only competition are the newly arriving Round Rock Knights. After seeing success in Tier B, the Knights have not been welcomed kindly to Tier A ball; however, they continue to hold their own with a winning record at 46-39. With a team as tightly knit as the Knights, they will be competitive sometime in the future.
My final picks?
Seed 1: PawTopes
Seed 2: Grasshoppers
Seed 3: Baseball Academy
Seed 4: Warriors of Jobu
Next up, the Blue Division.
|Blue Division||Team||Record||Division Rank|
The Blue Division has seen a significant overhaul. Gone are the Tomahawks and Worldjoggers, replaced by the Wannabees, Bombers and Knuckleheads in their respective divisions. Still around are the rival Orioles and Murderers Row.
In the Western division, we have the returning White Tigers, who managed to change the scene of the playoffs at the very end of last season with a spoiler's victory. Now, they are fighting against the Knuckleheads for their first chance at Tier A postseason glory. The Knuckleheads currently hold a slim 2-game lead; however, there are still two head-to-head matchups between them and the White Tigers remaining. With only a 5 game lead, this division is not nearly decided yet and will prove to be an exciting race between two up-and-coming teams.
In the Central, the Bombers are the class of the division. Currently leading the race for the #1 seed, the Bombers have no significant contention for their playoff berth. The newly promoted Wannabees have plenty of young talent; however, with a 27.5 game deficit already there is only next season to play for. The Bombers are playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs at this point.
In the Eastern division, the same race as the last two seasons will play out. The Orioles and Murderers Row have consistently ended up in the playoffs with one taking the division (typically the Orioles) and the other taking the Wildcard (typically Murderers Row). Both teams have a shot at the #1 seed, but with them beating up on each other it seems unlikely. As always, the two teams will be tough foes in the playoffs and they will both be there.
My end of season picks?
Seed 1: Bombers
Seed 2: Orioles
Seed 3: White Tigers
Seed 4: Murderers Row