Newsday baseball columnist Ken Davidoff is not particularly optimistic about finding dramatic storylines during the final month of the regular season:
There’s no way to sugarcoat this. Baseball could really get crushed in September. We’ve got three divisions in which the leader holds an advantage of six games or more. Both wild-card races are all but settled, and one of the three remaining close divisions, the AL East, fields merely a seeding battle between the Yankees and Red Sox.
Seeding battles don’t pay the bills. In the realistic, best-case scenario, we could have both West divisions featuring neck-and-neck competitions, with the Giants trying to defend their World Series crown by upending the Diamondbacks and the Angels trying to prevent the Rangers from defending the AL pennant. Even that won’t exactly compel the common fan to jump on the baseball train, though.
Here are my seven:
- The AL home-run race between Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira gets decided on the final day.
- The AL MVP contenders battle tooth-and-nail for the hardware. As of today, Bautista, Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, and Justin Verlander are all viable challengers. Similarly, the NL MVP candidates — Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Shane Victorino — continue their stellar seasons.
- A. J. Burnett throws a no-hitter in a packed Yankee Stadium, thereby securing not just a spot on the postseason roster but also a playoff start — in which he will get shelled, of course.
In the last game, Carlos Beltran socks the go-ahead home run in the division-clinching victory for the
MetsGiants over the Rockies in Denver.
- Stephen Strasburg takes the mound at least twice in front of the home crowd at Nationals Park, striking out double digits in both contests.
- Logan Morrison of the Marlins hits well enough to win NL Player of the Month, earning him the right to tweet what he really thinks about his employers.
- In addition to Burnett, another player having a dreadful season should have his moment of glory: Adam Dunn of the White Sox captures the AL Player of the Month by hitting a dozen home runs, yet still finishes 2011 with a sub-.200 batting average.