Wooden's World of Baseball

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Down The Stretch They Come!

The last two weeks of August are always the best in the Can-Am League. For better or worse, it can be the most intense time of the year, especially now that the overall records actually mean something. One team is in (New Jersey) another (North Shore) is two games up in the 2nd half standings and five games up in the wild card race. With 14 games to play after today, that's pretty close to assured.

Atlantic City and Nashua are in the driver's seat to join the Jackals and the Spirit in the playoffs, both by virtue of their overall records, though the Surf have a chance to win the 2nd-half title. Atlantic City finishes the schedule against the also-rans, with the final seven played in its home stadium. Nashua leaves New Hampshire just once, albeit to visit New Jersey next weekend, and plays the travelling team seven times, with four this week and three on Labor Day weekend.

Last year's "champion," the Quebec Capitales are 2½ games out of playoff contention, but with a four-game series at Nashua, there's a chance that they can weasel their way in, particularly if they maintain their tradition of raiding the third-place teams of the American Association, a.k.a. Uncle Miles' other league.

Until this weekend, the Grays and New Haven had the opportunity to make a push for contention and both have been pushed back, as neither were able to sweep or win three of four games. But collapses can happen, so it'll probably be another series before we can write them off and start looking at the playoff race as purely whether or not the Pride can hold the line against Quebec and where and when the other teams will play.

Which brings us back to the Spirit and the Jackals. These two teams will play each other eight times over the next two weeks, and it's basically for playoff positioning, since the home-field advantage goes to the team with the best overall record. They will only face each other in the first round if North Shore loses the 2nd half race and the #1 wild-card position. New Jersey has been decimated by the affiliates, but still has Joel Bennett, a.k.a. the Spirit-killer of 2004, so until they are actually eliminated in the first round, I'm not writing them off. But should they meet again in the Finals, they'll be quite familiar with one another!


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