Throughout a 162-game schedule, there comes a time when major league baseball suffers through a “drought”, if you will, when teams that are out of contention have to “go through the motions” until the end of the season. The middle weeks of August are typically called the “Dog Days” of baseball.
With the addition of a second wild-card team, the number of teams out of contention has dwindled; however, there are still eight teams that are so far behind there is no way they can make the playoffs. Only two of the eight teams are in the American League while the other six teams come from the National League (including three from the National League East).
The two AL teams, Boston and Oakland, have experienced recent success: The Red Sox have won three World Series titles in ten years while the Athletics have made the playoffs three consecutive years. This year, however, neither team is ticketed to make the playoffs. Boston trails the division leaders, New York, by 13-1/2 games and they are nine games out of a wild card spot. Oakland also trails division leading Houston by 13-1/2 games and they are 11 games out of a playoff spot. Certainly both teams could conceivably get hot and make the playoffs but the odds are slim.
In the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies, who went to the World Series in 2008 and 2009, now sport the worst record in the majors, with a 47-73 mark. They trail NL East leaders, New York, by 17 games and they are 21 games away from a playoff spot. The Phils have long thrown in the towel by trading away their top starter, Cole Hamels, and just recently shipped All Star second baseman Chase Utley to the Dodgers. Philly has been so pitiful this season that their manager, at the start of the year, Ryne Sandberg, resigned.
Right behind the Phillies in the “race” for the worst record in baseball are the Colorado Rockies. They have a record of 48-70 and are, at best, 18 games behind a playoff spot. The Rockies have made only one World Series appearance in their franchise history…in 2007, when they were swept out by the Red Sox. Pretty much all of the players who were the “face” of Coors Field are gone. The last to go was All Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who was dealt to Toronto.
One of the biggest liabilities of a “dog day” team is attendance…nobody is going to attend a game between two teams going nowhere. Example: Atlanta and San Diego just completed a three-game series at Petco Park and only averaged 24,281 fans. That is hurting the teams where it hurts the most: in the wallet!
MLB teams have only 11 more days to complete waiver trades and some teams in contention may be able to pry a player or two away from a team going nowhere. An extra bat or an extra arm could be just the thing to propel a team into the playoffs and, perhaps, the World Series. Stay tuned!