The anniversary of the very first baseball game I ever attended is this week. It was October 5th, 1985, at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. I was five years old, and I remember absolutely nothing about the game. Anything that I might have been able to recall has been replaced over time by video replays of George Bell dropping to his knees after making the final out of the pennant-clinching game as the rest of the Toronto Blue Jays fielders rushed toward him to celebrate.

I do have two distinct memories though that don’t involve the game, at least not directly: 1) The hundreds of fans overwhelming the small barriers and running onto the field after the Blue Jays had won; and 2) seeing the cover of the Toronto Star the next day and realizing that I was in attendance for something that was bigger than myself or my dad or any one person. It was a perspective-altering moment that’s rather easy to point to today as future-forming on a personal level.

Watching the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers clinch division titles Monday night, along with the Oakland Athletics ensuring entry into the Wild Card game while also moving within one game of the Texas Rangers, I was reminded of my experience as a five-year old. I wondered how many kids in attendance, who were living vicariously through a baseball team before they could even understand what that means, would wake up this morning and have that moment of realization when they see a newspaper because apparently they still print those things.

The first clinching of the evening came in Washington, where despite losing 2-0 to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Nationals were ensured of first-place when the Atlanta Braves lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1.

The next team to clinch on Monday evening was the Detroit Tigers, who beat the Kansas City Royals 6-3 to ensure that the Chicago White Sox could no longer catch them in the American League Central.

Finally, in Oakland, the Athletics beat the Texas Rangers by the score of 4-3 to clinch a playoff spot and move within one game of the Rangers for the American League West Division title. It’s doubtful that anyone in all of baseball, at any point before the last 30 days, imagined that this final series of the year would determine the division winner.

All front page images courtesy of both the individual newspapers and Newseum.org.

And The Rest

After beating the Pawtucket Red Sox last night, the New York Yankees took over sole possession of first place in the American League East. [River Avenue Blues]

This, after the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles. [Camden Chat]

Why did Joe Girardi leave C.C. Sabathia in for so long last night? [FOX Sports]

The St. Louis Cardinals have a magic number of one. [Viva El Birdos]

Are the Cincinnati Reds being overlooked? [Baseball Nation]

Washingtons cup runneth over. [Getting Blanked]

What’s next for the Tampa Bay Rays? [The Process Report]

Trouble in paradise? [DJF]

Chipper Jones is the rarest thing: something that everyone in Atlanta can agree on. [SB Nation]

Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland claims that a hacker sent a homophobic slur mid-game via Twitter to a fan criticizing his performance. [Big League Stew]

Kris Medlen for Cy Young? Not so fast. [The Baseball Historian]

Kris Medlen’s threatening pitches. [Getting Blanked]

The other thing that R.A. Dickey does well. [Baseball Prospectus]

Sadness that the season is over. [Mets Merized]

Maybe it’s time to trade David Wright. [The Wall Street Journal]

WARP for people who didn’t like math class. [Baseball Prospectus]

David Laurila interviews Cleveland Indians shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor. [Fangraphs]

Autographs are getting way too hard to read. [SI.com]

The marginal effects of offensive events on wOBA and OPS. [The Hardball Times]

Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn is closing in on a record. [Baseball Reference]

Examining the predictive nature of FIP from previous decades. [Beyond The Box Score]