Baseball is boring.

Baseball is boring.

When, mere moments apart, a grizzled veteran (one who looks like he might own/work the door at/get frequently thrown out of a seedy disco) became the oldest man to hit a walkoff home run and a pitcher “in college as recently as 500 days ago” comes within one out throwing a no-hitter for another team looking to solidifying their playoff spot, you can’t really say baseball is boring.

Not that anyone reading these words would ever say such a thing. But the sentiment exists out…there. Among the uninspired and the uninformed. The unwashed an uninitiated.

The second Wild Card didn’t create all this drama all on its own. There was drama before there was a play-in game, just as there was drama before there were three divisions and an extra spot up for grabs. Even without the second coin-flip backdoor into October, we’d still have two very compelling WC chases down to the final days.

One by one, the pretenders fall off, leaving two or three horse races in both leagues. The Reds and Pirates are in, essentially battling for home field in the play-in fiesta – though catching the Cardinals is still not beyond the realm of possibility.

The Orioles, weathering a terrible injury to their dynamic third baseman par excellence, officially became also-rans last night, losing to Toronto and ending any playoff hopes. The Yankees, still clinging to false hope themselves, took a Rays shutout in stride. There is no sense prolonging the inevitable, delightful surprise as it might be. Five back with five to play, the Yankees need a miracle (Ed. Note – it ain’t comin’)

Texas continues their scheduled bye against the Astros, so the pressure remains on Cleveland and Tampa Bay to stay out front of the Rangers, who don’t play a big league team again until Thursday night. Cleveland’s games against the White Sox, despite the gripping drama, have a bit of AAAA feel in their own right.

The doomsday entropy scenarios are fun to envision but it remains very difficult to foresee much in the way of change in the standings the rest of the way. The AL race is down to three teams and it will continue that way until the final hours of the season. Which, if we’re being honest, is pretty awesome.

And then come the play-in games. Spread over two days instead of doubled up like last season, it will be interesting to see if Bud’s latest gimmick can deliver on the entertainment value of 2012. Considering the stakes, it doesn’t seem like too difficult a task.

And the rest

On Joe Mauer‘s future behind the plate [Sports on Earth]

You can do it, Zito!

Jason Giambi shows some stellar bat flip skills in the above video but Yasiel Puig remains peerless in this respect

So aggressive was Puig’s bat toss and so jaunty his tater trot, he had to negotiate the base path with his bat lying, waiting to spring up and end the Dodgers’ playoff hopes.

puig bat

The Joey Votto passivity index [Fangraphs]

The last time the Pirates made the playoffs [SI's Strike Zone]