As we approach the All-Star break we take a look at the scene and identify the current playoff contenders.
If the season ended today, the playoffs would look like this:
#1 Mexico City Bandejos 57-29
#2 Las Vegas Double Downs 56-30
#3 Sioux Falls Dakota 56-30 (lose tie breaker)
#4 Burlington Bulldogs 48-38
#5 Cheyenne Seminoles 53-33
#6 Nashville Harmonies 51-35
Outside looking in: San Juan (49-37), Helena (45-41), Toledo (43-43), Pawtuckett (42-44), Los Angeles (42-44)
The lead story here is the very real possibility that the San Juan Crownrificos could miss the playoffs. The 'Rifs have failed to win the division only once (last year) when they took the top wild-card spot. They've never won fewer than 107 games but are currently on pace to finish 92-70. Team owner and noted Lou Holtz imitator wang35 has already sounded the alarm declaring San Juan's glory days over and actively looking to shake the aging empire up with a big trade.
The other story is the emergence of new contenders. Cheyenne has flirted with the NL West lead all season Helena, Toledo, and Los Angeles all making noise about a playoff run. The 3-way fight for the #1 seed promises to keep even the top teams pushing hard all season and nobody is underestimating Burlington after their stunning elimination of both Evil Empires, San Juan and Mexico City last season.
#1 Salem Grand Salamies 57-29
#2 Monterrey Conquistadors 56-30
#3 Richmond Confederates 55-31
#4 Cincinnati Great Americans 53-33
#5 Rochester Rockets 52-34
#6 Texas Riders 49-37
Outside looking in: Wichita (45-41), Houston (45-41), Colorado (43-43), and Scranton (39-47)
The top story here might be a Houston franchise that's missed the playoffs only once, in season 2. The Heavy Hitters are in a big fight for the wildcard as usual suspects, Monterrey, Salem, Richmond and Rochester continue their impressive runs.
BUT, the Cincinnati Great Americans, under new owner cincredlegs have shocked the Second City world with a 53-33 start that has them poised to make the franchise's first-ever playoff appearance. Nobody plays better on the road where the GA's have gone 30-13 so far.
The AL race is as exciting as ever with 5 teams bunched within 5 games of the #1 seed and 4 others within 6 for the final wild card spot. Pennant-race dealing, rookie call-ups, and injuries figure to play a key roll in a league that appears up-for-grabs as we approach mid-season.