The regular season might just be decided by the end of this night, as only two playoff-bound teams are left to be chosen and only two pennants awarded. As I predicted on September 14, the following races have been won:
AL West: Texas Rangers
AL Central: Minnesota Twins
NL Central: Cincinnati Reds
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies
The American League also features both the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees making the cut, but only one of them will win the AL East division; the other will be the AL Wild Card winner.
The NL West comes down to tonight's game between the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. The Padres must sweep all three games in this final series to force a one-game playoff for the victory. If the Giants can win any of the next three games (four if a tie is forced), they move on. Also, if the Padres happen to lose two games out of the final three, or if the Atlanta Braves win two, the Braves will become the NL Wild Card winners. Currently, the Braves are losing, so if the Padres can win one tonight, they'll still have a shot at the Wild Card. If the Padres win two and lose one, and the Braves win one and lose two, they will end up in a tie and force a playoff for the Wild Card. Confused yet? Basically all you need to know is that if the Padres have a snowball's chance in the the underworld of making the playoffs, they need to win the series against the Giants. Otherwise, kiss it goodbye 'til next year.
So, what does this mean for the playoff structure? Here's how the postseason will shake out:
ALDS 1: Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees
ALDS 2: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Minnesota Twins
NLDS 1: Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies
NLDS 2: Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants
Assuming this is how it all shakes out and nothing wild or crazy happens with the Padres or the final standings, I therefore predict the Yankees will beat the Rangers, Twins will beat the Rays, Phillies over Reds, and the Giants over the Braves.
ALCS: Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees
NLCS: San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies
If this is truly the case, the Yankees will trounce the Rays in four games, and the Phillies will again beat the Giants in 6 games.
World Series: New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The Yankees will win their 28th World Championship. Yeah, I know... I don't like it either. That's just what will happen.