We are now more than a third into the baseball season, and that can only mean one thing: it's time to get a little ahead of ourselves. Of course there's a whole lot more baseball to play, but if the season ended today, which team would make it to the Fall Classic for a shot at the title? Season's Over takes a look at five of the most intriguing possibilities.
Washington Nationals vs. Baltimore Orioles
Beltway Series baby! Yes, the franchise formerly known as Montreal hasn't made the playoffs since moving to D.C., and it's been a while since the O's have made their mark, but what better way to take this still-young rivalry to the next level than with a World Series matchup? Plus, sticking with our theme of "if the season ended today," these are obviously two of the strongest teams in baseball. Adam Jones is killing it with the bat (including a 12th inning walk-off last week against the Phils) and Bryce Harper is looking to be one of the best youngsters thrown into the majors. A lot of things about this matchups would simply be just so cool. Hopefully the Birds can get a pitcher that hurls a little bit like Strasburg to add into the mix, then things could really get interesting.
Atlanta Braves vs. Tampa Bay Rays
There's the Bulldogs-Gators rivalry for college football, Falcons-Buccaneers for the NFC South, and now the whole Atlanta-Florida tension is moving to baseball. If the season ended today, these two five seeds would have to go through quite a bit to get to each other. But the more I think about these two teams meeting up in late October, the more I think I'd like to see it happen. As of today, the Braves would just miss the playoffs, but think about it: who is more fun to watch this season then the up and down and up and down Atlanta Braves? Squeezing into the playoffs as a five seed (that, if in existence a year ago, would have erased so much heartbreak) to face the best Wild Card team in a coon's age, well, wouldn't it just be a special, albeit random matchup.
San Francisco Giants vs. Texas Rangers
The last thing the Texas Rangers want is to start being related to the Buffalo Bills. And wouldn't it be nice to nip any of that in the bud by beating the Edgar Rentería-led Giants that stopped the Mighty Arlington Machine in their first run at a title? Well, Edgar might be gone, but this rematch would still be pretty sweet. But what makes it even sweeter is that, if the season indeed ended today, San Francisco is heating up at the perfect time and the Rangers are finally showing signs of being human. Hammy and the boys would definitely provide another at least entertaining series, and with Big Pablo Sandoval returning to the lineup, imagine a bang-bang series between these two.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Chicago White Sox
What, you're not beyond hyped for the first World Series matchup between these two teams since 1919? It was the year of the Black Sox people! Well if I was Cincinnati I'd sure as hell enjoy a shot at beating the team that "let" me win the first time around. Obviously, a century later, some of the players have changed. But swap Shoeless Joe for Adam Dunn and Edd Roush (I had to Google it) for Joey Votto and it would still be one heck of a series. Chris Sale and Jake Peavy (remember him?) are lights out on the mound, which could provide trouble for a team that can't produce much more beyond Votto and Jay Bruce. But with the Big Red Machine back in October action and Aroldis Chapman on the mound (ignoring his most recent struggles), don't count out Cincinnati in any close playoff game.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Yankees
It's been more than 30 years since the two fabled clubs have met for the title, but in case you forgot, they've seen each other in the Series 11 times (including four times since the Blue Crew moved to LA). The Dodgers were stifled last week in a freak no-hitter accident in Seattle, but are still undeniably the hottest team in baseball. Matt Kemp is still sidelined thanks to a hamstring injury, but the team is still cruising along thanks in no small part to NL RBI leader and new extension-signer signed Andre Ethier. But if the Dodger train rode through the hypothetical playoffs and into the Bronx this hypothetical October, there would be quite the pitching staff there to greet them (See: the born-again Andy Pettitte). Because I'm a sucker for history, this matchup would easily be the juiciest series for me. And between the machine that is the LA offense and the near-100 homers the Bombers have so far this season (which leads the majors), this should be the juiciest for anyone.