Can October come sooner

    Philadelphia Phillies' pitcher Cliff Lee throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park, Wednesday, August 19, 2009, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lee pitched a complete game as the Phillies defeated the Diamondbacks, 8-1. (Steven M. Falk/Philadelphia Daily News/MCT)
    Philadelphia Phillies' pitcher Cliff Lee throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park, Wednesday, August 19, 2009, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lee pitched a complete game as the Phillies defeated the Diamondbacks, 8-1. (Steven M. Falk/Philadelphia Daily News/MCT)

    It’s September and major league baseball is in its last month of the regular season. While most out-of-contention teams can’t wait for the offseason, some have hopes of a postseason berth.

    Usually around this time, everyone is talking about which team will win its division, but this season the only races worth talking about are the wild card spots. In case you haven’t been paying attention, this is what you missed in the first 130 or so games of baseball season.

    First, we take a look at the divisional races to make it clear in everyone’s minds how little suspense is left in them.  After the All-Star game the Yankees sprinted out of the gates, winning 35 of their first 46 games after the break to open up an insurmountable lead in the American League East.

    In the Central, the Tigers have started pulling away from the Twins and the White Sox. With Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander back in form, and with Edwin Jackson and Rick Porcello pitching well, it is not likely that they blow their division lead.

    No surprise in the AL West, where the Angels are going to win another division crown.  The Angels have great hitting thorough out their line up, with almost every starting player batting over .300.

    The bad news for the Angels is that the hated Boston Red Sox — who have beaten Anaheim in 12 of their last 13 playoff meetings — most likely will be their first round opponent.

    Boston is a few games up on Texas for the wild card spot, and with the Red Sox’s depth and experience, expect to see them in the postseason.

    The Red Sox eliminated Anaheim in 2004, 2007 and 2008. The Angels will have to slay their own personal dragon if they want to get to face the likely top-seeded Yankees in the next round.

    In the National League, there is even less suspense. The defending world-champion Phillies have basically already won their division, barring one of the biggest collapses in baseball history.

    Up until a couple of weeks ago, people thought that the Cubs might win the NL Central. But since then, St. Louis has run away with that division, opening up a double-digit lead and ending Cubs fans’ dreams of finally winning their first title since 1908..

    Despite Colorado and the Giants playing well of late, the Dodgers are clearly the best team in the NL West and will win the division. The Dodgers recently traded for future Hall of Famer Jim Thome, and also picked up pitcher Jon Garland from Arizona.

    And so the National League wild card probably has the most intrigue of any of the remaining races. Colorado and San Francisco are at the top of the standings in that race, but Florida and Atlanta are only a few games back.

    All of this should set up some very interesting playoff series in October.  In the American League, New York and Boston will cruise in the first round to eventually meet in the ALCS, giving basically all of America a series it wants to see. On paper, they are probably the two most talented teams in baseball, but the Yankees have the better pitching and hitting, which will lead them to the World Series.

    In the National League, there will be a rematch of last year’s NLCS between the Dodgers and Phillies. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Philadelphia will defeat them but this time it will happen in the playoffs’ first round. Philadelphia’s trade for Cliff Lee was one of the best midseason acquisitions in years, and it should be enough to carry the Phillies to the World Series for the second straight year.

    A Philadelphia vs. New York World Series would contain so much star power that the ratings will go through the roof. Two of America’s oldest cities battling it out for baseball supremacy will make for one heck of a fall classic.

    It says here that once again, New York fans will go home disappointed, as the one-two punch of pitchers Lee and Cole Hamels will prove to be too much for the Yankees. For the first time since the Yankees did it in the late ‘90s, there will be a repeat World Series champion: the Philadelphia Phillies.