by Chris Davies, Daily Vidette Features Editor
While you were checking the status of Donovan McNabb for your fantasy football roster, the St. Louis Cardinals clinched the NL Central.
While you waited to find out whether or not Wes Welker would be in the slot on Sunday, the Atlanta Braves moved to within 2.5 games of a Wild Card berth, just days after Bobby Cox announced next season would be his last.
And while you debated starting Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco, the Yankees and Dodgers assured themselves a spot in the playoffs.
Don’t count baseball out just yet.
Each year, it seems that football coverage comes earlier than the year previous. Of course, this may be a by product of living in central Illinois, where everyone’s favorite team seems to be out of contention earlier than the year previous (I don’t need to name names, we all know what team I’m talking about).
My point is, that even without your favorite team fighting for the right to play in October, there is still compelling baseball being played.
The storylines that are still playing out across the leagues are numerous and exciting. For instance, the competition for the NL Cy Young award is closer than ever. There are four legitimate contenders for the title and each has a chance remaining to lay stake to the award.
Reigning pitching king Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants and 2006 winner Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals are the favorites to win. Lincecum has managed to post a 2.47 ERA while recording 14 wins to only seven losses. Carpenter’s ERA is a paltry 2.30 and he has won 16 and lost four through a season shortened initially by injury.
The Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and Diamondbacks’ Dan Haren are dark-horse candidates for the award, but can’t be counted out just yet.
September baseball also gives forlorn fans a chance to see the future. With rosters expanded to 40 players, many teams who have struggled this season have brought up young players from the minors to see if they could contribute in 2010.
My own personal favorite team, the Cleveland Indians, left their playoff hopes on the doorstep of the season and began looking to the future in June. Now, in the waning days of the season, young players like Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta are flexing their muscles and staking claim for roster spots next season.
However, the most compelling reason to watch baseball this late in to the season is simply for the love of the game.
I can’t think of a more exciting time to watch a baseball game than in the heat of the playoff race. With an early golf date or an extended season in the balance, the games are loaded with excitement.
With the AL Central, NL Wild Card and AL West still up for grabs, there is plenty of meaningful and dramatic baseball yet to be played.
With that in mind, maybe stop obsessing over the health of Brian Westbrook for a couple days and enjoy the last few games of the baseball season.