This stretch run? Unlike anything we've seen

September 15th, 2020

Here is what has happened so far in perhaps the craziest baseball season ever played …

The Blue Jays, going into Tuesday night’s games, were half a game ahead of the Yankees for second place in the American League East. And both of them still think one more hot streak over the next week and a half could still take them all the way to first place past the Rays.

Oh, and by the way? Going into Tuesday night’s games, the Chicago White Sox, a future-is-now team the way the Slam Diego Padres are, have the best record in the AL.

The Marlins are good. They aren’t just good, they are in second place in the NL East, and they are still in play to win the division. And they’re better than the Phillies and the Mets and the defending World Series champion Nationals. The Marlins. Good again. Yup.

And those Padres -- now the hottest team in the baseball after the Dodgers spent the first two-thirds of the season being the hottest team in baseball and looking as if they were trying to win another 106 games in a 60-game season -- beat up the Dodgers on Monday night and found themselves 1 1/2 games out of first place. Let me say that again. Padres. Game-and-a-half behind the Dodgers. Yup.

The Mariners have a chance to pass the Astros and get to second place in the AL West.

And the Cardinals, despite all the games they missed in August because COVID-19 hit them in ’20 as hard as it hit the Marlins earlier, came out of Monday’s games at .500 with just one more loss than the Cubs in the NL Central, even if they’ve played six fewer games.

Here is something Buck Showalter, back now to working for the MLB Network, said here the week the regular season started:

"You better bring it, every single day. None of this, 'I'll get 'em tomorrow.' Nope. Not this year. You better get 'em today."

It has been that kind of season from the start, a short-track speed skate of a season in Major League Baseball. You know how many teams still think they’re realistically alive for those 16 playoff slots? Just about everybody except the old New Highlanders. Right now, the two Wild Card teams in the National League are the Phillies and the Giants. But the Mets, 2 1/2 games behind the Phillies, are still in the race.

And the Reds have lost five more games than the Cardinals, but they’re one game out of a Wild Card. The Brewers are just half a game behind the Reds.

Say it again: This could be the wildest last 13 days of a regular season ever. Somehow baseball has made it this far. That in itself seems like a minor miracle when you consider everything that could have gone wrong and often did because of the pandemic. Now here come all these teams, with all these possibilities, into the final turn.

Even the Angels, who are eight games under .500, could still get a Wild Card in the AL. You know how many games they’re behind the second-place Astros in the AL West? Just 3 1/2 back. Mike Trout would need a ton of help to get to just the fourth postseason game of his career, with the Angels playing their last five games against the Padres and the Dodgers. It’s a chance, anyway.

It’s not the season anybody wanted the one without fans in the stands. It’s the season we almost didn’t have. Still: It has turned out to be exactly what we thought it would be when it all started with the Dodgers and Giants at the end of July: If has felt like a March Madness, with something happening every day when you could get all the players and all the teams on the field. The Rays took eight out of 10 from the Yankees. At one point the Yankees lost 15 out of 20, but now they’re expecting to get Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton back, and think they can get back to being the team that started 8-1. Tell them they still can’t catch the Rays. Tell the Blue Jays they can’t hold off the Yankees.

But here’s the deal: Coming out of Monday, you know what the Yankees were? They were still a Wild Card team, along with the Indians, in the AL.

Sixty games, now down to the home stretch. A whole empty stadium worth of possibilities the rest of the way. Crazy possibilities. And it’s only just September. Not the season we wanted. All the season we could have hoped for.