Doesn’t anybody want to win the South?

By most standards, the South Grand Prairie Warriors had a pretty crappy August. They lost three of their four series, chugged to an 8-12 finish, and now sport a less-than-spectacular 57-63 record.

Congrats, SGP! You’re in first place in the South!

West Atlanta dealt away Chris Sale before the season started to rebuild with Dansby Swanson. Dyersville has made three deals this season with an eye toward the future. They won 11 games in August — between them.

They are both one game out of first place.

Savannah’s best players play for Margaritaville. Yet the Scorpions are just two games out of first.

Such is life in the sad-sack South Division, where the top four teams boast the league’s 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th-best records, and one of them will make the playoffs.

At least it makes for an exciting race, in the same way that watching carnival bumper cars makes for an exciting race.

About the only league certainty with 40 games left to play is Margaritaville’s lock on the No. 1 overall seed, with 76 wins and a 9-game lead in the North.

And then there’s the West, also known as the anti-South, where the five teams racked up 61 wins in August (the South had 34), led by 15-win Applegate, which flipped the script on its 5-15 July to climb within two games of front-running Boulder, which won 13 games of its own. Satellite Beach notched 14 wins of its own to break through the .500 ceiling. Superior is running out of time to repeat its late-season surge of 2016, adding 10 wins but falling to eight games back of Boulder.

With lots of intra-division play on tap during the league’s final two months, just about anything still can happen. Here’s a look at the wild-card standings:

DIVISION LEADERS W L Pct. GB
BOULDER 69 51 .575
MARGARITAVILLE 76 44 .633
S. GRAND PRAIRIE 57 63 .475
WILD-CARD RACE W L Pct. GB
SPRINGFIELD 67 53 .558 +1
APPLEGATE 67 53 .558 +1
BUSHWOOD 66 54 .550
TATOOINE 65 55 .542 -1
SATELLITE BEACH 62 58 .517 -4
SUPERIOR 61 59 .508 -5
DESTIN 58 62 .483 -8
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Springfield, Boulder advance to second round

The Springfield Isotopes and Boulder Tree Huggers have advanced to the league semifinals, ousting the South Grand Prairie Warriors and Destin Beach Bums, respectively.

No. 3 Springfield required six games in order to move on, while No. 4 Boulder recorded four straight wins after dropping a 14-inning opening game.

Next up: Springfield gets a rematch with No. 2 New New York, which earned a first-round bye with a Game 161 victory over Springfield; while Boulder challenges No. 1 seed Superior in a son-father matchup of John and Mike Renbarger.

Springfield advanced in one of the most exciting ways possible — a walkoff victory in the bottom of the ninth in front of the home fans, on back-to-back solo homers. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Chris Davis and Stephen Vogt went deep consecutively to push the Isotopes into the next round. Springfield, managed by Dave LaMont, held a 6-4 edge over the Hypnotoads during the regular season, but New New York and rookie manager Jason Renbarger did win the single-game playoff that broke the tie for which team earned the first-round bye.

Boulder never trailed in Games 2-5 as Mike Trout went on a tear, eliminating the Beach Bums after manager Mark Gergel’s first playoff appearance.

West Division rivals Boulder and Superior hooked up 15 times during the regular season, with Superior holding a commanding 11-4 edge, including 4-1 dominations in both August and October. Based on managerial experience, Vegas oddsmakers like both the Titans and Isotopes to advance to the I-75 League’s 37th World Series.

Renbargers monopolize 2016 playoff berths

Chew on this: Four out of five dentists surveyed recommend a particular sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum, but only three out of five Renbargers in the I-75 League made the playoffs this year.

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Compare that to the performance of the non-Renbargers in the league. There’s 10 non-Renbargers in the league, and only three of them (30%) made the playoffs. Ray would be proud.

The postseason qualifiers are set, though the playoff pairings are not, as October play brings an end to the 37th regular season of play in the I-75 League. And when the dust settled, here’s what we were left with:

Mike Renbarger’s Superior Titans, who by most accounts underperformed for the first five months of the season before going 45-15 over the final three months, captured the Westbound Division crown, league’s best record (101-59) and top seed in the playoffs.

Jason Renbarger’s New New York Hypnotoads, in their inaugural season no less, posted the best intradivision record of any team in the league (43-17) to reign supreme in the Southbound Division at 94-66. Thirty-five of those wins came against Savannah, West Atlanta and Dyersville.

Continue reading

With 20 to go, what we know and what we don’t

With one month to play, here’s what we know and what we don’t about the I-75 League’s 37th season and the race for the postseason:

  • Superior has completed a season-long charge in the West and pulled into a tie with Boulder, setting up a mano-a-mano intradivisional photo finish. Both teams are tied for the league’s best record; whichever doesn’t win the division has a lock on one of the wild-card berths.
DIVISION LEADERS W L Pct. GB
BTH/SUP 87 53 .621
SPRINGFIELD 83 57 .593
NEW NEW YORK 80 60 .571
WILD-CARD RACE W L Pct. GB
BTH/SUP 87 53 .621 +11
DESTIN 77 63 .550 +1
S.GRAND PRAIRIE 76 64 .543
SATELLITE BEACH 75 65 .536 1
APPLEGATE 74 66 .529 2
  • Springfield is a lock to win the North, coasting into the final month with a 14-game lead.
  • New New York and rookie manager Jason Renbarger have a four-game lead to sweat out in the final month over South Grand Prairie.
  • Three games separate four teams in the battle royale for the final two playoff spots: Destin, which lost one game due to forfeit for Ryan Braun overuse, has 77 wins; South Grand Prairie 76, Satellite Beach 75 and Applegate 74.

An interesting twist to the playoff matchups would leave an easier path for a sixth seed (which would face the third seed, likely to be New New York or South Grand Prairie with a comparable record) than the fifth seed, which would face the loser of the West Division clash between Boulder and Superior.

West could claim 4 of 6 playoff spots

With 40 games to go, the very real possibility exists that all three wild-card playoff teams could come from the West Division.

Superior, on the heels of a 17-win month, has vaulted to the top of the wild-card pack and sliced two wins off of Boulder’s lead in the division. It looked like Superior might even knock more off that lead, but Boulder’s month-closing sweep of New New York allowed it to maintain a moderately comfortable lead.

Satellite Beach holds down the second wild-card spot, winning 13 games in August, and then comes a three-way tie for the third and final spot: Destin and Applegate from the West, and South Grand Prairie from the South — all at 65-55.

Springfield has opened up a comfortable nine-game lead in the North Division, and New New York continues to hang on to a precarious three-game lead over the Warriors. The Hypnotoads have several key players running on fumes — relief pitchers Felipe Rivero and Joaquin Benoit have 3 and 7 innings left respectively; slugger Chris Colabello is down to 25 ABs.

DIVISION LEADERS W L Pct. GB
BOULDER 76 44 .633
NEW NEW YORK 68 52 .567
SPRINGFIELD 68 52 .567
WILD-CARD RACE W L Pct. GB
SUPERIOR 73 47 .608 +8
SATELLITE BEACH 69 51 .575 +4
DESTIN 65 55 .542
S.GRAND PRAIRIE 65 55 .542
APPLEGATE 65 55 .542

Only one of the teams tied for the third playoff spot will make the playoffs. Current head-to-head records:

Applegate-Destin are 5-5 with a series to play in October.
Applegate-South Grand Prairie are 5-5.
Destin leads South Grand Prairie 3-2 with a series to play in September.

Six deserving teams for six playoff spots

Funny how these things work out sometimes, isn’t it?

Six teams with winning records. All six make the playoffs.

Nine teams with losing records. All nine miss the playoffs.

Two teams from each division are in. Three teams from each division are out.

Six quality teams qualified for the postseason, with Chatfield (103 wins), Applegate (97) and Springfield (94) winning their divisions, and Bushwood (97), Bismarck (89) and Savannah (87) earning wild-card spots.

The playoff pairings feature fourth-seeded Bushwood against fifth-seeded Bismarck, with the winner challenging Chatfield; and third-seeded Springfield squaring off against division rival and sixth-seeded Savannah, with the winner invading Applegate.

When your sixth seed heads into the playoffs with 87 wins, you know you have a strong field. (In recent years, teams have made the playoffs with as few as 83.) But not all six clubs come into the playoffs with the same head of steam.

Stock up: Applegate, 17-3 in October and owner of the league’s best record in the second half at 59-21, and a 28-12 record in one-run games. … ┬áBismarck, with 15 wins in October after 11 and 13 in its two previous months. Continue reading

What’s at stake in final month?

Is there drama to be had in the final month of our 36th season?

Not an awful lot, to be truthful.

Division races: Chatfield has an insurmountable 11-game lead in the West, Applegate has stretched its lead to six in the North, and Springfield has padded its margin over Savannah to four.

Wild-card race: Bushwood has a lock on one spot, up by 11, and Savannah looks pretty good with a four-win advantage. That leaves Bismarck hoping to fend off Superior for the third wild-card spot, with a three-win advantage going into October.

First-round bye: Chatfield also has effectively wrapped up one spot, and Springfield pulled two games ahead of Applegate with its 14-win September.

No. 1 overall draft choice: Hickory is in danger of blowing its shot at having the most balls in the draft lottery, recording just 10 losses in September. Margaritaville is making a late charge with a whopping 17 losses in September, and thanks to that forfeit loss earlier in the season, is now tied with Wisconsin with 84 losses, just two behind Hickory’s 86.

October means intradivisional play, so anything can still happen, but there will be lots of scoreboard-watching, so managers are urged to update the “Input Results” file (responsibility of the Game Five home team manager) as soon as series conclude.

 

DIVISION LEADERS W L Pct. GB
CHATFIELD 94 46 .671
SPRINGFIELD 82 58 .586
APPLEGATE 80 60 .571
WILD-CARD RACE W L Pct. GB
BUSHWOOD 83 57 .593 +11
SAVANNAH 78 62 .557 +4
BISMARCK 74 66 .529
SUPERIOR 71 69 .507 3