It's been a wonderful regular season packed with fun, elevated competition, sweat, and plastic. This has no doubt been the best season for the league so far and it will hopefully get even better next summer. But until then we must first embark on one last phase of the season. This final act may be shorter for some teams than others and one will emerge as league champion.
The 1st and 2nd place teams have been awarded a bye in the first round as reward for their good performances in the regular season. The playoffs are single-elimination so if you lose - you're out. The standings in the second half of the season were getting incredibly tight (especially between the Pink Penguins and Beaver Fever) and close games are expected all the way to the championship. The first round match ups will be played first thing on Tuesday (July 2nd) with the semifinals right after. After that two final make-up games from the regular season (Maroon $quad vs Pink Penguins & Beaver Fever vs Holy Balls). The Championship will be played the following week. Here is the schedule for the evening:
5:30 pm: FIRST ROUND Beaver Fever @ Terrorhawks / Pink Penguins @ Welfare Warriors
6:30 pm: SEMIFINALS Holy Balls @ TBD / TBD @ Maroon $quad
7:30pm: MAKE-UP GAMES Maroon $quad @ Pink Penguins / Beaver Fever @ Holy Balls
But who will win Tuesday night's games? We can't know for sure until the games actually occur but with one hand on a calculator and the other hand on a crystal ball we might get a pretty close prediction. The Pink Penguins/Welfare Warriors game doesn't exactly require scientific notation to assume the outcome. The Welfare Warriors roster has been steadily falling apart and a 2-22 record definitely means it will be unlikely they'll come out on top against the 3rd place Penguins. But just for kicks some numbers were ran and we found that the Pink Penguins were 5-0 against the Warriors in their regular season encounters (shocking, we know). The Penguins outscored them 30-11 and Thelmer Damron won 3 out of those 5 games on the mound striking out 10 batters and allowing only 8 runs. Damron has hit 3 home runs off of the Warriors but Miller has really done well by hitting 5. So odds are the Penguins will defeat (perhaps mercy-rule) the Warriors...if the Warriors show up. Hopefully we have not yet seen the last of the Welfare Warriors and they can get enough players to the field one final time.
The other first round match up is between two teams who have been doing battle since the 2012 season opener. The Beaver Fever and Terrorhawks are the only two franchises from the inaugural season and will face each other again to determine who will take on Holy Balls in the semifinals. The Terrorhawks are 3-2 against Beaver Fever in 2013 and outscored them 35-30. But Beaver Fever will surely put up a fight and have showed a little fight by winning the final two games they played the Terrorhawks, the last of which was a 5-0 shut out. But expect several home runs from the Terrorhawks if the regular season pattern continues. Andrew Hankins hit 7 home runs against Beaver Fever and Josh Smith hit 6. But Beaver Fever has succeeded in keeping the Terrorhawks from scoring as much as they did earlier in the season so it could be a low-scoring game. Both teams have room for improvement. The Terrorhawks really need to hit the ball better, they have no trouble getting runners on base but getting them across the plate has been the problem. Pop flys and grounders generally have been happening with runners in scoring position and has really negatively impacted their win-loss record. The team's two pitchers (Smith and Hankins) really need to work on accuracy as well to avoid walking batters that end up being runs later on.
Beaver Fever have been on a hot streak. They've won 6 of their last 7 games, including a surprise 2-1 win over Maroon $quad in Week 12. So they have momentum on their side. Still, Beaver Fever can still do more to ensure they make it far in the playoffs. Greg Sowards is currently in somewhat of a hitting slump, hitting only .432 (20th in league) and he and Brandon Woolum has struck out quite a bit this season (Woolum with 21 and Sowards with 20). They need to hit the ball over the fence and get on base and let Mike Saxton and Zach Daniels (who's fresh off the DL list) bring them around. It's uncertain who will pitch for the team in the first round but both Saxton and Sowards have a win against the Terrorhawks but Sowards has 3 loses against the team as well. So will they risk it with Saxton in the first round to preserve Sowards' energy for the semifinals against Holy Balls? We will see Tuesday.
Not much else can be predicted without knowing who will win the first round games. The Pink Penguins are almost guaranteed to advance to the semifinals and were the first team to defeat Maroon $quad so there's a chance that it will be an upset. But Maroon $quad crushed them 9-0 in their latest match since the defeat and it appears Maroon $quad will not be underestimating the Penguins. Holy Balls are 5-0 against both Beaver Fever and the Terrorhawks so they seem to have a spot in the championship in the bag. But attendance is a developing issue with players leaving town on prior engagements so it really depends who shows up on Tuesday. The odds are that Maroon $quad and Holy Balls will be playing each other in the championship with the $quad most likely winning. But it's the playoffs so none of it really matters until the games actually take place.