Beyond Golf — 22 September 2014 by Jim Street
Power Rankings: Can M’s pull it off?

One series does not make a season, but the Mariners’ four-game stopover in Toronto starting Monday night could very well determine whether or not there will be a post-season game played in Seattle for the first time since 2001.

Splitting a four-game set against the AL West champion Angels provided a decent start to a grueling three-city, 11-game trek into three times zones. But losing two of three to the Astros in Houston left even the most hopeful Mariners fans banging their heads against the wall in frustration.

If the Mariners, who wrap up the regular season with a three-game home series against the Angels, end up in a tie with either the Athletics or Royals for one of the two AL Wild Card spots, the play-in playoff game would be played at Safeco Field.

Our guess here at Golferswest.com (we are experts on every sport you know) is that the M’s must win five of their remaining seven games to reach the play-in game. Regardless, this pitching-rich team has managed to put the franchise back into the “relevant” category this season.

And now for the next-to-last Power Ranking for 2014:

1. Angels (1):  Can anyone who doesn’t live in Anaheim of Los Angeles name the Angels’ five-man starting rotation? We didn’t think so.

2. Dodgers (2): What could be finer for the playoff-bound Dodgers to clinch the NL West against the rival Giants during a three-game series that begins Monday night in LA?

3. Giants (3): Being swept by the Padres this past weekend put to rest any hopes of going into the post-season as division champions.

4. Athletics (5):  A Wild Card tie with either the Royals or Mariners would mean the scuffling A’s would be on the road for the play-in playoff game.

5. Mariners (4): The last words coming out of the visiting clubhouse at Minute Maid Park on Sunday was “Thanks to Houston, we have a problem.”

6. Padres: (6): Another lackluster season got a huge boost with a three-game series sweep over the Giants, removing most of the potential excitement in the upcoming Dodgers-Giants series in LA.

7.  Astros (7): Just one victory over the Rangers in a three-game series that starts Monday night would clinch next-to-last place in the AL West and give them the title: “The Best Bad Baseball Team in Texas.”

8. Rockies (8): When it comes to walk-off victories, the Rockies have had much to cheer about this season. Nine of their 65 wins are walk-offs.

9. Rangers (9): Rumor deep in the heart of Texas has former Ranger’s star Michael Young near the top of the list of potential next manager.

10. Diamondbacks (10): A six-game losing streak heading into the final week of the regular season does not bode well for skipper Kirk Gibson.

(Last week’s ranking in parenthesis)

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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