(GAME DATE – Sep. 19, 2019) — As the clock runs down on the 2019 season, two more teams have cemented themselves into the post-season.
The Nevada Speeders, currently 88-64 (.579) atop the ML West, and the Minneapolis Ravens, leading the Lake League West at 92-60 (.605), have now mathematically guaranteed themselves playoff entry.
Nevada clinched on the 17th, following a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Liberty Warriors. They will see their first back-to-back playoff seasons in a long time. Before 2018, they last saw the post-season in 2011, in which they concluded a 6-year playoff run. The Speeders have one Bull Cup championship, which was in 2001, back when they played in a non-DH league, and Dandy Lundgren and Bo-Bo Beckers were the 1-2 punch in the rotation.
The Ravens will see their 16th playoff, and their 5th in a row. They were the first team to win back-to-back Bull Cup championships, in 1995 and 1996 (when they were the Richmond Ravens), but have not won since then. The inaugural “modern” season of 1995, the first time the league played an 80-game schedule, the Ravens’ fielded Chuck Provost at 2B, who won the batting title with a .444 average, setting a record that remains unbroken.
It remains to be seen whether either team will finish in 1st in their division. The Ravens are nearly there, with a lead of 8½ games over the Ohio Oxen, who are 83-68. Any combination of 3 Ravens wins or Oxen losses will give Minneapolis the division pennant.
For the Speeders, it could come right down to the last few games. Their magic number is 10, with that many games left to play. The Speeders dislodged the flailing Seattle Salts, who hit a 6-game losing streak last week, and are now 1½ games ahead of their division rivals. But Nevada must play both wild card contenders, Seattle and Arizona, before they finish the season against the hapless Calgary Inferno, meaning the first place spot could change hands once again.
Nevada may well end up playing Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, and will certainly want the home advantage. They are 48-29 on home turf, though this season, the Speeders have struggled against the Salts at home, going 4-6.
The wild card race is tighter in the Lake League, where Toronto and Ohio are tied, and the Milwaukee Hops still have a (very) outside shot at displacing one of them. Minneapolis will play whichever team has the worse record and snags the 2nd wild card, which is looking like the Toronto Nomads at the moment, as they are 5-5 in their last 10 games and on a 2 game skid, while Ohio has gone 8-2.