Late August can be one of the most exciting times on the baseball calendar. The Playoff race is getting red hot, teams are looking to make a charge towards the Division lead, or to grab one of the Wild Card spots. The hope to reach October is still alive and well, because anything can happen in baseball. If your team or teams are still in the hunt, August baseball is the beginning of the magic that happens in October. What about August baseball when your team or teams are without a prayer? When the team is so far back in the standings that the wins and losses are almost meaningless. How do you view August baseball then?
The best is to accept the inevitable. Accept that you will be watching October baseball filled with the teams that normally you only see as competition. Accept that this is just not the year for your team to bask in the glow of October glory. Accept also that you can still watch your team play meaningful games. They can play spoiler for keeping the big favorites out of the playoffs, like the Washington Nationals, or just to frustrate other teams and their fan bases.
Aside from living by the code of misery loves company, you can also start looking critically at the team you love. As the season gets away, you lament what your team does not have. The lack of a strong starting rotation or bull pen, the inability of a team to get runners in who are in scoring position with less than two outs, does the team have some young players who just need some more seasoning before their defense and/or offense comes around, etc. Now that it is clear, you will not have to worry about your teams’ shortcomings in October, start looking at what your team does have. Is the starting rotation really that bad, or does it have a couple middle to back of the rotation guys who have been pressed into acting like the ace or the number two starter? Are there some diamonds in the rough in that rotation, but they just need to be placed in the right position to be successful? The same goes for the bullpen. Do you have a legitimate closer or would your current closer be better off as a setup man in the 7th or 8th inning? Closing games is important, but you have to make it to the 9th inning with the lead before your closer will get a chance to do their job. Is your team able to consistently get runners in scoring position with less than two outs, or do the scoring threats come with two outs? Are the batters hitting the ball hard, but right at the defense or are the not getting a runner over or in because they are striking out too much? Does your team need to have some patience with a potential cornerstone, as the player works out some of the struggles either at the plate or in the field, but at the Major League level?
August baseball offers plenty of good games to watch. Some games are good because they are helping to shape the race for the Division Crown or for the Wild Card. Some games are good for finding out what is right about your team. Teams are playing for playoff positioning or pride and jobs, regardless August baseball can be fun and exciting regardless what the standings tell you. There is no shame is watching those teams headed for October. Getting a feel for who you can cheer for even if they are not your preferred team, or deciding which team you are rooting against. Late August is scoreboard watching season and trying to figure out how the playoff races will shape up. However, even if a team is done for the year and is playing for pride and trying to spoil the fun for other teams, do not forget that the future of those teams is in part already visible. Accept the reality of the season, but watch the teams who have no chance of playing in October, as they can give you a glimpse of future Octobers.