This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to date with what’s happening in sport by subscribing here.
The Jays are down, but not out
Less than two weeks ago, the Toronto Blue Jays were baseball’s hottest team. After beating Minnesota on September 19, they had won 18 of 22 games – a hot streak that propelled the Jays to the race also tied with division rivals Boston and New York in the race for the two joker spots of the American League. Led by MVP contender Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 22, MVP-caliber second baseman Marcus Semien and Cy Young contender Robbie Ray, Toronto’s results finally matched the underlying metrics that suggested they were part of the best baseball teams. The Jays had about 2 in 3 chances of qualifying for the playoffs and all the makings of a fashionable World Series pick.
Now, heading into their final three games of the regular season, Toronto’s playoff odds have fallen to around 1 in 7. Since that high on September 19, the Jays have split a streak against the Lowly Twins and have lost two of three against AL. Tampa Bay and the Yankees, winners in the East. In their rubber game last night, the Yanks touched Ray for four of their five home runs (including three in a devastating inning) en route to a 6-2 punch that gave them a two-game lead in the pursuit of jokers and gave them three games against the Jays. New York almost got one of the jokers – its odds of doing so are now over 96%.
That leaves a generic AL ticket to realistically be won – with three teams vying for it. The spot is currently shared by Boston, which has lost five of six and just lost a series to the dreadful Baltimore Orioles, and Seattle, who has the racing differential (minus-48) of an under-.500 team but Now is 89 -70 having won 10 of its last 11 games, Toronto is one game behind the Mariners and Red Sox.
A few more things to know ahead of the decisive weekend of the season:
Boston is the favorite to win the second wild card. The Red Sox have about a 60 percent chance of taking it, according to various playoff odds models. Seattle’s odds are around 30 percent and Toronto’s around 14 percent. All other American League teams are eliminated.
Toronto has the easiest schedule. The Jays’ last three games are at home against Baltimore, the laughing stock of a team with the worst record in the American League (52-107) and the worst points differential (minus-278) in all of baseball by one. huge 48 races. Toronto is 11-5 against the Orioles this year and has outscored them 125-75 in those games. The last time they met, three weeks ago, the Jays lost 44 points over their peers in just two days. Seattle’s latest series is at home against the Angels (75-84), who have said AL’s alleged MVP Shohei Ohtani will no longer pitch this season (although Japan’s Babe Ruth continues to strike). Boston pays a visit to modest Washington (65-94), who is playing tug-of-war in the eastern NL. So the Red Sox and Mariners don’t face the toughest opponents either, and they have that one-game cushion against the Jays. Toronto will likely have to sweep the Orioles for a chance, starting tonight at 7:07 p.m. ET with quite a few Steven Matz on the mound. Impressive rookie Alek Manoah is set to start at 3:07 p.m. ET on Saturday, with 2020 Cy Young finalist Hyun Jin Ryu vying for the season finale Sunday at 3:07 p.m. ET.
What if there is a tie? Then things could get complicated. And funny. Suppose the Yankees, as expected, clinch the top spot and the right to host the generic AL card game. A two-way tie for second place would be resolved fairly simply, with a one-match Monday showdown hosted by the team with the best record head-to-head. The Blue Jays lost their seasonal streak to Boston and Seattle, so they would hit the road no matter what in that scenario. The real chaos would come in the event of a three-way draw between the BoSox, Mariners and Jays, which would trigger a fascinating tie-breaking mechanism. In this system, team A welcomes team B on Monday. The loser is eliminated, while the winner welcomes Team C on Tuesday to decide who will face the Yankees. The fun part is that the team with the best one-on-one record (in this case Boston) has to choose whether they should be Team A or Team C (they could technically choose to be the team B, but that’s obviously the worst option). The Red Sox would therefore have to decide whether they would rather win two home games on consecutive days or one road game on a day off.
The National Women’s Football League canceled all of its games this weekend over allegations of sexual misconduct against a former coach. North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley was sacked by the team on Thursday after The Athletic released a report detailing the alleged misconduct, which included allegations of sexual coercion by two former players. Riley has denied the allegations. The NWSL Players Association calls for an independent investigation. At least two star players – Canadian Christine Sinclair and American Alex Morgan – have called the league on Twitter, demanding it “protect” its players. Several other team officials have lost their jobs this season due to allegations of player abuse and / or harassment. Learn more about the NWSL issues here.
It’s Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick on Sunday night. The most anticipated game of the NFL season pits the greatest quarterback-coach duo in football history for the first time. In their 19 seasons together, once Brady started, they won six incredible Super Bowls and reached the title game nine equally incredible times. But their relationship deteriorated towards the end and Belichick let Brady walk away after the 2019 season, believing the then 42-year-old QB was stranded. Brady immediately proved him wrong, joining a much more talented Tampa Bay Buccaneers team and winning his seventh ring (as well as his fifth Super Bowl MVP award) with them last season while the Belichick Patriots missed the playoffs. Brady will play his first game in New England as a visitor on Sunday night. And how’s that for the timing: He only needs 67 yards to become the NFL’s all-time best passer.
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame 2020 class will be inducted on Sunday. A squad of six athletes and five builders has been announced in 2020, but the traditional fall induction gala in Calgary has been postponed due to the pandemic. This will finally happen Sunday at 7 p.m. MT / 9 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live. Inductees include two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, golfer Lori Kane, horse-rider duo Hickstead and Eric Lamaze, and a pair of hockey players known more for their impact on social change than for their work on the ice: Willie O’Ree, who was the NHL’s first black player, and Sheldon Kennedy, who was dedicated to preventing abuse and harassment after being sexually assaulted by his junior hockey coach. Learn more about the whole class here.
This weekend on CBC Sports
Here’s what you can watch live on TV and online:
Canadian University Football: Stream the annual Panda game between rivals Ottawa Gee-Gees and Carleton Ravens Saturday at noon ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
Junior hockey: Watch 16-year-old phenomenon Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats welcome the Prince Albert Raiders on the Western Hockey League’s opening weekend of the season, Saturday at 3 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT . This is the first of six Canadian Hockey League games to be broadcast live on the CBC television network this season. They will also be streamed for free on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem. Learn more about how the CHL is trying to bounce back after two pandemic seasons here.
Figure skating: Stream the Skate Ontario Sectional Series September hub event live Saturday and Sunday starting at 9 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
Canada’s National Spelling Bee Championship: Stream it live Sunday at noon ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
Something else to check
The Olympic Channel is rebroadcasting memorable moments from the Tokyo 2020 Games over the coming weeks, starting with the Canadian Women’s Softball Team bronze medal against Mexico on Sunday at 8:50 a.m. ET. The channel is available in Canada only on the free streaming service CBC Gem. Watch it here.
You are aware. Have a good week-end.