Previewing the final day of the 2014 regular season …

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There are still three undecided races heading into the final day of the regular season: the American League Central, the National League Central, and the second American League Wild Card spot. Let’s get weird.

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

1:08 p.m. ET: Twins at Tigers

July 31 deadline acquisition David Price can put a bow on Detroit’s fourth consecutive American League Central championship with a win over the Twins and Kyle Gibson. It’s as simple as that for the Tigers.

2:10 p.m. ET: Royals at White Sox

If the Tigers don’t beat the Twins, the Royals can force an AL Central tiebreaker (Game 163) in Detroit on Monday if the Royals beat the White Sox on Sunday behind flame-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura. Chicago is throwing Chris Bassitt. At worst, the Royals will host the American League Wild Card Game on Tuesday.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1:05 p.m. ET: Pirates at Reds

The Pirates can force a Game 163 for the National League Central title if they beat the Reds on Sunday afternoon and the Cardinals lose. The Bucs are facing Johnny Cueto in Cincinnati and the Cardinals are throwing Adam Wainwright at Arizona, but Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has decided to use Gerrit Cole in Game 162 rather than save him for Wednesday’s National League Wild Card Game. Pittsburgh has already clinched hosting duties for that Wild Card Game. The Giants are locked in as the opponent.

4:10 p.m. ET: Cardinals at Diamondbacks

If the Cardinals win in Arizona, they’ll have their second straight National League Central crown. It’s pretty simple for St. Louis. Wainwright is expected to get the ball no matter what happens in Cincinnati.

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD

3:05 p.m. ET: Athletics at Rangers

The A’s can lock up the second American League Wild Card spot with a win behind 24-year-old right-hander Sonny Gray, who rattled off a career-high 12 strikeouts in his last outing. The Rangers could throw left-hander Derek Holland, who was scratched from his start on Saturday night due to a migraine headache.

4:10 p.m. ET: Angels at Mariners

The Mariners kept their hopes alive with a dramatic 11th-inning victory over the Angels on Saturday night at Safeco Field and have ace right-hander Felix Hernandez pitching in Game 162. If the A’s lose on Sunday to the Rangers, the M’s can force a Wild Card tiebreaker on Monday. Seattle would host that game.

 

Kirk Gibson home run happened 30 years ago

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With the Dodgers trying to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row — and trying to win it for the first time in 30 years — it’s worth looking back at the last time they won it. More specifically, it’s worth looking back at the signature moment from the last time they won it. Which, really, was one of baseball’s all-time signature moments.

Yep, I’m talking about Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winning home run off of Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which happened 30 years ago tonight.

All playoff magic for anyone too young to remember Bill Mazeroski’s homer in 1960 is measured against Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Heck, even if you were around in 1960, it’s far less likely that you saw Mazeroski’s homer than it was for you to have seen Gibson’s. Nationally broadcast in prime time to a nation of millions who had not yet fragmented into viewers of hundreds of obscure cable channels and various forms of streaming entertainments, it was a moment that sent shockwaves through the world of sports.

For my part, I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it as it happened. Like most of the rest of the country, I was convinced that the Dodgers had no chance to beat the mighty Bash Brothers and the 104-win Oakland A’s. Especially given that the Dodgers’ leader, MVP-to-be Gibson, was hobbled and not starting. Even when he was called on to pinch hit, I had no faith that he’d be able to touch Eckersley, the best relief pitcher on the planet, let alone hit the ball with any kind of authority.

But, as Vin said when he called it, the Dodgers’ year was so improbable that, in hindsight, it made perfect sense for Gibson to have done the impossible: