But the team with the most historical baggage to lose is the Boston Red Sox, who would love to lift the "Curse of the Bambino" and win their first World Series since the club sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. There's just the small matter of getting by the Indians and, most likely, the pitching-rich Braves.
The air up there
The Rockies have wasted no time creating a winning atmosphere in Denver, but skeptics insist that it was already there. The thin air that envelopes Coors Field obviously has contributed to the club's big home run total, but that shouldn't detract from the record-tying performance of Dante Bichette, Larry Walker, Vinny Castilla and Andres Gallaraga, who became only the second major-league foursome to hit 30 or more homers apiece in the same season.
Maybe it was the shortened schedule or the roster uncertainty created by the lengthy labor dispute, but nothing went according to plan in two AL cities that expected to be playing host to postseason play this week. The Orioles spent plenty to put a competitive team on the field, but dropped out of contention for the AL East title in August and lost sight of a possible wild-card berth a couple of weeks ago.
Their frustration was mirrored in Chicago, where the White Sox were considered one of the favorites in the AL Central. Of course, nobody could have known that the Indians would blow everyone away by the All-Star break, but no one suspected that the White Sox would make it so easy for them. They had to rally in September just to finish less than 10 games under .500.
More labor pains
Maybe the players and owners have learned their lesson and maybe they haven't. Negotiations toward a new labor contract continue, but there could be more head-butting if an agreement is not reached in time for the owners to take full advantage of the winter ticket-selling season.
This is one area where no one can afford to "Wait until next year."