MOST IMPRESSIVE: As I wrote about the other day, the Mets' resilience is most notable this past couple of weeks. They showed a great bounce-back ability after the tough loss to the Phillies, beating Philadelphia and then taking two out of three from Florida, including one in very dramatic fashion.
BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT: I guess it really shouldn't be a surprise, because why should the Mets make anything easy, but the fact that they're only up a game entering September is a bit surprising. (I guess from the Mets' point of view, this could qualify as a disappointment, too. So I've combined them.) I really thought there were times this past couple of months the Phillies would roll over and the Mets would be able to run away with the division. And I think you have to credit the Phillies for that not happening, since they've shown some resilience as well. They had to be crushed after the loss to the Mets last Wednesday, and then they lost the first two to the Cubs in Chicago. They responded by taking the last two of that series, keeping themselves a game out. It'll probably be that close for the rest of the month - and that's really not too surprising.
LEAST IMPRESSIVE: Can I go outside the box on this bullpen disaster and suggest that maybe it's the bullpen management? Sure, the arms haven't been reliable, and Aaron Heilman walking in the winning run on Saturday night can make me curse him forever (see: Rogers, Kenny), but there are really no defined roles here, and there haven't been since Jerry Manuel took over. I don't know - things have been so bad all year for the relievers (except for the winning streak in July) that maybe if they were comfortable in where they were appearing it would help. In short, I guess Billy Wagner's injury was bad for everyone. And, being September, it can't hurt to have a few more arms to plug in there thanks to the September call-ups.
MOST IMPRESSIVE: I've written about the Cardinals before, but I don't think I've specifically praised Albert Pujols. Pujols is leading the majors in hitting, at .364. He has been hitting near or above .350 all season, obscured by the fact that Chipper Jones was chasing .400 early in the year. He hit .359 in 2003, so it's not uncharted territory for him, but his power numbers have seemed to take a hit. He's "only" hit 29 homers so far this year.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: With the Twins not expected to do much this year, it probably didn't raise many eyebrows when the schedule was made up. But it might prove to be their downfall. They're in the midst of not just a chase for the wild card, but also a division title, and are finishing up a 14-game road trip, thanks to the Republican National Convention. Then they play 6 at home before hitting the road for 10 more games. That's a tough haul and a tough way to end a season with so much promise. If they indeed persevere and make the playoffs after that kind of finish to September, they've earned it.
LEAST IMPRESSIVE: I guess you can't totally write them off yet, since they took the last two in Arizona, but the Dodgers looked awful during their previous 8 games, all losses, including a sweep by Washington. Again, that National League West is just a disgrace.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Ivan Rodriguez has to be a disappointment for the Yankees. I haven't seen him play much, but I can't imagine his defense (which has to be significantly better than Jorge Posada) makes up for the fact that since the trade he's hitting .203 with 2 HR, 2 RBI, scoring just six times.
Football for the rest of the week, unless something notable comes up in the baseball world.