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Beside The Points For Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017

Things That Caught My Eye

For whom the AL wild-card slot tolls

It sure looks like the Minnesota Twins are going to snag the American League’s second wild-card slot in the playoffs, and needless to say it’s going to be difficult to get past the recently streaking Indians, top-notch offense of Houston, or the Yankee-Red Sox industrial complex. They’ve got a two in three chance of nabbing the potentially doomed playoff spot. [FiveThirtyEight]

More like AFC Best you know?

The AFC West — the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, and some itinerant caravan of rootless football professionals describing themselves as Chargers — is stacked this year, with the Chiefs, Raiders and Broncos all with higher-than 50 percent chances to make the playoffs according to ESPN’s football power index. [ESPN]

Technically undefeated!

The Las Vegas Golden Knights are 2-0 so far through the NHL preseason, which is their first as a franchise. Technically speaking, that makes them the only entirely undefeated team playing at the moment. Hockey starts up again October 4. [Knights on Ice]

NFL games getting shorter?

Not including Monday Night Football, the average Week 2 NFL game lasted 3 hours, 4 minutes — down slightly from Week 2 of 2015 and 2016. Obviously we’re going to need a few more weeks of data before making a definitive declaration about the speed of play but early number appear promising. [ESPN]

Baseballs approach their platonic ideal

All baseballs go through the air a little differently — a lower seam here or a smoother ball there marginally affect how they travel — but those slight differences have been getting slighter. Judging by a measure of air resistance, the baseballs used in MLB play since 2008 have been getting more and more internally consistent when it comes to how they fly, which ends up affecting how far they go, which might explain… [FiveThirtyEight]

Big Number


The number of home runs hit league-wide in the 2017 season when Kansas City’s Alex Gordon connected for one in the eighth inning on Tuesday night, topping the major-league record set in the 2000 season. The league is currently on pace for 6,140 homers. [ESPN]

Leaks from Slack


Sox going to extra innings again. 2nd day in a row.


dammit, @neil, you caused this


I only caused it if they end up losing


by reminding them how lucky 14-3 is in extras

[The Red Sox won and were subsequently 15-3 in extra innings]


Oh, and don’t forget
This could be it for Bautista, enjoy him while you can.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.