TRAVERSE CITY — Like many people, Monday was a day off for the Traverse City Beach Bums.
“Just relaxing,” Beach Bums manager Gregg Langbehn said Monday.
The calm before the storm.
This morning, the team takes off for suburban Cleveland for a three-game season with Lake Erie to close out the regular season that will go a long way in determining if one or both of the teams will continue playing past Thursday.
Entering the league’s final week, only one playoff spot has been decided. Schaumburg (58-35) has locked up the West Division and is in.
The Beach Bums and Crushers are tied atop the East with identical 54-39 marks. Florence has 52 wins, Gateway 51 and River City 50. That’s five teams fighting for the remaining three spots.
Winning two of three would not only guarantee the Beach Bums a playoff position, but also the East title.
“More important is just getting into the playoffs, first and foremost,” Langbehn said.
And that can be done in a number of ways.
Essentially, the Beach Bums’ magic number is one. A single victory in the three-game series against East co-leader Lake Erie clinches a spot in the post-season. So does a loss by either Florence or River City.
Gateway is three games behind the Bums with three left, but Traverse City owns the tiebreaker against the Grizzlies, so they’re a non-factor as far as TC’s playoff hopes.
Lake Erie is basically in the same place as Traverse City, standings-wise. So, ironically, a split in the series’ first two games would actually make both teams happy — and playoff-bound — and set up a regular-season finale for the East crown.
River City has the tiebreaker on Traverse City for a wild card spot, but has a 3.5-game deficit to make up. The red-hot Rascals have a make-up game with Evansville (a contest which is tied 8-8 in the 9th inning from a rain-suspended May 30 game), making the season’s final three days an important four-game series against the Otters.