Week 10 is upon us as it always does, but this time there is much less noise in the background. Out of 8 playoff spots we know 7 of the teams for certain and the 8th only needs to avoid tripping up. So, you say to yourself, why should we watch the matches for round 10 if things are already determined? Well, 2 reasons. The positioning of teams in the western division is uncertain. The second reason is that the teams that are out of the playoffs will most certainly have something to say about the playoff setup and be sure that those teams would love nothing more than to be involved by beating a contender. The cross conference matchup is Tennessee and Baltimore. The Kingfishers are on the verge of the 4th playoff spot in the East, while the Tempo have seen the ground slide beneath them. Baltimore looks like they are coming with a playoff ready lineup and should be the favorites. Tennessee can cause trouble if they get points from the middle 2 boards. New Jersey faces Queens. It seems that the Pioneers should be a power in the East, but have been under a cloud since a round 1 fingerfehler cost them a match with Boston. New Jersey is looking to keep form for the playoffs, while Queens needs some outside help to get in. The Knockouts are likely to be everyones favorite in the match, yet looking at the players it would seem that the only thing NJ has over Queens is confidence. Philadelphia is the team that is hoping for a Tennessee upset as it would increase their chances of getting in. Still, the Inventors have to be aware that they are facing a Carolina team that has found itself in the past few weeks and has nothing to play for other than the upset. Possibly the most interesting match this week is Boston - New York, because they will face each other in the first round of the playoffs. I wonder if the Knights are doing a little bit of lineup swapping to create a bit of doubt. You have to admit, if the Knights win this week what each team will be looking to change for round 1 of the playoffs. Dallas plays San Francisco in what is basically a rivalry match The Destiny are out of the playoffs, but as 2 time defending champ they aren't going to wimper their way out of the season. For the Mechanics there is some chance of better placement for the playoffs and they have opened the wildlife exhibit by have a Wolff and Bhat on the top boards. Miami gets the Scorpions this week as both teams look to sharpen up for the playoffs. Miami will be seeing the Sluggers next and probably looking to find a couple extra teeth for that match. Arizona is in second in the West and wants to win to keep that placement. Last match is the Sluggers and Chicago Blaze.
Seattle is fielding a moderate lineup with Serper, Mikhailuk, Milat and Sinanan. Chicago counters with the 3 IM's van de Mortel, Felecan and Pasalic with Rosen on 4th. Board 1 will be quite interesting as van de Mortel has played above his rating this season and Serper has been very steady. Sinanan looks like a solid favorite on 4th boad, though a similar situation happened last week. To me it looks like the place the match will be decided is in the middle. Slava and Marcel have both shown strength that has surprised some folks. Slava just needs to get comfortable quickly and not fall behind on time, while Marcel is just rounding into playing shape. I don't know what the rules are as far as Marcel's playing in the playoffs, but the other 3 are certain to see action. The Sluggers could fall out of first place with a loss and Arizona win or third if the Mechanics get a blow out. Chicago has played with great spun the whole season and none of the Sluggers or their fans should look beyond that. I like the Sluggers to win the match.
You may have noticed that I didn't pick winners in any of the other matches, reverting to my old form. Just nostalgia I guess. So, I will be posting after the matches.
Thanks this week to Patrick Wolff and Vinay Bhat for being good sports, to all the 3rd board players in the league... they get no respect, to the Commish, Mulfish and all the readers. ttyl and have a nice day