The WNBA playoffs have been electrifying. Each semifinal series is 2-1 in favor of the higher seed, and the path to this point has been unbelievable. The Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm played an instant classic, with a can’t-miss last minute of regulation leading to a dominant overtime by A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum, and Chelsea Gray. The MLB playoff chase is in full effect, with a Tampa Bay Rays series win over the New York Yankees leaving them just 4 games back of the division leader that seemed like a complete lock at the end of July. With a number of teams playing great baseball as of late, including the St. Louis Cardinals, who keep getting big moments from Albert Pujols, and the suddenly-scary Arizona Diamondbacks, who have an outside shot at the last Wild Card spot in the National League. With so many intense playoff races, now is just the right time to get hot.
After just barely missing out on October baseball last year, the Seattle Mariners have slugged their way into the AL Wild Card’s driver’s seat here in the last month of the season. Going 6-0 on the road last week (including a sweep of the playoff-hopeful Cleveland Guardians), in the middle of this intense chase for that Wild Card spot, has earned these Mariners the Elias Game Plan Team of the Week. While the 10-game gap between the M’s and the AL West-leading Houston Astros has almost no chance to disappear over the course of the next month, the Mariners are in the top Wild Card spot, leading the Tampa Bay Rays by one game, the Toronto Blue Jays by two games, the Baltimore Orioles by 2.5 games, and the rest of the American League Wild Card challengers by 5 or more games. On a 7-game winning streak, Seattle is showing no signs of slowing down on their journey to finally end the longest active playoff drought in Major League Baseball.
Last week saw the Chicago Sky storm back after a Game 1 loss to take a 2-1 series lead over the Connecticut Sun. The Sky proved last postseason they could take down anyone in a series en route to their first ever championship. Going for championship number two this season, Chicago looked sharp as ever last week, which is why they are the Elias Game Plan WNBA Team of the Week. Candace Parker was a revelation throughout the process, putting up 22 points on 3/4 three-point shooting in Game 2 before putting together a double-double in a pivotal Game 3. Last year’s Finals MVP Kaleah Copper overcame an injury scare to put up back-to-back double digit scoring outings, joining Parker, key free agent addition Emma Meesseman, and franchise icon Courtney Vandersloot in that club.