In some ways, the next few weeks are the best part of baseball season. Fans can fall back on the old "hope springs eternal" adage and attempt to envision scenarios in which their team wins it all. Pittsburgh Pirates fans can actually believe if Andrew McCutchen has a 30-30 season, Jameson Taillon reaches the majors quicker than expected and Joey Votto comes down with a bad case of mono, the Pirates could do it!
Of course, not every team really has a chance. And as Christina Kahrl pointed out Friday, there are a number of teams -- many of which we are used to seeing in October contention -- that are basically punting the 2012 season. They are, in no particular order, the Houston Astros, Oakland A's, New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
There are a variety of reasons why these clubs are in this predicament. For example, the Cubs, White Sox and Mets can blame bad contracts (and in New York's case, Bernie Madoff); the A's can blame an old stadium that doesn't generate revenue; and the Twins can blame lingering injuries to key players.
But there is one common thread that links all these teams: poor drafting. If you want to know why these teams are already playing out the string in 2012, start there.