Finish line in sight

We enter the final series of the 2013 season with perhaps one playoff spot on the line:  the two American League Wild Card slots, to be determined between Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Texas.  (There is something satisfying about having a 2nd place contender from each division isn't there?)

The current standings:

AL East AL Central AL West
BOS 96-63
DET 93-66
OAK 94-65
TB  89-69
CLE 88-70
TEX 87-71

The National League is pretty straightforward and decided, though the Pirates and Reds are still shaking out who gets home field advantage in their Wild Card elimination game.

NL East AL Central AL West
ATL 93-65
STL 94-65
LA 91-67
PIT 91-68
NY Mets
CIN 90-69
San Diego

I list these standings because there is an argument that today's current set-up is making baseball far more exciting than it would be in other seasons, pre-Wild Card.  Is that true?

It is true that the addition of the Wild Card(s) has engaged more cities.

As for drama...

From 1876-1968, there were no divisions.  The National League was solely and entirely one undivided league.  The American League, starting in 1901, was just the same, with the top team from each league making the World Series at the regular season's conclusion.

If that held true for this season, then:

American League
Boston Red Sox:  96-63
Oakland Athletics:  94-65, 2.0 games back
Detroit Tigers:  93-66, 3.0 games back

National League
St. Louis Cardinals:  94-65
Atlanta Braves:  93-65, 0.5 games back
Los Angeles Dodgers:  91-67, 2.5 games back
Pittsburgh Pirates:  91-68, 3.0 games back

A Boston/St. Louis World Series would be a lot of fun, but the Cards are by no means assured of winning the pennant.  Drama?  Combining every team into one league would end an AL and NL postseason, but it would certainly add drama in spades.  Imagine, too, if the Athletics could creep within one game of the Red Sox with two games remaining!


From 1969-1993, the American and National Leagues were divided into East and West Divisions.  Restoring those divisional separations:

AL East

Boston Red Sox:  96-63
Detroit Tigers:  93-66, 3.0 games back

AL West

Oakland Athletics:  94-65
Texas Rangers:  87-71, 6.5 games back

NL East

St. Louis Cardinals:  94-65
Pittsburgh Pirates:  91-68, 3.0 games back

NL West

Atlanta Braves:  93-65
Los Angeles Dodgers:  91-67, 2.0 games back

Not too much tension to be found here, though a Braves/Dodgers race for the division crown would be fun.  (Yes, Atlanta used to be in the NL West.  The Braves and Giants had the last great divisional race in 1993, each team winning more than 100 games.)


Well, that was a fun exercise.  I'm not sure what we learned from it, except that it's a nice thing for Tampa, Cleveland, Texas, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati that the wild cards are around.

Let's head to October!


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