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Wednesday September 2, 2009 8:15 am
The So-Called Pennant Races
September is here, and so the home stretch for the 2009 MLB season is upon us. The playoff races will take center stage in sports media, but for the first time in years, the races look as if they might be over before they really get started. Going into Wednesday night’s action, the closest pennant race was the American League Central, where the Detroit Tigers hold a 3.5 game lead over the Minnesota Twins, who, when it comes to playoff races, are a pathetic two games above .500. In the Central’s National League counterpart, the St. Louis Cardinals have already all-but-clinched the division as they hold a 10.5 game lead over the Chicago Cubs. It would take a colossal turn of events for the Cards to miss the playoffs in 2009.
The rest of the race leads fall somewhere in-between the margins set by the two Centrals. However, the only teams playing any kind of “hot” ball right now are current leaders like the New York Yankees (AL East), Philadelphia Phillies (NL East), and Los Angeles Dodgers (NL West). The only team playing decent baseball is the AL Wild Card leading Boston Red Sox. Even the Sox aren’t necessarily playing “good” baseball as much as they’re playing “good enough.” Their pitchers have actually outdueled the weaker teams, and the Sox have managed to hold a steady lead over the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays for the last week or so. When they faltered against the Rangers and actually temporarily gave up the wild card spot to them in late August, visions of exciting baseball followed, but the Rangers collapsed just as fast and now sit 3.5 games back.
The only real race that looks like it might be worth watching is the National League Wild Card. The all-too-average Colorado Rockies hold a slim one-game lead above the San Francisco Giants, while the Atlanta Braves aren’t far behind, who still have nine games left against two of the worst teams in baseball in the oft-injured Mets and the basement-dwelling Nationals.
If you’re one of those fans who likes to pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist while the baseball season winds down, you might be sadly disappointed in 2009. The races aren’t close yet, but that doesn’t mean things won’t change. Just with the way teams are playing right now, don’t get your hopes up. If you indeed are one of those fans, you might want to try getting into the NFL a little earlier this year.
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