There is not a lot of drama left in Major League baseball's regular season, with a little less than three weeks to go. There is talk of perhaps adding another Wild Card sometime in the near future, and that is all well, fine and good -- unless you are a traditionalist and prefer not to see maybe 16 teams in the postseason, as there are in hockey and basketball.
However, we are not here to talk of the future, but the present, and here is another look at the standings, as well as the weekend schedule for those teams which are either pretty much in, or are still realistically alive.
AL Central Standings
Unfortunately for Indians fans, the Tribe needs to be counted out, painful as that is. The Tigers are at home this weekend vs. the Twins, while the White Sox continue their home series against Cleveland.
Detroit's magic number is 12, and the Royals and Minnesota are mathematically eliminated.
AL East Standings
Here is one race that is alive, but not with much drama. Why? Because the second-place finisher in the East almost certainly will be the Wild Card, and it may come down to a second-place team with a chance to win a division resting players down the stretch instead of "trying" to claim a division title.
The Yankees are out West to play the Angels, while the Red Sox square off with the Rays in Tampa Bay. Although I am inclined to say that the Rays are finished, a good weekend could keep them in the hunt.
New York's magic number to take the East is 18. We will discuss Boston's magic number for the Wild Card after the Wild Card standings.
Baltimore is the only East team that has been mathematically eliminated from the playoff race.
AL West Standings
Although there is the same gap between first and second in the West, the drama is completely different, as the second place team will probably have no shot at a Wild Card.
The Rangers entertain the Athletics this weekend, while Los Angeles is at home vs. the Yankees. Texas has a magic number of 17.
The Mariners have been mathematically eliminated from all playoff contention.
American League Wild Card Standings
|Tampa Bay||78||64||.549||6.5||Won 1|
|Los Angeles||78||65||.545||7||Won 1|
|Kansas City||60||85||.413||26||Lost 2|
(updated 9.9.2011 at 10:42 AM EDT)
The AL Wild Card race is a three-team battle, though Boston has a pretty healthy advantage, and has a magic number of 14 to clinch -- unless they overtake New York for the AL East crown.
Oakland, Seattle, Kansas City, Minnesota and Baltimore all have no shot at a Wild Card.
Now to the National League:
NL Central Standings
Yet another two-team race, and yet another race where there is really no drama.
The Brewers have lost three straight and might be showing a dent in their armor, but even so, Milwaukee's magic number is 11.
Milwaukee faces the Phillies through this weekend, while the Cardinals are at home against the Braves.
The Cubs and the Astros have both been mathematically eliminated from all postseason contention.
NL East Standings
Philadelphia just keeps rolling along and has reduced their magic number to 11. But the Braves have much to play for even though they will not catch the Phillies. Atlanta has a healthy lead for the NL Wild Card, which we will look at below.
Only the Marlins have been eliminated from playoff contention.
NL West Standings
The final of the two-team races is in the NL West, where the Diamondbacks have reduced their magic number to 12. Arizona takes on the Padres at home this weekend, while the defending champion Giants try to hang on to flickering hopes as they face the Dodgers, also at home.
Only San Diego has been mathematically eliminated.
National League Wild Card Standings
|St. Louis||76||67||.531||7.5||Won 2|
|San Francisco||75||68||.524||8.5||Lost 1|
|Los Angeles||70||72||.492||13||Won 2|
|New York||70||73||.489||13.5||Lost 2|
|San Diego||62||82||.430||22||Lost 1|
(updated 9.9.2011 at 10:47 AM EDT)
As in the American League, the NL has a three-team race for the Wild Card -- and like the AL, the Senior Circuit has basically no drama here.
Atlanta's magic number for the Wild Card is 12. Florida, the Cubs, San Diego and Houston are all eliminated.
We will be back on Monday for another update, Maybe something will happen this weekend to amp up one or two of the battles for playoff spots -- or maybe by Monday it will be down to just a few teams with any real chance.