Baseball races are exciting

Virtually every sports editor who wrote a column for their Sunday edition-present company included -focused on football, a sport in which not a single meaningful game has yet to be played (unless you are a fan of the Montreal Alouettes or Saskatchewan Rough Riders).

That’s understandable, given that football is the most high-interest sport at the college, high school and professional levels.

Yet, in choosing to write about football, we also chose not to write about a sport that not only is coming down to crunch time, but is having -at least on the field -a great year and that is Major League Baseball.

When Commissioner Bud Selig proposed and the owners accepted a plan to expand the playoffs to include two wild card teams in each league, baseball purists cried foul.

But this is one idea that is batting 1.000 -it’s a sure-fire hit. It gives more teams a reason to play down the stretch.

It gives fans of those teams something about which to cheer besides the old familiar Wait ‘Til Next Year.

Especially in the American League. The three division leaders are the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers, each with 73 wins, and the Texas Rangers with 71.

But look at the battle that is shaping up for the two wild card spots. The Tampa Bay Rays have 70 wins, while the Oakland Athletics have 69, the Baltimore Orioles 67, the Cleveland Indians 66 and the New York Yankees (never count them out) 63.

With six weeks to go, more than half the teams in the AL still have hopes of making the playoffs and thus being able to make an October run to the championship.

In the National League, it’s a quite different situation.

The Atlanta Braves (76 wins) and Los Angeles Dodgers (72) are running away with their respective divisions and likely will clinch a playoff berth by mid-September.

Then there’s the Central Division where the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds all have 70 or more wins.

The next closest team is the Arizona Diamondbacks with 63. It’s getting more likely with each passing day the NL Central will send three teams to the playoffs, something no division ever has been able to do, but now has been made possible.

Baseball fans include more traditionalists than any other sport. Many believe it is the greatest game ever invented and they don’t want to see it changed one bit.

The designated hitter was introduced in 1973 and we’re still arguing its merits.

Pirates announcer Bob Walk is running a one-campaign to Ban The DH. It’s a passionate issue as are all things baseball.

Yes, we’re nine days away from college football kicking off. While that will be an exciting time, let’s not forget about baseball. Otherwise, we’ll miss out on some great races.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com