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Is this the Best AL Race since 1967?
2006-07-26 20:23
by Scott Long

Well, lookie here. We have a 3-way tie for the AL Wild Card, as the White Sox, Twins, and Yankees are in a dead heat. The Blue Jays are 3 games back and the Red Sox are 2 games ahead, so we have 5 teams within 5 games of each other, battling for just 2 playoff spots. The A's and Angels are tied in the West, with the Rangers just a game out.

Only the Tigers look to be a lock for an AL playoff spot and considering their schedule over the next 5 weeks, I expect they will come back to the crowd. Detroit plays their division foes Chicago, Minnesota, and Cleveland each 6 times in this period, while facing the Rangers (4 times), Yankees (3), Red Sox (3), and Angels (3). Only their 4 games versus the Devil Rays being against a squad not in Scott's Top 10 teams in MLB. As the White Sox demonstrated last year, it doesn't take much to lose a big lead in August, especially when you have a hot team on your tail. I'm not saying they won't make the playoffs, but the heat of August will be felt in the Motor City.

As great as this race looks to be, it still won't be able to match the excitement of 1967. Going into the final week of the season, 4 teams (Twins, Tigers, Red Sox, and White Sox) were all within 2 games of each other. This was before multiple divisions or wildcards, so only 1 team would make it to the post-season from these 4.

The White Sox preceded to lose their last 5 games to fall-out of the race, but going into the final day of the regular season, the Red Sox and Twins were tied at 91-70, while the Tigers were 90-70, with a double-header against the Angels. Boston beat Minnesota and the Tigers lost the second game of their doubleheader versus Los Angeles, so the Red Sox went on to play the Cardinals in one of the great World Series of all-time.

1967 was my favorite season to read about in baseball history, because of all the great stories. The epic AL pennant chase, Yaz's triple crown, Bob Gibson battling Jim Lonborg in the World Series, Tom Seaver and Rod Carew being named rookie of the years in their respective leagues. What a magical season. Here's hoping that 2006 will provide some of the same thrills. It's shaping up to be a lot of fun.

2006-07-26 22:14:10
1.   Ken Arneson
We got some good races going, all right. I keep thinking now that the 2006 AL has to be the most difficult and competitive league ever.

I mean, look at the Indians. A disappointment? But except for the interleague games, the AL is a zero-sum game. I think they were still a pretty good team, but somebody has to end up below .500 in this league. They'd probably be fighting for a playoff spot in the NL, instead of dumping players at the deadline.

2006-07-27 00:56:48
2.   Yu-Hsing Chen
The AL west however... is competetive in it's own way...... but......
2006-07-27 19:54:06
3.   das411
I think the word you're looking for is "differently-abled", YHC! And didn't the NL west have that problem last year?
2006-07-31 22:14:11
4.   thewebb
As for the AL West, I agree this is probably somewhat of a down year for the ole AL Westers. However, one thing that really helps the East and the Central is that they have at least 1 'buffer' team to get weak wins against.

The Central has the Royals and the East has the D'Rays and you could even say the Orioles. The West is beating up on each other this year because all 4 teams are competitive.

The West is 66-55 against the East this year, and 58-63 against the Central this year, which is below .500, but may be closer than people assume.

All that being said, no league has 3 teams better than the top 3 in the Central. The West just doesn't have any team near as bad as the D'Rays, Royals, and Orioles.

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