What is currently the best race in Major League Baseball? You might say the American League East, where four teams are within six games of first place Boston. You might say the National League East where the Phillies have a full four game lead over the Mets with the Braves hanging around too. You might say the National League Central where the Brewers, Cardinals, Reds and Cubs are all in it. Or you might say the American League West where the Rangers have the Angels to contend with. But the Fan doesn't think any of those is the best race right now. The best race currently is the race for the National League Wildcard.
The Dodgers seem to have the National League West well in hand and the American League Wildcard will most likely come from whoever finishes second in the AL East. But the NL Wildcard has gotten very interesting. With roughly a hundred games left to go, there are four teams within two games of the lead and a staggering eleven teams within four and a half games of the lead.
The Cardinals and the Giants (surprise!) are the co-leaders. The Mets are a half a game back. The Reds are a game back. The Cubs and the Braves are two games back. The Marlins and the Rockies (with their stunning turnaround) are three and a half back. The Padres are four back. And the Astros and the Pirates are four and a half back. So if you are keeping score, all of the teams in the NL Central are in the hunt, three teams in the NL West and three teams in the NL East.
This has to be exciting for the executives of Major League Baseball as it means that all of these franchises have good reason to keep striving. Which gives all of those teams full reasons for their fans to be active and interested. Perfect. But it also may mean a franchise or two that is looking to slim down and jettison an expensive player or two can't really do it or the fans will have a cow. Heck, even the Diamondbacks are only six games off the Wildcard pace.
The race also seems to show that the National League is really about parity right now. Only the Nationals have no shot at all and only the Dodgers seem to be a lock. Beside probably the Dodgers, none of the teams are all that great. The Cubs seem dysfunctional and continue to bat Soriano in the leadoff spot (inexplicably!). The Mets don't have enough starting pitching. The same goes for the Cardinals. All of the teams have holes and that means that this could stay interesting for a very long time.