There are several really good races going on in baseball. There is the triumvirate of Boston/New York/Tampa Bay. There is a four team race in the NL West. There is a two team race in the NL Central and a two team race in the AL Central. But one of the most interesting races right now is the NL wild-card race.
In the American League, there are three teams within 6.5 games of the wild-card. The Bay Rays are in front of the Red Sox by five and a half and the Twins by six and a half. It seems a given to most that the second place finisher in the AL East will be the wild-card. But the way the Twins and White Sox are playing, the Fan wouldn't put money on that right now. But in the National League, there are seven teams vying for the wild-card in the following current order: Giants, Reds, Phillies, Rockies, Dodgers, Mets and the Marlins.
Here is how it might break down. Right now the Giants, Rockies and Dodgers are all viable candidates with the Dodgers looking less so every day. But that is four good teams (counting the Padres) within the division. It stands to reason that they will all take turns beating each other.
Similarly, there are four good teams in the NL East: Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins. All of them have talent and problems. They too should take turns bruising each other as the season rolls along.
But in the NL Central, there are only two good teams: The Cardinals and the Reds. It stands to reason then that the Cards and Reds will face a lot of mediocre talent when they aren't facing each other. With less teams to beat within their own division, the odds seem to favor whichever team that doesn't finish first.
The same logic could apply in the American League but it is different. The Yankees and the Bay Rays (as it stands now), are clearly superior to any team in the AL with the possible exception of the Rangers. The Rangers are going to win the division, so that won't matter. The Angels are not going to be a factor in the wild-card. The Twins and the White Sox are the only two good teams in their division. You could once include the Tigers, but they are probably dead at this point (the Boston series was the latest disaster). But when looking at the White Sox and the Twins, it doesn't seem to make sense that one of them is going to finish with a better record than the Bay Rays or the Yankees. The Red Sox--that resilient bunch--seems to be the only real threat. A lot of the Red Sox fate will result in how they do in their upcoming long road trip.
So yeah, the NL wild-card is a terrifically exciting race to add to all three division races. The NL is going to be an exciting place coming down the stretch.