Tightened races make for great theatre
It's been about a month since I wrote a column suggesting that fans of the Tampa Bay Rays should be proud of the team that puts on that uniform every night. Proud or not, I didn't think there was any way the Rays could catch Boston or New York -- whichever team wound up not winning the division -- for the AL Wild Card.
Well, I might have spoken too soon. The Rays have pulled to within three games of Boston in the Wild Card race. The Red Sox have dealt with some injuries on their pitching staff, and the offense has not been able to lately bail out subpar pitching by scoring a lot of runs.
I also wrote in the aforementioned column that this division doesn't come back to you; you have to run down the leaders. Well, I was wrong about that also. The Red Sox have gone 2-8 over their last 10 games.
Tampa has 16 games remaining, and Boston has 15 left to play. That is plenty of games to make up three games the way Boston has been playing. Injuries happen to every team. The teams with the depth to overcome them are the teams that make the playoffs. The Red Sox have not proven they are capable of doing that. The great thing about our game is that until you run out of games, you are not out of it.
There's still a good race for the AL East title, with Boston just four games behind New York. Only three games separate first-place Texas and Los Angeles. The National League Wild Card race has gotten interesting, too. Whereas the Braves once looked like a lock, they now hold a four-game lead over St. Louis.
So as Yogi said: It ain't over til' It's over.
It's great for baseball and what makes it still the best game in the world. Just when you think it's over, it ain't.
Many people, including myself, picked Boston to win the World Series before the season started. But as I sit here today, I think -- even if the Red Sox do make the playoffs -- they don't have enough to even get out of the Divisional round. They simply have too many injuries to overcome.
But if everyone got healthy and was able to play over the next couple of weeks, it could all change again. That's why you have to watch this game all season long.
Mitch Williams is an analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.