Leave the AL East for the best division races

National League divisions offer much tighter competition

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Living in Ontario, people care more about the plight of the Leafs, Sens or Habs than what’s going down in Major League Baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays have a fair-weather fan following at the best of times; their showing of mediocrity this season only exacerbates the problem.

The solution: true fans should realize you’ve got to poke around to monitor the most exciting division races this season.

For those who aren’t Jays fans, the Red Sox-Yankees vendetta absorbs the sports pages and airwaves. Living in such an AL East bubble, it’s tough to catch games or even highlights of the tightest races.

The NL Central and West divisions have been fighting tooth and nail for the past two months; by all accounts the division crowns will be contested down to the wire.

In the Central division, the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee’s “Brew Crew” have been stepping on each other’s throats all season. Sweet Lou finally has his North Side boys in line, while Brewers one-bagger Prince Fielder mashes more than a shepherd’s pie aficionado.

The result is highly exciting baseball. Either team’s success would be a feel-good story as the Brewers have sucked as long as I can remember and the Cubs haven’t won big since General George Patton was getting his diapers changed.

In the NL West, the young, upstart Arizona Diamondbacks have squeezed a couple inches of breathing room from the pitching-savvy San Diego Padres. But this race, too, has been hotly-contested for months: the LA Dodgers and Colorado Rockies have also been in the mix. Superb talents like Padres hurler Jake Peavy, quirky ’Zona outfielder Eric Byrnes and Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins are playing in obscurity on the West Coast.

In our local AL East division, the Yankees have seldom been closer than five games to the BoSox, yet more often than not it’s all you hear about in the media or chatter on the bus (the odd time when conversations stray from the Leafs’ Raycroft-Toskala position battle or verbatim quotes from Superbad).

Admittedly, with A-Rod, David Ortiz, and the motor-mouth Curt Schilling, there’s enough star power and gossip in the East to keep sports fans stimulated. But watching Jeter smack clutch hits and watching Manny loaf around the outfield has almost become formulaic the past few seasons.

This column was a tough one for me to write. I became a Red Sox fan in 1999 after two things occurred:
(a) I got my first taste of Pedro Martinez’s dominance;
(b) I watched what remains my favourite movie, Good Will Hunting, which is littered with Red Sox diehards.

I hate to rag on the division of my team. It still doesn’t change the fact there’s more interesting baseball happening elsewhere.

If you want to absorb the magic of all the pennant races, go the extra mile and examine the league’s other divisions. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette