Hard to believe, but we now have less than six weeks of baseball remaining in the 2013 regular season.
And while there are several races of intrigue, absolutely nothing comes close to the NL Central. As things stand, three teams are separated by only 3½ games.
At the top, the Pittsburgh Pirates are closing in on their first winning season since Mike LaValliere was their trusty backstop. It appears they're going to make the leap all the way into the postseason, but getting to the NLDS would be much more satisfying than possibly losing a one-game playoff. So the division title is still paramount here.
The Cardinals and Reds are looking to return to the postseason and erase collapses in the NLCS and NLDS from their memories. I'm guessing neither would be too thrilled with the one-game playoff option, either.
In looking ahead at the schedule, there's tons of head-to-head goodness. The Pirates and Cardinals square off six more times, the Pirates and Reds play each other six times in the final 10 games -- including the last three games -- and the Cardinals face the Reds seven times. Talk about playoff atmosphere in the regular season.
I firmly believe this thing is going to be a three-team race into the final week of the season. We may even get a one-game playoff before the actual one-game playoff wild-card game.
Not only that, but might the MVP winner be based on how the division shakes out? Andrew McCutchen and Yadier Molina appear to be the front-runners and Joey Votto always merits consideration -- especially if he gets hot and the Reds take the division in come-from-behind fashion.
Stay tuned, it's gonna be outstanding.
Please feel free to contact me with comments either on Twitter (@MattSnyder27) or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. These were posted the morning of Aug. 21. Any action coming after posting wasn't included here -- a fact that seems to escape many people later in the week.
Also of note: We're starting to see much less week-to-week movement because five to seven games moves the needle tons less significantly when we've already seen upwards of 125 games played per team.