The late Pete Rozelle was known to strive for “parity” during his days as NFL Commissioner. Perhaps the first 26 games of the Buccaneers’ franchise, when they went 0-26, influenced his mindset.
Rozelle and the NFL tweaked schedules to help more teams reach 8-8 and make it harder for teams to regularly go 14-2. While the elite teams mostly remained elite for a reason, the end result saw most teams in the playoff hunt as the seasons reached their final stages.
Baseball, at least in the American League, displays the kind of parity Rozelle sought for football. With 40 percent of the season now complete, nearly every American League team can still claim a chance to earn a wild card playoff spot.
The Houston Astros are the class of the league with a 46-22 record and an 11-game lead in the American League West. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are 13 and 9 games over .500, respectively.
After that, the league is a parade of parity.
Only two other teams, the Rays and the Los Angeles Angels, are over .500. Tampa Bay enters tonight’s game in Detroit with a 35-33 record and the Angels are 35-34.
A total of 8 teams are at either .500 or within four games of .500. Even last year’s representative in the World Series, the Cleveland Indians, have managed to only earn a 31-31 record.
The Oakland A’s and Chicago White Sox are the “worst” teams in the league with winning percentages of 42 and 44 percent.
The National League is somewhat similar, but has some bigger gaps. Los Angeles, Colorado, Arizona and Washington are all at least 13 games over 500. The Milwaukee Brewers are the only other team to have won more than they have lost.
Shockingly, the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs are one of 10 teams with losing records. Fortunately for them, they play in the mediocre Central Division where they are only two games behind the 35-32 Brewers.
The Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants are all more than 10 games under .500 and the only teams that should be looking ahead to next year.
The Rays try to stay above the break-even mark in Detroit, where they begin a four-game series starting Thursday night against the 30-34 Tigers. Alex Cobb starts on the mound for the Rays, while Justin Verlander tries for his first win in a month for Detroit.