This week, the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays faced off in an American League East battle.
Before that, it was the New York Yankees and the Rays facing off.
After all of the inter division dust settled, the margin between the first place Orioles and the last place Rays was a mere three and a half games.
The order of teams in the division is likely to change many times between now and the end of the regular season with the Rays, Red Sox, Orioles, Yankees and Blue Jays each having a legitimate shot to win the division when all is said and done.
The same can be said in the National League East where only three games separate the tied for first place Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals from the last place Philadelphia Phillies.
As is the case in the American League East, each of the five National League East teams, Marlins, Nationals, Phillies, Braves, and Mets should feel pretty good about their postseason chances at this point in the season.
While the beasts in the east are all within striking distance of each other, things get a little more spread out for teams west of the Mighty Mississippi.
The American League Central has a 6.5 game spread between the first place Detroit Tigers and fifth place Minnesota Twins. In fact, the Tigers have a 4.5 game cushion over the second place Chicago White Sox.
Out in the American League West, the margin stretches to nine games from the first place Oakland Athletics to the fifth place Houston Astros.
In the National League, both the Central and West Divisions have a 9.5 game margin between first and fifth place.
This snapshot of the standings shows once again how the most competitive divisions in baseball reside along the Atlantic coast. But the question remains, what is it about those 10 teams that makes them so good year after year?
One could make the argument that much of baseball started with the east coast teams and the fact that they are still competitive could be in direct result of their longevity as franchises.
While it is true that the bulk of the teams in the East Divisions have long histories, that does not account for the three World Series appearances by the relatively young Florida based teams.
The Rays have one World Series appearance ending in a loss while the Marlins won their two trips to the October Classic proving that age is not the only driving factor when it comes to success in the east.
With length of franchise existence ruled out as the driving factor behind the success in the East, one might be tempted to say payroll is the key to what makes baseball on the East coast so much more competitive than the western counterparts.
While it is certainly true that the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies are not shy about spending money to sign players, the current teams atop the National League East and American League East, the Marlins and Orioles respectively, have some of the lowest payrolls in baseball.
Additionally, the Tampa Bay Rays have shown year after year that they can be competitive despite a payroll that is a fraction of the size of some of the big spenders in the division.
So, one cannot use history or finances to point to as reasons behind the competitive balance in the Eastern Divisions of Major League Baseball.
A third possible reason behind the success of the Eastern Division franchises that could be pointed to by some is the proximity of the teams to each other that leads to heated rivalries.
While it is true that the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have proximity as well as a heated rivalry that has spanned over a century, there are rivalries in all divisions in Major League Baseball. So, the Eastern Division teams cannot claim a monopoly on that reason either.
In the final analysis, one cannot really point to why the 10 Eastern Division teams seem so much more evenly matched than the other 20 teams in baseball.
Sometimes there are not simple answers for things.
One does not need to know how exactly it is that the Earth spins down to the molecular level to appreciate that it prevents people from floating off into outer space, any more than one needs to know the complete formula for the success the teams in the Eastern Divisions.
Sometimes in life it is just best to enjoy the resulting sausage without having to see how it was made. Right now, there is some very tasty sausage being made in the American and National League East Divisions.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am suddenly craving some bratwurst for some reason.
Copyright 2014 R. Anderson