MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
Joining us to discuss this year's lackluster pennant races is sportswriter Stefan Fatsis. Hi, Stefan.
STEFAN FATSIS: Hey, Robert.
SIEGEL: There are eight playoff races in Major League Baseball every year, the six divisions and the two wildcard spots. And this year, all but one of those races is pretty much resolved already. Bring us up to date.
FATSIS: Otherwise, no team is closer than six and a half games from the playoffs, which means, barring an epic collapse or two, your 2011 playoff teams are all but certain to be the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and either the Angels or Rangers in the American League. And the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamond Backs in the National League.
SIEGEL: Now, while the presence of the Milwaukee Brewers on this makes this good news, I...
FATSIS: For you.
SIEGEL: For me. I guess a dearth of pennant races really can't be all that good for baseball.
FATSIS: You've got the revenue and talent giants in New York, Boston and Philly who were virtually certain playoff teams before the season even started. And, also, maybe the sport needs to tinker with its system to reduce the risk of this sort of finish.
SIEGEL: Stefan, earlier in the season, we talked about the possibility of adding another playoff team. Is Major League Baseball any closer to taking that step?
FATSIS: But the playoff plan is going to be tied up with another plan to even the size of the two leagues at 15 teams apiece. That's tied up with the proposed sale of the Houston Astros, who would move to the American league and that deal is reportedly taking longer than expected, in part because of questions about the business background of the proposed owner.
SIEGEL: Now, while this might be a predictable and uneventful September on the field, September would be quickly forgotten with a scintillating October. Is there a likelihood of great baseball to look forward to in the World Series, Stefan?
FATSIS: The Yankees and Red Sox are actually the teams with the pitching issues in the American League. Meanwhile, in the National League, the Phillies have the big three, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels. They'll be tough to beat and I know you're pulling for the Brewers with their MVP candidate, Ryan Braun and T-Plush, Tony Plush, the alter ego of the fun-loving outfielder, Nyjer Morgan. I'm sure you're a big follower of his Tweets.
SIEGEL: And Prince Fielder. Thank you, Stefan. Have a great weekend.
FATSIS: You, too, Robert.
SIEGEL: Stefan Fatsis joins us most Fridays to talk about sports and the business of sports. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.