â€˜Eâ€™ numbers provoke much examination, scrutiny, comment and concern.Â In Europe, such deliberations revolve around artificial food additives.Â Companies are now proudly proclaiming the lack of artificial additives in their products, blind to the fact that their statements make loyal customers question why they werenâ€™t so bold in saying the additives were there in the first place.
Yet in the U.S., concerns overÂ ‘E’ numbers do not relate to food.Â Itâ€™s far more important than that.Â TheÂ ‘E’ stands for elimination in sporting competitions and MLB.comâ€™s official standings make fans all too aware of their teamâ€™s fate.Â Â
Everyone except for the six current division leaders has an â€˜Eâ€™ number next to their name.Â It tells you how close or far away they are from having no mathematical chance of winning the division theyâ€™re in (it doesnâ€™t take the Wild Card into account).Â The number is a combination of losses by the team in question and wins by the division leader.Â So if a team has an â€˜Eâ€™ number of 10 at the start of day and they lose their game, it goes down to 9.Â If the division leader wins their game, it goes down to 8.Â If the team had won and the division leader lost then it would stay at 10 and mentally thatâ€™s the toughest part: however hard you try, you never really seem to gain anything.Â Twenty-four teams will end with an ‘E’ next to their name and often a good day simply feels like youâ€™re putting off the inevitable.
In the cases of the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, they wasted little time in getting that inevitable day out of the way.Â Both slipped into the â€˜Eâ€™ category after the games of 1 September.Â The Nationalsâ€™ 46-87 record left them 32 games behind the Phillies in the NL East.Â The Orioles hadnâ€™t yet made sure of compiling a losing season, but their 54-79 record was enough to leave the Yankees out of reach in the seriously tough AL East.
By yesterday, four teams had joined the â€˜Eâ€™ ranks: Arizona, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Toronto.Â The Diamondbacks are the biggest surprise of the four considering pre-season expectations in the desert. Â Brandon Webbâ€™s injury and step-backs taken by several of their younger players have made this a lost season, although Justin Uptonâ€™s 2009 season has raised confidence that he will go on and live up to his outstanding potential.
The Aâ€™s and Reds entered yesterdayâ€™s games on the dreaded â€˜E1â€™.Â Wins over the Twins and Cubs respectively combined with losses by their division leaders (Angels and Cardinals) gave both a stay of execution, but itâ€™s only a matter of time before their seasons are officially over.Â
Of course, the division leaders can look at ‘E’ numbers in a much more positive way.Â For them, the ‘E’ number of the second-placed team is their â€˜magic numberâ€™.Â Â The Cardinals need any combination of wins or Cubs losses amounting to eleven for the NL Central to be theirs.Â They can count down the number with glee.
Most other teams will probably be better off ignoring it and instead looking forward to Spring Training 2010.
Rockies are rolling again
In case you hadnâ€™t noticed, the Colorado Rockies (‘E’ number of 17) are playing some great baseball right now.Â They had won eight in a row before their 3-2 extra innings loss to the Padres last night and are now just three games behind the L.A. Dodgers in the NL West.Â
Itâ€™s not quite 2007 all over again, weâ€™ll have to wait a long time for another team to go on such an incredible stretch run as the Rockies produced that year, but itâ€™s impressive all the same.Â Colorado were 14.5 games behind the hot-starting Dodgers with a 18-28 record when they fired Clint Hurdle and replaced him with former Dodgers and Pirates manager Jim Tracy at the end of May.Â I canâ€™t say Iâ€™ve ever been a big fan of Tracy, but you canâ€™t argue with the results: the Rockies are 64-33 under his stewardship.
The Dodgers may have won twelve of the fifteen games between the two sides this season, but they know all too well that the Rockies are a big threat to their hopes of retaining their NL West crown.
Jeter: Yankeesâ€™ hit king
Another seemingly inevitable feat was achieved this week as Derek Jeter surpassed Lou Gehrig to become the New York Yankeesâ€™ all-time hits leader with 2,722.Â You donâ€™t need to add much explanation to that sentence to get across the magnitude of the achievement.Â Gehrigâ€™s name is one you quickly learn as a newcomer to baseball, not just as a Yankee legend but as a baseball legend.Â
It seems incredible that some people were lining up to issue the last rites on Jeterâ€™s career after his 2008 season.Â A .300/.363/.408 batting line wasnâ€™t up to his normal standards, but to say that was the beginning of the end was pushing things a bit.Â He has truly returned to form this year and itâ€™s not simply been a result of the hitter-friendly new Yankee Stadium.Â It may well have added some homers onto his total (twelve of his seventeen so far have come at home), but heâ€™s actually hitting better on the road.
Itâ€™s been a memorable season so far for Jeter.Â For all his achievements this year, nothing would please him more than earning his fifth World Series ring after nine seasons since his last.Â The way the Yankees are playing, you wouldnâ€™t bet against it either.