Pennant Fever

There are still two months left in the pro baseball season, but it's never too soon to start thinking about pennant races. Winning the pennant means that a team finishes first place in its division and clinches a spot in the playoffs. A pennant race refers to the final part of the season, when two or more teams compete against each other for the chance to win the pennant.

This season, a couple of classic pennant races are shaping up. Not only are their several close races in various divisions, but the teams involved have long histories of involvement in classic pennant races. Baseball fans throughout the last century could have looked at the standings and seen very similar matchups:

Red Sox vs. Yankees: In all of sports, there are very few rivalries as old and heated as the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Once again, these two teams are neck and neck in the American League East. As of this past Monday, the Yankees were 63-42, just a half-game ahead of the Red Sox, who were 62-42. Since 1913, the Yankees and Red Sox have staged many classic pennant races. For most of that time, the Yankees dominated the Red Sox. But in 2004, the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the playoffs and went on to win the World Series. Now, once again, the two teams are locked in a tight race for the top of the division.

Cubs vs. Cardinals: No two National League teams have more storied histories than the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs started playing ball in 1903; the Cardinals in 1900. They have competed against each other for more than 100 years. As of this past Monday, the Cubs and Cardinals were tied for first place at the top of the National League Central Division. One of the reasons why the teams are such big rivals is that the Cardinals have been one of the most successful teams in baseball, winning 10 World Series since 1926. The Cubs have been one of the least successful and haven't won a World Series since 1908.

Tigers vs. White Sox: One of the classic American League teams, the Detroit Tigers have been playing since 1901. Since then, their chief rival has been the Chicago White Sox. Now, 108 years since they first started, they are each trying to win the American League Central pennant. As of Monday the Tigers held a slim two game lead over the White Sox. The Tigers have won four World Series in their history; the White Sox three.

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