I’ve always been amazed at the proximity of talent between world class sprinters, swimmers and skiers. It seems that no matter the course, it takes measurements of time down to the hundredths of a second to figure out who went through a course faster. While a baseball team’s success isn’t defined by anything as definitive as time, it’s nonetheless impressive that after 161 games, two teams can be tied for the final position that marks the barrier between a successful season (making the playoffs) and a failing season (not making the playoffs).

Perhaps even more amazing is that both leagues are experiencing this same phenomenon, with the virtual collapse of a large lead in the final few weeks of the year.

First, let’s look at the Atlanta Braves, who had an astounding 10.5 game lead on the National League Wild Card spot on August 26th, are now all tied up with the St. Louis Cardinals after Tony LaRussa’s team stormed back from two deficits to beat the Triple A Astros 13-6 and the Braves lost to the Say Uncle Phillies 7-1. It was Atlanta’s fourth straight loss and the twelfth in their last seventeen games.

Tonight, Atlanta will send Tim Hudson to the mound against Philadelphia who will start Joe Blanton, but likely plan on going to the bullpen early and often in their final game of the year. The scheduled start time is 7:10 PM EDT. Meanwhile, Chris Carpenter will go for the Cardinals against Brett Myers of the Astros. That game will get started at 8:05 PM EDT.

If the Braves and St. Louis find themselves still tied after tonight’s games, we’ll see a one-game playoff Thursday night at Busch Stadium. Atlanta would most likely go with Brandon Beachy to start the game while the Cardinals would use Kyle Lohse.

Over in the American League, both the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays won their 9oth games of the season last night. Most pundits see a final one game playoff between the two teams as something of an inevitability. Boston will start ace Jon Lester on short rest tonight against Baltimore’s Alfredo Simon, while the Yankees haven’t even decided on a starter for tonight’s game against the Rays, who will have David Price on the mound.

If everything goes as expected, Boston and Tampa Bay will meet in  a one game playoff on Thursday afternoon at 4:07 p.m. EDT at Tropicana Field.The Rays would likely look to Jeff Niemann or possibly Matt Moore while the Red Sox could go with either John Lackey or Tim Wakefield. #NotPromising

And The Rest

In the final start of his break out season, San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner went seven innings, giving up two hits, no walks and striking out nine batters. He gathered 13 swinging strikes on five different pitches. No, you have a man crush.

Nightmare scenario: If Fredi Gonzalez managed the St. Louis Cardinals and Tony LaRussa managed the Atlanta Braves.

So, maybe the Arizona Diamondbacks are a team of destiny. Check out the tenth inning of their game last night against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This is how much New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin hates the Boston Red Sox.

Milwaukee Brewers first baseman (at least for the next few weeks) Prince Fielder blasted three home runs last night to put him in a tie atop the NL leader board in dingers.

Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams wants you to know that he didn’t fire bench coach Joey Cora via text message, but he did volunteer to step down earlier this season.

Michael Young: shortstop.

Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman was taken to hospital before the start of yesterday’s game against the New York Yankees with chest pains.

Why Vice President Joe Biden is rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

Be sure to join us for a live stream right here at Getting Blanked following this afternoon’s Toronto Blue Jays game against the Chicago White Sox to relive all the wonders of this past season.

Baltimore Orioles reliever Jim Johnson has got movement.

Headline image courtesy of Getty Images and the capitalization of an opportunity to tease the very nervous and rather sensitive Kristian Jack.