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With just over 50 games to go in the baseball regular season, the Cardinals are easily the best team going (if you are like me and think that a team's record tells all, which when it comes to baseball I definitely think that). From what I can tell though, the team that has the best chance to dethrone them when it's all said and done is in their own division -- the Pirates.
I think it's fair at this point to say that the NL Central is the best and most competitive division in all of baseball, at least up to this point. 3 of the top 5 teams in the league are from that division: the 2 already named, and the Dodgers.
Reason I think the Pirates pose the biggest threat is simply because of the schedule. The Pirates will play the Cards 9 more times before the end of the season. That's way more than any other high ranking team that St. Louis will see.
Luckily for the Cards, their stellar home record (which currently tops the league at 40-16) gives them the edge here. Of the 9 games against the Pirates, 6 of them are in St. Louis.
So it seems like all the Cardinals have to do is take care of the Pirates at home, and not lose upset style to the lessers of the rest of their relatively easy schedule to close out, and they should own the #1 spot. But if any team can dethrone 'em, it's definitely the Pirates.
But reason for this thread is ... I totally think the Pirates can do it. So far their head-to-head record is 5-5 for the season.
And if they do, the end of the MLB season should be very interesting, as it will then become WIDE OPEN. And that's when baseball playoff races are at their best, when EVERY game matters, until the very last game at the end of season come October 4th.