For the last few weeks, over at my favorite Cardinals blog, Viva El Birdos, Will Leitch has been tracking the team’s magic number by highlighting a past or current Cardinal player with the corresponding jersey number. Today’s number, for example, is Ozzie Smith.
Earlier in the week, I was hoping I’d get to write a congratulatory post, but then we had to go and lose to the Astros yesterday; the earliest the Cards can clinch the division now is if the Cubs lose to the Giants tonight, but I live on the East Coast and this post is already late as it is. So since I looked at the NL races last week, I thought I’d steal borrow Will’s idea and apply the player number countdown to the AL races.
Yeah, I know, technically the Yankees have already clinched a playoff spot, but if I know Yankees fans what really counts is beating the Red Sox for the division title. For that, their magic number is Mr. Di Maggio here.
Los Angeles Angels
Bobby Grich, a second baseman who now works in the Angels’ front office, is today’s magic number for Los Angeles/Anaheim.
The AL Central is the only playoff spot left that’s still really uncertain. The Tigers’ magic number is current DH Carlos Guillen — but they’ve only got 11 games left. They may need some Twins losses to help pull this off.
Boston Red Sox (wildcard)
Sorry Red Sox fans, you probably won’t catch the Yankees. But your magic number to lock down that wild card spot is Joe Cronin, the player-manager whose number (4 — I couldn’t find a baseball card with his number on it) you retired in 1984.
Of course, since this is up so late, some of these numbers may change in just a few hours. Feel free to post updated players in the comments.