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Instant Analyst

Whether it's thanks to serendipity or geography, the alignment of baseball's leagues seems to have a kind of natural perfection. Like 60'6" from pitcher to batter, 90' between bases and 154 games in a season, eight teams per league is an ideal formula. Witness that in six of the past seven years, at least one pennant race has been decided on the final day of the season or in a tie-breaking playoff. (In the only season without a heart-stopping finish, 1947, the World Series, between the Yankees and the Dodgers, was acclaimed as the best in recent memory.)

Fans who have come to expect such rousing finishes should be heartened by this week's American League standings, where the top four teams—the White Sox, Red Sox, Yankees and Indians—are separated by four games. National League fans may have to adopt a team in the Junior Circuit for excitement: The Dodgers lead the Giants by 8½ games.

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