Playoffs more attainable than ever

In Sunday's New York Times, Murray Chass wrote about the general lack of activity in the trade market this month. And among the reasons Chass cited was this one: "More teams than usual have a chance for the wild-card spots, so fewer teams are making players available."

Is that true, though? It seems to me that we've heard exactly the same thing every season since the implementation of Commissioner Bud's little scheme. Fortunately, given today's technology, it's easy to check.

At dawn this morning, there are 21 teams within five games of either first place or the wild card. Yes, five games is an arbitrary standard -- and just leaves out the Dodgers, who are five-and-a-half games behind the Padres -- but hey, one has to draw the line somewhere. And 21 teams are a lot. Last July 25, there were 18 teams within five games of first place in one standing or another … and that was a lot.