Cool pennant race factoid of the day

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Bob Nightengale got this one from Elias:

Meanwhile, the Yankees and the Orioles have been winning and losing practically in tandem. They haven’t been separated by more than one game in the standings since Sept. 3. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the longest such streak in September or later since 1889 .

That’s cool, and I like that two teams are in a fight for the division title and that it matters.

There are other factoids in that piece, mostly surrounding the scramble for the wild card.  I think that’s all fun, but in reality, most of the these sorts of things — team comes from the farthest back! — are the product of expanded playoffs and the notion that it is now the case that even the mildly-above-average will have a legit shot until the final week almost every year.

It’s excitement of a type, but it’s a function of the process, not a function of baseball teams doing anything different than they ever have before.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.