Two years ago, four of the five teams in the NL West had better than .500 records, and the Rockies and Diamondbacks played in the NLCS. This season, the Dodgers went into Saturday tied with the Cardinals for the best record in the National League and either the Rockies or Giants appear headed for the wild-card role in the National League playoffs. On Saturday morning, only the Cardinals, Dodgers and Phillies had won more games than the Rockies and Giants. Yet, there is this the perception that somehow the National League West is some remote wilderness somewhere between the Pacific Coast League and the Alaskan League. Oh, sure, Vicente Padilla and Brad Penny can jump off the Morgan Memorial trucks and throw gems, but it is a division predominated by the three California pitchers' parks that make it such a pitchers' division. And, yes, the Padres are, with a few notable exceptions, as recognizable as your average White Pages listings, but as of Saturday morning they had 14 more wins than the Nationals, seven more than the Pirates and one fewer than the Mets and Reds. Consider this: In games played outside their own division (versus teams from the NL East, Central and interleague play) the NL West this weekend was 24 games over .500, the NL Central five under, the NL East 24 under; in the American League, the West was 33 over .500, the East 28 over, the Central 37 under.
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