When the New York Giants awoke 40 years ago today, they were 13 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers in the National League standing. Today, the San Francisco Giants stand six games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Can the current Giants, who have staged a rapid ascent, duplicate the stunning feat of their ancestors, who began their charge on this date in 1951, and snatch a championship from the Dodgers' grasp?
Can any of the 18 teams that are 13 or fewer games from first place come from behind and finish ahead of today's division leaders?
The baseball season has eight weeks to produce answers to those questions. That time will not be enough for most of those trailing teams to salvage their seasons, but three of the four division races tightened during the weekend and one or two teams could topple the division leaders, who have had long stretches in the lead:
* Pittsburgh has been alone at the top of the National League East since April 27, its biggest lead seven games, its current lead six games over St. Louis.
* The Dodgers have led the National League West since May 18, their biggest lead six games, their current lead 1 1/2 games over Atlanta.
* Toronto has been in first place in the American League East since June 23, its biggest lead eight games, its current lead four games over Detroit.
* Minnesota has had the shortest run among the division leaders, holding the top spot in the American League West since July 11, the day the season resumed following the All-Star Game break. But the Twins also have been in first for all but three days since June 16. They have led by as many as 5 1/2 games, only to see that lead dwindle to one game over Chicago.