by Jerry Feitelberg
The Wild Card Race
Well, here we are in the homestretch. The Dodgers won the NL west division and the Red Sox
are in the playoffs but haven’t clinched the AL east yet. The Wild Card race in the American League looks like it will go down to the final day. 2012 saw the addition of a second WildCard team and the
Wild Cards have a one game playoff to determine who plays in the Division Championship series.
The extra Wild Card is great for the fans. In the old days before 1969, the team with the best record in each league would advance to the World Series. Divisional play started in 1969 but there were just two divisions in each league. The divisional champs would play for the league championship then advance to the World Series. However, in 1994, due to expansion, each league now had three divisions. Baseball
needed a mechanism so that there would be four teams in the playoffs in each league and baseball came up with the Wild Card. There was no World Series in 1994 due to the players’ strike. However, the new format appeared in 1995 and has been used ever since.
Teams know that if they can somehow make it into the playoffs they have a chance of going to the World Series. As of Thursday evening, six teams are in the race for the two Wild Card slots in the American League. If play were to stop as of today, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers would be the Wild Cards. The Rangers were one of the Wild Card last year and were bounced out by Baltimore in the one game playoff. However, if either the Rays or the Rangers falter, Cleveland is right there as they are just a half game back of the Rays and Rangers. Baltimore’s hopes are fading as they are one and half games behind Tampa and Texas. Kansas City is 2 ½ back and the Yankees are three back.
Over in the National League, there is a three way race for the Division Title. St. Louis holds a game edge over the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati is two games back. The way its going, the Division champ and Wild Cards won’t be determined until the final game of the year. In any case, the Wild Cards will be from the NL Central.
The race for a playoff spot is fun for the players and fun for the fans. Think back to 2011 as the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves both faltered in September and were eliminated from the Wild Card race on the last day of the season. So, stay tuned , fans as you never know what will happen. That’s why we