This year, the MLB has installed a second wild card spot (per league) to make each league more competitive down the stretch. It was implemented, also, to keep the general fans interested later into the season rather than tailing off then coming back when the playoffs started. It also has made more teams competitive. Rather then packing it in at the trade deadline, more teams were willing to be buyers because they still had a chance for once and it has shown in the standings. So far, I think the idea has worked.
We will start right here in Pittsburgh. The Pirates are currently 7 games out of the NL Central lead (in the loss column) but fans are still coming in mass numbers and the expectations are still very high. Why, you may ask? It’s because the Buccos are still fighting for two playoff spots. (Yes, you heard me right, TWO) The Bucs and Dodgers currently stand three games (in the loss column) behind the Braves for the first spot, and only a single game behind the Cardinals for the second. With 36 games remaining in the season, both of those spots could still be taken by the Pirates, or they could find themselves in a playoff to get into the playoff. (See AL below.)
What makes this scenario even better is if the Reds were to falter down the stretch. Say the Reds come back to the pack and the Bucs and Cards get hot. You would have a three way race for two spots. Heck, if things played out perfectly you could have all three in the playoffs. That’s what makes this new idea so great.
If you look at the AL side of it things get crazier. You could have teams like Oakland and Baltimore return to the playoffs when with a one team wild card there was no shot for them at all.
As of the end of tonight’s (Sat, 8/25) games there were three teams tied for the two wild card spots, While two more stand within three and a half games behind them. If the season were to end today that would create a dream scenario for fans. A playoff to get into the playoff, two extra games to determine who gets to play as the wild card teams in the playoffs.
Let’s take it a step more. Say four teams tie for the spots at the end of the season. You would then have two “play-in” games to determine the wild card winners. It would make for a day that could overtake last year’s final day of the season.
Who could forget that night when the Red Sox blew a ninth inning lead over the Orioles to lose their Wild Card spot due to a Rays miracle 7-run comeback in the final two innings to beat the Yankees.
This is what the fans want and with this system they will get it.
Photo Credits: Getty Images