This week is my favorite week of the entire 2011 MLB regular season. And it was for 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, and every year since I started watching baseball.
Simply, these races are so exciting, so exhilarating, so mind-boggling, and so…good that I just can’t
stop talking about them.
As of today, the Braves lead the Cardinals by 1 game in the NL wild card race, and the Red Sox and Rays are tied in the AL wild card race.
There is a reason why I mentioned the NL race before the AL one. Over the past week, all of the talk has been about the Red Sox collapse, how they were winning their division on September 1st, and now are in danger of missing the playoffs. How, on September 2nd, they held a 9 game wild-card lead that is now a tie. How they are 6-19 in September, how the Rays are breathing down their backs with a strong September (15-10). If the season ended tonight, the Rays would win the AL wild card, and make the playoffs. Even though it is a tie, because of head-to-head play, the Rays have the advantage.
This gets all of the attention.
On the other side, on September 1st, the Braves lead the Cardinals by 8.5 games for the NL wild card. The Braves then went 9-16 in September, and the Cardinals went 16-8 in September to cut the Braves’ lead to 1 game.
I do understand that the Red Sox collapse is probably greater than the Braves collapse but still, how come no one at all talks about the Braves-Cardinals race?
My guess is that it is because there is more interest in the Red Sox, who are often more scrutinized, than the Braves. This is why ESPN talks about the AL Wild Card race for 5 minutes, and the NL race for 30 seconds.
Recently, there has been unnecessary amounts of chatter regarding MLB playoff realignment. The proposal is that instead of there being 1 wild card spot for each league, there be 2 wild card spots for each league.
Right now the Rays are tied with the Red Sox, and the Cardinals are 1 game back of the Braves. Everyone is talking about these tight races, and there are tons of excitement around the nation
regarding this situation. I don’t know if there has been anytime all season than what is unfolding currently as I write.
If this proposed playoff realignment goes through, then the current situation would look like this:
All of the divisions would be clinched, and Red Sox and Rays would both have clinched a Wild Card spot, so the AL race would be non-existent. The Braves and Cardinals would have clinched their Wild Card spots and, because all of the NL divisions have been clinched, the games would be flat, and have no meaning. No one would be talking about the MLB playoffs because all of the divisions are clinched, and if the Wild Card race isn’t gripping, there is nothing to talk about. The last few weeks of the 2011 MLB season would just be boring, dull, and tedious.
So, then why would the MLB discard the amazing thrill and unbelievable races that having only 1 wild card spot provides?
The last week of the MLB season would go from the most action-packed week of the season to the least.
In other words, the last week of the MLB season would go from the best of times to the worst of times.
By Sam Brief